Louisville, Ky. - GE Appliances took the wraps off a new
production line at its Appliance Park complex here that will produce the
company's next generation of bottom-mount French door refrigerators.
GE CEO Jeff Immelt and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear joined
business leaders and some 1,000 employees to celebrate the plant's grand
opening earlier this week, which will support 600 new local jobs and "improve
the competitive position" of the 130-year- old GE brand," the company said.
According to the local Louisville Courier-Journal, Immelt said
GE's $250 million investment in the Toyota-style "lean" manufacturing line --
designed by a cross-functional team including assembly workers -- aims to
expand its share of the refrigerator market to around 25 percent.
Three new bottom-mount models, which will sell for $1,699 to
$2,999, will be manufactured on one shift by the end of the month, with a
second shift to follow shortly thereafter, the newspaper reported.
The new refrigerators have been well-received by the retail
community for their evolutionary
technology, which includes in-door filters that remove pharmaceuticals from
water, a hot water dispenser, and a hands-free autofill system that uses sound waves from ultrasonic sensors
and proximity detectors to fill a glass, water bottle, coffee pot or pitcher.
The models, which will be marketed under the GE, GE Profile and
GE CafÃ© platforms, also boast the first bottom-freezer manufactured in the U.S.
to use cyclopentane foam, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions during
manufacturing and at the end of the product's life cycle, GE said.
"GE Appliances is a shining example of what is working in U.S.
manufacturing, and we're excited about what this new production line means for
the future of our business," said GE Appliances president/CEO Charles "Chip"
Since 2009 GE's Appliances & Lighting unit has committed to
investing $1 billion in U.S. appliance manufacturing, including an $800 million
investment to upgrade Appliance Park and the $250 million investment in bottom-freezer
The new fridge factory will supplant some production from GE's joint venture with Mexican OEM Mabe, and follows February's opening of a GeoSpring hybrid water heater facility which was the first new plant to open at Appliance Park since 1957.
The new refrigeration line is one of 11 new products that will be launched by GE Appliances by 2014, the company said.