Given the “year of the recall” spearheaded by General Motors Company (NYSE:GM), you’re certainly welcome to a forgiven double take at a headline that speaks of rising demand for GM vehicles. On the same day that the automaker rose its ignition switch malfunction death toll to 19, GM announced that it would add 750 jobs to the promised 1,315 jobs and investment of $513 million to0 its Wentzville, MO plant.
General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) dealers have already ordered over 30,000 Chevrolet Colorado pickup trucks according to an email statement the company made early today. The Wentzville, Missouri factory will also be responsible for the production of GMC Canyon mid-sized trucks as well as the anticipated to be popular full-size van, the GMC Savana.
In addition to dealer orders, close to 100,000 people have gone online to customize a Colorado or Canyon pickup though that process does not guarantee a sale.
The 750 workers will take their place on the assembly line in late February or early March and will augment the staff of 2,600 workers currently employed at the plant. With their addition, Wentzville will become the 7th GM plant operating around the clock over three shifts.
GM gambling on small pickups
The 1990’s saw the biggest demand for small pickups with Americans purchasing over a million a year on average given their fuel economy, low prices and ability to move small loads here and there. However, by the end of the 90’s larger trucks were able to increase their fuel efficiency rendering the small pickup nearly obsolete. General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) discontinued the production of both the Colorado and the Canyon just two years ago but is gambling that Americans miss that niche market that is best described as “outdoorsy Democrats who occasionally need to haul things on the coast.”
General Motors intends to start the Colorado at about $21,000 with the Canyon which is to target a more upscale audience starting around $26,000. It’s expected that the four-cylinder models of each will get roughly 30 mpg on the highway with the V6 models topping out around 26 miles to the gallon (highway).
While Wentzville and its new General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) employees will certainly welcome the jobs, they will begin at around $16 per hour rather than the $28 per hour enjoyed by longtime employees.