The Los Angeles region doesn’t boast the level of manufacturing infrastructure for cars that it once did – the Chevrolet assembly plant in Van Nuys and Ford factory in Pico Rivera have been history for some 40 years now – but the screaming tangle of Southern California is still a place where automakers nurture their new ideas. Nissan and Mitsubishi, to name just two, have operated design facilities in the region creating new vehicles and concepts for the North American market. The list of automotive luminaries who do their heavy thinking in the Southland also includes General Motors, whose innovation studio in North Hollywood marked its 20th anniversary this year. That’s because GM has announced its intention to both relocate and expand its SoCal operations, relocating to an expanded facility in Pasadena that will conduct advance research into transportation technologies.
GM is earmarking $71 million in new spending for the research site, which will encompass 149,000 square feet on eight acres in Pasadena, ensuring that America’s biggest homegrown automaker will have a long-term presence in this regional hive for theoretical thinking. It’s part of a three-pronged effort that will also include expansion of the longstanding GM Tech Center in Warren, Michigan, and its Advance Design Center in Shanghai. Among the recent projects GM has pursued has been a partnership with Lockheed Martin to create a new-generation lunar rover. The Pasadena location will leave GM better position to pluck the best of Southern California’s minds from the aerospace, defense, automotive engineering and software development. This is kind of smarts you need to build viable cars for the 21st century.