FORT WAYNE, Ind.—General Motors will invest $24 million to increase production of its full-size pickups at Fort Wayne Assembly.
GM CEO Mary Barra disclosed the investment May 30 at the plant, which began producing redesigned 2019 models of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 last summer. The auto maker said the investment will include enhancements to the plant's conveyors and other tooling to support the increased production—specifically crew cab models. Work is expected to be completed this summer.
The company declined to say how much the spending is expected to increase production at the plant, which has received $1.2 billion in investments since 2015.
"The team here at Fort Wayne has done an outstanding job helping us satisfy customers throughout this launch," Barra said in a press release. "Our product ramp-up was very smooth and the quality has been exceptional."
GM started producing crew cab models of the next-generation, or T1, pickups in July in Fort Wayne, followed by double cab models in October. GM's plant in Silao, Mexico, came on line to assemble regular cab and crew cab models at the beginning of the year. The pickups started arriving at dealerships in August.
Barra said sales of the crew cab models are "very strong," but overall sales for both pickups are estimated to be down through the first four months of the year—largely because of the ramp-up and launch preparation of the heavy-duty models.
The Automotive News Data Center projects U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Silverado were down 14 percent through April, while sales of the GMC Sierra increased 3.1 percent.
GM says combined sales of the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and GMC Sierra 1500 crew cab pickups were up 20 percent in the first quarter vs. a year ago. The company predicts another significant increase for the second quarter.
Barra's visit to Fort Wayne is the latest in a series of plant visits amid public scrutiny of the company's plans to idle plants in North America—particularly Lordstown Assembly in Ohio. They also come ahead of what are expected to be contentious negotiations with the UAW this year.