March 22, 2019 / 3:01 PM / 5 months ago

GM confirms plans to build new EV, invest $300 million in Michigan plant

(Reuters) - General Motors Co confirmed on Friday it will invest $300 million in a suburban Detroit assembly plant, adding 400 jobs to build a new Chevrolet electric vehicle.

General Motors Chief Executive Officer Mary Barra announces a major investment focused on the development of GM future technologies at the GM Orion Assembly Plant in Lake Orion, Michigan, U.S. March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

The largest U.S. automaker has come under heavy criticism from President Donald Trump in recent days over its decision to end production at its Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant earlier this month.

GM officials said the announcement was planned well before Trump’s series of angry GM tweets that started on Saturday. Trump called GM CEO Mary Barra on Sunday to urge her to reverse the decision to end production at the Ohio plant, which is in a crucial state for the 2020 presidential election. He again ripped the company in a speech in Ohio on Wednesday.

Barra, speaking to reporters after an event at the plant in Orion Township, outside Detroit, with Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announcing the investment, said GM is focused on ensuring that all of the hourly workers at Lordstown find new jobs at other plants. But she has shown no indication it will reverse course and reopen the Lordstown plant.

She declined to say if she thought there was more tension between GM and Trump.

“We want to create jobs, good paying jobs,” Barra said, saying her talks with Trump had a “business focus.” She said GM needs to remain “strong” in order to continue to add jobs.

Reuters reported on Thursday on GM’s investment plans for the plant.

Last year, GM said it would end production at five North American assembly plants and eliminate about 15,000 jobs, prompting outrage and a two-day visit by Barra to Capitol Hill to answer questions about the job cuts.

GM did not disclose the name or timing of the new GM EV but said it would be built on the same platform as the existing Chevrolet Bolt EV. GM did not disclose the name of the new EV or the timing of production.

The automaker said in total it is investing $1.8 billion in its U.S. manufacturing operations this year, creating 700 new jobs and supporting 28,000 jobs across six states.

Additional product information and timing for the new Chevrolet EV will be released closer to production.

Barra said after event that GM “supports” the proposed United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement “and we are making adjustments because we will comply” with new rules requiring additional North American content.

Reuters reported Thursday that GM was initially considering building the new EV in China.

In February, GM disclosed that it had hired Ballard Partners, a lobbying firm run by Brian Ballard, a fundraiser for Trump’s presidential campaign. The company has been eager to try to smooth over relations with the White House after Trump first began harshly attacking GM last year.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Additional reporting by Rebecca Cook in Orion Township, Michigan Editing by Dan Grebler

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