General Motors is investing $70 million in its Tonawanda, New York engine plant and another $6 million into its Parma, Ohio metal stamping plant. The investments are being made in order to strengthen pickup truck production.
With pickup sales remaining strong through the pandemic, GM is looking to boost engine block machining capacity at Tonawanda and metal cell assembly in Parma.
“GM continues to invest to strengthen our core business and respond to growing customer demand for our full-size pickups,” said Phil Kienle, GM vice president of North America Manufacturing and Labor Relations, in a statement. “Our Tonawanda and Parma teams are dedicated to building world-class products for our customers and these investments reflect our confidence in these teams.”
Tonawanda production includes the 4.3L V6, 5.3L V8, and the 6.2L V8 that are used in GM’s full-sized pickups and SUVs. GM recently faced criticism for apparently doubling down on these fuel-hungry engines while also boasting about its electric vehicles.
According to the Detroit Free Press, in a nearly hour-long interview on the Freakonomics Radio podcast, GM CEO May Barra defended against accusations that the company’s EVs are just “window dressing” designed to distract consumers.
“The way I look at it is, our strong truck business is funding our ability to go fast in EVs,” Barra said. “I would also say every single truck, every time we put a new generation out, it’s more fuel-efficient. The faster General Motors solves some of consumers’ concerns or challenges as it relates to EVs, the faster that transition will happen.”
The two plants employ about 2,300 people between them and the UAW is viewing GM’s move as positive. Terry Dittes, vice president and director of the UAW’s GM department, told the Detroit Free Press that the investment secures jobs for the union’s members.