General Motors Co. said March 22 that it is investing $1.8 billion in U.S. manufacturing operations, which will include a $300 million investment in one of its Michigan plants to build a new electric vehicle under the Chevrolet brand.
The Michigan-based automaker said the total U.S. investment will help create 700 new jobs and support another 28,000 jobs in six states. The announcement comes after President Donald Trump leveled criticism at the company in the past week after it closed a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, and laid off 1,600 workers.
GM said the $300 million investment in its Orion Township assembly plant will create 400 new jobs at the Orion plant.
The company originally planned to produce the new electric vehicle outside of the U.S. but said it changed course to be in a position to take advantage of the proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement.
GM said the rules of origin provisions in the USMCA, which still needs to be approved by Congress, played a part in keeping the electric vehicle's production in the U.S.
Cars produced in the U.S., Mexico or Canada under the new deal must have a larger portion of North American-produced content — 75% — compared with 62.5% under the 25-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement that USMCA seeks to replace.
The Chevy Bolt electric vehicle is also built at the Orion plant. The new vehicle will be designed from an advanced version of the Bolt's electric-vehicle architecture, the automaker said.
"We are excited to bring these jobs and this investment to the U.S.," GM Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said during an announcement at the plant with employees, elected officials and community leaders. "This new Chevrolet electric vehicle is another positive step toward our commitment to an all-electric future. GM will continue to invest in our U.S. operations where we see opportunities for growth."
The Orion plant also builds test vehicles for Cruise, GM's autonomous-vehicle unit.
The investment comes amid GM's restructuring, which includes cutting sedan production on certain models, reducing staff and closing plants in Ohio, Michigan, Maryland and Canada as the company focuses on larger vehicles and electric and autonomous technology.
The company needed to make these changes while the economy was still strong so it could be prepared for a potential downturn, Barra said.
The plant closures affect about 2,800 hourly workers. GM has said there are 2,700 job openings at other manufacturing plants, and 1,200 of the affected employees are eligible for retirement.
In the March 22 announcement, the automaker said 1,100 employees have been placed at other GM locations.