UPDATE 1-GM to invest $1.5 bln in North American plants this year

DETROIT Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:00pm EST

DETROIT Jan 16 (Reuters) - General Motors Co will invest $1.5 billion in its North American plants this year, a senior executive said on Wednesday.

North American chief Mark Reuss did not provide details of the plan in an advance copy of a speech given to Reuters, but it is a continuation of the U.S. automaker's investment in its home market since its 2009 bankruptcy and $50 billion U.S. taxpayer-funded bailout.

His comments were scheduled to be made on Wednesday night at the Automotive News World Congress in downtown Detroit.

The investment is part of the $8 billion the Detroit automaker has said it will annually put into in its worldwide operations. GM has said it will refresh 70 percent of its U.S. vehicle lineup in 2012 and 2013.

"Our recent track record proves that this kind of continuous investment in the product pays off," Reuss said in a copy of the speech.

From July 2009 through last year, GM invested more than $10.2 billion in its North American factories, creating or retaining more than 26,500 jobs.

Reuss also said the electric car is not dead. GM introduced the Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid, the upscale sibling of the Chevrolet Volt, at the Detroit auto show on Tuesday.

"We're talking about a transformation here," he said in the text of the speech. "And transformation takes time. It takes a long time to change an industry, to change habits, and to change a way of life.

"We'll get there," he said. "We will see the day when we have an affordable electric car that offers 300 miles of range with all the comfort and utility of a conventional vehicle."

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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