Product Postponement: Everyone's Worried About GM Strike Delays
Industry analysts are becoming concerned that General Motors’ ongoing row with the United Automobile Workers will negatively impact its production commitments. Officially, the automaker has a surplus allowing it to endure strike conditions for a few more weeks. But it’s also supposed to preparing SEMA vehicles and readying production of the new, mid-engined Chevrolet Corvette Stingray — none of which have any back catalog to draw from.
While GM had 80 days worth of inventory at the start of October to help tamp down any panic, numerous models aren’t included in that pool. The C8 Corvette is supposed to launch this year, with volumes ramping up through early 2020. But orders for the outgoing C7 are backing up due to the UAW strike, requiring the automaker to finish those before retooling Bowling Green Assembly for the C8. That could further stall the Stingray’s arrival date, which was already a little nebulous.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Speaking with Automotive News, LMC Automotive expressed fears that the next-generation GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe and Chevrolet Suburban could also be delayed by a month or more:
Assembly lines have been idled since 11:59 p.m. Sept. 15, when roughly 46,000 hourly workers walked off the job in the union’s first national strike against a Detroit 3 automaker since 2007. Both sides continued to negotiate Wednesday, the 24th day of the strike, as issues remained around wages and job security, among other topics.
“It just affects the ability of a plant to get to launch,” Jeff Schuster, president, Americas operation & global vehicle forecasting at LMC, told Automotive News. “These are not going to do massive damage to margin or affect consumer loyalty, but any further delays because of an extended strike do start to get costly.”
GM has attempted to assuage concerns by suggesting it’s too early to start freaking out. “As we recently said during the convertible reveal, the 2020 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray coupe goes into production at GM’s Bowling Green Assembly in late 2019, with the convertible following in late first-quarter 2020,” explained the company in a statement. “It’s too early to speculate on potential impacts to launch timing for any of our products.”
If the strike wraps up soon, then we’re inclined to agree. But if it continues through this month, there’s little hope of the Stingray making it here before Christmas.
Concepts intended for SEMA are operating on an even shorter timeline. The tuning trade show opens on November 5th and General Motors had plans to bring several modified vehicles, including its latest products, to the event. While the 2021 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 appears ready, Muscle Cars & Trucks reported insider sources as saying several other models are in danger of being incomplete or absent come showtime.
One source said the UAW strike is “affecting everything.” Teams tasked with the SEMA builds are citing issues with the availability of parts, shipping, and receiving. They’ve also lost members with union ties who were required to walk out on the projects when the strike order was given. General Motors, again, said it was too early to speculate when questioned on its SEMA concepts.
While missing product at SEMA and Corvette delays could be high-profile blunders, GM would actually be hurt more by those late SUVs. Regardless of how all that pans out, the manufacturer will also be impacted by the strike itself. Anderson Economic Group, a market research and consulting firm, estimated that the walkout had already created a $660-million profit hit for GM and over $412 million in direct wage losses for all employees by the third week.
[Images: General Motors]
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