During 2014 General Motors will be celebrating 60 years of manufacturing in Texas at their Arlington, Texas plant while they transition from 2014 model year SUV’s to the onset of production of the all-new 2015 SUV line for Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC that will be coming to dealerships later in 2014.
Arlington Assembly has evolved and grown dramatically since it produced its first vehicle, a 1954 Pontiac Chieftan, from a plant that covered 1.25 million square feet and employed 1,850 Texans.
Changing from cars to light truck assembly (full-size SUV) in 1997, Arlington Assembly assumed singular manufacturing responsibility for full-size SUV products for the GM brands.
Over the period since, the full-size SUV market has grown significantly nationally and, particularly in Texas which makes the location in Arlington, near Dallas/Fort Worth, ideal for GM.
According to figures from the State of Texas, Arlington produced 275,000 full-size SUV’s in 2012. GM officials said, in November 2013, that their production numbers for the year were very close to the 2012 figures.
Looking at sales in Texas, Chevrolet Brand sources said they sell 30 percent of the Chevrolet Tahoe and 15 percent of the Chevrolet Suburban vehicles they produce in Arlington – in Texas.
To support that demand for production, Arlington has expanded several times over the years. The most recent, which is key to the all-new styling of the 2015 SUV line, is the 130,000 square foot - $200 million new metal stamping plant addition that brings the plant footprint to 4.375 million square feet - covering over 250 acres.
The new metal stamping facility at Arlington will reduce manufacturing costs by no longer having to stamp the parts (particularly body sheet metal) at facilities elsewhere that support pickup truck assembly and then transport them to Arlington. More importantly, the SUV line will no longer share some body panel metal with pickup trucks – resulting in new (different than pickup truck) body silhouette designs for the 2015 SUV line.
GM has invested a total of over $531 million in Arlington since 2009 to keep up with the demand for full-size SUV vehicles. A major element of the investment, before the metal stamping addition, was the $331 million re-tooling of the existing plant in preparation for the new 2015 models.
As the new stamping plant comes up to speed, with its three massive 1.5 million pound presses, the employment at Arlington Assembly will grow to around 4,600 Texans with a direct payroll impact of $293 million.
Sources: GM, GM Authority, Dallas News, State of Texas