By on August 8, 2019

The closure of Flint, Michigan’s sprawling Buick City complex was emblematic of the destructive transformative forces at work in the American auto industry in the late 20th century and early 21st. The 264-acre facility was once the largest automotive plant in the world, a status that did nothing to ensure its continued survival. It closed for good in 2010.

Now comes word that the birthplace of so many LeSabres could sprout manufacturing jobs in the near future — 2,000 of them. Great news for Michigan’s automotive workforce and Flint’s coffers, but the plan won’t get off the ground without the Postal Service’s approval.

Mahindra, maker of the Jeep-like Roxor ATV and other off-road vehicles, hopes to secure the $6 billion U.S. Postal Service delivery vehicle contract sought out by a group of challengers. Should that juicy contract land in the Indian company’s lap, Buick City is the site it wants, Crain’s Detroit Business reports.

Lacking sufficient space at its Auburn Hills facility, Mahindra stated in a release that the abandoned and partially demolished former GM complex is its first choice for an assembly site. The Postal Service wants a fleet of greener delivery trucks to take the place of its aging Grummans, but Mahindra faces stiff competition. Five other companies are vying for the 180,000-vehicle contract and the 20-year parts deal that comes with it.

While a revitalization of Buick City, which first opened in 1904, would be a boon for the area’s economy, it isn’t the only locale under consideration. The site search “will be driven in part by the financial incentives that are available from the State of Michigan,” the company stated.

“We have a long-term product plan and we believe the former Buick City site in Flint is a strong contender for what would essentially be Mahindra’s first large scale manufacturing operation in the United States,” said Rick Haas, president and CEO of Mahindra Automotive North America.

The company has signed a letter of intent to build a plant on the site. As for the contract, we should know the winner by year’s end.

[Image: Murilee Martin/TTAC]

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51 Comments on “Flint’s Buick City Complex Could Once Again See New Jobs, but There’s a Catch...”


  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    I am hoping that Mahindra succeeds for a number of reasons. Using the Flint facility is another reason.

    By the way, is that the grill of an ’81 LeSabre?

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    I’m sure the state of Michigan would dispense copious quantities of gravy for this, but it also pretty much guarantees a UAW contract. Choose carefully, Mahindra.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Why is it so important to make a distinction between jobs and union jobs? This means paychecks for a town that desperately needs them.

      Choose carefully, indeed.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        There’s nothing wrong with union jobs.
        But if you have your choice, why hook up with the UAW? It’s a built in cost add and drag on productivity.
        That’s why you get Chevys and Dodges built in Mexico and Hondas and Hyundais from Alabama.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          The UAW ain’t the car-biz bogeyman it used to be. I’m sure a good deal can be made.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            It’s been at least a day since last time the UAW made headlines for their dirty dealings! Forget about it now! Don’t wait for tomorrow to start being surprised that some people know the UAW is corrupt and corrosive!

      • 0 avatar
        JoeBrick

        Because ‘union jobs’ come with a UNION. And that means one big honkin’ entity skimming the profitability of the whole operation.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Excuse me if I am incorrect but weren’t those UAW miscreants offered ‘incentives/bribes/etc’ by corporate executives. I don’t remember reading that they extorted them.

          So who is the corrupt or corrupting party in that fiasco?

          Retiree costs were a burden on the D3.
          Medical costs are a burden on American employers that offer them to their workers. Unlike in Canada.

          But unions can only negotiate with employers. If a manufacturer has a ‘bad’ contract it is because management agreed to it. The union has the ability to withdraw labour, but that is its only power.

          Whereas in non-union workplaces the employer has 100% of the power.

          • 0 avatar
            JoeBrick

            “But unions can only negotiate with employers”
            If that was all unions did, that would be fine. But unions cripple productivity, corrupt the dialog between employer and employee, and as I said, skim off the top of the whole enterprise like a mafia boss at a casino in Vegas, just to get fat.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I think we all know what the real objection to unions is: politics. Unions fund the Democratic party, and thus earn eternal enmity from folks of a certain political bent. If they funded the GOP, the objections would magically disappear.

            Lord knows when it’s union labor screwing together tanks, fighter planes, warships, and other things used to Blow S*it Up Real Good, the GOP has no objection.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            If unions funded Republicans, then republicans would be as corrupt and in favor of using force on the populace as the Democrats are. Your failure to understand that central fact has a lot to do with how you can swallow what you do.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            I’m glad that regarding everyone who disagrees with you politically as stupid, crazy, or evil makes you feel better about yourself, Todd. We all need a positive self-image. If looking down on everyone else for no reason makes you look up to yourself, then I’m happy for you. I really am. God bless.

            Like the guy said…therapy helps. Try it sometime.

          • 0 avatar
            jalop1991

            “Whereas in non-union workplaces the employer has 100% of the power.”

            No, that’s called slavery.

            The employee has at least one tool no one can deny him: his feet.

            If he doesn’t like it, he walks and finds something else to do.

            Meantime, those who suck get fired instead of protected by the union, and those who excel get rewarded instead of nailed down into place by the union.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            FreedMike, police and fire unions *do* often fund the GOP, and somehow they rarely end up in the Fox and talk radio crosshairs.

            (Meanwhile on the left there is a self-defeating reluctance to acknowledge police unions as real unions, but now I’m even more off topic.)

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            https://www.infowars.com/warren-supporters-for-the-wall/

            Here’s a nice little video that illustrates what sort of people oppose Trump and support the candidate of the Dayton, Ohio shooter. Remember Elizabeth Warren? The fake indian affirmative action exploiter who blamed Trump for a never-trumper shooting up a Wal-Mart?

          • 0 avatar
            James Charles

            Arthur,
            You are sort of correct.

            A non-union shop workplace the employer doesn’t have 100% control over wages. If an employee is of value to the business he can use his value as leverage to benefit.

            I do accept low and semi skilled auto workers are generally as good as the WBS allows them to be. But the worker can invest in himself to find a more valuable role in the business.

            Workers need to consider value adding to their skillsets to become a better proposition to employers.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @JoeBrick, that is a purely subjective statement. And in the vast majority of cases patently untrue.

            Companies get the union that they deserve.

            Unions can’t ‘take’, they can only negotiate and then get what management has agreed to in the negotiations. There is a ‘balance of power’, unlike in a non-union workplace.

            And you can’t blame the UAW for the engineering, design and marketing fiascos that crippled the D3. Or for the excessive executive wages, executive perks, favouritism and layers of bureaucracy that negatively impacted their ability to compete.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            @dal: Looks like the police unions split their contributions, with most going to Democrats.

            https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/lookup2.php?strID=C00382556

            Opensecrets is a great site, BTW.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Jalop, if that were true there would be no unions. Workers generally unionize because management abuses its power through favouritism, not paying for performance, favouring those who ‘manage up’ and nepotism.

            If all workplaces operated fairly and as a meritocracy there would be no unions.

            And a great many workers cannot just up and leave. For many it would mean losing their ‘benefits’ perhaps permanently. Or their pension. Or just like an ‘abused wife’ they have invested the best years of their life in an one sided, abusive relationship and are unwilling to leave.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “big honkin’ entity”

          A local union typically has a staff that could fit inside a CR-V without causing any discomfort.

    • 0 avatar
      namesakeone

      I believe indi500fan is stating that, if this happens in Michigan, it would probably be, by necessity, through the UAW–regardless of what Mahindra would want.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This would be a real shot in the arm for a town that desperately needs it.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Agree, jobs are jobs regardless if they are union or non-union.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    From the list of life regrets:

    14. Never made it to AutoWorld.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    Obama made taxpayers subsidize his crony Jeff Bezos’ dismantling of America’s retailing jobs through structural USPS losses on Bezos’ Amazon deliveries. It’s truly a marriage made in hell to hurt the American people while enriching an avaricious aspiring totalitarian and fatten the postal union’s coffers. Anyone remember how less than a decade ago we were talking about doing away with the obsolete and inefficient USPS Saturday deliveries? Now there are USPS trucks making deliveries on Sundays and national holidays, all to pump money out of local businesses and future generations and into Jeff Bezos and corrupt public employee union pockets.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      ToddAtlasF1

      I think I got your message, let me try and make it clear for the short attention span people

      1. Obama is bad. He is so bad he should be in detention.
      2. Don’t go shooting up a Walmart, because when you do. Amazon, Jeff Bezos, the Post Office and big government liberals all win.

  • avatar
    Detroit-X

    I don’t get this ‘postal vehicle’ thing. What am I missing? Any small car or SUV with seats removed (or not) will do the job. And if FWD, it will do it better.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      Actually there are a lot of Jeeps and Subarus with RHD doing rural deliveries right now.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Could do it? Sure… but efficiently? You need a flat floor, square vehicle that it optimized to holds postal trays and random sized packages. RHD with a sliding door plus a seating position at mailbox height. Keep in mind your mail delivery person has to sit in this thing for hours on end doing repetitive tasks in all weather conditions. Nothing but stop-n-go driving moving about your neighborhood. The dash, seats, center consoles, etc in a consumer vehicle would just get in the way. Thus I’m guessing your average CUV wouldn’t be ideal long term.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      “Aluminium” – it’s the future.

      • 0 avatar
        JoeBrick

        One word, Benjamin- PLASTICS.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          If you mean composites, yes.

          If you mean icky vinyl, no, just no.

          Memo to Toyota: It seems when you built my sedan you spec’d out vinyl for the center console lid of this ‘leather’ vehicle. Vinyl in this “high touch” location wears poorly and provides a poor customer impression – daily. I have corrected your egregious error and my center console lid is now covered in stitched Italian cowhide (with additional soft-touch foam added). No stitching on the top surface because that’s where I touch it. Get it?

          • 0 avatar
            JoeBrick

            That was a movie reference, Tool Guy. The Graduate.(1967)

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            Capt. Amazing : I knew you couldn’t change.

            Casanova Frankenstein : I knew you’d know that.

            Capt. Amazing : Oh, I know that. AND I knew you’d know I’d know you knew.

            Casanova Frankenstein : But I didn’t. I only knew that you’d know that I knew. Did you know THAT?

            Capt. Amazing : Of course.

    • 0 avatar
      JoeBrick

      Not ‘postal vehicle’- GOVERNMENT JOBS PROGRAM in the districts of highly-placed congresscritters.
      Sure, the Postal Service could buy some stripped-down small vehicle OR VAN off the shelf and maintain them and replace them as required, but THAT WOULD BE WRONG ! What is needed is a big government program. First, congress commissions a study to determine what type of vehicle is desired (note I said desired, not needed). Then, several designs will be commissioned, keeping in mind which congressional districts each and every part is made in. Then a congressional committee will pick one of these designs according to which congressmen/women have the most clout. Then another committee will write the regulations covering the whole program, and congress will vote on it, amending it to maximize the amount of campaign money that the lobbyists can donate to the members of the whole congress. Then it will be passed, and production will begin. The project will end up being 40% over budget and years behind schedule. Tada ! And the Post Office has some new delivery vehicles ! It’s as simple as that !

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Then how do you explain why UPS uses its own custom designed vehicles?

        • 0 avatar
          ToddAtlasF1

          I can answer that, having worked for UPS as both a Teamster and as a management consultant. UPS is very serious about public perception. UPS employees are under contract not to appear in their uniforms when they’re not on the clock. That means not stopping at the store on the way home from work, for example. When UPS is done with a truck, they scrap it. They don’t sell it with a new coat of paint because they don’t want some criminals painting it back in UPS colors and going on a crime spree. You can’t fake a UPS truck, because you can’t get a UPS truck. That’s the way they like it.

          • 0 avatar
            Art Vandelay

            I’m not much of an auto body guy, but I’m reasonably confident I could paint a bread truck brown with UPS logos, go on that crime spree, and eyewitnesses would claim it was a UPS truck.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            Fortunately for UPS, we are now a surveillance society. You’re not going to commit many worthwhile strong-arm crimes without ending up on video. Just ask Michael Brown. Besides, your efforts to dissemble have zero impact on the reason UPS does what they do.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Thanks. But they also have specific requirements regarding seat height and location, type and location of doors, etc. All based on productivity time studies.

            So if UPS has specifications that are measured to improve the efficiency of their operations, then surely there should be no qualms regarding the USPS engaging in something similar.

            Rather than going on an ideological tangent about corruption?

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        FWIW, the current LLVs (Long Life Vehicles) were supposed to be retired in 2007 or so. Due to a combination of decent mechanicals and necessity, they’ve run extended duty now for about 10+ years. Granted, in many places, regular minivans and other vans have complemented and even supplanted the old Iron-Duke powered LLVs. But, I believe the LLVs are the majority.

        I would hope that whatever the replacement is for these cockroaches of the Postal Service, that they engineer enough capability in them to perform the same feat that the LLVs have.

  • avatar
    CaddyDaddy

    If CaddyDaddy had a contract to do rural USPS mail delivery, he would do it in a RHD mid 80’s UK Market Rolls Royce. All the while dressed like a Saudi Sheikh! That would get the Rural Party Line phone service red hot! LOL

  • avatar
    James Charles

    I hope Mahindra gets the US postal contract.

    Flint can use the injection of more jobs.

    I don’t think union or non-union jobs will make a big difference, the US taxpayer will pay for most of the wages.

    Maybe the US government can buy many more vehicles, using union workers. This may assist Trump keeping his Presidency.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Back in Lordstown, the buzz is that Workhorse Vehicles will buy or lease the Cruze plant to build BEVs for the USPS. While there are a large number of hurdles for that to happen, I would say the largest is the Post Office actually awarding some company the contract.

    It looks like Mahindra is using a similar tactic, and targeting a former GM plant as part of the package. I guess we’ll have to see who has better Congresscritters; Youngstown, Ohio or Flint, Michigan. Being somewhat familiar with both cities, I think it’s a draw.

    Maybe Timmy Ryan can pull a few strings for the Valley in between his run for the Presidency.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Subscribed, leaving for lunch now .

    -Nate


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