More Passenger Car Blues as GM Throttles Back in Canada

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
more passenger car blues as gm throttles back in canada

General Motors’ Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant isn’t the only facility hit hard by the public’s growing distaste for traditional highway cruisers. Falling full-size sedan sales turned out the lights at that plant last month, and GM’s Oshawa, Ontario plant will follow suit in January, returning with a missing shift once production resumes.

Like Hamtramck, the Oshawa plant builds the Chevrolet Impala sedan, and is the sole domestic builder of the Cadillac XTS. As the only remaining front-wheel-drive passenger car in the brand’s lineup, the XTS — saved from execution and refreshed for 2018 — didn’t stage a repeat performance of its October sales climb in November.

According to The Globe and Mail, the Oshawa plant’s passenger car production will cease for the first three weeks of January. Following that, the current two shifts transition to a single shift through the end of March. In order to avoid layoffs, workers on the plant’s Flex Line will rotate their weeks of work, though what lies in store for next spring and summer remains a mystery.

Oshawa, which handled six models just a few years ago, was feared to be in danger of closing until it reached a deal last year to perform final assembly of full-size pickups. The CAMI plant in Ingersoll, Ontario used to send overflow Chevrolet Equinox production to Oshawa, but that practice dried up last summer.

Cadillac XTS sales fell 27 percent in the U.S. in November, year-over-year, with sales over the first 11 months of 2017 down 21 percent. In October, the model posted a surprising 49.5-percent year-over-year sales increase.

Impala sales, while heading in the right direction in some respects, aren’t doing great when you consider the bigger picture. Despite a 13-percent reduction in GM fleet sales last month (and a 24-percent decrease in vehicles sent to rental agencies), Impala sales rose 54.1 percent, year-over-year, in November. The nameplate rose 24 percent in October, though Impala sales tend to vary wildly month to month. Overall, this year has seen Impala sales slip 21.5 percent.

[Image: General Motors]

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  • WalterRohrl WalterRohrl on Dec 02, 2017

    I am curious if the sales of the Impala (and really, all of the sedan lines out there that are experiencing a sales freefall) would be improved if a wagon variant was added. Think about it - it'd be extremely easy and fast to add to the same production line, the cost to the consumer would be minimally extra, the utility would be greatly enhanced over the sedan body style, and the fuel economy would be largely unchanged. The only thing that wouldn't occur would be the increased ride height of a CUV/SUV and perhaps the increased profitability to the manufacturer of steering a buyer into an existing CUV lineup instead, BUT the production line would see higher utilization/throughput. The only large-ish wagons out there currently are by Volvo and Mercedes (or am I forgetting one?). There could well be a market for an Impala or LaCrosse Wagon, and likely for a Sonata, Altima, and Mazda6 as well as perhaps Passat.

  • CincyDavid CincyDavid on Dec 04, 2017

    Rented a black Impala LT v6 recently, and was duly impressed. Some misaligned dash trim was a little underwhelming but it drove well and had a huge interior. I was helping my BIL do some work on his '16 Impala yesterday and was amazed at the cheap lug wrench and jack that car comes with...stamped steel lug wrench instead of the cast alloy item in my Hondas and shiny black steel wrench in the Kia. It's little bits of cheapness that turn me off with GM. Does it really matter, probably not, but it just felt cheesy. The inch of water in the spare tire well of a 2 year old car was a little odd too...

  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.
  • Wjtinfwb I've seen worse on the highways around Atlanta, usually with a refrigerator or washer wedged into the trunk and secured with recycled twine...
  • Wjtinfwb Surprising EB Flex hasn't weighed in yet on it being the subject of a recall...