Line workers work on the chassis of General Motors full-size pickups on June 12, 2019 at the Flint Assembly plant in Flint, Michigan.
JEFF KOWALSKY/UKTN/Getty Images
FLINT, Michigan — General engines plans to invest nearly $1 billion in four U.S. plants to support the production of electric vehicle components, as well as next-generation V-8 engines, gas-powered signaling trucks, and performance cars are here in the near future.
The $918 million investment, which GM announced Friday, is despite the automaker’s plans to offer all-electric consumer vehicles by 2035.
“Our commitment is to an all-electric future, there’s no doubt about that,” Gerald Johnson, GM’s global head of manufacturing, told reporters after the announcement. “We know that has a horizon and between here and there there are a lot of internal combustion engine customers that we don’t want to lose.”
A majority of the investment — $579 million — will go toward preparing GM’s Flint Engine Operations plant in Michigan for the automaker’s sixth-generation small-block V-8 gas engines.
The engines are used in some of the automaker’s most profitable products, such as its full-size pickups and SUVs. They have also been used in some Cadillac and Chevrolet performance cars.
GM said work at the Flint plant will begin immediately, signaling that next-generation V-8s are on their way. The automaker declined to comment on engine timing, performance and other details. The last new family of V-8 engines came about in 2013.
The remaining investments will be at other parts operations in Michigan, Ohio and New York for gas-powered parts such as camshafts and manifolds, as well as castings to support future EVs, GM said.
Like the company, leaders of the United Auto Workers union reiterated the need for investment in both traditional operations and electric cars.
“Is electric coming tomorrow? Is it 10 years from now? You still need the internal combustion until the technology is perfected for the EVs,” newly elected UAW Vice President Mike Booth told UKTN.
UAW Chairman Ray Curry, who is in a runoff election to retain his position, said the union welcomes investment in both industry and worker transitions.
“We want to have the ability to make sure that existing operations are supported and that new operations coming online have the capital investment to move forward,” he said.
The union, which will negotiate with GM later this year, wants emerging EV work to be classified in the same way as their traditional engine and powertrain jobs. In contrast, the company has indicated that much of the work must be done at a lower wage bracket to be competitive.
Booth, who heads the UAW’s GM unit, called Friday’s investment a “big deal” but said it has no impact on upcoming negotiations.