Workers at General Motors’ Arlington Assembly factory are rejoicing after news broke of a 1.6-million-square-foot expansion of the facility that will be designed to improve production-efficiency and build-quality of the all-new 2021 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban.
The previously announced investment of more than $1.4 billion for the plant includes a new, 1-million-square-foot body shop and a 600,000-square-foot expansion of the paint shop, along with new, high-precision camera- and laser-based inspection systems that offer more sophisticated quality checks for the segment-leading SUVs.
“Everything we do at Arlington Assembly is focused on building better vehicles for our customers,” said Bill Kulhanek, plant executive director at Arlington Assembly. “This strategic expansion brings the latest in manufacturing and inspection technologies while adding procedures designed to improve the quality and durability of the Tahoe and Suburban.”
The Arlington investment also accommodates fundamental changes in the all-new vehicles’ design, including:
- A stronger body architecture with an integrated front end
- An all-new, available panoramic sunroof
- A new underbody structure designed for the Tahoe and Suburban’s independent rear suspension, which is the foundation for a roomier third row, improved ride and handling and greater cargo capacity
- The latest digital vehicle platform that supports more advanced safety features, the capability for over-the-air updates and future technology add-ons
- New underbody sealing designed to increase the vehicles’ long-term durability
- A new electro-hydraulic brake system that replaces the previous conventional braking system, requiring new installation procedures
- Standard LED headlamps that require a new, automated alignment procedure.
“More than the physical changes, the Arlington upgrades increase assembly flexibility in the plant, allowing for more model and trim variations,” Kulhanek said. “That means more choices for customers. In fact, the trim range for Tahoe and Suburban expands to six, with distinct designs and features on each.”
The Arlington plant upgrades are part of GM’s $5 billion investment in U.S. production of new, full-size pickups and SUVs. GM previously invested in enhancements at Fort Wayne Assembly to support the creation of the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500; and at Flint Assembly, ahead of the 2020 Chevrolet Silverado HD’s launch.
The big SUVs are essential to the automaker’s profits. The Tahoe and Suburban account for more than 40% of America’s non-luxury full-size SUV market, according to data from Kelly Blue Book.
Arlington Assembly’s enhancements are also supported by a new, nearby supplier park that includes two industrial manufacturing and warehouse facilities, enabling reduced transportation costs and quicker turnaround for parts used to build the vehicles.
The Tahoe and Suburban will be available with either of two V8 gasoline engines, one producing up to 355 horsepower or a larger one producing up to 420. A six-cylinder diesel engine is also available, the first time a diesel has been offered in these models. To save fuel, the V8 engines can shut off anywhere from one to seven cylinders when full power isn’t needed. The engine can also shut off automatically when the vehicle stops, then restarts as soon as the brake pedal is released. GM has not released fuel economy ratings for these vehicles yet.
GM officials say the new Tahoe and Suburban will go on sale in the middle of 2020. Pricing hasn’t been announced yet, but the Tahoes and Suburbans at dealerships now start at around $50,000.
Photos sourced from General Motors website.