General Motors to invest $2bn in US

Chevrolet Corvette C6
Image caption The investment will include the production line for a planned new version of the Corvette

General Motors (GM) has announced plans to invest $2bn in the US.

The decision will secure 4,000 jobs at 17 plants across the country for the next 18 months, according to chief executive Dan Akerson.

"We are doing this because we are confident about demand for our vehicles and the economy," he said, speaking at a factory in Toledo, Ohio.

It comes a week after the US carmaking giant reported first quarter profits that had tripled versus a year ago.

The $3.2bn (£1.95bn) earnings for the first three months of the year were boosted by a recovery in the US market, strong sales in China, as well as the sale of its stake in Delphi Automotive, its former car parts division.

'See-saw shift'

GM - which filed for bankruptcy only two years ago and received a $52bn government bail-out - now finds itself sitting on cash reserves of $36.5bn.

It is as yet unclear how the firm - which employs 202,000 people worldwide, including 77,000 in the US - will spend or invest the rest of its money.

No further details were given of when or exactly where the $2bn investments will be made, although more announcements were promised in the coming months.

They will however include a production line at Toledo for small car transmissions, as well as a $131m investment announced last week in a Kentucky plant that will produce an updated version of the classic Chevrolet Corvette.

The turnaround in GM's fortunes coincides with supply problems at earthquake-struck Japanese rival firms.

"The timing of this latest see-saw shift in the global automotive landscape is significant, coming as it does on the eve of an anticipated boom in sales across Asia," notes the BBC's Jorn Madslien.

"This might result in GM regaining the top spot as the world's bestselling car-maker, as Toyota slips lower down the ranking list."

Meanwhile, the death of former GM chief executive Robert Stempel on Saturday was announced.

Mr Stempel, 77, was accredited with developing the catalytic converter, and led the firm from 1990 until he was ousted in 1992.

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