Chevrolet Blazer Bound for Mexican Plant, UAW 'Disappointed'

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

The new Chevrolet Blazer is the hot-ticket auto creating the most buzz right now, but it’s also generating mild controversy. Many who remember the original were more than a little disappointed seeing the name affixed to a unibody crossover with front-drive origins. While mainstream shoppers aren’t likely to mind, former Blazer owners aren’t thrilled with General Motors’ decision.

It’s probably more financially viable for the automaker to do it this way. GM can definitely serve most customers for less money. But you get the sense that they’ve watered down the automotive broth to stretch the C1XX platform as far as it will go. At least it means more jobs for Americans, though, right? Well, not exactly.

According to Reuters, General Motors confirmed its earlier plan to manufacture the Blazer in Mexico. With the recent hubbub from the White House surrounding vehicles produced abroad, the possibility of new tariffs, and NAFTA negotiations going so poorly, there was a growing sense that GM would find a way to build the crossover stateside. There was even rumor that Lansing Delta Township Assembly, which is already close to full capacity, would shoulder some of the burden with the rest going to Spring Hill Manufacturing in Tennessee.

While that decision would have placed both facilities into perpetual overdrive, it seemed theoretically possible, considering the recent emphasis on American Made™ products. Both plants already work on the Blazer’s sister vehicles, too.

Other claims arose that the company might retool Lordstown Assembly in Ohio to prepare for the crossover. Due to declining Chevrolet Cruze sales, the facility has seen output drop and shifts cut. Frankly, this would have made the most sense if production were to stay in the U.S., due to the underutilization of manpower and space. But the equipment costs and prep-work needed would have been significant. Unfortunately, it was all wishful thinking. The 2019 Blazer remains Mexico-bound.

“We remain committed to working with the administration on a modernized NAFTA,” GM spokesman Pat Morrissey said, before adding that the factory decision was made years ago.

The automaker certainly could have tried to change its production strategy for the political climate, but reorganizing the logistics last minute would have been an incredibly messy affair. Like Morrissey said, these decisions are typically made long before assembly kicks off.

The United Auto Workers union called the decision very disappointing. “This is all happening while UAW-GM workers here in the U.S. are laid off and unemployed,” the union said in a statement.

[Image: General Motors]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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  • IMatt IMatt on Jun 25, 2018

    Why isn't the union aggressively trying to develop a presence in Mexico? There's already the CAW in Canada, why not a new MAW arm in Mexico? Would solve many outsourcing to cheap labour issues within NAFTA and even improve working conditions for local workers in Mexico. The union would get a boost in membership as well. Win-win for everyone except for those looking to buy discounted made in Mexico vehicles.

    • Bullnuke Bullnuke on Jun 25, 2018

      When I lived in Mexico some years back the members of "unions" were closely aligned with the wishes and directives of the PRI, the then-ruling party, and were allowed only to ask for and do as the PRI allowed. They were unions in name only. I wouldn't be surprised if that were still the case - a union such as the UAW would not be tolerated.

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