Business First Look

General Motors says it will invest $1 billion in US factories

The Detroit automaker said that it will create or keep 7,000 jobs, including 5,000 new positions in auto-financing and technology development.

A trader passes the post that handles General Motors on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday. GM confirmed the company will make a $1 billion investment in its factories, which will create or keep around 1,500 jobs.
Richard Drew/AP | Caption

Amidst criticism from President-elect Donald Trump on moving jobs to Mexico, US carmakers have been busy making job announcements. 

General Motors (GM) on Tuesday announced its plan to invest $1 billion in US factories and to create or retain 7,000 jobs in the next few years, the Associated Press reports. Though the plan has been long in the making, GM’s announcement has been viewed as the latest from US auto companies eager to head off criticism from Mr. Trump. 

The new investment will create or keep about 2,000 factory jobs, with 450 new pickup truck axle-making jobs being moved to Michigan from Mexico, and another 5,000 new white-collar positions that will come in the next two or three years. 

"There's no question there is an emphasis on job creation in the US right now," GM spokesman Patrick Morrissey told the AP. "This is good timing for us to share what we are doing."

While these measures have been in the works for years, GM chose to announce it Tuesday – three days before Mr. Trump is sworn into the White House. The president-elect isn’t shy in tweeting about the "big stuff" he says he is creating:

The Detroit automaker already announced a $2.9 billion investment last year, and, according to the AP, has invested more than $21 billion in the United States since leaving bankruptcy protection in 2009, creating a total of 25,000 jobs in both white- and blue-collar positions. 

However, GM has also been planning to lay off about 3,300 employees at three plants in Ohio and Michigan within the next few months, according to Reuters. 

"[GM's] general plan is to build where we sell and we're focused on what we're doing in the United States," GM's chief executive, Mary Barra, told Reuters. 

GM’s announcement also comes two weeks after Trump attacked US automakers for building vehicles in Mexico and threatened to charge a 35 percent border tax on cars imported to the United States from Mexico. 

Since the election, several automakers have said they are investing to expand their US plants. No company has announced plans to build new US factories in the next few years, however, despite Trump's tweeted claim that "new auto plants" are "coming back into our country."

South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai said early Tuesday it is considering building a new US factory and will invest $3.1 billion in the United States by 2021. As Fiat Chrysler decided to invest $1 billion in its two US factories, Ford announced plans for creating 700 new jobs in Michigan.

But despite direct tariff threats from Trump, nearly all of the companies still plan to keep building small cars in Mexico, where wages are lower, to offset lower prices and profit margins. 

Ford, having scrapped its plan to build a new $1.6 billion small-car factory in Mexico, still plans to keep its compact-car manufacturing operations in Mexico, though at an existing factory. 

Ms. Barra said GM currently has no plans to change where it produces smalls cars, although Trump threatened to tax its Chevrolet Cruze hatchback compact cars. 

This story includes materials from the Associated Press and Reuters.