By on February 22, 2019

2018 Chevrolet Impala, Image: General Motors

Detroit-Hamtramck, one of the five North American plants General Motors plans to shutter before the end of the year, will instead linger online a little longer.

While the plant’s future is still very much in doubt, and the lights will certainly go off for at least some period of time, the automaker plans to keep cranking out cars past New Year’s Eve. The reprieve stems from GM’s interest in continuing production of the Cadillac CT6 and Chevrolet Impala. Not the Buick LaCrosse or Chevrolet Volt, though. Definitely not the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Volt.

According to FOX6Now, the delay won’t be indefinite. Originally scheduled to cease production by June 1st, Detroit-Hamtramck will instead continue production into January of 2020.

Speaking to The Detroit News, GM spokesman Dan Flores said production of the slow-selling LaCrosse and declining (yet updated for 2019) Volt ended on February 15th.

“We are balancing production timing while continuing the availability of Cadillac advanced technology features currently included in the CT6-V, the Blackwing Twin-Turbo V-8 and Super Cruise,” GM said in a statement.

The news was greeted with tempered applause by UAW officials. In a joint statement, UAW President Gary Jones and Vice-President Terry Dittes spoke of “a sense of relief” among workers — something of an odd statement, considering the plant’s life is only being extended by seven months. The two execs asked for support in achieving a production extension at the three other U.S. plants marked for possible closure.

We told you yesterday about Cadillac’s plans for a range-topping CT6 that borrows a detuned version of the 4.2-liter Blackwing V8 found in the sold-out CT6-V. Earlier this year, GM execs stated their desire to keep the CT6 in GM’s lineup. To do this, the automaker would either have to source the sedan from China or find plant space at an existing U.S. facility. If GM goes with the preferred latter option, this would likely mean a gap in the model’s availability.

Though Canada’s Oshawa Assembly facility is due to close before the end of the year, the automaker lists the four American plants as “unallocated,” providing a ray of hope for the future. Next to go dark is Ohio’s Lordstown Assembly, sold producer of the Chevrolet Cruze. According to Flores, that plant’s production has been extended by a week. The lights go out on March 8th.

[Image: General Motors]

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46 Comments on “A Brief Reprieve for Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly...”


  • avatar
    Hummer

    Are we finally going to see GMs full-size SUV get a price cut now that they no longer have to pay for the volt boondoggle?

    I just can’t help but imagine if GM had given consumers the original volt concept instead of a modified Prius, that they may have been successful and been able to sell for a profit.

    • 0 avatar
      gomez

      The problem with building something like the Volt Concept is that actual consumers need things like practical headlights, mirrors, a powertrain, and room to put their heads. I agree that the styling of the first-gen production Volt was not great, but the concept was never going to be built.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        Why spend millions on a concept of its going to be a badge swap from a Toyota? I realize the Prius design is good for aerodynamics but if they had a good design that stirred emotion then even the most picky consumer wouldn’t fret over losing 5-10 miles off the range.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Right. I believe the engineers quickly found out that the concept, as first designed, had about the same aerodynamic efficiency as a contemporary Hummer H2…which is a non-starter for a hypermiling PHEV.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Ironic that the Lacrosse (riding on an improved updated version of the platform under the Impala/XTS) will be killed before its “older” siblings.

    Although I wouldn’t be surprised either if the Impala/XTS are cheaper to produce and therefore have higher profit margins than the Lacrosse.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      That’s my guess. I believe P2XX (LWB version of E2XX) is exclusive to the LaCrosse.

      E2XX and C2XX are widely used by GM for sedans and CUVs respectively.

    • 0 avatar
      NoID

      What a shame, it’s one of the more beautiful production cars on the road.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I would only assume that they sell better, and/or make money.

      I do wish they’d keep Detroit-Hamtramck open to build the CT6 and a decontented version as the Buick Park Avenue.

      Wishful thinking.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      PrincipalDan

      XTS?

      Your not that stupid.
      GFY Troll

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        The Epsilon II-platform is used for the XTS, which is shared with the Chevrolet Impala.

        How is that wrong?

        “The third generation LaCrosse debuted at the 2015 LA Auto Show as a 2017 model[60] using E2XX platform shared with the 2016–Present Chevrolet Malibu. The platform switch reduced its weight by about 300 pounds (140 kg), despite slightly growing in length and width.” – Per Wikipedia

        Again how is that wrong?

        • 0 avatar
          Peter Gazis

          PrincipalDan

          Your mistaken the CT6 is built on Cadillac’s Omega platform. Which uses carbon fiber and high strength steel to make it ultra strong and ultra light wieght.

          You seem to be confusing Cadillac with an other luxury brand. Which is killing off their Grand Sport(GS) Sedan while leaving its massmarket knockoff Economy Sedan(ES) in production.

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            Mr. Gazis,
            I beg to differ about your carbon fibre statement in the Cadillac chassis.
            Omega Platform Vitals:
            Aluminum-intensive mixed-material body with direct-mounted front cradle and rubber-isolated, multi-link independent rear suspension
            http://gmauthority.com/blog/gm/gm-platforms/omega/ The most fanboiest of fanboi sites. There might be carbon fibre interiors bits to wipe geezer-boogers on.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            The Omega platform is made out of an amalgamation of materials – including carbon fiber.

            “Reuss hinted that any future flagship Buick for China might not use the exact same underpinnings as the CT6, which is an amalgamation of aluminum, carbon fiber, high-strength steel and other materials.”

            https://www.autonews.com/article/20150414/OEM04/150419969/cadillac-ct6-underpinnings-could-support-a-big-buick

            The platform was state-of-art b/c it involved new processes melding the different materials together, but at the same time, was costly.

            A new CT6 will be developed on the VSS-R platform (due in 2020) and will save costs due to being able to be built on the same line as the CT5 and CT3/CT4, as well as the Escala.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Impala
    Worst car made.
    Huge car but I cant get in and out of it. Floor door sill lip is 4-5 ” high. Door top bends down 4″.

    Far forward ‘B’ pillar (or the seat is way back) (got to scoot forward 6″ to get out of car.)

    Pretzel contortions needed to get out of this rather large car.

    Therefore: obvious poor design. Horrible car.

    Old Impala was better overall.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      redapple

      You do realize there is a picture of the Impala at the top of this article, and that picture shows your full of sh’t!

    • 0 avatar

      “In our surveys the Impala is the top American car”

      -Consumer Reports.

      GM finally builds a world class large sedan and GM cancels it. Welcome to Barra’s GM were mediocrity survives and world class products fall by the way side.

      “The Equinox finished at the back of the pack in our recent tests”
      -Consumer Reports

      Funny, GM wants people to buy the panned Equinox over the critically praised Impala. I would buy a Mitsubishi outlander over a Equinox.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    thats funny , as the current Impala was lauded as one of the surprise good cars by a few posters (myself included ) a few days ago.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yeah lots of GM haters who have gotten Impalas or XTSs in the rental aisle have said: “Not bad.”

    • 0 avatar
      d4rksabre

      I daily a ’14 and it’s not bad until you get to build quality.

      The infotainment system is broken, the parking sensors are faulty, the brakes are prone to seizing which does things like require both rear wheel bearings to be replaced at only 50k miles. The tail light seals are poorly designed so the seals have to be replaced every 3 years or so. The pillar trim on the doors is peeling.

      The engine and transmission are fine, though I have some complaints about the smoothness of the transmission. And I find the traction control system dangerous in snow. Plenty of power. Cruises well on the highway. Very quiet inside.

      Poor build quality though. Looking forward to getting rid of it.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        http://www.curbsideclassic.com/future-classic/future-curbside-classic-2014-chevrolet-impala-a-major-upgrade/

        Notice I said rental (and was also thinking of the reviewers) neither of which have to live long term with the vehicle.

        I know Paul N (author of the link above) is either loved or hated around here but he is certainly no GM fanboy. For him to enjoy his Impala rental is pretty significant.

  • avatar
    backtees

    A local dealer has a new 2017, yes 2017, lacrosse on their showroom floor. How do you sell that when a used one is $25k?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      My local dealer finally got rid of his last 2017 as the 2019s were hitting the showrooms. He never ordered any 2018s and has one loaded (minus AWD) 2019. We’ll see how long it hangs around.

      • 0 avatar
        tombalas

        I ran a search of new inventory of the three local Buick dealers and none of them stocked the LaCrosse. One had 2 Regals; the others none. So when GM complains that not enough customers bought these cars, perhaps it is because their dealers elected not to make them available for purchase.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          It’s a cyclical thing, Like Mark Baruth said, dealers are the automakers’ customers, and a lot of what’s available and offered is because of what dealers order.

          *But* dealers order what customers buy. And if customers weren’t fleeing from three-box sedans (and ESPECIALLY full-sized ones) and into crossovers, maybe more dealers would take a chance on stocking the LaCrosse. Otherwise, they wind up sitting on something that isn’t selling, paying floor-plan-loan interest all the while. Then, if it gets too old, the automaker quits offering any sort of customer incentives and the dealer winds up having to throw a bunch of their own money at it in discounts to make it go away at a fire-sale price.

          So, yeah, if I were a Buick/GMC dealer, I wouldn’t stock the LaCrosse, either. I would mostly stick to the Encore and Enclave, as far as the Buick line goes, and stock as few sedans as I thought I could get away . with.

  • avatar
    JD-Shifty

    kind of amusing when a 2017 Impala is too tough to get in and out of for the older obese demographic.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Hey, I resemble that older obese demographic!

      I gained 65 pounds since I quit working on Dec 31, 2015.

      And, yes, we rented a 2016 Impala to get around Phoenix/Tempe/Scottsdale for the MLB Spring training games, and the Impala was a b!tch to get in and out of since all of us, except my wife, were amply endowed with layers of flab.

      • 0 avatar
        JD-Shifty

        Why don’t you folks care about your health?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          In my case it is primarily that I have lost the physicality of the work I was doing after I retired from working. A person can be very selective in what and how much they eat, and still take in more than what they need to sustain themselves.

          Add to that the genetic make-up and predisposition to be a large person and it doesn’t take much to pack on the pounds.

          My wife is 5’8” in bare feet and weighs all of 110 pounds dripping wet And for an old gal, she really looks nice.

          My people were large. My kids are large but not fat. But if they get sedate for whatever reason, they will also pack on the pounds, no matter how much they monitor their intake.

          As far as health concerns, I don’t have any. Get at least 2 physicals a year (VA and private doctor) and all’s well. Don’t smoke but drink to excess, seemingly without ill effect.

          I’m surprised I lived this long. Maybe it was all that radiation I was exposed to when working on B61 bombs.

          • 0 avatar
            Spartan

            That’s a fairly long diatribe for what amounts to you being lazy. Just say “I don’t want to exercise” and own it.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Spartan, at my age with my bum knee “I don’t want to exercise”.

            And 13 hour days driving behind the wheel of an RV, or 16 hour days sitting on the beach in Old Mexico relaxing, or on a fishing boat chumming Yellow Tail is not conducive to want to break sweat exercising.

          • 0 avatar
            Spartan

            Fair enough. I long for the day when I can do what you’re doing, RV and all.

            But I hope my knees last that long.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Spartan, you’ll get there. Keep your eye on the donut, not the hole.

            The bum knee is a souvenir from my Senior Trip to Viet Nam in 1967.

            Hey, I’m ecstatic to find myself waking up each morning, still breathing.

            Make the most of it.

  • avatar
    Oldschool

    I own a 17 Impala with 60K on the odo and I have zero problems with build quality so it might be a new model first year issue. Nothing has broken or fallen off the interior. No drivetrain issues at al either.

    GM’s Epilson II platform is really good, especially at being very quiet and smooth to drive. NVH is top notch for the price as well especially considering other how much other midsize cars are going for. Whats sad is a lot of people haven’t even bothered to drive them (Impala, LaCrosse, XTS).

  • avatar
    Steve203

    Not surprisingly, I have a theory about this.

    This extension for D-Ham keeps the lights on through contract negotiations this summer. Product allocations are always a topic in contract negotiations.

    As reported when the wave of plant “unallocations” was announced, D-Ham was running at 37% of capacity. Fairfax (Malibu) was running at 48% of capacity. Lansing Grand River (Camaro, ATS, CTS) was running at 33% of capacity.

    I would assume that sales trends reported for Q4 have continued: Impala down 49.9%, Malibu down 17%, Camaro down 21.7%, ATS (sedan discontinued, coupe only for 2019) down 70.9%, CTS up 9%.

    My suspicion is GM will play the union locals at D-Ham, Fairfax and Grand River against each-other, with whichever local makes the largest concessions getting the product from the other plants “allocated in”, with the other two plants being closed. The extension for D-Ham keeps that plant, and the supply chain for the Impy and CT6 going so they can be bargaining chips.

  • avatar
    NJRide

    UAW needs to push for Encore/Trax (probably at Lordstown) and bring Blazer/Envision/Terrain to one of the other ones. Also makes no sense to drop CT6 but Cadillac needs a real flagship.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve203

      >>UAW needs to push for Encore/Trax (probably at Lordstown) <<

      Looks to me like Lordstown is a dead duck. The lights go out March 8 and, in this job environment, I bet most of the work force will have moved on before contract negotiations start.

      If GM made all the Trax and Encores here, GM Korea would dry up and blow away. Of course, Peugeot is discontinuing the GMK sourced models it sells as Opels at the end of this year, so GMK's production operation may be doomed anyway. GM spun the GMK engineering department off into a separate company last year so it could survive the liquidation of the production operation.

      One of the GM plants in Mexico is producing some Trax now, but that plant also produces the Equinox, so probably doesn't have much excess capacity to pick up the volume that currently comes from Korea.

      My bet, if Trax and Encore production came to the US would be Orion Township. Orion builds the Sonic, which is on the same platform as the Trax, and Orion is running at only 34% of capacity.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I really like the Impala and LaCrosse. These are among the best vehicles GM makes.

  • avatar

    Bolt – 25% North American content

    Volt – 60% North American content

    If it is good for America GM is against it.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Things aren’t so simple….

    The Impala DID get rave reviews–the best write-up from Consumer Reports that I can recall, since the 1977 Caprice, which was CU’s ‘Best car’. I was 12 then.

    I rented an Impala, because they were out of other cars. I was prepared to dislike it despite CR’s glowing assessment, because IMO, CR ain’t what it used to be (it’s like reading Motor Trend now…a Car & Driver wannabe… go back to HARD, objective testing, and leave the ‘exciting to drive’ stuff to CD) and the car was large.

    The car felt Audi-esque to me, the seats were great, it drove ‘smaller’ than it looked.

    Even so, it was overpriced. The $21k old V6 Impala had become a $37k Impala (my rental was loaded, like the CR test car). TOO MUCH. Add in shift away from cars, AND GM’s call to put the car in TWO plants (really smart–I jack up the price and expect more sales….DUMB!!), and here we are.

    The Equinox doesn’t get rave reviews, but it sells well. I rented a 2016, pleasant enough. Dull but roomy.

    Now, as the Hamtramckh plant… GM will look pretty stupid when a couple hundred people go to shop a CT6, and buy the stock, and the next couple 100, having read about Cadillac’s great ‘hands-free’ system, find they can’t get one…

    Importing from China risks the wrath of the Pres, and very real tariffs.

    Changing cars from one factory to another is not as simple as having your Domino’s make pizza at the Subway across the street. It costs a lot of money to retrofit plants.

    The primary factor in a plant’s continued existence is whether or not the product sells well. If it sell well enough to require 3 shifts, the plant is safe. A plant that gets multiple awards from JD Power (quality/reliability) or Harbour (productivity) or accolades from CR and has a one-shift car has one foot in the grave.

    The carmakers use these metrics to entice their work forces to ‘be the best and save your jobs’, but it’s the utilization that counts.

    If gasoline had spiked to $7 a gallon and stayed there, Lordstown’s Cruzes would require 3 shifts, and Lorsdstown would be the last GM plant to close.

    GM just can’t pick up CT6 production and move it to the Lansing plant (CTS/ATS), or Fairfax plant. They would have to spend tens, perhaps hundreds of millions to make the required tooling changes.

    Up until the 1960s/70s, ironically, it was less difficult to shift production. THis is because of several reasons, but the biggest reason is that the plants were not as automated, AND they had a lot of fat in them. There was slack. How do you think Ford was able to build over a million 65-66 Mustangs, when they had planned on about 200k a year–they built MORE THAN DOUBLE on short notice. Because it was easier to change manual operations in plants with a lot of slack.

    Now, even though the plants may be old in many cases (Flint Truck is 70 years old!), the lines are built to deliver a planned volume efficiently. NO slack. If tomorrow, demand for the CT6 went from the anemic 11k units a year to say 50k, it could NEVER happen—GM can’t built that many. They would raise the price to choke demand to the most they could build on 3 shifts—and everyone would be very happy—M. Barra AND the UAW! For the next CT6, they MIGHT invest more money up front to raise the production rate by adding more workstations, faster robots, etc, if they thought 50k was the new normal.

    But for Hamtramck the sales on all 4 vehicle lines were under expectations. The plant only runs on 1 shift as a result. And that’s why GM wants to close it.

    Once closed, if demand shifts to those types of vehicles, GM will have to spend hundreds of million or billions to build those in remaining plants.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve203

      “Changing cars from one factory to another is not as simple as having your Domino’s make pizza at the Subway across the street. It costs a lot of money to retrofit plants.”

      It might not be quite that unfeasible. FCA moved the Cherokee, in the middle of a model run, from Toledo to Belvidere to clear Toledo for the new Wrangler.

      The rumor last March was that the Escala had been green lighted for production. The Escala uses the CT6’s Omega platform. A month ago, GM announced it was searching for a location to move CT6 production to. This extension of D-Ham’s life keeps the CT6 supply chain intact through this summer’s contract negotiations.

      I expect the CT6 and Escala to be offered as a package to Grand River, if the local grovels enough. Alternately, the CT6, Escala, Camaro, CT4 and CT5 (Alpha platform replacements for the ATS and CTS) will be offered to D-Ham, if that local grovels more than the local at Grand River.


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