Chrysler and GM are Retooling Their Factories for Fuel-Efficient Cars
Hundreds of Millions Invested, Lots of Jobs Created
Last week, we were writing about Ford's $850 million investment to retool factories so they can make more fuel-efficient cars. This week, we take a closer look at what the rest of the Big Three (or is that now "formerly the Big Three"?) is doing to improve its manufacturing base so it can meet 2016 fuel economy standards.
35.5 MPG by 2016
New fuel economy standards (more details here: Obama Announces New Fuel Economy Standards (35.5 MPG in 2016)) are forcing automakers to step up their game when it comes to fuel efficiency. This is a good thing because fuel efficiency is one of these things that regular competition doesn't always make happen very fast. When gas prices spike, there is progress, but otherwise, most of the benefits of higher fuel efficiency (less CO2, less air pollution) aren't benefiting car buyers in a direct enough way that they'll pick one brand over another. This means that car companies will compete over other things and try to retool their plants for better fuel economy as little as possible to amortize their investments over as long as possible. That's why it's important for regulation in that area to keep being updated every few years.
GM announced that it plans to invest $190 million in its Lansing Grand River plant. This will add 600 jobs to the plant's work force of 1,100. The company also said that it would add a new small car to its Cadillac lineup, though that car remains unnamed for now.
"Earlier this month, GM said it will start producing two new small cars -- a revamped Chevrolet Aveo and the new Buick Verano -- at a now-shuttered plant in Orion Township, Mich" (source)
The Chrysler Group said it would invest $600 million in a manufacturing plant geared for small cars. "[It will] upgrade its Belvidere, Ill., assembly plant to build new cars starting in 2012. Chrysler didn't say which cars will be built there, but at least one of them will likely be a small car to replace the Dodge Caliber, which is currently built at the site. The investment won't create new jobs, but the company will retain the 2,349 jobs currently at the assembly plant and a nearby parts stamping plant."
More on Green(er) Vehicles
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2011 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid to be Eligible for $1,300 Tax Credit
Google Experiments With Robot Cars that Drive Themselves