DMAX to invest $82M and 150 new jobs

GM: Market hungry for big trucks needs more engines

The DMAX truck engine plant will see its first capacity increase since the mid-2000s after an $82 million investment that will lead to the hiring of 150 new workers, General Motors and Isuzu said Thursday.

Officials wouldn’t say how many more diesel engines the Moraine plant will produce annually, but a market hungry for big trucks — from half-ton to full-ton size — demands the increased production, said Scott Whybrew, General Motors North America manufacturing manager.

“It’s for productivity,” Whybrew said. “We have a lot of customers out there, and the truck market is very strong.”

No timeline was given for the investment, but it is imminent, said Matt Gross, manager of the plant at 3100 Dryden Road.

Some 570 workers are employed today at the facility, which was built in 1998 and 1999. Some $856 million has been invested into the plant since 2000.

GM has a 60-percent ownership stake in the operation while Japanese truck-maker Isuzu has a 40-percent stake. The plant is the last remaining Dayton-area manufacturing site with a GM ownership stake.

“This is a great news for the plant,” Whybrew told a large group of workers who had gathered on the plant floor for the midday announcement.

DMAX makes the famed Duramax 6.6L turbo diesel engine, found in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models. The current model is certified at 397 horsepower at 3,000 rpm, with 765 lb-ft of torque at 1,600 rpm.

Maho Mitsuya, executive vice president of the Isuzu Technical Center of America Inc., complimented workers at the plant for their hard work and conveyed praised from Isuzu.

“I love you guys,” Mitsuya said to obvious affection from workers from cheered loudly when he took the podium.

For all the good news Thursday, there was a time when the plant’s future was in doubt.

GM closed a nearby SUV assembly plant in late 2008 and for months after that, the automaker was quiet about the future of DMAX. At times during the recession, the plant laid off workers.

But slowly over time, GM announced updated truck engines and tooling updates at the site, which encouraged workers and city leaders. As recently as last year, GM invested $60 million in retooling at the 584,000-square-foot plant.

“It has just been a natural progression over the last few years,” said Mike Davis, Moraine development manager.

While a GM press release said the investment depends on state and local incentives, Whybrew and Davis said the investment is not contingent on approval of such incentives. Whybrew said GM has long valued its “partnership” with the state of Ohio, and Erik Collins, Montgomery County development director, said the county stood ready with workforce training incentives should those be needed.

So far this year, GM has announced investments in U.S. facilities totally almost $6.7 billion, creating about 3,500 new jobs and protecting 16,000 current jobs, Whybrew said.

The investments “illustrate our belief in our new vehicles, our confidence in our outstanding workforce and our commitment to the communities in which we operate,” he said.

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