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The former Saturn plant in Spring Hill is preparing to build a new GM vehicle – the Chevy Traverse. GM officials gave Chevy dealers around the region a tour of the retooled plant today.

Bright yellow robotic arms whip through the air as technicians calibrate the machines. Hundreds of GM employees will spend the next few weeks making final preparations for the new crossover SUV.

Stephanie Via, the business manager for the paint operation in Spring Hill, says nearly everything on the line had to change.

“We went from a plastic-bodied vehicle with the Saturn Ion and the Saturn Vue and as we go forward with a steel-bodied car, we had to basically gut the site top to bottom.”

For instance, the plant installed larger paint tanks – 80-thousand gallons – to dip entire vehicles. Only the steel components of the Saturns were submerged in paint.

Chevy general manager Ed Peper says Spring Hill is filling a gap in GM’s portfolio.

“This is a critical market for Chevrolet to not only to compete in but to dominate. And it is our goal to be the sales leader in crossovers in our first year on the market.”

Initial production of the Traverse begins this spring, with a launch date in the fall.

More than 24-hundred hourly workers have been on furlough for the past year. Some are contemplating buyout offers while others are choosing jobs on the new line and beginning training.

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