For years, the St. Louis area was home to many automotive plants. Chrysler owned two plants in Fenton that opened in 1959 and 1966; the workers manufactured minivans and pickup trucks, but the plants closed in 2009 after Chrysler’s bankruptcy. Ford had owned a plant in Hazelwood since 1948 where all manner of different automobiles were produced, but it closed in 2006. GM currently owns and operates a plant in Wentzville that opened in 1983, but it is currently at low production.
But this could all be reversed soon.
General Motors recently announced plans to invest $380 million in the expansion of its aforementioned Wentzville plant by 500,000 square feet, and will introduce production of the completely redesigned Chevrolet Colorado. The expansion is expected to produce more than 1,260 jobs at the plant. The new truck – designed by GM’s Brazilian operations – is expected to hit markets in 2013 (after production of the current Colorado ends at the Shreveport, Louisiana plant in 2012).
The strangest announcement of the year came from a company that virtually nobody had heard of – Emerald Automotive, LLC. The UK-based company trumpeted plans to build its Extended-Range Electric cargo van on the grounds of the now-demolished Ford plant. The plant, when finished, is expected to bring 600 jobs to the area by 2014.
The new van, dubbed the “t-001”, is something of a groundbreaker. Emerald says that the van is supposed to have a total range of 463 miles per tank of fuel, with 66 of those from pure electric power. It is also expected to have a 0-to-60 time of 8.5 seconds, a top speed of 81 miles per hour, and an expected payload of 3000 pounds. Try that with your Prius.
Yes, the jobs may have left. But not for long, if current indicators have any say.