GM revs up production in Toledo - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

GM revs up production in Toledo

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The Toledo GM plant is in the middle of its summer shutdown for maintenance and upgrades but workers are gearing up for full production of a new transmission. As we've been reporting, the new Toledo built 8 speed transmission is going in the 2015 Corvette. Full production is still a few months away. The lines have been running for more than a month but it's a gradual ramp up process. The new product means new jobs and another big investment at the Toledo Transmission plant.

There are more than 400 horses powering the Corvette Stingray and a Toledo built transmission. In April, 13abc's Lissa Guyton had a chance to take it out for test drive. She was in the passenger seat of course. Bob Widmer is the 8 speed launch manager, "You get lightening fast shifts, faster than a manual and a lot of other high end performance vehicles. It also has a lighter transmission with two more gears. So while you have more shifting but you don't feel the jumps in between." 

The lines have been running for weeks, but Widmer says getting to full production is a gradual process, "We started slowly. We were building them in small batches and we learned a lot. We fixed a few things and and then we started building twice as many a day and we've learned a lot more and become a lot more efficient." 

The new transmission means more than a hundred new jobs and union leaders believe it will eventually drive in even more work. Ray Wood heads up UAW Local 14, the union that represents the workers, "We're hoping the more 8 speeds we build the more lines we will have to build for them, which would of course mean more work. That's what we're anticipating."

The Toledo workforce also build six speed transmissions. More than 5,000 a day roll off the lines and Widmer says the two transmissions will run together for part of the production process,"The 6 and 8 speed lines start in the same place. They have some shared equipment and some equipment that is specific to each product and then they end up in the same place."

Right now the 8 speed is only being made for the Corvette but that will likely change, "It's too early to discuss product proliferation but stay tuned. Is there potential for this transmission to end up in other cars? Absolutely." 

When compared with a 6 speed transmission, the 8 speed will save you up to 7% at the gas pump and it's the fastest shifting gear box GM has ever made. The 8 speed lines will be at full capacity sometime this fall. The new line obviously means another big investment at the plant. In just the last five years GM has invested about one billion dollars in Toledo.

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