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ORION TOWNSHIP — Once wracked with labor woes and quality problems, General Motors Corp.’s Orion assembly plant has emerged with a more secure future as it prepares to build the 2005 Pontiac G6 and add 300 jobs next year.

GM is investing $300 million to upgrade the 21-year-old plant’s main assembly line and body shop in preparation for the G6, which goes into production in August.

The G6 replaces the Grand Am, a perennial best-seller for Pontiac. The plant is also poised to build future products based on the same underpinnings as the G6, GM officials said Tuesday during a media tour.

“The $300 million investment will go a long way to ensuring the security of the workforce,” said Richard Shoemaker, vice president in charge of GM for the United Auto Workers union.

Orion assembly is now operating on one work shift with 2,200 employees as it phases out production of the Buick LeSabre and Park Avenue sedans. LeSabre production is moving to GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant and the Park Avenue is being discontinued.

At the same time, the plant is building pilot models of the G6 and undergoing renovations.

When a second shift is added during the first quarter of 2005, 300 jobs will be added and the plant will pump out more than 200,000 vehicles a year, said plant manager Jamie Hresko.

Production of the G6 sedan will start in August. Output of a coupe model will follow next year. A version with a long, retractable hardtop will be launched in October 2005, said vehicle line executive Gene Stefanyshyn.

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