Hamtramck Going Dark as GM Large Sedan Inventories Balloon

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

It’s going to be a black Christmas at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant this year. Amid rising inventory levels for the Cadillac CT6, Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Impala, and Chevrolet Volt, General Motors plans to shut off the lights for the rest of the year.

Blame the American consumer’s rapidly changing automotive tastes.

According to The Detroit Free Press, the shutdown impacts 1,800 workers once production begins winding down on October 20th. GM anticipates a full production stop on November 13th. Of those workers, up to 200 might not return after production restarts following the Christmas break.

In a statement, GM said the shutdown is required to “help maintain more stable production” in a time of “declining overall industry volumes.”

A quick check of the Automotive News Data Center shows ballooning supply of all four vehicles produced at the Hamtramck facility. While LaCrosse supply, measured at 284 days’ worth on October 1st, is little changed from a month earlier, it’s leaps and bounds above the healthy industry norm of 60-70 days. CT6 inventories stand at 106 days’ worth, while Impala supply has grown from 45 to 67 days’ worth. The Volt, which now finds itself outsold by its all-electric Bolt sibling, showed a 107-day supply as of October 1st, up 10 days’ worth from September.

Awash with large sedans at a time when consumers can’t get enough crossovers and SUVs, Hamtramck’s plight mirrors that of other traditional car-producing plants. Models like the LaCrosse and Impala are no longer the sales juggernaut they were just a decade ago.

In 2007, Chevrolet’s Impala pulled in over 300,000 U.S. buyers, but year-to-date sales are already well below 2016’s tally — a year sales dropped below the six-figure mark for the first time. LaCrosse sales dropped 42 percent in September, year-over-year. (That September 2016 sales figure represented a 51-percent drop from 2015.) Cadillac’s CT6, which went on sale in March of last year, saw sales drop 29 percent in September, year-over-year.

As for the technologically innovative Volt, the second-generation model saw sales fall 28 percent in September, year-over-year. Despite last year being the Volt’s best sales year since its introduction, 2017’s monthly sales have fallen below 2016 figures since April.

Of course, Detroit-Hamtramck is no stranger to layoffs, be it temporary or permanent. GM idled the plant for three weeks in January, with a second shift cut in March.

[Image: General Motors]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Zackman Zackman on Oct 14, 2017

    Man, I wish I were in the market for a new Impala. LT2, in dark red, please.

    • Ajla Ajla on Oct 14, 2017

      You already have the best FWD Impala. Just keep it until one of you isn't running any longer.

  • MWolf MWolf on Oct 15, 2017

    So, gonna paint with a broad brush here. GM has issues selling their big sedans. But so does everyone else. Why? Bear with me here: Boring cars have been the morm. We'll focus on GM. The Impala got boring and bland (inside and out, in all ways) until its refresh. Cadillac forgot how to make Caddillacs, instead opting to chase the Germans. Little did they know that simply improving quality and performance while still respecting their heritage and not using alpha-numeric gibberish would have done wonders. Do you think "Cadillac" when you think "CTS" or "CT6"? Buick? Used to be great. Let's kill everything that people liked about the brand, including models, and appeal neither to old or young buyers. None of these are bad cars. But you wouldn't know that based off of the recent past. Even I, as a GM fan, see Ford and even Toyota as enticing lately. They shot themselves in the foot. People made other choices when sedans got bland. They improved things, but now they don't believe anyone is intetested in them because they created the disinterest. So now the marketing sucks. Can't sell what you don't talk about, right? I couldn't tell you a damn thing about any of these sedans if I wasn't into cars enough to seek the information myself. I can tell you ALL about the Equinox just from marketing.