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From Auto week about the modifications to their Saturn Spring Hill facility to multi-platforms with steel body panel. Just maybe that might include Kappas.

http://autoweek.com/printwindow.cms?newsId=102713&pageType=news

Saturn plant prepares for makeover as GM ponders what vehicles to build there
LINDSAY CHAPPELL | Automotive News
Posted Date: 7/4/05
General Motors will move ahead with a major reconstruction of its Saturn plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., as it ponders what vehicles to build there.

Industry sources said late last month that GM is considering moving the plant's current Saturn products, the Ion and Vue, to other GM factories. And studies are under way to determine what to build at Spring Hill.

But the planning won't stop a scheduled $400 million overhaul of the 15-year-old plant. Preparations for the work are in progress, says Mike Herron, chairman of Saturn UAW Local 1853. Construction could begin in November, he says.

A GM spokeswoman said the automaker was not at liberty to discuss the plans or the Spring Hill labor agreement.

Whatever GM's ultimate product plans are at Spring Hill, Herron says the automaker committed to several major changes in a UAW contract that went into effect there in February:

>> A switch from building polymer-paneled vehicles to steel-paneled ones after 2007. Since Saturns first went on sale in 1990, the brand has promoted the merits of the dent-resistant plastic body panels it produces in-house in Spring Hill. This doesn't necessarily mean the Ion and Vue will drop plastic panels at their new assembly plants.

>> GM's C-Flex body shop - a production system in use at GM's newest plants that will allow Spring Hill to build multiple steel-paneled vehicles on different platforms.

>> An enlarged and more versatile paint system that will let Spring Hill build not only multiple models, but larger ones. The plant was built to accommodate small Saturn cars, which crimped Spring Hill's ability to lobby for larger vehicles as the market drifted away from small cars over the past decade.

>> Redeployment of Saturn's plastics operations from producing body panels to making other polymer vehicle components.

Getting ready

"We obviously don't know yet what GM will ask us to build in the future," Herron says. "But we're upbeat about what's going to happen here. A lot of people and the media have been thinking the worst about our future, when in fact it's really looking pretty promising."

A late-2005 start of construction would allow Spring Hill to begin building a new line of products for the 2008 model year. The renovation would be done as Spring Hill continued building the Saturn Ion and Vue SUV.

It is not unusual for an assembly plant to suspend production while it tools up for a new product. Plants also sometimes sit underused for periods while automakers figure out future product strategy.

What makes the uncertainty at Spring Hill surprising is that the plant is one of GM's crown jewels. GM has invested $3.5 billion there since launching the venture in the late 1980s. It remains one of GM's most modern plants and has a well-trained work force of 5,800 hourly employees.

The operation is not only large - with the capacity to build at least 400,000 vehicles a year - but also diverse. It has competencies in aluminum casting, plastic injection molding, engine building and modular component build-up.

Spring Hill = Saturn

But Spring Hill was built to be synonymous with the Saturn brand. And the Tennessee plant was designed to stand apart from other GM factories, with unique production practices, a separate union contract and unique work rules.

"It's a little bit of an emotional change," Herron admits. "I'm like everybody else at Spring Hill. I came here in 1990 to build a different kind of car. I believe in what Saturn stands for.

"But we're also realists. As the Saturn factory, we were always going to be limited in how much we could do. Imagine if all the speculation is true and we get a chance to build vehicles for the rest of GM. That means instead of building cars for just 300 or 400 Saturn dealers, we'll be taking orders from thousands of retailers."
 

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I doubt they'd do Sky in TN....they paid 50 mil to upgrade DE plant for kappas and they have a lot of room not used yet there still.
 

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i remember them marching the robots across the street into the saturn plant. It was one of the things that got me into the field of science. I guess in a way, GM is responsible for me becomming a physicist.
 

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sky

The solstice and sky is not built like a traditional auto. It would not make any sense to add all the equipment for 1 bodyline. But when did GM do anything that made sense?
 

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The Sky will be built in Wilmington alongside the Solstice. Expect the Tenessee plant to build a different product, and possible vehicles for other GM divisions than Saturn.
 

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Gmlinedog said:
The solstice and sky is not built like a traditional auto. It would not make any sense to add all the equipment for 1 bodyline. But when did GM do anything that made sense?
You most certainly know better than I Linedog but I guess they made sense when the decided to build my Solstice! And when they hired a helpful guy like you! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
 

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Wouldn't they just start building the Aura there?
 

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mceb said:
I doubt they'd do Sky in TN....they paid 50 mil to upgrade DE plant for kappas and they have a lot of room not used yet there still.
I have been trying to find GM's total Kappa building capacity, to no avail. Do you have any suggestions?
 

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Alwaysthatway said:
I have been trying to find GM's total Kappa building capacity, to no avail. Do you have any suggestions?
Hard to know for sure. Publically quoted #s have been 20k Solstice, 10-15k Sky and <5K Opel. so total around 35k? They also have room in Wilmington for more production but they'd have to fork up $$$ to convert new space for production I guess.

There was a lot of early info a couple years ago that kappa was designed to make profit at low volumes so the idea was not to over-extend yourself and have too much capacity with falling demand (once things level off).
 

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does anyone know where the body panels are made at?? Did they install the presses at wilmington? or are they made at another plant??

GMLineDog might be able to answer this.
 

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deacon said:
does anyone know where the body panels are made at?? Did they install the presses at wilmington? or are they made at another plant??

GMLineDog might be able to answer this.
IIRC, the process is from a Japanese company, but I think they may be made in Canada.

I seem to recall hearing or reading this, but I'm not sure now.
 
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