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Made in America: General Motors

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author photo by Russ Heaps June 2018

Establishing exactly when General Motors first began building cars in America can lead to a spirited discussion among automotive-history buffs. If you consider the question strictly as it applies to GM, you get one date; if you consider the question when thinking of GM as a sum of its parts, you come up with one or two different answers. You see, William C. "Billy" Durant, running Buick at the time, formed GM in 1908, as a holding company for Buick. Oldsmobile soon joined the fold. Then Cadillac and GMC came on board.

When thinking of GM, vehicle production began in the year of its founding, 1908. Buick, however, began assembling cars in numbers (37 to be exact) in 1904 in Flint, Michigan. But -- hold the phone -- Oldsmobile built 635 cars in Lansing three years earlier in 1901. In fact, founded by Ransom Olds in 1897, Oldsmobile was considered the nation's oldest car company. Relatively, Cadillac, founded in 1902, was a young whippersnapper compared to Oldsmobile.

Regardless of whether you defend 1901, 1904 or 1908 as GM's first year building cars, it has a long, storied history of American production. Today, GM operates 12 vehicle assembly plants in the United States. Although we're talking American made here, we'll stick with the U.S. plants. GM does operate a total of five vehicle assembly plants in Canada and Mexico.

Where?

Arlington Assembly -- Located in between Dallas and Fort Worth in Arlington, Texas, the Arlington plant is just south of I-30. Employing 4,125, its 4,375 sq ft. facility sits on 250 acres. Its workforce earned more than $381 million in wages last year.

Bowling Green -- Situated on Corvette Drive in Bowling Green, KY, directly north of Nashville, TN, the Bowling Green assembly plant employs just over 1,000 workers assembling cars and engines. Its one-million sq ft. facility resides on 212 acres. Its workers earned more than $76.5 million in wages last year.

Detroit Hamtramck Assembly -- Calling Detroit home, this 4.1-million sq ft. facility is on East Grand Boulevard in the heart of the city. Its workforce of 1,732, earned more than $139 million in wages last year.

Fairfax Assembly Plant -- Spreading over 572 acres in Kansas City, Kansas, the Fairfax facility includes a stamping plant, as well. It has 95 acres under roof and employs 2,260 workers who earned more than $42 million last year.

Flint Assembly -- Currently the oldest of GM's vehicle-assembly operations, Flint Assembly is a 5.2-million sq ft. facility on 159 acres just southwest of Flint, Michigan. Its 3,574 workers earned more than $294.3 million last year.

Fort Wayne Assembly -- Occupying a 3-million sq ft. facility on 716 acres in Roanoke, Indiana, the Fort Wayne plant is just off of I-69, southwest of Fort Wayne. Employing 3,900 workers, it has 34.9 miles of conveyors through out the plant. Its payroll last year was $358.5 million.

Lansing Delta Township -- Just west of downtown Lansing, Michigan, this 3.6-million sq ft. facility is GM's newest U.S. plant and includes a stamping operation. It employs a total of 2,382 assembly workers and 232 in stamping. Earnings last year were about $265 million.

Lansing Grand River Assembly -- Located on 111 acres just south of I-496 in the core of Lansing, Michigan, this 3.4-million sq ft. facility also includes a stamping plant. Employing 1,685 assembly workers and 143 stamping workers, Lansing Grand River paid out $161.6 million in earnings last year.

Lordstown Complex -- Situated just off of I-76 in Warren, Ohio, to the northwest of Youngstown, Lordstown occupies a 6.2-million sq ft. facility on 905 acres. There is a stamping operation, as well. Roughly 3,000 workers there earned more than $181.6 million last year.

Orion Assembly -- To the north of Auburn Hills in Lake Orion, Michigan, the Orion plant occupies 4.3 million sq ft. Its 1,019 workers earned $101.5 million last year.

Spring Hill Manufacturing -- Made famous as the home of the short-lived Saturn brand, the Spring Hill plant resides in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Almost directly south of Nashville, it occupies a 6.9-million sq ft. facility on 2,100 acres. There are also engine-building and stamping operations. Its 3,028 workers earned $313.7 million last year.

Wentzville Assembly -- Situated in a 3.7-million sq ft. facility in Wentzville, MO, the Wentzville operation includes a stamping plant. Its 4,035 workers earned $345.2 million last year.

What?

Arlington -- GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, Cadillac Escalade and Escalade ESV

Bowling Green -- Chevrolet Corvette Coupe and Convertible: Stingray, Grand Sport and ZO6

Detroit Hamtramck -- Buick LaCrosse, Cadillac CT6, Chevrolet Volt and Impala

Fairfax -- Chevrolet Malibu

Flint -- Chevrolet Silverado and Silverado HD trucks, GMC HD trucks

Fort Wayne -- Regular and Double Cab Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra

Lansing Delta Township -- Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave

Lansing Grand River -- Chevrolet Camaro, Cadillac CTS and ATS

Lordstown -- Chevrolet Cruze

Orion -- Chevrolet Sonic and Bolt EV

Spring Hill -- Cadillac XT5, GMC Acadia, (late 2018) Holden Acadia for Australia & New Zealand

Wentzville -- Chevrolet Express and ColoradoGMC Savana and Canyon

When?

Arlington -- began production in 1954

Bowling Green -- began production in 1981

Detroit-Hamtramck -- began production in 1985

Fairfax -- began production in 1987

Flint -- began production in 1947

Fort Wayne -- began production in 1986

Lansing Delta Township -- began production in 2006

Lansing Grand River -- began production in 2001

Lordstown -- began production in 1970

Orion -- began production in 1983

Spring Hill -- began production in 1990

Wentzville -- began production in 1983

How?

Additionally, General Motors U.S. operations include 12 powertrain plants assembling engines, electric drive motors and transmissions. It has four metal centers, four components holding facilities, a tooling center and a battery assembly plant.

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