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General Motors' employees at the Toledo Transmission Plant celebrate GM's announcement of a $2 billion investment in U.S. assembly and component plants, creating or preserving more than 4,000 jobs at 17 facilities across the country, Tuesday, May 10, 2011 in Toledo, Ohio. (Steve Fecht/Courtesy General Motors/MCT)
Wednesday, May 11, 2011

GM announces it will add or preserve 4,000 jobs

TOLEDO, Ohio – General Motors Co. plans to add or preserve more than 4,000 jobs in eight states, CEO Dan Akerson said Tuesday, as the automaker bets on gaining market share while the Japanese earthquake and high gas prices shake up the auto industry.

GM’s six-speed transmission factory in Toledo is one of the 17 plants in GM’s planned hiring blitz. In Toledo, GM will spend $204 million on updates to retain 250 workers that will build new eight-speed automatic transmissions, Akerson said. The automaker intends in the coming months to share the names of other factories who are receiving a collective $2 billion in retooling and updates – dependent on approval of local tax incentives.

The upcoming hiring blitz includes last week’s announcement of 250 new jobs building Corvettes in Bowling Green, Ky. In addition, the Warren, Mich., Tech Center and powertrain plants such as those in Spring Hill, Tenn., and Tonawanda, N.Y., are targeted for new or preserved jobs, people familiar with the matter told the Detroit Free Press. GM also plans to add hundreds of new jobs at its Detroit-Hamtramck Chevrolet Volt plant, and is considering adding up to 2,000 positions, the Free Press has reported.

GM executives have said new fuel-efficient models such as the Chevrolet Cruze compact, the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric and the Buick eAssist hybrids have the company better prepared for high gas prices than when fuel costs rose in 2008. CFO Dan Ammann said last week executives are planning for prices to stay high. Analysts have also said GM is poised to gain market share this summer as shortages of Japanese vehicles continue.

New jobs at GM first go to the pool of laid-off U.S. workers, which currently numbers about 2,000. Officials had already said all those workers would be back to work sometime this year, so GM is expected to make new hires for at least some of the 17 plants.

Including the 4,000 new jobs, GM has promised to add or retain about 13,000 jobs since its 2009 bankruptcy. The hiring has come along with profitability: GM last week posted its fifth-straight quarterly profit.