General Motors committed to investing $1.8 billion at plants in six states and to creating 700 new jobs, as the largest US automaker looks to ward off months of criticism by the US President Donald Trump.
The bulk of the new jobs will go to a factory in Michigan where GM plans to add production of another fully electric vehicle. The carmaker will spend $300 million and add 400 workers at the plant in Orion Township, north of Detroit, where the Chevrolet EV will be built alongside the Bolt model. Factories in states including Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas will also boost their workforce.
“This is an industry that is under just dramatic transformation,” Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra said in an interview with Bloomberg Television. “So we’re taking the steps and being responsible to make sure that we can continue to grow in these areas, and continue to have a strong US manufacturing base that creates a lot of good-paying jobs.”
The moves may help assuage Trump, who’s attacked GM over its decisions announced in November to idle an Ohio plant and four other underutilised factories in the US and Canada. As part of a broader restructuring that’s also affecting salaried employees, the company is cutting or displacing upwards of 14,000 jobs.
“No one wants Trump tweeting negatively about them, but General Motors has demonstrated that it is going to run its business,” said Michelle Krebs, a senior analyst at car-shopping researcher AutoTrader. “This is a significant investment in GM’s electrification future.”
Barra addressed Trump’s barbs about GM ending production in Lordstown, Ohio, by talking about how many people continue to work for the company outside of that plant.
“We still have 4,000 jobs and 4,000 employees in four additional Ohio plants,” Barra told reporters. “We spend more than $6 billion in Ohio every year. GM is committed to supporting manufacturing, including in Michigan and Ohio.”
The United Auto Workers won’t be pacified easily. Terry Dittes, the vice president who oversees the union’s GM department, said he will still fight to save factories in Ohio, Michigan and Maryland that face uncertain futures due to a lack of future product to build.
“There is hardship among four of our locations and we’ve made it clear that we disagree with that,” Dittes said when he took the podium after Barra spoke. “These four plants will not be forgotten.”
Dittes said that even the sedan plant in Detroit-Hamtramck that GM has committed to keep open only until the end of 2019 has a shaky future. The challenge for the UAW is that even if the automaker closes all four of the plants that have no product allocated for the future, several other plants aren’t busy enough right now to warrant adding more workers.
GM did not disclose the name or timing of the new GM EV but said it would be built on the same platform as the existing Chevrolet Bolt EV. GM did not disclose the name of the new EV or the timing of production.
The automaker said in total it is investing $1.8 billion in its US manufacturing operations this year, creating 700 new jobs and supporting 28,000 jobs across six states.
Additional product information and timing for the new Chevrolet EV will be released closer to production.
Barra said after event that GM "supports" the proposed United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement "and we are making adjustments because we will comply" with new rules requiring additional North American content.
Reuters reported Thursday that GM was initially considering building the new EV in China.
In February, GM disclosed that it had hired Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm run by Brian Ballard, a fundraiser for Trump's presidential campaign. The company has been eager to try to smooth over relations with the White House after Trump first began harshly attacking GM last year.