One of the first orders of business for the new General Motors was to pick a source point for its new, as-yet-unnamed subcompact car, the same vehicle that once upon a time was to be manufactured in China. In a literal life-and-death three-way lottery, the assembly facility in Orion Township in Michigan got the nod over GM plants in Spring Hill, Tennessee (the original home of Saturn and now builder of the Chevrolet Traverse) and the Janesville, Wisconsin, truck-making facility, both of which will now be heading into "indefinite idling" mode as part of GM's restructuring. The Orion plant, which currently turns out both the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac G6, was slated to meet that same fate prior to this decision, which will provide a much-needed boost to Michigan's still-reeling economy.
Little is known about the new car that will be built in Orion, save that it will be about the size of the current Chevy Aveo and not be based on the upcoming European Chevy Spark, as had been widely rumored. According to Troy Clarke, president of GM North America, the plant will turn out about 100,000 annually starting in 2011, as well as up to 60,000 other unspecified small/compact cars. The decision is projected to save as many as 1200 jobs in at the Orion factory as well as another 200 at a body-stampings facility in nearby Pontiac. While both operations will still undergo temporary shutdowns later this year, as previously outlined on June 1 as part of GM's bankruptcy agreements, retooling is set to begin sometime in late 2010.
Clarke went on to note that: "Small cars represent one of the fastest-growing segments in both the U.S. and around the world. GM will be the only automaker, foreign or domestic, to build small cars in the U.S., and we believe Orion Assembly and Pontiac Stamping are well suited to deliver a high-quality, fuel-efficient car that competes with anything in the marketplace."