General Motors will invest $68 million to build components for both electric and gasoline-powered vehicles in Rochester, sustaining the 700-plus employee workforce at the Lexington Avenue facility well into the future.
The auto giant said it will spend $56 million to enable the plant to produce battery-pack cooling lines for electric vehicles, and another $12 million so workers can build intake manifolds and fuel rails for the sixth-generation V8 gas engines for trucks and SUVs.
“This is a good day for manufacturing in Rochester,” Doneen McDowell, GM’s manufacturing executive director, said at a Friday morning news conference. “These investments play key roles in our GM growth strategy.”
The moves address a need to continue the development and evolution of electric vehicles while also meeting current consumer demand for gas-powered trucks and SUVs.
In making the parallel investments in rather diametrically opposed facets of the auto industry, McDowell said GM can leverage it’s established manufacturing infrastructure to ensure increased market share.
“It’s how we’re going to win,” she said.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Gov. Kathy Hochul and a host of local political leaders attended the event. While there is no specific grant being used to fund the investment, there are benefits for GM in recent legislation dealing with electric vehicle production.
Rochester will be the only market for GM that produces the cooling lines currently used in Cadillac Lyriq, Hummer, trucks and in vehicles made by GM subsidiary BrightDrop.
“I remember the dark days when it looked like this plant would close,” Schumer said. “Electric vehicles are the future — GM knows it — and this plant is an integral part of that future.
“Rochester is going to be at the beating heart of one of the fastest growing industries we have in this country.”
The Rochester plant has been making parts for fuel systems for over 80 years, and while that will continue with components for the truck and SUV lines, the emphasis eventually will shift to EV components.
Which is why Congressman Joe Morelle (D-Irondequoit) quoted the late Steven Jobs, founder of Apple.
“Innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity, not a threat,” Morelle said.
The investments will maintain the workforce represented by UAW Local 1097, but growth is expected in the coming years “as we ramp up EV volume,” McDowell said.
But she emphasized that GM intends to continue to seize market share with truck and SUV buyers.
“Building the V8 engine is a good space to be in,” McDowell said.
That won’t change in the very near future. Studies show it’s possible that there will be a 50/50 split of gas and electric vehicles purchases as soon as 2030, so the shift away from manufacturing gas components will be determined by “consumer preferences and regulatory influence,” McDowell said.
“But we will continue to build combustion-engine trucks and and SUVs for years to come, with components made in Rochester.”
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