After a 12-month retooling and an investment topping $600 million, General Motors' Spring Hill Manufacturing today kicked off the start of regular production of the all-new 2009 Chevrolet Traverse, GM's newest crossover vehicle to be introduced in the market.

GM announced the investment and named the new product for Spring Hill Manufacturing in October 2007. Since then, major construction and rebuild of the plant production areas have been underway in preparation for today's milestone.

"The all-new Chevy Traverse is the right product for the market today and we've got the right manufacturing team building it here in Spring Hill," said Troy Clarke, GM executive vice president and president of GM North America, who was present for the production celebration with employees. "The Chevy Traverse is fast becoming one of our most important volume products as buyers increasingly turn to more fuel efficient crossovers with today's rising cost of fuel. Traverse is a leader in its segment in highway fuel economy thanks to its new 3.6-liter V-6 engine with direct injection technology."

GM's Clarke was joined by Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and local government officials in acknowledging the significance of the facility in the state and the Spring Hill community.

The $600 million investment in the facility included a 500,000 square foot addition to the plant paint shop for a state-of-the art e-coat phosphate primer system. It also encompassed a complete clearing and rebuilding of the facility's 1.2 million square foot general assembly area.

In addition, the conversion of the plant to produce the new Chevy Traverse included the following:

Addition of 31 miles of new conveyor systems throughout the plant's body shop, paint shop and general assembly manufacturing areas.
Installation of 1,625 tons of support steel in the general assembly building as part of the complete reconfiguration of the assembly line there. More than 22,000 tons of scrap metal was recycled in this part of the project.
Complete facility refurbishment and installation of 623 new robots in the 850,000 square foot, state-of-the-art body shop, that perform 3,826 weld spots on each Chevy Traverse for exceptional dimensional and structural integrity of the vehicle.
Installation of an all-new 3.6-liter V-6 engine dress line at the site's engine plant to support the assembly operations.
Installation of an all-new logistics optimization center for the kitting and sequencing of material and the expediting of material to the assembly line.
Refurbishment of five polymer mold injection presses that manufacture each Chevy Traverse front fascia using 33 lbs of polymer.
The launch of production at Spring Hill Manufacturing is one of GM's fastest from plan development to product rolling off the line.

"I commend this workforce for their total focus in getting the Chevy Traverse to market on time, with the highest quality and hitting all deliverables. Your winning attitude just proves that we made the right decision in bringing this important new product to Spring Hill Manufacturing," said Clarke.

The GM Spring Hill Manufacturing facility is located in Spring Hill, a growing community located 40 miles south of Nashville. The plant lies within the borders of Maury County. Approximately 3,481 workers are employed at the site. Hourly employees are represented by UAW Local 1853. More than 3.752 million vehicles have been produced at the facility since it opened in 1990.