Thursday, June 25, 2009

GM picks Michigan over Spring Hill

TOM KRISHER • AP Auto Writer • June 25, 2009 Michigan has won the high-stakes competition with two other states to build General Motors Corp.'s next-generation subcompact car, a person briefed on the decision said Thursday. State Rep. Ty Cobb, a Democrat who represents Spring Hill, confirmed to The Tennessean this afternoon that the new line of small cars will be going to Michigan. “It’s disappointing news that GM has not chosen this plant,” Cobb said. He will be part of a group of labor and political leaders who will hold a press conference at 10:30 a.m. Friday at the UAW labor hall in Spring Hill. The announcement that the car will be built at a retooled midsize car factory in Orion Township near Pontiac will come Friday, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan has not been made public. It will save about 1,200 jobs at the factory, which had been slated to shut down later this year. GM spokeswoman Sherrie Childers Arb declined to comment on whether GM had made a decision. Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen declined to comment on the report. At a press conference earlier today Bredesen said the state's bid to pursue the new GM car for Spring Hill was "nothing like" what the bankrupt automaker had originally asked for. The governor had earlier said it would take $200 million or more to keep the automaker here -- money the state does not have. A 10:30 a.m. news conference has been scheduled for Friday at the UAW 1853 hall in Spring Hill. Labor leaders, Spring Hill Mayor Mike Dinwiddie and state Rep. Ty Cobb, a Democrat who represents Spring Hill, are expected to discuss Spring Hill’s future, UAW spokesman Todd Horton said. The Orion Township plant, about 40 miles north of Detroit, had been in competition with GM factories in Janesville, Wis., and Spring Hill, Tenn., to build the car. The Orion plant now makes the Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet Malibu midsize cars, which also are made at a factory in Kansas City, Kan. GM announced when it filed for bankruptcy protection June 1 that the Orion and Spring Hill plants would go on standby status later this year, meaning workers could be called back if the company needs to increase production. The Janesville plant already closed in April. GM also is likely to announce that its Pontiac parts stamping plant will be retooled to make parts for the new car, based on the Chevrolet Spark. About 1,000 jobs could be saved there. Michigan, Wisconsin and Tennessee all offered incentive packages to GM in an effort to lure the plant. Childers Arb said earlier this week that a team of GM officials was working on the site selection and the company plans to make a decision by June 30. The automaker had said in documents submitted to Congress that it planned to produce up to 51,000 subcompacts per year in China and ship them to the U.S. starting in 2011. But in May, after the United Auto Workers union approved contract concessions, the company said it would build the three-door hatchback in the U.S. The Spark has a small turbocharged four-cylinder engine and is about the size of a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris. It is set to go on sale in Europe next year.

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