By Jeff Gilbert

FAIRFAX, KS (WWJ) – General Motors is investing $600 million in its Fairfax, Kansas Plant. This is the first specific announcement detailing where the company plans to spend $1.5 billion that it has promised to invest in North American facilities this year.

“This major investment is a vote of confidence in the employees and leadership of this plant and will allow them to continue producing beautiful, world-class vehicles like the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse – with the same quality workmanship that has defined the Fairfax complex for nearly 70 years,” said GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson.

This investment includes a new paint shop for the 68-year-old plant, as well as a new stamping plant, and other upgrades outlined by the company:

• Up to 20-percent smaller footprint, up to 50-percent less energy use per vehicle and reduced Volatile Organic Compound emissions
• GM-patented Radiant Tub Ovens, designed to use 20 percent less natural gas and 40 percent less electricity
• Thin Film Technology, which reduces water use and maintenance and eliminates hazardous chemicals from the waste stream
• Hyper Throw E-COAT, which places more coating in cavities and recesses for optimal corrosion protection.

This is on top of $2 billion that GM has already invested in the plant, which employs about four thousand people.

“The United Auto Workers have proudly built vehicles in Fairfax for decades and looks forward to being part of the upgrades that will be taking place in the plant,” said UAW Vice President Joe Ashton, who directs the union’s GM Department. “This commitment to the future of the plant and the workforce is a reminder to all of us that we build the world’s best vehicles, with the world’s best people.”

The investment announcement was made during a Monday mid-day ceremony at the plant.

“General Motors is one of the largest employers in Kansas and Kansas City and this announcement plays an important role in continuing to grow the economy of Kansas,” said Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback.

General Motors is expected to outline some of its other investments soon, including investments in Detroit area facilities. All of the major auto companies–domestic and imports–are upgrading or expanding their North American facilities.

“North America is becoming definitely a place that we’re seeing a lot of activity from,” says analyst Bill Visnic.

Visnic says this part of the world is playing an important role for all global manufacturers.

“As we see instability in Europe, as we see high costs in Japan, the US has become a very stable place to be.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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