What's noteworthy about the return to action of General Motors' Spring Hill, Tenn., assembly plant is just how little it is costing.
For $61 million, Spring Hill will come back to life -- after being idled in 2009 -- making a vehicle it has never produced before, the Chevrolet Equinox.
That's peanuts. A new factory costs a billion dollars or more these days. Overhauling a factory for a new purpose runs around $700 million. Retooling for a model change -- maybe half that, depending on the project.
But $61 million?
How? GM says it re-purposed Spring Hill back in 2006 precisely for this reason – that is, to be able to some day pivot flexibly and inexpensively from one product to another. GM spent $700 million at that time to enable Spring Hill to change from building little Saturns to producing roomy Chevy Traverses.
But that $700 million did more than that: It set up Spring Hill for virtually anything GM wanted to build there in the future.