Here’s something you haven’t heard in quite a long time: General Motors is looking to hire approximately 1,000 engineers and researchers in Michigan, in an effort expand their electric and hybrid vehicle development. GM’s CEO, Dan Akerson, wants to make the company the industry leader in electric vehicle technologies, including extended range EVs like the Volt and parallel hybrids like the upcoming Buick LaCrosse with eAssist. To date, GM has spent some $700 million investing in eight Michigan facilities that support Volt (and future EV) production.
Their advanced battery systems lab (which I had a chance to tour on the Volt drive) is the industry’s largest and most advanced, and it’s staffed by engineers who are fanatical about their work. Even better, battery development draws in third party suppliers like LG Chem, who in turn increase local hiring. GM’s even spent some $162 million upgrading powertrain facilities in Flint and Bay City, MI and in Defiance, OH. I wouldn’t say this is a return to the glory days of U.S. automobile production, but it’s a big step in the right direction towards reviving Michigan’s economy.
Left Lane News recently reported that GM has added an additional 1,300 jobs (including 300 new hires) to its Oshawa, Ontario plant to increase production of Camaro, Impala, Equinox and Terrain models, and will add another 700 workers to ramp up production of Camaro Convertibles and Buick Regals. That doesn’t sit well with those who feel that U.S. plants should see more growth (and hiring) than those north of the border, but the bottom line is this: GM is selling cars, and they need all the production capacity they can get right now. That’s a very good problem to have.