General Motors Co. (GM:US), planning to invest $1.5 billion in North America this year, said it will spend $332 million at four factories to prepare for new, more fuel efficient engines and transmissions.
The investments are part of GM’s efforts to build a new V-6 and small engine called the Ecotec, which will include three-and four-cylinder variants and could reach production of 2 million annually by decade’s end, Detroit-based GM said today in a statement. The spending also involves preparing for production of an eight-speed transmission to be used in GM vehicles by the end of 2016.
The automaker is introducing about 20 new vehicles in the U.S. this year to freshen its product lineup following the company’s 2009 bankruptcy reorganization, and rebound from a market share that fell to an 88-year-low in 2012. GM increased its market share during the first quarter.
“We are investing in technologies and manufacturing capabilities that produce high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles and components for our customers,” Diana Tremblay, vice president of GM North American manufacturing, said in the statement.
The investment follows announcements this year to spend $200 million to expand a Michigan powertrain complex and $600 million to expand its Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas, which employs about 3,900 people and builds the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse sedans.
GM fell 0.2 percent to $27.74 at the close in New York. The shares have declined 3.8 percent this year compared with a gain of 9.4 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.
Today’s investment includes $215 million at a Flint, Michigan, factory for the new small Ecotec gasoline engine, GM said. Its Toledo, Ohio, transmission factory will get $55.7 million to increase capacity and for tooling for a new eight- speed automatic transmission and the existing six-speed transmission.
GM’s Bay City, Michigan, powertrain factory will get $31.7 million to make parts for new V-6 and Ecotec engines. The company’s casting factory in Bedford, Indiana, will get $29.4 million.
GM also said it was going to increase its already announced investment of $600 million at plants in Romulus and Saginaw, Michigan, to $646 million.
The automaker increased its share of the U.S. market to 18 percent in the first quarter from 17.5 percent a year earlier, according to researcher Autodata Corp. GM sold 9.3 percent more cars and light trucks in the first three months, better than the industrywide gain of 6.4 percent. All four of GM’s brands posted sales gains in the first quarter.
Arvin Jones, a GM North America manufacturing manager, declined to say when the new powertrains would go into use or in which vehicles. The effort does not create new jobs, he said.
Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, in January provided the $1.5 billion figure for the company’s 2013 North American investment plans. GM has announced more than $10.2 billion in investments since July 2009, Reuss said at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.
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