GM Expands Orion Plant

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GM Expands Orion Plant With Chevy Bolt EV Production

Currently GM’s Orion plant produces the Buick Verano and Chevrolet Sonic, which employs roughly 1,600 hourly employees and 200 salaried. Within the first few months of this year, both sales for the cars dropped, 16% and 29% respectively. In November, GM confirmed it was laying off 160 workers due to slow sales of the smaller cars due to lower fuel prices pushing consumers towards larger vehicles.

However, GM is planning to build the Chevy Bolt EV—unveiled as merely a “concept,” in the Detroit auto show last January—then announced a month later the production of it will be built at the Orion plant. With a $160 million investment to launch the Bolt production. GM described the electric car as “an affordable entry that can achieve more than 200 miles on a single electric charge.”

In the past five years, GM has invested nearly $962 million Orion plant—which has been around for 32 years now. Part of the investment is included in a $5.4 billion plan to invest in US plants over the next three years, which would create 650 new jobs, 300 of which are slated for its components plant in Wyoming, near Grand Rapids. It also announced that that total includes $783.5 million at three facilities in Michigan—Pontiac Metal Center, Lansing Delta Township plant, and the Pre-Production Operations in Warren.

Rebuilding the Orion Plant

The Orion plant was idled as part of GM’s 2009 bankruptcy and initially scheduled to close following GM’s restructuring. It reopened in 2010 after the union agreed to 40% of tier-two hourly workers to earn entry-level wages, as well as other significant labor concessions.

UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada stated that “Orion is an example of what we can achieve when we work together. Only through innovative problem solving were we going to see this plant succeed, and this new investment is proof of that.”