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GM announces major investment in Lockport operations, preparing for electric cars

Lockport GM announcement, January 21, 2022
Michael Mroziak
General Motors Lockport Operations Plant Director Ken Johnson speaks during a presentation during which it was announced the automaker will invest $154 million to prepare space there for eventual production of components for GM's electric vehicles.

General Motors is announcing plans to invest nearly $154 million in its Lockport Components plant, to prepare it for a new role as the automaker begins a gradual transition toward all electric vehicle production.

Work will begin later this year on the renovation of space unused for many years, and equipment will be installed for the production of stator modules, a key component in electric vehicle motors.

The company also plans to hire up to 230 new employees, beginning next year and continuing through 2026, as GM continues on its planned path toward building electric vehicles exclusively.

“There will be a transition. We believe in the all-EV future and we're moving and we're preparing for that, moving for that,” said Gerald Johnson, GM’s Executive Vice President for Global Manufacturing and Sustainability. “We have a parallel strategy right now, because we don't know exactly the pace. We want to provide internal combustion engine product and EV product for the overlap. And then over the next 10 to 15 years, that's our estimate right now, we will move from internal combustion to all electric. But it's a journey.”

Officers of United Auto Workers Local 686 estimate they represent about 1,300 active employees at GM’s Lockport operations. When asked about whether the transition to electric vehicle production was a concern, local president Michael DeLucas expressed confidence in the workforce, calling them highly educated and a group that will know what to do.

“It's not going to go right away, but that's the goal that GM has set and we're just going to transition from internal combustion engines into the electric field. And that’s the future, so that's where we're willing to go,” DeLucas said. “You know, jobs are jobs. It doesn't matter if we’re making kazoos, as long as we're doing what we need to do.”

Among those present to celebrate the announcement was Senator Charles Schumer, who points to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and its provision of $7.5 billion to build out a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers. He stated that he’s also working to boost domestic manufacturing of computer chips and other critical parts that have caused disruptions in auto manufacturing. Lastly, he expressed hope for investments at GM's other operations in Tonawanda and Rochester, as well as Ford's plant in Blasdell, saying they are also important pieces of the Western New York economy, as is GM's Lockport plant.

“Over 230 jobs, all good paying, all union. And in addition, there'll be hundreds of other ancillary jobs because of suppliers and ancillary benefits,” Schumer said. “When money in good paying jobs flows into Western New York, it not only helps the families who get that money, it helps all the places they spend that money, the stores and the restaurants and the shops and everything else.”

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.