International News from World: General Motors on Friday confirmed it will invest $1.5 billion to produce its next-generation Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups.
GM is putting $1 billion of that into its Wentzville truck plant in Missouri for upgrades and $500 million to retool its suppliers’ factories, according to GM.
“This is part of our comprehensive strategy to invest in growth areas and strengthen our U.S. manufacturing base,” GM President Mark Reuss said in a release. “GM sells more pickups than any other automaker and we have aggressive plans to build on our strengths.”
The company declined to comment on when the redesigned trucks will go on sale, however retooling the plant is expected to begin later this month and continue for several months. A company spokesman said GM expects there to be “minimal downtime” at the plant during the work.
The Wentzville plant is one of a handful of GM’s U.S. assembly plants that operate on three, around-the-clock shifts. Continuing production of the vehicles is a high-priority, particularly with introductions of new midsize pickup competitors from Ford Motor and Fiat Chrysler in the past year or so.
The plant’s paint shop, body shop and general assembly areas will receive upgrades, including new machines, conveyors, controls and tools, GM said.
An investment for the plant has been expected for some time, as the vehicles haven’t been fully redesigned since GM reintroduced midsize pickups in the U.S. in 2014. The fresh investment was recently confirmed as part of GM’s commitment to invest $7.7 billion in current U.S. manufacturing operations under a four-year deal ratified by UAW members in October.
The changes will help retain roughly 4,000 jobs at the plant, including 2,000 for midsize truck production, GM said. The facility also produces the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans.