SILAO, Mexico -- General Motors dedicated a $660 million transmission plant at its vehicle assembly, engine and stamping complex here Tuesday, Feb. 19.
The plant began operations about a month ago. It has an installed capacity of 1,500 six-speed transmissions a day, said Kevin Williams, GM Mexico president.
The plant builds a new six-speed rear-wheel-drive family of transmissions. Those gearboxes will be used in 25 different vehicles assembled around the world, including passenger cars and light trucks.
The transmissions are intended mainly for use on vehicles built at Silao. About 90,000 a year will be exported to Australia and other overseas markets. A plant in Ypsilanti, Mich., builds the same family of transmissions.
The Silao complex opened in 1995. It assembles the Chevrolet Suburban, Avalanche and Silverado Crew Cab, GMC Sierra Crew Cab and Cadillac Escalade EXT.
According to GM, the Silao-produced transmissions will use 4 percent less gasoline than traditional transmissions in certain applications. The transmissions also will improve fuel economy by up to 12 percent in conjunction with cylinder deactivation. That is when a V-8 engine shuts off two or four of its cylinders when cruising.
Williams said the transmission plant will employ 1,100 workers at full production. The complex already employs 3,900.
According to a company executive, GM looked at possible locations in a half dozen countries before building the plant in Silao, 250 miles northwest of Mexico City.
Mexicos president, Felipe Calderon, inaugurated the plant. Williams and Gary Cowger, GMs global manufacturing vice president, among others, joined the event.
The stamping plant began operations in 1997, followed by the engine plant in 2001.