Flint, Michigan Auto Industry

Flint, Michigan Auto Industry

Flint, Michigan is a city which has previously relied on its automotive industry.


In the past several decades, General Motors plants in Genesee County have endured complicated renamings, management shifts, closures, and spinoffs.

Plant history

Buick Motor Division

Division HQ and Assembly, Engine, Parts Plants/Buick City/Powertrain Flint North

Hamilton Ave. Oldest buildings opened 1904.

This is far and away the largest GM complex in the world. Buick originally opened in Flint on W. Kearsley St.; this plant closed soon after the Hamilton site opened.

In 1983, Buick announced plans for Buick City, inspired by Toyota's "Toyota City" plant, which would combine Buick's assembly and Fisher #1's body-building operations. Production of rear-wheel drive cars at Buick's Hamilton Ave. plant ceased. After extensive gutting, installation of robots and other new tooling, and the construction of a new body shop and just-in-time delivery docks, Buick City began building front-wheel drive vehicles in 1985.

Buick Motor Division became merely a marketing and public relations entity in 1984, when the Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac Group (BOC) was created and took over engineering and assembly control from Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and the GM Assembly Div. (dissolved in 1984).

GM created the Flint Automotive Div. to manage BOC's activities in Genesee County, which included the former Buick factories and engineering. BOC dissolved in 1992 and eventually its functions were transferred to the Cadillac/Luxury Car Division (not to be confused with the Cadillac Motor Car Division, the traditional Cadillac operation).

Buick City closed in June 1999. It and some other former Buick buildings not technically part of Buick City were demolished from 2001 to 2003. Buick Motor Div. administration moved to Detroit in 1998. The 1960s former Buick World HQ building, after briefly housing EDS workers until 2003, was demolished in 2006.

Adjacent former Buick transmission, transmission parts, engine assembly, and engine parts plants remain open, known as GM Powertrain Flint North. However, GM announced in 2005 that the 3800 V6 Engine Plant will close in 2009. According to GM’s website, 1,152 hourly and 217 salaried workers are at Powertrain Flint North. [ [http://www.gmdynamic.com/company/gmability/environment/plants/facility_db/facility_summary.php?fID=168 GM Global Operations - US Facilities: GMPT Flint North] ]

AC Spark Plug Division/Delphi Corporation

Industrial Ave. Plant.

Built no later than 1912 it replaced the original 1908 operation inside a Buick building. It closed around 1976, and was demolished within a couple of years.

Dort Hwy. Plant and division HQ/Delphi Flint East

Spark plugs, air, oil, & fuel filters, instrument clusters, many other parts. Opened ca. mid-1920s in former Dort Motor Co. plant.

The Dort Hwy. plant became known as Flint East when AC took over the old Chevy Mfg. operations on Chevrolet Ave. in 1987. In 1988, AC Spark Plug merged with GM's Rochester Products Div. and was renamed AC Rochester. World HQ remained in Flint, soon moving to the Great Lakes Technology Center (see Fisher Body #1). In the late '80s, parts of Flint East were turned over to GM's Delco Electronics. In 1994, AC Rochester merged with Delco Remy and became the short-lived AC Delco Systems.

1995 saw the creation of Delphi Automotive Systems, which took over Flint East. In 1999 GM spun off Delphi. Spark plug production ended at Flint East in early 2006. Under an agreement reached by Delphi, General Motors, and the UAW in June 2007, Flint East and two other plants would remain open, but operated by GM or a third party designated by GM. Hourly employment at the plant at that time had diminished to approximately 1,100 people.

Recently, a new GM Service Parts Operations packaging/processing center has opened in the easternmost plant in the complex, on Davison Rd. in Burton.

Flint West

See Chevrolet Motor Division - Flint Manufacturing Division

Chevrolet Motor Division

Flint Manufacturing Div./Delphi Flint West/Flint Tool & Die

Chevrolet Ave. Ca. 1913.

Comprising the Motor Div. (engine assembly and engine parts plants) and the Pressed Metal Div. (parts plants). Includes the pre-World War II Chevrolet Assembly (Plant 2) and Fisher Body #2 plants. (renamed Chevy Plant 2A).

In 1984, due to smaller sales of four-cylinder engines, the Chevrolet Flint Motor Plant (Plant 4) closed-- after millions of dollars in improvements circa 1980. Also in this year, the newly created Chevrolet-Pontiac-Canada Group briefly took over Chevrolet Mfg. from Chevrolet Motor Div., but soon the newly formed Fisher Guide Div. acquired the complex. In about 1987, "Chevy in the Hole" was taken over by AC Spark Plug and became AC Spark Plug Flint West. In 1988, it became AC Rochester Flint West, and in 1994, AC Delco Systems Flint West. In early 1995, it was renamed Delphi Flint West.

Also circa 1995, "Chevy in the Hole" began to slowly disappear. Among the first plants to go were the truck garage, Plant 5 (former engine parts), and administration building. This process continued until 2004, when Plant 4 (which had reopened some years after it initially closed in 1984) shut down and was demolished. Plant 4's last products were generators and fuel filters.

The only remaining buildings are Building 35 and Plant 38. 35 (originally housing new car delivery, later heat treat) was donated to Kettering University (originally General Motors Institute) in 1996. After addition of another floor and a completely new facade, it now houses its Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry Center. Building 35 built the first Corvette prototype, circa 1953. Plant 38, the Die and Engineering Center, opened in 1967, is still operated by GM and known as Flint Tool and Die, with a small sign proclaiming the name on Stevenson St. According to GM’s website, at Flint Tool & Die there are 228 hourly and 25 salaried workers at present. [ [http://www.gmdynamic.com/company/gmability/environment/plants/facility_db/facility_summary.php?fID=147 GM Global Operations - US Facilities: Flint Tool & Die] ]

Flint Assembly Division/Flint Truck Assembly

Van Slyke Rd. 1947. Car and truck assembly.

In 1970, Chevrolet Assembly converted to truck-only production. GM created the Truck & Bus Group in 1981. GM Assembly Div. then transferred the Chevrolet Flint Assembly plant to Truck & Bus. The Truck & Bus Group was later renamed North American Truck Platforms, and now calls itself the GM Truck Group.

Flint Truck Assembly remains an important operation for GM. It builds Chevrolet Kodiak and GMC TopKick commercial trucks, along with Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks. In Dec. 2004 GM announced it would invest $150 million for retooling at this plant. After a high of at least 8,000 workers at Fisher 2 / Chevrolet Assembly, 2,966 hourly and 282 salaried work there today. [ [http://www.gmdynamic.com/company/gmability/environment/plants/facility_db/facility_summary.php?fID=117 GM Global Operations - US Facilities: Flint Truck Assembly] ]

Flint Frame & Stamping Plant/Flint Metal Center

Bristol Rd. Opened 1954.

Operated by the Chevrolet-Pontiac-Canada Group from 1984 to 1992 and eventually by the Metal Fabricating Div., this plant is now known as the GM Flint Metal Center. GM has spent over $60 million upgrading this plant in recent years. Two thousand hourly and 180 salaried workers are there today. [ [http://www.gmdynamic.com/company/gmability/environment/plants/facility_db/facility_summary.php?fID=146 GM Global Operations - US Facilities: Flint Metal Center] ]

Flint V8 Engine Plant/Flint Engine South

Van Slyke Rd. Ca. 1953. This closed circa 1999 and was soon demolished. Immediately south of it, GM built the $500 million Flint Engine South to build the Atlas L6 [piston engine|Engine] plant that opened in 2000. A $300 million addition, recently opened, builds the High Feature V6 engine engines. [ [http://www.gmdynamic.com/company/gmability/environment/plants/facility_db/facility_summary.php?fID=167 GM Global Operations - US Facilities: GMPT Flint Engine South] ]

National Parts Distribution/Service Parts Operations

Bristol Rd., Swartz Creek. 1957.

This merged with other car divisions' parts operations in 1969 and renamed the GM Parts Division (later Warehousing & Distribution)aka Gum Wad. In the late 1990s, GM's worldwide parts purchasing and distribution office headquarters moved from here to a new building in Grand Blanc Twp. Known presently as Service Parts Operations-Flint, the Swartz Creek facility remains open, with large amounts of vacant office space. Currently, 595 hourly and 70 salaried workers are employed at SPO Flint.

Recently, a new processing/packaging center has opened on Davison Rd. in Burton, in a former AC Spark Plug (later Delphi) plant.

[ [http://www.gmdynamic.com/company/gmability/environment/plants/facility_db/facility_summary.php?fID=198 GM Global Operations - US Facilities: SPO Flint] ]

Fisher Body Division

Flint Plant #1

S. Saginaw St. Buick bodies and pressed metal parts. GM bought this plant from Durant Motors no later than 1935. It had opened in early 1920s as Durant Motors HQ, producing the "Flint" car.

In 1984, Fisher #1 became BOC Flint Body Assembly. After Buick ceased building rear wheel drive cars and Buick City got underway, BOC Flint Body Assembly got a reprieve by building bodies that were trucked to GM assembly operations in Pontiac, Michigan. The plant closed in Dec. 1987. Most of it was demolished in 1988, except for a few parts that were gutted and transformed into the Great Lakes Technology Center. The original administration building remains intact. GM initially had substantial office and engineering operations at GLTC, including AC Rochester World HQ, but eventually transferred those staffs elsewhere. A small number of Service Parts Operations office workers presently occupy one of the buildings.

Flint Plant #2

Van Slyke Rd. 1947. Under the same roof as the Chevrolet Assembly plant. It made Chevrolet bodies. It was dissolved in 1970.

Grand Blanc Plant/Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center

S. Saginaw St. Pressed metal parts. Opened 1942; originally built tanks for WWII, and is still sometimes called the 'Tank Plant'.

Transferred to BOC in 1984 and later to the newly formed Cadillac/Luxury Car Div. (not to be confused with the Cadillac Motor Car Div.). Most recently operated by the Metal Fabricating Div., this plant has recently all but eliminated its metal stamping operations, and now serves as a corporation-wide weld tooling center. According to GM’s website, 655 hourly workers are at Grand Blanc today. [ [http://www.gmdynamic.com/company/gmability/environment/plants/facility_db/facility_summary.php?fID=148 GM Global Operations - US Facilities: Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center] ]

Ternstedt Division

Coldwater Rd. Plant

Genesee Twp. Body hardware. Ca. 1953; intended to build aircraft engines for Buick (Korean War) but never did.

In 1969, Ternstedt Div. merged into Fisher Body Div. (its original parent). Fisher Body Div. dissolved in 1984. Its Coldwater Rd. plant was turned over to the newly formed Fisher Guide Div. Fisher Guide became Inland Fisher Guide Div. in 1989. The Coldwater Rd. plant got yet another renaming in 1995 when the newly formed Delphi Automotive Systems took over. Finally, in 1996 Delphi sold the Coldwater Rd. factory to a company called Peregrine, which briefly attempted to make the plant profitable before closing it, circa 1998. It was soon demolished.

GM and Delphi operations in Genesee County as of May 2008

*GM Truck Group, Flint Assembly
*GM Powertrain Flint North
*GM Powertrain Flint South
*GM Flint Metal Center
*Delphi Flint East
*Delphi Technical Center Flint (closing 4Q 2008)
*GM Flint Tool & Die
*GM Grand Blanc Weld Tool Center
*GM Service Parts Operations warehouse, Swartz Creek
*GM Service Parts Operations processing center, Burton
*GM Service Parts Operations World HQ offices, Grand Blanc Twp.
*GM Service Parts Operations offices, Great Lakes Tech. Center, Flint


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