IMAGES: GE announces largest laundry launch in 20 years - WDRB 41 Louisville News

IMAGES: GE announces largest laundry launch in 20 years

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- GE has announced an investment of $100-plus million in a new topload washer design and expanded manufacturing capability at its laundry plant in Louisville. This marks the largest laundry launch for GE in 20 years.

This comes as the company is in the midst of trying to work through a sale of its appliance unit to Electrolux -- a sale that the U.S. Department of Justice is trying to block.

"Electrolux is still a competitor, said Peter Pepe, Clothes Care Product GM.  "Until the U.S. Dept. of Justice says that the deal is closed, we're acting like we always have.  Focusing on our business and doing what we always have: focusing on our customers and consumers."

The new washer caters to three popular customer demands:  size, efficiency and flexibility. The new design features the largest agitator capacity on the market at 4.2 cu. ft, along with modified cycles and one-touch settings.

GE officials say the new design better serves customers and keeps up with industry standards.  

But because of the new Department of Energy regulations, this new product launch wasn't optional.

"The new regulations mean we have to comply to new energy standards," said Pepe. "That means without meeting those new energy standards you can't sell your product. That resulted in about a 20 percent reduction in energy as well as a 20 percent reduction in water. So redesigning the product to meet those standards and still deliver performance for the consumer is what we have done in this new product."

The expanded manufacturing did not result in any new jobs. Instead, about 100 employees at Appliance Park were reassigned.  GE officials say the new assembly line is more efficient for the reassigned workers to communicate and provide input where they see fit.

GE says frontload washers have grown in popularity in the last decade, but the topload washers make up 75 percent of its washer sales.

GE officials say the new topload washers should be in stores by late September. They will range in price from $599 to $749.

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