The two new models of Chevrolet's Malibu that will debut later this year demonstrate General Motors’ "new focus on the car market," Gary Cowger, president of GM's North American operations, said at a press gathering at the plant, according to Associated Press (AP).
AP said GM will have spent six months and more than $500 million getting the plant in Kansas City’s Fairfax Industrial District ready before workers start producing cars for consumers on August 11. Until February, the plant made the Pontiac Grand Prix.
The Fairfax plant will make the new Malibu and the Malibu Maxx, a hatchback scheduled to be unveiled next week in New York, AP said.
According to AP, GM plans to build 265,000 Malibus a year at the Fairfax plant. In 2002, GM sold more than 169,000 Malibus and 130,000 Grand Prixs. GM has not said how much the redesigned Malibu will cost, AP noted, but executives told the news agency it would be comparable to the price of the 2003 Malibu.
AP said the Fairfax plant shut down in February and has been undergoing an extensive retooling as it changed to the Epsilon manufacturing system, which allows GM to "build multiple products off of the same architecture," according to Troy Clarke, vice president of manufacturing and labor relations. GM moved production of the Grand Prix from Fairfax to a plant in Canada, AP added.
Some workers have helped retool the plant, but most Fairfax employees were laid off during the shut down, AP said. Those workers will begin to return to work in June, but a few are not expected back until next April.