Manufacturing

General Motors announces investments in plants, 3D printing facility, GM Defense center

The new Additive Industrialization Center will be home to GM's 3D printing efforts.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is in the midst of making a number of announcements regarding facility openings and investments. The latest news reveals that a new facility dedicated to 3D printing has just opened in Michigan; two GM engine plants, one in New York and another in Ohio, are getting upgrades; and subsidiary GM Defense is renovating a center in North Carolina for production.

Additive Industrialization Center

The 15,000-square-foot Additive Industrialization Center (AIC) has opened in Warren, Michigan. The center is new from the ground up and dedicated to the production of 3D parts that will be used throughout the GM lineup. GM is calling the center the "capstone" of their expertise.

"The core component of GM's transformation is becoming a more agile, innovative company, and 3D printing will play a critical role in that mission," said Audley Brown, GM director of Additive Design and Materials Engineering. "Compared to traditional processes, 3D printing can produce parts in a matter of days versus weeks or months at a significantly lower cost."

Inside the facility are 24 3D printers, which create polymer and metal solutions. Machines inside AIC are able to conduct selective laser sintering, selective laser melting, Multi-Jet Fusion, and fused deposition modeling. These technologies will be used to validate various applications for the parts in future vehicles, such as the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing. Chevrolet's race cars have also been trying out the parts.

Additionally, AIC is using the tech to create parts for retooling GM's production facilities. For the launch of the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade, GM"s 3D printing team printed nearly 100 hand tools. Normally, these tools would be made of aluminum and weight 10 to 40 pounds each. The new designs, printed using carbon fiber, weigh as little as three pounds and have

$76 million plant investment

General Motors engine plant Tonawanda New York Buffalo

The GM Tonawanda powertrain plant produces a number of engines for GM's trucks and SUVs.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM plans to invest $70 million into its Tonawanda, New York engine plant and over $6 million into its Parma, Ohio metal stamping plant. These manufacturing-related investments are being made to support demand for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks.

The Tonawanda investment will be used to increase capacity on the engine block machining line and the Parma investment will be used to construct four new metal assembly cells to support increased truck production volumes.

GM's New York plant currently produces the 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8, and 6.2-liter V8 family of engines for the Chevrolet Silverado, Suburban, and Tahoe; GMC Yukon and Yukon Denali; and Cadillac Escalade. It also builds the 6.6-liter V8 for Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickups. The SUV models have all been completely redesigned for the 2021 model year, a move that is likely to spur increased sales in the model line.

The Tonawanda engine plant is home to approximately 1,300 employees. The plant's hourly workforce is represented by UAW Local 774.

Ohio's Parma Metal Center processes over 800 tons of steel per day and services and supports approximately 35 customers, including the majority of General Motors North America produced vehicles. The plant is capable of producing up to 100 million parts per year.

The plant employs approximately 1,000 employees. Hourly employees are represented by UAW Local 1005.

GM Defense renovates North Carolina technical center

GM Defense Concord North Carolina

GM is repurposing its Technical Center in North Carolina.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM Defense LLC, a subsidiary of General Motors, has begun renovations of an existing GM building in Concord, North Carolina to support the production of the Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV). The company recently showed off the vehicle, which was part of the contract to create an agile all-terrain troop carrier. GM Defense won the $214.3 million contract for the production of the vehicles from the U.S. Army in June 2020 and the first ISV was delivered in October.

Construction at the 75,000-square-foot facility is expected to continue into early spring, with vehicle deliveries expected to begin in April. The facility will help to manufacture 649 ISVs and will support the production of up to 2,065 vehicles with additional authorization over eight years.

The location of the facility puts it near Hendrick Motorsports, which is already a Chevrolet partner for its various racing teams. Hendrick Motorsports is responsible for providing the chrome-moly steel exoskeleton of the vehicle frame, including the ISV ROPS system.

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Cadillac will be the first brand with Ultra Cruise

General Motors

Tesla has been in hot water for a while now for shenanigans pulled by owners abusing the automaker's advanced cruise control functions. While the company's Full Self Driving (FSD) tech isn't quite ready for primetime, other automakers are catching up – quickly. Today, General Motors announced Ultra Cruise, its advanced driver assistance tech that promises to allow hands-free driving in 95 percent of driving scenarios.

Ultra Cruise Ultra Cruise will build on Super Cruise functionality.General Motors

GM notes that its goal is to eventually roll the service out to all paved roads in the U.S. and Canada. When it launches, the service will work on over two million miles of roads, which could nearly double as the program expands.

Ultra Cruise will offer a host of automated driving features that build on Super Cruise:

  • Dynamic display system
  • Ability to react to permanent traffic control devices
  • Follow internal navigation routes
  • Maintain headway and follow speed limits
  • Support automatic, on-demand lane changes
  • Support left and right turns
  • Support close object avoidance
  • Support parking in residential driveways

The system uses LiDAR, radar, and cameras to build a 360-degree, three-dimensional picture of the world around it. An additional LiDAR unit is located behind the windshield. GM notes that a big part of the system is its Human Machine Interface (HMI), which communicates with the driver to alert them when they need to take control. Ultra Cruise-equipped vehicles will do this with a head-up display that helps drivers stay focused on the road, and will use the same driver monitoring cameras that are used in Super Cruise.

Ultra Cruise Ultra Cruise will enable hands-free driving in the majority of driving scenarios.General Motors

Ultra Cruise will first be available in Cadillac vehicles starting from 2023. There's no word on pricing or specific vehicle availability at this time.

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Honda notified dealers of upcoming supply cuts.

Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Honda, like all major automakers today, is truly a global operation. Though it produces plenty of vehicles here in the United States, many of the components it relies on for manufacturing come from elsewhere in the world. That means Honda, like the other auto giants, needs its global supply chain operating smoothly in order to prevent disruption. Unfortunately for Honda dealers and potential customers, disruption is what's about to happen. The automaker recently sent a letter to its dealers, forecasting reduced vehicle supply in the coming weeks.


2021 Honda Ridgeline No. 19 - Honda Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


The dealer letter, posted to the Civic XI forum and fan site, was dated August 25 and confirmed by a dealer upset with the development, according to Automotive News. In the letter, Honda cites the ongoing pandemic and microchip shortages as major factors impacting its production efforts. Total shipments to dealers could be cut by up to 40 percent, but not all models will be affected to the same degree.

The letter noted that supplies of the Pilot and Passport SUVs will hold steady, and shared that production of the Civic hatchback is on schedule. However, the situation is fluid and could change at any time, so there's a chance that timelines could speed up or slack off as necessary.


2022 Honda Pilot Some models will see more cuts than others.Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc


Honda is just the latest in a long line of automakers struggling to keep pace with demand in the face of several converging global crises. In an effort to keep vehicles rolling out of factories, General Motors has implemented selective feature cuts in some of its new vehicles, such as the removal of engine start/stop tech from some trucks and SUVs. Earlier this month, Ford Motor Company told Mustang Mach-E buyers to expect delays of at least six weeks as it grapples with the chip shortage, and will temporarily reduce production capacity at a few of its plants.

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