TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — General Motors says it will spend $760 million to renovate its transmission plant in Toledo, Ohio, so it can build transmission lines for electric vehicles.
It is the first GM engine and transmission plant to begin the long transition from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles. The company aims to produce only electric cars by 2035.
The move will preserve the jobs of about 1,500 hourly and salaried workers at the Toledo plant, which currently produces four transmissions used in pickup trucks and many other GM vehicles with internal combustion engines. No new hires are expected.
“This investment helps create job security for our team in Toledo for years to come and is the next step on our path to an all-electric future,” Gerald Johnson, GM’s executive vice president of global manufacturing, said Friday.
The electric drive lines take energy from the batteries and turn it into motion on the wheels.
The 2.8 million-square-foot Toledo plant, built in 1956, will produce powertrains for future electric trucks, including the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks, as well as the GMC Hummer electric vehicles.
Friday’s announcement at the plant is good news for workers in Toledo worried about the future of their plant. GM has about 10,000 workers at engine and transmission plants across the U.S. Their futures are uncertain as the transition to electric vehicles gathers momentum.
“Of course, there’s always concern,” said Jeff King, president of the United Auto Workers union at the plant. “I think that’s reflected in the workforce that we have here, the quality of the product that we create.”
Most of the workers who gathered for the announcement on Friday were happy to hear the details that their plant will live.
“This is great news for our individual plant because we’re going to get a new product,” said worker Kim Hunter Jones of Adrian, Michigan. But she said she is concerned about workers at GM’s other engine and transmission plants, which have yet to guarantee they will make electric vehicle components.
GM’s Johnson, however, said the company wants to involve all of its employees during the transition. “Our goal is to make sure that everyone who works with General Motors today has the opportunity to transition into an all-electric future,” he said.
Another worker, Patrice Harris of Toledo, said the announcement means she won’t have to move from her hometown. Other GM workers were forced to relocate when their plants closed or did not receive new products.
“It means a lot to me because it means I still have a job,” she said. “I was born and raised, I don’t want to move.”
Johnson said he suspects the $760 million investment will qualify for some tax credits in the Inflation Reduction Act, but said that hasn’t been worked out yet.
GM says the plant will continue to produce transmissions for internal combustion vehicles, gradually transitioning to electric drives. Renovation work will begin this month, and production of electric vehicle components will begin in early 2024, Johnson said.
GM CEO Mary Barra has vowed to dethrone Tesla as the leader in electric car sales by the middle of this decade.