General Motors (GM) has announced plans to invest over $1 billion in two manufacturing plants in Flint, Michigan, for the production of next-generation internal combustion heavy-duty trucks. The company’s executive vice president, Global Manufacturing and Sustainability, Gerald Johnson, said that GM will continue to build internal combustion vehicles throughout this decade, alongside the production of electric vehicles. However, GM aims to build only electric passenger vehicles in the United States by 2035.
Last year, GM reported a 38% year-over-year increase in heavy-duty pickup sales, with nearly 288,000 trucks sold. The company will invest $788 million in the Flint assembly plant, which will include a body shop building expansion, general assembly conveyor expansion, and new tooling and equipment. Additionally, GM will invest $233 million in the Flint metal center for new stamping dies to support production of its next-generation ICE heavy-duty trucks, as well as press refurbishments and new equipment.
Johnson stated that the auto industry now requires companies to continue investing in both internal combustion engines and electric vehicles at least into the next decade. However, workers at the plant are concerned about what will happen after the end of the decade when GM switches to electric passenger vehicles. Ryan Buchalski, president of the United Auto Workers local at the plant, said that it raises concerns because they build big trucks. He is happy that the plant’s future is secure for at least seven to 10 years and believes that it will adapt to changes as it always has done.
Assembly line worker Mike Lakies, who has been with GM for 29 years, is happy that the investment will allow him to stay at the plant until he retires but is concerned for those with lesser seniority. He does not think that the transition to electric vehicles will take place as fast as GM is expecting because the infrastructure is not yet ready to charge the vehicles. UAW Vice President Mike Booth, who will lead negotiations with GM in contract talks scheduled to begin on July 17, said that the key to negotiations will be to ensure that all workers have jobs in the transition to EVs.
This latest investment brings GM’s U.S. manufacturing and parts distribution facility investment commitments to more than $30.5 billion since 2013.