A Missouri General Motors plant is building a vehicle the company is touting as being in a segment by itself.

gm-wentzville-plantThe Chevy Colorado ZR-2 is being marketed as a pick-up truck which excels in all off-road applications while providing the refinement and comfort needed for everyday commuting.

Jessica Rogers with Chevrolet says G.M.’s Wentzville operation near St. Louis has been instrumental in delivering the popular Colorado to dealerships.  “This was a vehicle that nobody saw coming” said Rogers.  “People doubted us from the beginning about reentering the mid-size pick-up market.  And that team there at Wentzville, they’ve been cranking out every Colorado that they can build.  We’re now under a 40 day supply and selling them as fast as we can get them to dealership.”

Early last year, a third shift and 750 new jobs were added to the Wentzville plant to meet anticipated demand for new pick-up trucks.  A fourth shift was later added to allow the facility to operate six days a week and on overtime.

Rogers notes the Wentzville plant is the only operation which assembles the popular Colorado model.  “We are on pace to build and sell 100,000 Colorado’s this year.  When the ZR-2 is added, it will be a portion of that production.  We’re planning on judging consumer demand for the take rate on the ZR-2.  But right now our estimates are looking to be about ten percent of overall production.”

After the great recession threatened the existence of GM and its Wentzville plant as recently as seven years ago, the facility now employs more than 4,500 people, with about 4,300 of them union assembly line workers.  The company invested $380 million in 2011 for the launch of the new mid-size pickup at Wentzville.  Including that expenditure, G.M.’s spent a total of more than $600 million on the facility.

Rogers with says the Wentzville operation has been instrumental in the Colorado model’s success.  “One of the great accomplishments of that team down there in Wentzville is that they brought home the Motor Trend Truck of the Year as back to back wins for the Chevy Colorado.  We’re very thankful to them and very proud of everybody that works there.”  The model received the award over the past two years.

G.M. claims the economic impact of the Wentzville plant on Missouri is $425 million in wages and 16.9 million in payroll taxes.  It claims its hourly and salaried employees have raised more than $150,000 to support local charities, including an award of $100,000 in Plant City grants to nine community organizations.