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GM announces mystery car

Lifting the lid: General Motors’ Orion factory near Detroit will be home to a secret new vehicle.

'All-new vehicle' gets green light at General Motors plant that will also make Bolt

23 Jun 2015

GENERAL Motors has announced it will spend $US245 million ($A316m) upgrading a plant on the outskirts of Detroit to produce a mystery vehicle, apparently alongside the upcoming Chevrolet Bolt EV hatchback due in 2017.

Playing its cards close to its chest, the company said the investment at the Orion factory would support the launch of “an all-new vehicle program unlike any in the plant’s 32-year history”.

Opened in 1983, the plant currently builds the Chevrolet Sonic (Barina) and Astra-based Buick Verano small cars, but previously built a wide range of large and mid-sized vehicles ranging from the Cadillac DeVille to the Chevrolet Malibu.

GM North America manufacturing and labor relations vice president Cathy Clegg said the investment would create 300 jobs.

“Orion Assembly is a breeding ground for manufacturing innovation,” she said.

“It serves as a model for how to engage the entire workforce at all levels to achieve success.

“The plant is up to the challenge of building this brand-new product, something it’s never seen before.”

The American press appears mystified as to the nature of the vehicle, but considering the list of vehicles previously made there, we can rule out conventional large, medium, small and light cars.

Reports that the all-electric Bolt will be manufactured at the plant have prompted speculation that the latest car might be another new-technology vehicle, perhaps a larger electric vehicle, a plug-in hybrid version of the Bolt or even the long-awaited fuel-cell car.

Either way, the announcement is a shot in the arm for the plant that has had a haphazard history, having been closed for two years in the global financial crisis from 2009 until a wage-cut deal with workers and tax breaks promoted GM to reopen it in 2011 to make the Sonic and Verano.

Workers have been facing further lay-offs due to a downturn in sales of those models, but now they can at least look forward to long-term stability once the Bolt and mystery vehicle come on stream.

GM has invested a total of $962 million in Orion since 2010. That includes $160 million for the Bolt EV program.

Holden has yet to confirm the Bolt for Australia, telling GoAuto recently that the business case was still be studied.

The Bolt concept that was revealed at this year’s Detroit motor show in January was fabricated at Holden’s Melbourne design centre.

With a range of more than 300km on a single charge, the Bolt EV hatchback employs advanced materials such as nano-composites, aluminium, magnesium, carbon-fibre and even woven mesh in the body to reduce weight and thus maximise range and performance.

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