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GM to retool two assembly plants for new truck production

DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. announced plans Monday to refurbish its assembly plants in Flint, Mich., and Janesville, Wis., to build new trucks beginning in late 1991.

The nation's top automaker said the Janesville plant, operated by its Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac group, will be refurbished to build a new line of Chevrolet Suburban truck wagons and Chevrolet Blazer/GMC Jimmy sport utility vehicles, to debut for the 1992-model year.

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GM's Flint plant, operated by its Truck & Bus Group, will be retooled to build a new, as yet unspecified truck product following completion of Suburban and Jimmy/Blazer production at that plant, expected sometime in 1991.

No startup date was announced for the new truck model at Flint, although it too is expected to be sometime in 1991, GM said.

Costs of the modernization projects at both plants will be announced at a later date, GM spokesman John Hartnett said.

The change at Janesville also means that plant will end production of the Chevrolet Cavalier and Buick Skyhawk subcompact cars in late 1990 to allow the changeover to light trucks, GM said.

However, company spokesman Tom Klipstine said those cars could be reassigned to another GM assembly plant at a later date, depending on plant availability and market demand.

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GM's Flint plant is also slated to start production of crew cab and cab chassis light-duty truck models in April, after they are transferred from the Janesville facility.

The cab chassis will be built at Flint until the end of this year, while the crew cab will be built until 1992, Hartnett said.

The Flint plant now has approximately 3,850 hourly workers, and will add 600 additional employees when that production is transferred, GM said.

The Janesville plant, which currently builds light-duty Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks as well as the Chevrolet and Buick subcompact cars, has about 5,700 employess on its car and truck lines.

Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson said the new truck lines at Janesville will provide secure, continued employment for the plant's workers, and that further jobs may be created.

'I want to thank General Motors and Chairman Roger Smith for their faith in Wisconsin,' Thompson said at a news conference in Milwaukee.

Thompson also said the state of Wisconsin will be investing funds for job training at the Janesville plant, but he declined to specify the exact amount.

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