DETROIT — General Motors Co. will add 2,500 jobs at a Detroit-area factory, investing $69 million so the plant can make two new Chevrolet sedans.
The factory, which straddles the border between Detroit and the small enclave of Hamtramck, now makes the Chevrolet Volt and its European counterpart, the Opel Ampera. GM announced on Wednesday that it will upgrade the plant so that it can run around the clock making the new Malibu midsize car and a revamped Impala, a large sedan.
About 1,200 of the jobs will be new hires, since GM still has to recall about 1,300 laid-off workers in the U.S. But in Michigan, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, the jobs are big news.
The company gave no time frame for hiring new people or recalling laid-off workers. It said new hires at the plant will get around $14 per hour, about half the pay rate of veteran United Auto Workers union members.
The jobs are part of a larger GM expansion to create or keep about 4,000 jobs by investing $2 billion in 17 factories in the U.S. GM has already announced more jobs at plants in Bowling Green, Ky.; Toledo, Ohio; and Flint and Bay City, Mich.
"Filling this plant with new work is very satisfying because GM is dedicated to helping rebuild this city," Mark Reuss, the company's North American president, said in a statement.
GM said last week it would shut the Detroit-Hamtramck plant for four weeks starting in June, reconfiguring it to boost Volt and Ampera production from 16,000 cars per year to 60,000 next year to meet strong demand. It will also allow GM to add equipment to build the 2013 Malibu at the plant starting next year. The car also will be built in Kansas City, Kansas.
In addition, GM said it will build a long-overdue new version of the Impala at the factory. GM released few details about the car, which is expected to go into production for the 2013 model year. The current version is far noisier and lacks technology and handling offered by competitors such as the Ford Taurus. Now built in Oshawa, Ontario, it's the ninth generation of the Impala and went on sale starting in the 2006 model year. Spokesman Chris Lee would not say if the Oshawa plant would also build the new Impala.
GM sold about 70,000 Impalas through April, an increase of nearly 30 percent over the first four months of last year. Last year many of the cars went to large fleet buyers such as rental car companies.
Reuss told reporters Wednesday that the new version would be front-wheel-drive like the current car.
GM will stop producing two other big cars at the factory, the Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne, later this year.