A $1.4 billion expansion launched late last year will add new equipment and 1 million square feet to the General Motors Assembly Plant in Arlington, boosting the facility’s size to 4.7 million square feet by the end of 2018.

In this interview, Plant Manager Juan Carlos Jimenez tells us more about GM's (NYSE: GM) massive investment in the plant that builds Chevy Tahoes and Suburbans, GMC Yukons and Yukon XLs, and Cadillac Escalades and Escalade ESVs. For the visuals, please click through the photos attached.

What will the expansion allow you to do that you can’t do now? This facility has more than 60 years of operation. With the investment, we are upgrading and renewing and extending the life-cycle of our processes. What it is allowing us to do is install new technologies to continue to produce in a high-volume mode. Having newer equipment improves our efficiency and reduces the need for maintenance. It will also facilitate whatever we do after the life-cycle of the current product. It will help us have flexibility so we can introduce new products in a faster way.

Will there be environmental benefits? In the case of paint, it’s going to be a more efficient process in terms of energy and water consumption and VOCs. It’s going to make us more efficient and environmentally friendly and more competitive.

Will you add people with the expansion? We are expanding the building, the facility. It’s an investment to upgrade and renew some of the equipment that we have. We cannot afford to shut down six months to remove the existing paint process and put in a new one. That is the reason that we are doing this construction parallel to the operating process.

Given the large number of GM plants, why was Arlington chosen for this $1.4 billion investment? One key factor is we have very efficient processes here. We are the global source of the full-size SUVs. We have responded to the company in terms of quality, as J.D. Powers gave us the Best in Segment this year, in hardware, we were the Best in Segment. The efficiency, the quality and the healthy relationship that we have with the union and the workforce and the local authorities — all of those factors came together to validate that Arlington is the right place to continue to build these trucks.

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