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]
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.
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