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GM unveils US$700m Ohio investment, plans to sell shuttered plant


GENERAL Motors on Wednesday announced plans to invest US$700 million in Ohio and to sell a shuttered plant to a company that makes electric trucks, drawing cheers from President Donald Trump who has assailed the US vehicle maker for cutting American jobs.

"GREAT NEWS FOR OHIO!" Mr Trump tweeted, revealing the details ahead of the group's official announcement. Shortly after the tweet, GM confirmed it is in discussions with Workhorse, a Cincinnati-based company that focuses on producing electric delivery vehicles, to sell its plant in Lordstown, Ohio. The factory employed about 1,400 workers prior to ceasing production in March.

CEO Mary Barra said in a statement that GM will "remain committed to growing manufacturing jobs in the US, including in Ohio, and we see this development as a potential win-win for everyone". Last November, GM shuttered five US plants, including vehicle assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio, as part of a 15 per cent cut in its workforce worldwide - affecting around 14,000 employees - a move that drew Mr Trump's wrath.

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In March, however, the carmaker announced plans to invest US$1.8 billion in US operations creating 700 new jobs. About US$300 million will be geared towards producing electric vehicles at the vehicle giant's Orion plant in Michigan, creating 400 jobs.

On Wednesday, the company said it intends to invest US$700 million in facilities in three Ohio cities, creating 450 jobs. That will allow GM to expand diesel engine production for heavy-duty trucks, truck transmissions and other parts.

GM did not specify whether the US$700 million investment was part of, or in addition to its commitment taken in March.

The US president has repeatedly berated companies by name to pressure them into investing more or reversing decisions on job cuts.

Workhorse CEO Duane Hughes said the potential agreement for the 50-year-old Lordstown plant "creates a positive outcome for all parties involved and will help solidify the leadership of Workhorse's role in the EV community".

GM separately announced on Wednesday that it will invest C$170 million (S$172 million) to transition its Oshawa, Ontario vehicle assembly plant that had been slated to close at the end of the year, to parts manufacturing and a future site for autonomous vehicle testing. The move will save 300 of the roughly 2,500 union jobs at the plant east of Toronto, with the possibility to grow employment, GM Canada president Travis Hester and Unifor union head Jerry Dias told reporters. AFP