General Motors Co. marked a huge milestone today – the company’s 500th millionth car rolling off the assembly line at the automaker’s assembly plant in Fairfax, Kansas – by announcing it would invest $174 million into the plant.
Alan Batey, president of GM North American Operations, announced GM will invest $174 million in the Fairfax plant for new equipment and technology to support production of the 2016 Malibu and improve customer satisfaction. The plant, which builds the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse, opened in 1987. It replaced an outmoded plant in Kansas City, Missouri, and today employs 3,500 hourly and salaried workers.
One element of the improvements in the Fairfax plant is the construction of a “Shake and Rattle” booth, which simulates any road condition a customer might experience – and identifies sources of noise so they can be fixed.
“Every element of the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu was designed to give our customers a beautiful and high quality sedan with technologies that will make their lives easier and safer,” said Batey. “It will all come together here at Fairfax, and the men and women who work here can hardly wait to get started,” he said.
GM officials said the century of building vehicles was marked by a raft of innovations and firsts. Concepts such as changeover, flexible assembly, automation, computer simulation, machine vision and robotics were developed at GM, Bately noted.
Last week, GM announced it will invest $5.4 billion over three years to build the next generations of future vehicles in the U.S., including $783.5 million in three facilities in the state of Michigan and the $174 million announced today.
Since June 2009, GM has announced U.S. facility investments of approximately $16.8 billion. About $11.4 billion of that has come since the 2011 UAW-GM National Agreement. In total, these investments have created 3,650 new jobs and secured the positions of approximately 20,700 others.
(Five hundred million and counting. To check out GM’s latest milestone, Click Here.)
Globally since 2009, GM has announced facility investments totaling about $36.7 billion. This includes the U.S. facility investments plus $5.75 billion in Mexico, $1.5 billion in Canada and $12.7 billion in other global regions outside GM North America.
In an industry that produced more than its share hyperbole over the past century, the relatively modest ceremony in Kansas symbolically marking the construction of a half-billion vehicles by GM was somewhat understated, considering the huge impact the automobile industry has had on shaping the modern world over the past century.
(Click Here for details about GM hinting at switch to aluminum bodies.)
“During 2015, we expect to sell more than 1,000 new vehicles per hour, 24 hours per day,” said GM CEO Mary Barra. “This adds up to nearly 10 million vehicles, the most in our history. I look at this extraordinary volume as 10 million opportunities to prove what kind of company we are and to say thank you.”
GM officials estimated the production of half-billion vehicles during the past 106 years equates to billions of dollars in commerce, payroll, investments and infrastructure in communities around the world.
After beginning life as an automotive start up in Michigan, the company grew quickly, including in overseas markets, like China, selling its first vehicle there in 1912. By the 1930s, GM had expanded its reach to include operations in to Europe, Australia and South America.
(To see more about GM’s plans to invest $5.4 billion into its plants in the next three years, Click Here.)
For GM customers, the vehicles have played roles in weddings, family vacations, graduations, new businesses and countless milestones along life’s journey, said Barra, who offered glimpses of customer milestones from around the world during the ceremony in Fairfax.
The stories included recent retiree in Minnesota still driving his 1957 Chevrolet pickup truck – acquired from a farmer 38 years ago for $75; A Brazilian woman born in the passenger seat of a Chevrolet Chevette; she continues to be a loyal customer today, and a Chevrolet Captiva club member in Thailand who used a fleet of Captivas to propose to his now-wife.