The assumption of 2020 was that the year would be a washout when it came to automakers making big, new investments in assembly plants. Given the cataclysm of the coronavirus pandemic, the halt in industry production, the crash of the U.S. economy, the scramble for cash reserves, the new uncertainty over the health and safety of industrial workplaces and the very real fear that Americans would be in no hurry to buy a new vehicle, it was logical that nobody needed to spend money on an auto factory.
But things turned out differently.
Despite the early worries, automakers pressed ahead with new investments, expansions, retoolings and undeveloped land in 2020. These were the largest projects in the January-November period, as tabulated by the Center for Automotive Research of Ann Arbor, Mich., for its industry-tracking Book of Deals database.
Ford: Oakville, Ontario
Retooling and preparation for production of battery-electric vehicles
FCA: Windsor, Ontario
Retooling and preparation for the production of plug-in hybrids and battery-powered vehicles
Tesla: Austin, Texas
A manufacturing plant on undeveloped land to produce the Tesla Cybertruck, Semi, Model 3 and Model Y for the eastern half of North America
General Motors: Spring Hill, Tenn.
An expansion to introduce production of electric vehicles, including the all-new Cadillac Lyriq
General Motors: Oshawa, Ontario
Capital investment for retooling to implement a new, flexible assembly module for the production of heavy-duty and light-duty T1XX pickups