Spring Hill, once home of Saturn, reaches into the future with shift to EV production

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General Motors/Wade Payne

General Motors’ Spring Hill, Tennessee, assembly plant will wind down its current production of gas-powered CUVs and engines to make way for a $2 billion retooling and expansion to convert the former home of Saturn into an all-EV production facility. Cadillac’s LYRIQ will lead the charge as production ramps up in this new phase, though GM hints that Spring Hill will have a growing roll in GM’s EV portfolio.

For now at least, the Cadillac XT5 and XT6 will continue production at Spring Hill; GMC’s Acadia, built on the same C1XX platform, will move to GM’s Lansing Delta Township (Michigan) Assembly plant.

General Motors

Since EV drivelines have very different chassis packaging needs than their combustion-powered brethren, the assembly line at Spring Hill will undergo changes that support this new set of LEGO bricks. Every bit of tooling, from the conveyers to the droves of robots, will be altered and reprogrammed alongside a new infrastructure that handles the new high-voltage components.

Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO, says,”[General Motors is] committed to investing in the U.S., our employees, and our communities. These investments underscore the success of our vehicles today and our vision of an all-electric future.”

This move is one of a slew of tide-changing decisions from GM this year: it’s investing billions into its modular EV architecture and transforming its Detroit-Hamtramck facility into Factory ZERO, where its Ultium platform (and ethos) begins with the likes of the Hummer EV and Cruise Origin.

Entrance to the Visitors Center at General Motors’ Spring Hill Manufacturing complex in Tennessee. General Motors
General Motors

If anything, it’s a fitting future for an assembly plant that showed so much hopeful optimism over 30 years ago as the Saturn brand—GM’s all-American effort to dislodge the Japanese automakers from their domination in the small-car market—broke ground in 1985 and began production just five years later. The first to roll down Saturn Parkway was a red ’91 SL2, representing GM’s promise that the efficient and dent-resistant line-up would change the world. Or at least the U.S.

After the 2008 economic crash and GM’s bankruptcy brought those Saturn dreams crashing through the atmosphere, the plant idled as GM restructured, and Saturn got no piece of the company’s subsequent bail-out agreement. The once-Saturn-only plant got back to work about a year later, however, with the ever-popular Epsilon-based CUVs, notably the much-lauded GMC Acadia. The plant has continued to thrive producing GM’s 6.2- and 5.3-liter V-8s and 2.0- and 2.7-liter turbo-fours, bringing us to today’s announcement. While it may have not been the original goal of Spring Hill’s founding fathers, in many ways, the all-EV future does carry Saturn’s forward-thinking mission. We wish it a happier fate.

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