GM started production of the Chevrolet Equinox at the Spring Hill plant image

General Motors began production of the Chevrolet Equinox at the Spring Hill Assembly Plant in Tennessee, marking the reopening of the facility since it was idled in 2009.

Until now, the Equinox had only been built at two plants in Canada. The additional manufacturing could help GM in the event of a strike by the Canadian Auto Workers against Detroit Three carmakers.

The first 2013 Equinox was built by Spring Hill on September 4, with the plant beginning shipment of vehicles to dealers this week, according to plant spokeswoman Lee Ann Williams-Maley. “People are definitely excited about the opportunity to reopen the assembly plant at Spring Hill, especially given the fact that this is one GM’s most innovative and flexible plants,” the spokeswoman was quoted as saying by Detroit News.

The Equinox is Chevrolet’s second best-selling vehicle in the first eight months of this year, with 151,027 units, only a few thousand behind the No.1 Cruze compact. Equinox sales rose 16.6 percent this year.

The Spring Hill plant was opened in 1990 by GM to build Saturn vehicles, but it was shut down in fall 2009, due to the demise of the Saturn brand. GM invested $61 million into the plant and created 685 jobs to make the plant flexible to build a range of models to supplement other factories with vehicles that were in short supply.