General Motors plans to spend $483 million to upgrade a former Saturn engine plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., to build more four-cylinder Ecotec engines, the Detroit-based automaker said Friday. The plan, which relies on local and state incentives, would create 483 jobs, GM said.
"This new commitment to the Spring Hill team will help GM almost triple its North American production volume of four-cylinder engines" by 2012, GM North America President Mark Reuss said in a statement. The plant currently produces three versions of the the Ecotec engine for GM models destined for the U.S., Mexico, European, China and South Korean markets.
The $483 million figure includes $23 million to add 30 hourly jobs to increase production in the first quarter of 2011 of the company's current generation Ecotec engine, which is used in the popular Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossover vehicles and Buick LaCrosse sedan. But the bulk of the investment -- $460 million and 453 hourly and salaried jobs – is planned for the next-generation of Ecotec engines, GM said.
The additional investment brings to nearly $2.9 billion the amount GM has spent on 20 U.S. plants since the company emerged from government sponsored bankruptcy a little more than a year ago. The company has also created or retained more than 7,400 jobs, it said.
Employees to fill the new positions at the Spring Hill engine plant will be recalled from layoff under terms of GM's pact with the United Auto Workers, GM said. The plant now employs about 1,000 workers, The Detroit News reported.
Reuss said the investments have no bearing on the Spring Hill Assembly Plant, where Saturn automobiles were once built. The assembly part of the plant closed last year but remains on standby should more vehicle production capacity be needed.
Earlier this year, GM said it would invest $94 million to increase capacity at three plants in Tonawanda, N.Y., Defiance, Ohio, and Bay City, Mich. Those projects are expected to result in about 550 jobs, the company said.