General Motor’s Arlington Assembly plant should hear about plans to expand the plant on Tuesday. The expansion, expected to cost $1.2 billion, could add 1.2 million square feet to the plant and 589 new jobs.
GM has scheduled a 1 p.m. news conference to discuss the expansion. Among those expected to participate are Cathy Clegg, vice president, GM North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations; Cindy Estrada, vice president, UAW-GM; J. C. Jimenez, plant manager of the Arlington plant; and Gary Jones of the UAW.
In April, the Arlington City Council voted to establish an investment zone that allowed the city to offer GM tax incentives for the expansion project.
At the time GM officials said: “GM is developing a business case for potential future investment at Arlington Assembly. An investment would fund facility improvements aimed at strengthening the plant’s manufacturing capability. We cannot share details at this time.”
According to a staff report on the incentive agreement, “the city has proposed a real and business personal property abatement of 80 percent for ten years to include building permit and development fee waivers. The abatement will apply to the added value of the real property physical expansion, estimated at approximately $307 million, as well as the added value of new equipment, estimated at approximately $986 million.
“As a result of the expansion and upgrades, 589 new permanent jobs will be added, for a total of 3,179 jobs.”
In 2012, GM added a $200 million stamping plant at the facility. The Arlington Assembly Plant has been in operation since January 1954. It was the company’s first air-conditioned automobile factory. Arlington Assembly, which switched from car to truck assembly in 1997, is the only facility that builds GM’s award-winning, full-size SUVs – Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade. The SUVs now in production are all new and redesigned for the 2015 model year.
Demand for GM’s full-size SUVs has been so strong that the plant can’t make them fast enough, the company says. The Arlington factory has about 3,800 hourly workers on three shifts making the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and the Cadillac Escalade. The plant has basically been running flat-out for the past two years, and additional hiring is expected.
Sales of the big GM SUVs are up more than 10 percent through June, according to Autodata Corp. GM has sold more than 111,000 of the truck-based vehicles this year as low gas prices have helped shift U.S. buyers away from cars and into SUVs of all sizes. But the boom in SUV sales began even before gas prices fell.
The full-size SUVs also are among GM’s most profitable. Analysts say GM makes more than $10,000 per vehicle. When loaded with options, a Cadillac Escalade, the most expensive of the SUVs, can run more than $90,000. – The Associated Press contributed to this report.