FLINT, MI — India’s largest SUV maker, which has been in talks to build a new factory in Flint, has put expansion plans on hold.
Mahindra Automotive North America, which was one of six vehicle manufacturers chosen by the U.S. Postal Service to compete to build its next generation delivery vehicles, dropped out of the running for that contract, the company confirmed in statement to MLive-The Flint Journal on Friday, Aug. 14.
Mahindra was considering four sites to manufacture the USPS vehicles and other production, including the former Buick City site on Flint’s north side, but has suspended those expansion plans, the statement says.
“The unprecedented times and the global economic uncertainties brought on by (the) COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the automobile and commercial trucking industry in ways that are yet unfolding and unpredictable,” the company’s statement says. “Given this environment, MANA elected to not submit a final proposal (to the USPS).
“Mahindra … remains wholly committed to the U.S. market and to building a portfolio of tough and durable commercial vehicles to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving economy. We remain interested in the Flint site but our expansion plan is on hold while we work through the challenges caused by COVID-19.”
The development is a blow to the city, which had hoped to see as many as 2,000 new jobs created by the company.
“The city of Flint remains ready, willing and able to compete for large manufacturing and development projects,” Mayor Sheldon Neeley said in a statement to The Journal. “We understand this particular company made the decision not to expand at this time, but we are confident Flint will continue to be a competitive option for this manufacturer and others looking for an ideal location to expand.”
A year ago, Mahindra announced it had signed a letter of intent to evaluate Buick City property owned by the Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response Trust for its new plant. RACER is a trust that was created to sell off troubled assets of General Motors, including the massive Flint property, when GM went through bankruptcy in 2009.
The last LeSabre built by GM at Buick City rolled off the assembly line more than 20 years ago, leaving behind a massive industrial wasteland where more than 27,000 autoworkers once worked.
Since RACER acquired the property, it’s succeeded in selling portions of the site to American SpiralWeld Pipe Co. and Lear Corporation.
Bruce Rasher, redevelopment manager for RACER, said the property remains a good opportunity for manufacturers.
“Since Mahindra … announced it had signed a letter of intent with RACER Trust to purchase the former GM Buick City property in Flint, RACER has continued to position the property to be development-ready,” Rasher said in a statement to MLive-The Flint Journal. “While RACER is disappointed by Mahindra’s decision to suspend its plans for additional North American manufacturing capacity, the location, available infrastructure, access to rail and highway transportation and local workforce for this property remain attractive to other potential investors.
“RACER Trust is aggressively marketing this property to prospective buyers with the capability, need and resources to maximize the property’s potential for investment, tax base and jobs for the community,” the statement says.
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