WENTZVILLE, Mo. (AP) -- The General Motors plant in Wentzville celebrated a major milestone on Wednesday as the Missouri-made mid-sized pickup trucks rolled out to dealerships.
Gov. Jay Nixon, UAW leaders, GM officials and more than 125 Chevy and GMC dealers were on hand at the sprawling suburban St. Louis plant for the rollout of the Wentzville-made GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado trucks. Thirty-seven of the new trucks were parked in the shape of a GM logo on the assembly plant parking lot.
"Today's launch of these next-generation trucks marks another triumphant moment for this region, its workers, and Missouri's continuing automotive success story," Nixon said.
GM is adding workers next year to staff a third shift, creating 750 jobs. The factory already employs 2,600 people who build the Colorado and Canyon as well as the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana full-size vans. The new workers should earn around $16 per hour to start, less than the $28 per hour earned by longtime factory employees. GM already has invested $513 million at Wentzville to build the new trucks.
Demand has been strong even before the trucks hit the road. GM said last month that nearly 100,000 prospective buyers had gone online to customize a Chevrolet Colorado or a GMC Canyon pickup and get a price. Meanwhile, 30,000 advance orders came from dealers.
GM stopped selling the Colorado and Canyon in 2012. In the revival, GM is aiming the Colorado at outdoorsy buyers on the coast, while the Canyon targets a more upscale clientele.
GM says the Colorado will start around $21,000. The Canyon will cost more. Trucks with a V6 engine will get an estimated 26 miles per gallon on the highway. The four-cylinder gas mileage hasn't been announced, but it's expected to be around 30 mpg highway. Chevrolet's full-size truck, the Silverado, gets up to 24 mpg on the highway.
Gary Jones, director of United Auto Workers Region 5, said GM's decision to invest in Wentzville "is a testament to the top-notch workforce" in Missouri.
Nixon's office said Ford and General Motors are investing a combined $1.5 billion at their facilities in Kansas City and Wentzville.