Okay, General Motors is up to something, but it’s not telling us. The only bit of information it let out of the bag is that it’s investing a huge sum of money into its Orion plant in Michigan to help with the launch of an “all-new vehicle.”

How much money exactly? A grand total of $300 million, which works toward GM’s goal of $5.4 billion by the end of 2015. This will put the company just $2.3 billion short of its goal with just over six months left to go in the year.

Other than these details, GM didn’t reveal anything else. It didn’t even give us a teaser of what it is working on at the Orion plant. We already know that GM will build the Bolt in this plant, but it has already lumped $160 million into the plant to aid in the release of this 200-plus-mile EV. So, what in the world can GM possibly be working on?

Other than the upcoming Bolt, the only other two vehicles currently in production at Orion are the 2014 Chevy Sonic and 2016 Buick Verano. Neither of these models are due for any changes soon, and GM was pretty adamant that there will not be a hot hatchback model, so that all but eliminates the Sonic on the surface.

Continue reading to see what I think GM is up to, then let us know in the comments what you think the automaker is hiding from us.

Why it matters

Personally, I think GM is full of dookie when it denied a high-performance compact car so intensely. In fact, I think its strong denial based on unfounded claims only strengthens the possibility that a high-performance compact car is in the works. This $300 million can easily take care of all the tooling and adjustments needed to accommodate a Sonic SS. Just imagine the roughly 2,700-pound Sonic hatch with a 200-horsepower engine under its hood; it would be glorious!

Adding even more fuel to my speculation fire, nearly every image that GM included with the press release announcing this upgrade was of the Sonic.

Does that mean GM will actually do it? I really don’t know. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.

Justin Cupler
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Press Release

General Motors will invest $245 million and add 300 new jobs at its Orion Assembly plant to support launching an all-new vehicle program unlike any in the plant’s 32-year history.

“Orion Assembly is a breeding ground for manufacturing innovation,” said Cathy Clegg, GM North America vice president of Manufacturing and Labor Relations. “It serves as a model for how to engage the entire workforce at all levels to achieve success. The plant is up to the challenge of building this brand-new product, something it’s never seen before.”

Investment in Orion totals $962 million since the UAW and GM worked together to reopen the previously idled plant in 2010.

This latest investment comes just seven months after the announcement of a $160-million investment to launch Chevrolet’s game-changing Bolt EV, which is expected to achieve more than 200 miles of range on a single electric charge.

“Orion is an example of what we can achieve when we work together,” said UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who leads the union’s GM Department. “Only through innovative problem solving were we going to see this plant succeed, and this new investment is proof of that. UAW-GM continue to show the world that when you involve both workers and management in the process, workers win, management wins and our communities win.”

Orion has a unique culture that encourages employees to offer solutions to problems that positively impact the business. For example, a team of hourly, salaried and skilled trades’ workers from the paint shop recently developed a process monitoring tool for robotic paint applicators that alerts operators to potential failures before they happen. The innovative approach to preventive maintenance is now being applied to other GM manufacturing sites and will help avoid millions in cost annually.

Today’s announcement is a part of the $5.4 billion GM has announced it will invest in U.S. manufacturing over the next three years. Approximately $3.1 billion of the $5.4 billion has been identified, leaving $2.3 billion to be announced by year end.

Since June 2009, GM has announced U.S. facility investment of approximately $17.8 billion. About $12.4 billion of that has come since the 2011 UAW-GM National Agreement. In total, these investments have created 6,250 new jobs and secured the positions of approximately 20,700 others.

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