General Motors is upping its investment in the Texas plant where it builds full-size SUVs in preparation for the next generation of the vehicles expected in 2020.
GM on Tuesday announced an additional $20 million investment in its Arlington Assembly Plant to upgrade conveyors as it gets ready to start production of the redesigned Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV.
Arlington Assembly is the sole source of the SUVs for GM, which has dominated the highly profitable segment for decades.
The investment adds to roughly $1.4 billion GM has spent upgrading the plant since 2015, including construction of a paint shop. It's the latest in a series of goodwill investment announcements by GM ahead of formal contract negotiations with the UAW starting in July.
"We are counting on the Arlington team to continue focusing on building the highest quality products possible for our customers while preparations continue for the launch of the next generation of our full-size SUVs," Gerald Johnson, GM's executive vice president of global manufacturing, said in a statement.
Talks with the UAW are expected to be the most contentious in years as GM, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles look to cut costs in anticipation of a downturn in the industry, while the union continues fighting to regain more of what its members lost during the Great Recession.
“The UAW continues to commend GM for making investments in U.S. locations,” UAW Vice President Terry Dittes said in a statement. "We believe that building a product where you sell it is good for our members, their families, our communities and all of America. We hope to see more investments in the future at other General Motors facilities throughout our country.”
Arlington Assembly is a crucial plant for GM to keep operating without a work stoppage — particularly with the redesigned full-size SUVs expected to come online next year.
The plant, which was converted from car to truck production in 1997, employs 4,500 people on three shifts, including about 4,200 hourly UAW members. It produced more than 300,000 SUVs in 2018.
GM says it has invested more than $4.2 billion at its plants in Arlington, Flint, Mich., and Fort Wayne, Ind., to build its redesigned full-size pickups and SUVs, all of which share the company's T1 platform.
The redesigned 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups started shipping to dealers about a year ago, followed by their 2020 heavy-duty siblings this month.