GM to Shed Five North American Plants, Numerous Products, Amid Restructuring Drive

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gm to shed five north american plants numerous products amid restructuring drive

Heavy-duty streamlining has reached the production level at General Motors. After last night’s bombshell (though not unexpected) report claiming Canada’s oldest auto plant would cease operations late next year, more news is trickling out about the automaker’s production future.

Add Ohio and Michigan to the list of locales expected to lose an assembly plant.

According to Nick Bunkley of Automotive News, Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown Assembly, makers of GM’s full-size front-wheel drive products and the Chevrolet Cruze, will join Oshawa Assembly in closing its doors. Both American plants now operate on one shift, with no shortage of downtime last year to curtail ballooning inventory.

Oshawa, of course, builds the marked-for-death Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala, which also sees assembly in Hamtramck. Shift workers walked off the job this morning at the Ontario plant, which, like its American counterparts, possessed an increasingly hazy future. Roughly 2,500 unionized workers and 300 salaried employees call the plant home.

Unifor, the union representing Detroit Three autoworkers in Canada, stated Sunday night that there was no product allocated to Oshawa after December 2019.

“Based on commitments made during 2016 contract negotiations, Unifor does not accept this announcement and is immediately calling on GM to live up to the spirit of that agreement,” the union said in a media release. “Unifor is scheduled to hold a discussion with General Motors tomorrow and will provide further comment following the meeting.”

Meanwhile, Reuters reports that discussions that took place between GM and the UAW last year will surely ramp up again. Those talks concerned falling sedan sales and what to do with underutilized plants like Hamtramck and Lordstown. Now, the context is clearer. With GM offering buyouts to 50,000 salaried workers across the globe and angling for a heavily electrified product lineup in the not-so-distant future, the dinosaurs must die. Sales of the Impala, XTS, CT6, and Buick LaCrosse are, like the Cruze, down significantly in 2018. However, Hamtramck also builds the electrified Chevy Volt.

Update: GM CEO Mary Barra, speaking at a media conference this morning, has confirmed that the three aforementioned plants, as well as Warren Transmission and the company’s Baltimore operations, will cease to exist by the end of next year. She also confirmed that the shuttering of the plants, expected to save the company $6 billion in 2020, spells the discontinuation of the products built at those plants.

According to The Detroit News, this means the loss of 3,300 U.S. jobs. UAW contracts are up for renegotiation next year.

[Images: General Motors]

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  • Jthorner Jthorner on Nov 27, 2018

    Gotta love those tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, eh? The tarriffs didn't just increase the price of imports, they increased the price of domestic produced metals as well. Which industry consumes the most steel and aluminum in the US?

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Nov 27, 2018

      Yeah, tariffs sure got everyone’s attention and the trading partners are scrambling to make deals with Pres T. To wit: USMCA, with more to come.

  • Bigbearvo Bigbearvo on Nov 30, 2018

    Typical of American manufacturers... short-sighted, interested only in shareholder value, not in competing at a high level of quality and customer satisfaction over the long term. GM is losing billions in its electric division, while Toyota is positioning itself to own the market in every vehicle segment as technology changes over the next 20 years. State of the art plants being built here, and young design teams working on trail-blazing products, while the American companies pick up the pieces of yet another failed strategy. Toyota and Honda have no plans to discontinue the Accord, Corolla, Camry or Avalon. I have no doubt they'll gladly hire some of those experienced laid off GM workers who built the Impala, Cruze and Volt. They'll also gladly add disenchanted GM buyers to their growing list of satisfied customers. I chose an American car for the first time in decades when I bought first a Ford Escape Hybrid in 2008, then a 2016 Impala. Great vehicles, great design. Poor marketing execution by a poorly managed company. The Impala led the pack in the Consumer Reports ratings two years running. Why not build on that success, instead of forcing sedan lovers and Hybrid SUV fans to the foreign competition? Now I'll be leaving thousands of dollars on the table when I'm forced to sell the Impala and move on to a more trustworthy, high quality, well-run company. I'll move to an Avalon, Camry or Accord, or if I choose an SUV, it'll be a Subaru or Toyota. And it will be the last time I trust an American car company.

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.