US: GM to spend $1.2 billion to rejuvenate pickup truck factory image

The largest US automaker, General Motors, is going to invest $1.2 billion to upgrade its Ft. Wayne plant in Indiana, which today builds the high margin full-size pickup trucks Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra.

The lump sum will go towards the construction of a new paint shop, an expansion of the current body shop and the introduction of other new technologies to lift efficiency and productivity. “Truck customers demand top quality,” Cathy Clegg, GM vice president for North America Manufacturing, said in a statement. “The upgrades at Ft. Wayne Assembly will enable our team to continue delivering for them for years to come.” The upgrade process is scheduled to start this June and will need several years to be finished. The end result will be a new paint finish, which also allows new customizations and paint options, while the assembly process will be eased by new skillet conveyor systems used for the installation process of the instrument panel. The assembly facility has been opened back in 1986 and has since taken care only of pickup truck production. It currently has three shifts and a total of 3,800 workers, also working Saturdays on numerous occasions in order to keep up the order pace, with sales of the Silverado and Sierra being the best in more than a decade.

GM refrained from saying if the upgrade process would also bring additional personnel, but did say that if the sales remain at current levels, all the jobs would be retained in the long run. The spending is part of the larger $5.4 billion upgrade strategy across its 40 facilities in the United States.