Calling Canada “the most expensive place in the world to build a car right now“, Dan Akerson threw his hat into the “hourly wage costs need to come down” ring at GM’s annual shareholders meeting on Tuesday.
GM has just gotten back to us about the Oshawa Consolidated plant closing down next year, and despite the carefully worded, PR-approved statements, there are some good nuggets of information, and perhaps a couple conclusions to draw from here.
General Motors will announce tomorrow that their consolidated line at Oshawa, currently building both the Chevrolet Equinox and Chevrolet Impala, will close. 2,000 of the 4,000 jobs at the Oshawa plant are located at the consolidated factory, and GM apparently won’t be re-investing in the facility.
When I visited GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant back in October, I was greeted with a few surprises. One was a small fire that flared briefly on my sweater after a cinder from the Volt’s body-welding station struck me. The other was the sight of GM’s latest, most high-tech green car being assembled on a line that was filled with GM’s oldest-school dinosaur cars, the Cadillac DTS and Buick Lucerne. The scene was no doubt intended to inspire appreciation for the changing face of GM, but the scarcity of Volts amid the oceans of giant front-drive barges (production was just beginning) made it clear that it would be a while before Volt production would occupy much of the sprawling facility. With the DTS and Lucerne headed for retirement, the new 2013 Malibu will be taking up residence at Detroit-Hamtramck later this year, even as Volt production capacity is increased to hit next year’s 60k unit goal. And now GM is announcing that the next generation of Chevy Impala will be built at Detroit-Hamtramck as well, leaving folks in Oshawa saying “eh?” (or words to that effect).
The single trim level is what tipped us off, and if we’d looked closer at its spec sheet, we’d have seen that its manufacturing location is listed as “Rüsselsheim, Germany.” Automotive News [sub] reports that Regal will be built in Germany for 15 months before production shifts to Oshawa. Which makes the Regal even more of an odd duck. In addition to being stuck into GM’s bursting lineup of Epsi-II midsize sedans, it’s also losing whatever profit it might have made on the dismal foreign exchange rate and the boat ride over from Europe. Or it will be just plain overpriced. Think of it as the love child between a Saturn Astra and a Pontiac G8. And another sign that some things never change.