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Saving Energy Helps GM Return Small Car Production to the U.S.

Maker turns to landfill gas to bring down costs at minicar plant.

by on May.20, 2011

GM is counting on reducing factory energy costs - as well as a new 2-tier wage structure - to justify producing the new Chevy Sonic in suburban Detroit, rather than Korea.

Turning to an alternate source for power has helped General Motors reduce production costs enough at a plant in the Detroit suburbs enough to help GM justify bringing small car production back from South Korea.

The newly retooled plant in Orion, Township, Michigan, will begin producing the pint-sized 2012 Chevrolet Sonic this coming autumn, as well as the Buick Verano subcompact.  About 40% of the energy the factory will use will come from burning natural gas piped over from a nearby landfill.

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“Orion is a great example of the latest technologies employed by GM manufacturing around the globe,” said Eric Stevens, GM vice president of Global Manufacturing Engineering.  “As we converted the facility to support the small car program, we took every opportunity to engineer in flexibility and lean manufacturing concepts,” he said.