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Reuters / January 30, 2003

DETROIT - General Motors said on Thursday it will invest about $300 million in a Michigan plant to build a new six-speed transmission for rear-wheel drive vehicles.

GM's investment at its Willow Run Transmission plant in Ypsilanti will save at least 577 jobs at the plant, which has about 4,000 hourly and 400 salaried employees, the world's largest automaker said in a statement.

In November, the state of Michigan said GM would receive a $17.1 million state single-business tax credit if it invested $300 million at Willow Run.

The company said the investment includes funds earmarked for facility renovation, new machinery, equipment and tooling.

Construction at the site will begin immediately, the company said, adding that it would be completed sometime late in 2005.

The new six-speed transmissions will be used in future GM cars and trucks beginning in 2006.

In October, GM and Ford Motor Co. agreed to jointly develop a six-speed transmission for front-wheel-drive cars. That transmission is not expected to go into production until the latter half of this decade, and Willow Run is among several GM plants competing for that work.

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