General Motors plans to invest about $1.5 billion to expand its operations in North America in 2013, Mark Reuss said today at an industry conference.
Reuss, president of GM North America, said more details will come soon regarding where the money will be spent and how many jobs it may create. He spoke after a dinner at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.
GM and most forecasters expect U.S. consumers to buy 15 million to 15.5 million new vehicles in the U.S. this year. That will require more production.
Reuss also said he can envision a day when "we have an affordable electric car that offers 300 miles of range with all the comfort and utility of a conventional vehicle."
GM revealed the all-new Cadillac ELR, which is based on the same plug-in electric powertrain as the Chevrolet Volt, on Tuesday. The ELR can travel 35 miles on electricity before a gasoline engine kicks in.
"I believe, and we at GM believe, that the public will accept and embrace electric vehicles," Reuss said.
Reuss said GM will continue investing $8 billion in annual product development and focusing on maximizing profits by not producing more cars and trucks than it can sell.
"For the most part, people are buying our vehicles because they're great vehicles, not because there's a gift basket full of cash on the hood," he said.
UAW President Bob King told the Free Press on Tuesday that he expects GM to add U.S. jobs "very shortly." The automaker has added about 18,000 hourly jobs since its Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009. King said that figure would top 20,000 eventually.
The automaker is weighing whether and where it needs to add work shifts to keep up with sales of specific models. GM is upgrading 70% of its U.S. product portfolio in 2012 and 2013.
The company last month said it would move production of the next-generation Chevrolet Camaro from its Oshawa, Ontario, plant near Toronto, to its Lansing Grand River assembly plant.
Critical to improving GM's profitability in the U.S. is the introduction this summer of all-new full-size pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. Some analysts and car critics have said that GM played it too safe with the new trucks, when the Ram pickups from Chrysler are fresh and Ford prepares to replace its F-150 for the 2015 model year.
But GM is hinting that it will upgrade the Silverado and Sierra quickly.
"There's much more to come from a truck portfolio perspective," Mary Barra, GM's senior vice president for product development, said in an interview this week.
GM drew a flurry of publicity and generally strong reviews for its all-new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, which was revealed to the news media Sunday night.
Positioned as a halo car for Chevrolet, Corvette is more important as an image booster than a high-volume seller.
"This is the best Corvette ever made, by a long shot," said Reuss, who said he joined the automaker because of his love for the sports car.
Reuss said GM introduced the first Corvette 60 years ago on Jan. 17, 1953, at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. "It's been the symbol of American engineering, styling and capability ever since," he said.
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