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GM Poised to Enjoy Long-Term Success, Says Ammann

Changes in structure should help GM weather storms.

by on Jan.13, 2016

GM President Dan Ammann told a crowd at the Automotive News World Congress that the maker was poised to be profitable during a downturn.

For two of the world’s largest global automakers, Toyota and General Motors, it’s pretty much steady as it goes as the industry heads in an era of transition and change.

Dan Ammann, GM president, told the Automotive News World Congress that the car business is perhaps the single most challenging and complex business in the world.

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“It’s a really interesting time in the industry,” said Ammann, who joined General Motors in 2010 after a career as a Wall Street banker. “We’re obviously we see more change in this business.” (more…)

Barra Defends Maker’s Use of Capital

CEO says GM investing, restructuring to get best returns.

by on May.05, 2015

GM CEO Mary Barra defended the company's use of capital after celebrating the production of the 500-millionth vehicle.

General Motors Chief Executive Mary Barra Monday defended GM’s use of capital during a meeting with reporters this week in Fairfax, Kansas.

Barra said GM is intent on covering the cost of capital and has taken steps to restructure or closed businesses that have not generated an adequate return on the investment.

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GM shut down its manufacturing operations in Australia and significantly restructured operations in Thailand, Indonesia and Russia where it recently pulled out of a venture in St Petersburg precisely because GM could not make an adequate return on invested capital, said Barra. (more…)

Skip Fire System Could Slash Fuel Consumption

GM invests in promising Silicon Valley start-up.

by on Jan.06, 2015

A diagram showing the Dynamic Skip Fire system at work, selectively shutting down cylinders.

Facing tough new fuel economy standards, automakers are frantically searching for ways to boost mileage, and General Motors is betting it may have found one of the possible solutions coming out of Silicon Valley.

The maker’s investment arm, GM Ventures, is pumping cash into startup Tula Technology which is developing a system it calls Dynamic Skip Fire. The technology allows a vehicle to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 15% by briefly shutting off individual cylinders when the demand for power is reduced.

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“This technology holds the potential to improve fuel economy on select GM vehicles without degrading power capability when it’s required,” said Jon Lauckner, GM chief technology officer, vice president of Global R&D and president of GM Ventures. “This joint effort combines software expertise from Silicon Valley with powertrain expertise from General Motors.”

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GM Consolidating Powertrain Operations

Move to create 400 new jobs in suburban Detroit.

by on Jan.31, 2013

GM is betting the consolidation will help speed to market new powertrains, such as the turbo 2.0-liter Cadillac engine shown here.

General Motors is consolidating its far-flung engine and transmission operations in the Detroit suburb of Pontiac, and backing the move with a $200 million investment at its Global Powertrain Engineering Headquarters.

The move, which will create 400 new jobs in the Motor City, is part of a broader $1.5 billion effort to rejuvenate its operations in the US. Earlier this week, GM announced plans to invest $600 million at its massive Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas.

At the Global Powertrain Engineering center, the money will be used to build a new 138,000 sq.-ft. test wing, which is expected to be completed during the second half of 2014 and lead to the elimination of four leased buildings in three states.

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“These moves will help our entire Powertrain team work more effectively across the organization to develop the powertrain technologies we need to build the world’s best vehicles for our customers around the world,” said Sam Winegarden, GM vice president of Global Engine Engineering.

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GM Ups Stake in Battery Bus Maker

Just the latest move by the automaker’s aggressive new venture capital subsidiary.

by on Nov.21, 2012

Proterra's bus can log 40 miles before needing a 10-minute quick charge.

General Motors is increasing its stake in a South Carolina start-up producing battery-electric buses.

The move is just the latest by GM Ventures targeting potentially lucrative opportunities that can help it develop lighter, cleaner, smarter and lower-cost vehicles – while also generating potentially significant new sources of cash if the subsidiary can match the performance of other high-risk investors.

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GM Ventures is one of six venture capital firms, or VCs, pumping $23 million into Proterra, Inc., of Greenville, S.C.  Among the other investors is the giant Silicon Valley VC fund Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which has joined GM in several other projects funded by GM Ventures. It’s the second round of funding for Proterra that the Detroit-based investment fund has participated in.

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GM Investing $65 Mil to Boost 4-Cylinder Engine Production

Fuel prices driving shift in buyer demand.

by on Jun.20, 2011

General Motors Tonawanda Powertrain employee Tim Battaglia works on an Ecotec I-4 engine.

Rising fuel prices have triggered a marked shift in what motorists are buying these days, especially when it comes to engine choices – and that has prompted General Motors to invest more than $65 million in plants in New York and Tennessee to expand production of the Ecotec four-cylinder engines used in Chevrolet’s most fuel-efficient cars and crossovers.

While GM has continued offering 6-cylinder powertrains on many models, rising demand for four-cylinder designs is leading to aggressive shifts in both vehicle design and production plans.  Some mainstream makers, such as Hyundai, are all but abandoning sixes in midsize and smaller offerings.

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“GM is committed to investing in manufacturing and jobs in the U.S.,” said Cathy Clegg,GM’s vice president of labor relations during an announcement at the maker’s Tonawanda plant, in New York. “These investments in powertrain manufacturing technology will help us meet the growing needs of our customers for high quality, fuel efficient vehicles – both today and in the future.”

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GM Investing $2 Bil in Plants – Adding 4,200 Jobs

Move impacts 17 factories in 8 states.

by on May.10, 2011

GM CEO Akerson will announce $2 billion in plant investments - and 4,200 new jobs.

General Motors hopes to reassert its role as the preeminent U.S. automaker as it rolls out plans to invest $2 billion in 17 of its plants across eight states.

The move, which will be formally announced by CEO Dan Akerson during a visit to a transmission plant in Toledo, Ohio today, should create at least 4,200 new jobs.  It is unclear how many of those new positions will be filled by workers paid on a lower, second-tier wage structure, however.

The Toledo plant, for one, is expected to receive $250 million in upgrades that will lead to the creation of 250 new jobs.  But other plants on the list include the so-called “Poletown” plant, that straddles the Detroit-Hamtramck border, where GM produces a variety of products including the new Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

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Akerson, a former telecomm executive named GM CEO last year, is expected to reveal only some of the details during his Toledo appearance.  Additional information will be released as the project moves forward.  That could help increase media coverage for a company intent on shedding its image of insolvency.

But the maker may also use the dangling carrot for wrangling further concessions from the United Auto Workers Union.

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GM to Spend Nearly $900 Million on Plant Upgrades

Move will save 1,600 jobs.

by on Apr.27, 2010

The latest GM investment will help produce a new, more efficient line of V8s.

Barely a week after announcing big investments in plants in Kansas and Detroit, General Motors is ready to invest another $890 million in five more North American factories – a move that sources say should save or add 1,600 union jobs.

The primary investment, totaling about $400 million, will go into GM’s V8 engine plant in Tonawanda, New York.  It’s part of an effort to launch an all-new powertrain for products like the Chevrolet Silverado.

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Other plants on the list include an aluminum foundry in Bedford, Indiana – where employment had plunged, in recent years, from 1,200 to just 366 – Bay City, Michigan, Ste. Catherines, Ontario and Defiance, Ohio.

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