GM to Throttle Back Production, Idle Plants as Car Glut Grows

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gm to throttle back production idle plants as car glut grows

(Update: This story has been updated to reflect new information.)

Not since the dark days of the recession has General Motors had so many vehicles clogging its inventory.

Bursting at the seams with unsold cars (but not trucks or SUVs), the automaker will temporarily turn out the lights at five assembly plants and kill off three shifts in order to bring things back into balance. For thousands of workers, that means the kind of extended Christmas holiday you don’t want.

According to The Detroit News, GM’s inventory stood at 874,000 cars, trucks and crossovers at the end of November. That’s the largest glut since 2008 — a dismal time when buying a new car meant you were either exceptionally lucky, or foolish.

The automaker’s inventory has ballooned in 2016, growing by 182,000 vehicles since this time last year. In fact, the ranks of the unsold grew by 40,000 units between Halloween and November 30. Naturally, incentive spending went through the roof in an attempt to clear out the glut, rising an average of 36 percent per vehicle in November, though it wasn’t enough to turn the tide.

Now, GM is forced to scale back production of numerous models.

According to the United Auto Workers, the automaker’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant will shut down for three weeks in January, stemming the flow of the Chevrolet Volt and Impala, Cadillac CT6 and Buick LaCrosse. A second shift will be cut in March, leading to nearly 1,300 layoffs.

Both the Lansing Grand River Assembly Plant and Lordstown Assembly Plant will see a third shift cut next month, leaving a further 2,000 workers out of a job. The Lansing plant will also be idled for two weeks, Reuters reports, while Lordstown will see the lights go out for one week. Lansing builds the Cadillac ATS and CTS, both plagued with slow sales, and the heavily incentivized Chevrolet Camaro. While GM had an unhealthy 87-day supply of all cars in November, its Camaro stock could supply dealers for 177 days. Clearly, something had to give.

Autodata claims a 121-day supply of Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze models, while ATS and CTS inventories stand at 119 and 132 days. Overall, GM boasts a 105-day supply of its passenger cars, with 70 days being the industry ideal.

The automaker’s Bowling Green plant in Kentucky, which builds the Chevrolet Corvette, will shut down for a week next month, while its Fairfax plant in Kansas City will see a three-week shutdown. Fairfax builds the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse. In total, the shutdowns will idle about 10,000 workers.

While a certain automaker — *cough* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles *cough* — dealt with slow sales by killing off unpopular models, GM isn’t willing to go that route. As such, the public’s turn towards light trucks means pain in the heartland.

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  • Buickman Buickman on Dec 19, 2016

    how about this? "Thank You America" we announce it on the Super Bowl. a FREE oil change to every licensed driver in the country. the dealers will pay the cost and we bring in hundreds of thousands of people into our dealerships. costs us ZERO! they have to take a test drive to qualify. car on hoist and them behind the wheel of a new GM vehicle. this is a perfect scenario and how you sell cars, rather than a Red Toe Tag Sale. there's lots more where this comes from. remember, I am the world's greatest car salesman. shame these ratfinks in the Ivory Towers are so self centered and preoccupied on protecting their positions that they are costing us share, sales, jobs and return on investment, lastly, keep in mind that Gerosa didn't retire really, he just relocated to Grand Blanc

    • See 2 previous
    • AJ AJ on Dec 26, 2016

      @Buickman I had a free oil change recently and the dealer noticed a slight oil leak (It's a Jeep thing) and wanted $100 to diagnose it. Another time with a Honda, and also a free oil change, the service advisor wanted to upsell me for a $75 safety check. I laughed as the car only had 12k miles on it. Free oil changes... :)

  • Buickman Buickman on Dec 19, 2016

    America Went the Extra Mile for GM, Now GM Goes the Extra Mile for America! anyone in a lease takes a test drive and gets a Spin to Win Extra Miles on their current lease. guaranteed to win at least 50 miles, up to 5000. now we have all their info, car, miles, remaining term. they're in our stores and driving our products. this is how you sell cars Mr Batey, you worthless interfering, problematic, nuisance.

  • Lou_BC "To be sure, many suppliers have received much-needed relief from automakers or their Tier 1 customers. And despite the significant pressure suppliers have found themselves under after unprecedented challenges in recent years, a wave of supplier bankruptcies that some have feared has not come to pass."You can say that again..........oh.....wait..... you did.
  • Lou_BC Lately I've had the crap scared out of me a few times. The most freaky was the other day. I was heading out to a lake with my dogs. I was at a "highway" traffic light. A small SUV was next to me in the outside lane. The light changes and we both accelerate. I'm a bit faster. I look in my centre mirror and a GM Sierra pulling an ATV on a utility trailer in right on my butt. He' so close I can just see the top of his grill. I accelerate up to 105 KPH (Speed limit 100 kph). He's still right there. I'm not one to brake check but I chose to "cover" my brakes to activate the tail lights as a warning. He swerves into the other lane almost taking out the little SUV. Both his pickup and trailer are wildly swaying all over the place. He zooms off and gets stuck behind a few transport trucks.
  • Syke Nine comments and Tassos hasn't jumped in screaming about what a garbage car this is?
  • The Oracle The Spyder and Ryker platforms are great for folks who want an open air experience but may not want it on 2 wheels. I’ve had a Spyder RS-S since new in 2012 and it’s a fun machine with the manual transmission. When ridden hard, fuel economy goes well below 36mpg, but 2-up riding is great and the frunk is great for running errands.
  • The Oracle These pricing pressures have been around for decades and the traditional ICE supply base is about to be upended.