General Motors’ big expansion



General Motors is about to announce expenditure of more than $US1 billion ($A1.35 billion) on a huge expansion of its SUV factory in Arlington, Texas.

Specifics of the investment are unknown, but it is expected to be announced at a news conference at 1pm US Central Time (0400 Tuesday AEST) at the factory.

GM’s manufacturing and labor relations chief, Cathy Clegg, and United Auto Workers Vice President Cindy Estrada, who handles negotiations with GM, are among those scheduled to attend.

Demand for GM’s full-size SUVs has been so strong that the plant can’t make them fast enough. The Arlington factory has about 3,800 hourly workers on three shifts making the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and the Cadillac Escalade. The plant has basically been running flat-out for the past two years, and additional hiring is expected.

Sales of the big GM SUVs are up more than 10 per cent through June, according to Autodata Corp. GM has sold more than 111,000 of the truck-based vehicles this year as low gas prices have helped shift US buyers away from cars and into SUVs of all sizes. But the boom in SUV sales began even before petrol prices fell.

The full-size SUVs also are among GM’s most profitable. Analysts say GM makes more than $US10,000 per vehicle. When loaded with options, a Cadillac Escalade, the most expensive of the SUVs, can run more than $US90,000.


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