The new factory will have the capacity to build three to five different vehicles for various automakers, and employ 400 to 450 hourly workers on a single production shift, ASC said.
The Southgate company specializes in low-volume vehicle production such as the Chevrolet SSR pickup roadster.
ASC operates a plant in Lansing that builds 42 subassemblies for the SSR and is looking to add another North America factory with a capacity of 50,000 units per year. It hopes to select a site in 2006 and begin production in late 2007 or 2008.
With Detroit automakers expected to close as many as seven North American assembly plants over the next few years, ASC executives expect some low-volume cars and trucks to need a new home.
“With the North American automotive market splintering into niches, there is a growing need for efficient, low-volume assembly operations capable of producing complete vehicles in volumes of as low as 5,000 to 10,000 units per year,” ASC President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Wilbur said.
“We want to create a highly flexible, low-volume assembly operation with a total capacity of approximately 50,000 vehicles a year and capable of producing three to five different specialty vehicle models at once, for various automakers.”
The company has held preliminary talks with Michigan economic development officials, Wilbur said. State officials are expected to aggressively pursue the project to help counter a sharp decline in manufacturing jobs and one of the nation’s highest unemployment rates – 6.4 percent as of September.
“Michigan remains an attractive site because of its proximity to many of our suppliers,” Wilbur said.
ASC has held talks with four European and U.S. automakers, Wilbur said, and is evaluating “green field” sites as well as existing or idled facilities for the project.