Further to GM's announcement last week that it will invest $170m in its Ypsilanti, Michigan, plant to produce six-speed automatic transmissions, the automaker has said that it will invest a further $48m in its foundry in Bedford, Indiana, to produce transmission cases and converter housings for the gearboxes.

The investment, partly made possible with local incentives, will help transfer hourly and salaried employees to the expanded work. The investment covers partial facility renovation, including more energy-efficient melting furnaces; as well as new machinery, equipment and tooling to support the additional volume.

The Bedford Foundry, an aluminium melting, die-casting and permanent mould facility, produces transmission cases and converter housings for GM Powertrain six-speed transmission facilities in Ypsilanti and Warren, Michigan, and in Toledo Ohio, which are both ramping up six-speed transmission production.

Bedford also produces transmission castings, pistons and engine blocks for other GM Powertrain facilities.

Facility renovations are set to begin in July. Increased production of rear-wheel drive six-speed cases is already under way, and production will begin on front-wheel drive six-speed cases later this year. Full volume for both RWD and FWD cases is expected by late 2008.

By 2010 GM is planning to produce three million six-speed transmissions a year.

The 915,000-square-foot GM Powertrain Bedford Foundry employs 770 hourly and salaried employees. The foundry got its start in 1942 in an abandoned stone mill and opened in 1943. It was converted to an aluminum casting plant to manufacture aircraft parts during World War II.