GE Appliances shows off new washers as part of a plan to invest $100M in Louisville

GE Appliances recently spent about $30 million to add a new production line to its washing machine manufacturing operations in Louisville.

The new line, which the company showed off during a media event Friday, is part of what's expected to be a $100 million investment in new production and improvements at the company's headquarters at Appliance Park in Louisville this year, officials said.

GE Appliances makes its washing machines at what's called AP1 at Appliance Park. A revamped top-load washing machine assembly line was introduced there in 2015. A second line was added the following year. And the new line it was showing off today opened in June.

Workers along this line can make one washer every 17.2 seconds. It was designed using significant input from operators, can produce multiple colors of washing machines and is designed to handle future expansions, according to the company.

About 900 workers are in AP1. They're among 6,000 workers overall at the park, where the business also builds dryers, refrigerators and dishwashers.

Feature set
Over the last few years, demand for top-loading washing machines has grown in the U.S., said Peter Pepe, vice president of clothes care at GE Appliances.

"Our challenge is to make products that fit everyone's needs," he said.

With that, the company is adding some new features to its laundry machines. The ones it showed off today had a water faucet in the back of the basin for users to pre-treat stains.

A reservoir on the machine also can be filled with an entire bottle of detergent. This allows soap to be dispensed automatically based on a load's size, soil level, water hardness and fabric type. The washer is also Wi-Fi connected, meaning it can be controlled from afar and will send messages when a load is finished.

The washers with these features have already been shipped to wholesale customers. They'll likely be available on retail showroom floors by the end of September.

During a Q&A session with reporters, chief commercial officer Rick Hasselbeck also noted that a new advertising campaign around the washers should be starting soon.

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