General Motors Corp. ceremoniously launches production of the '03 Cadillac CTS at its new high-tech Lansing (MI) Grand River Assembly Center on Jan. 10. The plant is the first new GM assembly facility to be built in the U.S. in 12 years and is the latest chapter in GM's effort to revolutionize its manufacturing processes into lean, cost-efficient operations.

Lansing Grand River also is the first full-fledged adoption of the GM manufacturing system (GMS) in an all-new facility in North America. GMS is built around five principles: people, safety, quality, responsiveness and cost.

The assembly processes at the new facility — body shop, paint shop and general assembly — are broken up into three separate buildings, with each configured for efficient material flow from outside suppliers.

The plant has a total footprint of 1.9 million sq.-ft. (176,510 sq.-m), about half the size of traditional assembly plants, which measure an average 3.2 million sq.-ft. (297,280 sq.-m). GM invested $559 million in construction of the facility, which employs 570 hourly and 155 salaried workers. At full two-shift capacity it will employ 1,320 hourly and 180 salaried workers.

GM says the plant is prepared to build up to five different models with an annual output of 130,000 units.

While GM executives are mum on future products to be built at the plant, sources say to expect production of the Cadillac LAV — a crossover based off the CTS platform — to begin in late 2003. Also slated for the fall is the next-generation Seville.