By on October 23, 2015

GMOrionInvest02.jpg

General Motors will lay off around 500 workers and eliminate one shift at its Orion Assembly due to sagging demand for small cars, the automaker announced Friday. Those workers may be sent to a nearby plant.

Automotive News first reported on the layoffs.

According to a statement from a GM spokesman, the automaker will “adjust plant production capacity to align with market demand” and eliminate one shift that builds the Sonic. Demand for the Sonic has largely remained flat since the subcompact’s introduction in 2011.

Last year General Motors sold 93,518 examples of the Sonic, but is on pace to sell fewer this year. So far this year, Chevrolet has reported sales of just over 50,000 through the first nine months, which is a 35-percent drop over last year.

Many workers at the Orion Assembly could be shifted to Detroit-Hamtramck, according to the automaker. GM announced Thursday that it would be adding an additional shift to build more Chevrolet Volts, Malibus, Impalas and Cadillac CT6 models next year. Orion Assembly and Detroit-Hamtramck are located roughly one hour apart from each other.

Orion Assembly will build the Chevrolet Bolt to sell later next year. GM said it invested $405 million in the plant to prepare for the Bolt and another new vehicle to be named later. According to Automotive News, that vehicle could likely be a small Cadillac crossover.

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47 Comments on “General Motors Scaling Back Sonic Production, Moving 500 Workers...”


  • avatar
    April S

    If going by my recent experience shopping for a new car if the local Chevrolet dealers made better deals (compared to the Ford Fiesta) they would have more sales.

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      ^This. If GM hasn’t done anything to the Sonic since it was introduced 5 years ago, you’d think offering big incentives to move a small car that’s way past its prime would be a no-brainer. In fact, that’s exactly what GM was doing with the truly craptacular precursor to the Sonic, the Aveo, towards the end of its miserable existence. Except, unlike the Aveo, a bargain-basement priced Sonic would actually be a viable purchase. A Sonic price a thousand (or two) dollars less than the competition would be a great buy.

      The only problem is that sales of the smaller Spark would then suffer. I guess that’s really the difference: the Spark didn’t exist when the Aveo was being sold.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Demand for the Sonic dropped like a rock when the Trax was parked next to it on the showroom.

    The Sonic is a good little B-segment car (we had one last October) but it has become very dated in the segment. It is from a dynamics stand point upper middle-pack. Material quality is good but feature/content/design is definitely very dated at this point.

    We had really low expectations. The Fiesta is a much better car in dynamics, top of the class, however it has a very cramped interior (yes driven one). The materials are nicer and the layout is much more current.

    What the Sonic really needs is an update on exterior design and a maturing of the interior.

    Haven’t been in the new Fit as a comparo.

    If I had to buy in the segment today, I’d lean toward the Fiesta (almost bought a FiST as a toy in the spring of this year) but I don’t really need a back seat.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      We could use an article on the Trax. It appears to be doing well in a segment important enough for Honda to enter.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Paging Mr. Cain!

        • 0 avatar
          RideHeight

          In fact right now the Trax is more successful than the HRV:

          May: (H) 6381…. (T) 5707
          June (H) 7760…. (T) 5971
          July (H) 5909 …. (T) 6111
          Aug. (H) 4567…. (T) 5995
          Sep. (H) 4608…. (T) 6140

          Figures are, of course, from GCBC.

          • 0 avatar
            APaGttH

            I know the HR-V is production constrained. I believe Encore inventory is bloated, but sales volume is still relatively where it has always been. Don’t know if Trax is production constrained – others in the B&B would know.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    It could be cause they haven’t done crap to it since introduced, getting long in the tooth, but GM is infamous for doing that over and over again, thus making cars that were good enough when introduced and now languish behind most competitors

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      At least they gradually fix the bugs, making the last year of production pretty well built. GM used to add bling (brightwork, seatcovers) over a 3-4 year period before introducing a replacement, but now they add virtually nothing over a longer model life, not even crushed velour and a Brougham label. As the tooling is paid off, they should at least make some options standard, and increase the discounts so transaction prices are competitive. It seems they’ve forgotten how to market and sell cars.

  • avatar
    mikey

    BTW…..In case anybody is interested . The operation that young lady is about to perform is called ” marriage “

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    It looks more like the wedding night!

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I didn’t know that turd was still being made, I can’t remember the last time I saw one.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    I like the Sonic. Its plug ugly, and noisy on the inside, but the few rentals I have had drove well, maximized their footprint, had everything I needed.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Orion Assembly workers also built your Verano. As a Michigander, I will apologize on behalf of our state*.

      *apology does not imply any wrongdoing. Orion Assembly is owned by GM, a publically traded company, which is not affiliated with the state of Michigan. Please any correspondence regarding manufacturing defects to GM.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Apology not valid in HI and AK. See official rules for details.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Negotiation with said publicly traded company is complete.

        I have a 4 year lease. They have extended my bumper to bumper warranty to 4 years, 120k kms, and are providing the OnStar Guidance package for the remainder of the lease. This way, at least if it craps out again, far from home or otherwise, towing, lodging, courtesy vehicle/rentals, and repairs wont cost me, and hopefully the cars bigger antenna will allow us to call for help in remote locals. We can both work remotely for a day or two, so we just bring our laptops on road trips now.

        So I am keeping the car, and though I can’t be sure it won’t crap out again, we decided as long as GM would take on the repair costs, and we have the warranty’s trip cancellation coverage, we will take our chances. Its certainly not my first choice of resolution, but GM was absolutely unwilling to budge on the issue of the massive residuals, so my only options on getting out of the car would take a massive hit, or try and sell it privately and make enough to buy out the lease. So, in the end, I am ok with this outcome, its better than nothing, and we can make it fit.

        I’ve never had a car that I knew I was returning in 2.5 years before, its a different feeling. Originally, my lease was just a different shaped finance package, and I intended to keep the car, now, its going back for sure. No way I’m owning that shiny blue turd off warranty. I wasn’t really keen on the idea of returning a lease, but since this one has been such an unmitigated disaster, at least I know I wont have to try and sell it. It will be time for a truck by then anyways (travel trailer) so, its going to work out. (Just looking for the silver lining)

        In the meantime, we are utilizing my GF’s car more now, to keep the mileage down on the Buick. I could easily do 120k kms in 4 years, and at 120k I’d be well over my lease mileage. We pretty much use hers in town now for errands and socializing, the Buick just goes to work and back, and we use it for road trips, because that’s its sweet spot, and her car is a beater.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          You know I was checking out the glorious city of Calgary, in which parts of the city does one want to hang out or stay?

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Well, I personally spend a lot of time at Southgate Chev. Its pretty happening.

            Also, Im kind of sad CoreyDL wont get to see my comment about the Verano resolution. I don’t think he could bring himself to click on an article about the Sonic!

            sarc

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Well 28, I guess that depends on what you’re going to be getting up to. Hockey? I’d stay near the stampede grounds, which is also close to downtown. Hard to put myself in the tourist mode, but I think near stampede/downtown is your best bet. Outdoors stuff? Heck, I’d try and find a place in Canmore, or the west end of town. TTAC pizza and beer? Heritage/Southland area. The military museums and aerospace museums are pretty great, but not centrally located. Our mainstay activities aren’t really touristy things, except for we enjoy museums.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I also enjoy things like museums.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            We go to the Rockies and hike and drink. If it’s summer, play golf. If it’s winter, ski or watch hockey.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            bball, 28, the Rockies await.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          So you are going to buy another GM product? I know you will. You are going to buy a Silverado when your Verano lease is up.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            No, we will have an intervention before that happens.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Speaking of trucks…

            Well, if I was going to order a truck RIGHT NOW, I’d want a 2015 RAM Sport. Best looking trucks around, and alot more options available in a middling package than its competitors.

            Also, I like the 2015 Sierra, but the 2016 is ruined, looks wise.

            I’ve always preferred the Sierra to the Silverado.

            Its really hard to say because the 2016 RAMS have been beat with an ugly stick (the big logo ones), the 2016 Sierra has been beat with an ugly stick, the F-150 doesnt call to me, the Tundra was spawned from an ugly stick, Nissan doesnt make any trucks… and I dont know whats going to change between now and April 2018.

            I really wanted to like the Canyon, but its just horribly executed IMO. They should have used the 4.3L, its stupidly tall looking, its small on the inside, and the rising beltline can die and never come back.

            Hopefully in 2.5 years, the ride quality and refinement that Ford and GM are baking into their current platforms will have proliferated, and the Taco might be on the radar.

            Or I might go used, who knows. Or a JGC.

            Speaking in general…

            I’m a GM guy, its like some kind of disease, but already I’ve been looking and appreciating many cars of other stripes. I’m always looking, reading, window shopping, etc, new and used because it amuses me. As a few examples, I think the G37x is a hell of a car, I think the new Forte5 MT 1.6T is actually a really appealing package, that I would consider spending my own shekels on (first ever H/K I’ve said this about). The current Accord Sport is very cool, too bad Honda beaked it for 2016.

            Anyways, I have no idea. Likely, we will be replacing my GF’s car at the same time or sooner. Just like me, shes into sedans, and is a competent driver but not a car enthusiast, so something like a non-predator V6 Camry, or an Accord might be on the radar.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I’m driving an F150 today through Monday, and I want to keep it. I’d say that about any domestic full sized truck though. The 2.7TT is way better than I thought it would be. It needs to go in the Fusion/MKZ.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Thats kind of the thing… Domestic trucks are pretty good.

            If I was to bring up buying another GM car to her, she gives me this look o_O (regardless of the fact the GM literally has no other vehicle outside of trucks that interest me besides the SS). But when I bring up trucks, she’s fine with it, because she knows about mad truck profits yo. And, my brothers 2014 Sierra SLT is really, really nice…

            The annoying thing is, had I bought an auto Verano T, I bet none of this would be happening. It strongly looks like GM’s fancy @$$ dual mass flywheel has caused alot of my issues. But I don’t want an automatic.

            I still dont like the looks of the current Fusion, but I agree that a Fusion ST would be very interesting. I really like the 2012 Fusion Sport. I bookmarked a few on kijiji when I was hoping GM might buyback my car.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “I’m a GM guy, its like some kind of disease”

            The cure is the simple realization the vast majority of their products are inferior to the ones produced by “Old GM” in their respective time periods (the only one which sticks out as an obvious improvement is J-body vs Ep II).

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            By the time you want a truck, the GM and Ford trucks will have the slick new 10 speed, with kinks worked out. I know transmissions are getting ridiculous, but the 10R is a great design. That, paired with any available powertrains that GM or Ford has on offer would be sweet.

            Also, I am hoping the next gen Navi/Expedition tanks the values of the current versions. Old a$$ Ford platform getting money thrown at it for 2015-2017 makes for a great used buy.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Its frustrating with the 2014 and 2015 Sierras though.

            As I’ve mentioned, my brother has a 2015 Sierra SLT, its a beautiful truck. I’ve driven it a few times, and it has the 5.3L, which has more than enough oomph on paper. But the throttle and transmission tune just kill it.

            I’ve read that it has a computer program called “Torque Management” that is meant to prevent wheel spin on heavy throttle applications, which is why its so lackluster feeling. You can remove it with a $500 tuner, at the expense of your warranty…

            A 2015 Denali in pearl white or metallic blue, with the 6.2 calls me strongly.

            The 2015 3.5TT Navigator seems like an absolute beast. That being said, I dont want a big BOF SUV, I think a truck is more versatile. I’ll never need a third row, and a hard tonneau cover is all I need for cargo space.

            This is why the Canyon is so disappointing. 7K lbs is more than enough towing capacity. A crew cab midsize truck with a box cover is all I need. In fact, I guess that means I cant say the Canyon is absolutely off my list. We will see whats what in 2.5 years.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Canyon would be nicer with better motor choices.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Seriously, if the jammed the 4.3L in there and flattened the damn beltine, I’d be all over it.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Precisely. When money is similar I think people are buying it for its slightly smaller size, but you punish them with a car motor you use in everything.

            If the take rate on the I4 is 80% then fine we’re wrong but I’d be willing to wager its at least even with the V6… or maybe guys say screw it and just buy the Ram 1500 heavily discounted.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I hope the relocation option works out for these people. Hamtramck is better for them than Mexico.

  • avatar
    Chi-One

    Dave,
    Test drive a JGC Limited with Lux Grp. You’ll love it!

    • 0 avatar
      davefromcalgary

      The GJC is a very strong contender!

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I highly recommend the WK2 JGC. We owned a 2012 JGC (bought Nov 2011) for four years and ~80K miles.

        It was trouble-free for us, albeit a bit underpowered in mountain country with the V6.

        So my recommendation would be to test drive a JGC with the 5.7L. Better yet, a 6.4L SRT8.

        • 0 avatar
          davefromcalgary

          If we go with an SUV instead of a pickup, it will definitely be JGC (based of course on the current market).

          The 5.7 and the 3.0 TD would be on my “to-try” list.

          Our other car will remain a sedan, we like sedans.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            davefromcalgary, visit jeep dot com and read up on the comments from actual owners.

            The 3.0 TD is nice in the mountains and higher altitudes, but a dog in cold weather.

            TD IMO means Tiny Diesel and if forced to make a choice I’d take a V6 gasser over the TD.

            But the 5.7 has the best power-to-weight ratio for all-around use.

            The 5.7 has enough oomph and twist to make good use of the 8-speed tranny. The 3.6-gasser and 3.0 TD are underpowered IMO.

            In my extended family we have five 2012 and up JGCs, among them a 3.0 TD in Littleton, CO — Rocky Mountain country.

            Including two of our friends’ JGCs we have a total of 7 WK2 JGCs , in a variety of trims. The 5.7L Limited and the 6.4L SRT8 clearly are the stars of this bunch.

  • avatar
    Rday

    Comparing these cars from Detroit is like comparing the different kinds of dog poop. They are all pretty much the same crappy products built by american companies that could care less about their customers welfare/safety/ resale.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      Heard it all before, Rday. That was conventional wisdom back around ’07, and it was based on experiences from the ’80s-’90s. The European makes had their reputations based on earlier decades, even the Japanese, but today there isn’t a whole lot of difference between American and foreign makes. You can keep bashing, but old Detroit is dead, and many of the vehicles you might slam aren’t even made in Detroit, while many the vaunted imports are made in American factories.


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