General Motors has scheduled a 21-weeks of down time next year across three plants as part of a nearly $1 billion investment to prepare for the next-generation Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and full-size SUVs. The trucks were all-new in 2007.

Chris Lee, spokesman for GM, told the Detroit Free Press that starting in January, the Fort Wayne plant in Indiana, will shut down for nine weeks until October, while the Flint plant will close for seven weeks between June and November. The Arlington, Texas plant that currently builds the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade will stop production for five weeks between June and December.

At least 100 jobs will be created at each of the plants, and of the $928 million investment, $275 million will go to the Fort Wayne plant, $328 million to the Flint plant, and $331 to the Arlington facility. Should the retooling process be completed in 2012, production could begin in 2013 on the all-new 2014 models.

The current-generation trucks came out in 2007. The HD models received a major under-the-skin refresh for the 2011 model year, but the half-ton models have only seen minor trim and powertrain changes since their introduction, the most noteworthy being the addition of six-speed automatic transmissions in 2009. The next-generation trucks are expected to receive the fifth-generation small block V-8 with direct fuel injection.

With the scheduled closures throughout 2012, capacity will be about 640,000 units.

Source: The Detroit Free Press