USA: Parochial GM town Flint builds first foreign-brand vehicles - report
A city known for its ties to General Motors is now making Isuzu Motors trucks, Associated Press (AP) reported.
The first Flint-built Isuzu rolled off the assembly line this week at GM's Flint Truck Assembly Plant. The large white truck was the first vehicle with a foreign nameplate ever built in the city, AP said, citing The Flint Journal.
The report said the truck is almost identical to the tilt-cab model built by Chevrolet and GMC.
AP said that Flint is an unlikely home for a foreign vehicle maker. More than 78% of new cars and trucks sold in the greater Flint area in 2002 were GM brands.
The report noted that union halls have signs telling visitors to park their imported cars elsewhere. And former Flint Mayor Woodrow Stanley banned foreign cars from the city hall parking garage.
But Isuzu is 12% owned by GM and its addition to the plant has been welcomed, Mark Hawkins, shop chairman of UAW Local 598, told AP.
"It's jobs -- it's a joint venture with GM and Isuzu," Hawkins, whose local represents hourly workers at the Flint truck plant, told Associated Press. "It's a General Motors vehicle with an Isuzu nameplate."
AP said that Isuzu supplies the cabs and engines for all three brands of tilt-cab trucks, UPF of Flint supplies the bare chassis and the truck plant assembles the vehicles.
The cabs for the Isuzu trucks are made in Japan and shipped to the new TNT Logistics North America-Isuzu plant in Mount Morris Township, where finish work is done. The completed cabs are shipped to the Flint truck plant, where they are joined with a chassis, AP added.
AP said that Isuzu brand trucks used to be built with Chevrolet and GMC tilt-cab trucks at a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, until last June.