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GM invests US$1b, adding 2,600 jobs at Tech Center campus

[MICHIGAN] General Motors Co said it will spend US$1 billion through 2018 to renovate and expand its sprawling 60- year-old Tech Center campus in Warren, Michigan, just north of Detroit, adding 2,600 jobs.

The project includes construction of new design studios and a multi-storey information technology building. Some existing R&D facilities will be rebuilt and renovated and the Advanced Energy Center, where GM works on battery technology, will get additional testing areas.

GM needs to add talent in areas from infotainment to advanced powertrains to keep up with regulations and competitors' offerings. Major automakers are all adding more software and computing power to their cars as they develop driver-assist technology that may lead to autonomous vehicles. They also must invest in electric-drive, hybrids and other systems to reduce pollution and fuel consumption.

"This is an investment in our people who work at the Tech Center because it is positioning the company for long-term growth by enabling new levels of innovation and collaboration into our workplace," Mark Reuss, GM's executive vice president over product development and purchasing, said in a statement.

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GM's investment is in line with what it costs to build a factory or develop a line of autos. But it's not out of the realm of what carmakers have to spend to build the product- development works and research centers they need to compete.

Toyota Motor Corp, the world's largest automaker, spent US$1.2 billion developing sites in Arizona, California and Michigan and has announced plans to invest almost US$200 million more. And that's just for its US operations. The company's primary product-development sites are in Japan.