GM Downplays Virus Threat to Lucrative Truck Lines

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gm downplays virus threat to lucrative truck lines

We’re not talking about a digital threat here; no, it’s more just one more headache caused by the viral outbreak rampaging through the Chinese manufacturing heartland — the source of so many components crucial to domestic auto production.

At General Motors, a supply chain disruption is the last thing the company needs after weathering an expensive 40-day strike at its U.S. plants last fall. The automaker is now attempting to allay fears of idled plants in the wake of an ominous social media post.

As reported by Bloomberg, GM says the threat isn’t serious, suggesting it has other suppliers on the hook that could step in if necessary.

“We continue to monitor our supply chain and are in close communications with our tier-one suppliers to mitigate any risk to production in North America,” GM spokesman David Barnas said in an email to the publication. “The situation is still quite fluid, but GM, other automakers and suppliers have begun the process of restarting vehicle and parts production in China.”

The comment came after a UAW local representing workers at GM’s Flint, Michigan truck plant posted to social media, warning of potential production snags at truck and SUV plants in Flint, Arlington, Texas, and Fort Wayne, Indiana if parts shortages continue. The situation would be especially worrisome if supply doesn’t ramp up by March, the post said.

The message to members of UAW Local 598 reportedly stemmed from a report from the automaker’s materials department.

“However, if this continues in March, there will be more significant parts impacted. The first being trailer harnesses. The company is still trying to develop a process to run shy and still pass PTT and DVT,” the post stated, as reported by The Detroit Bureau.

“The company has leased two cargo planes and also been able to get the government to release two of them. They are hoping to improve shipments. The company has set Flint has a priority plant and will sacrifice volume at Arlington and Fort Wayne to keep us running.”

The three plants crank out key product for GM: full-size Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras, as well as the company’s body-on-frame, full-size SUVs. Those SUVs were just revealed in next-generation guise; production has already begun ahead of a mid-2020 on-sale date.

Earlier this week, GM announced that its joint-venture plants in China would restart on February 15th, following extended downtime caused first by the Lunar New Year holiday, then by the virus.

[Image: General Motors]

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  • Golden2husky Golden2husky on Feb 15, 2020

    The reality is that all manufacturers are going to source from the cheapest place unless there is some mechanism in place to prevent it from happening. There are no scared cows in the consumer product market because price drives everything. The consumer had plenty of time to buy the fryer made in West Bend Indiana instead of the cheaper Chinese made one that sat next to it on the shelf back in the day. Overwhelmingly they opted for the lower price model so today West Bend is economically dead. What is really sad is when the item you buy is packed with components from abroad and the assembled here, yet it still comes with an exorbitant price tag. Looking at you Harley-Davisdson...

  • Dusterdude Dusterdude on Feb 15, 2020

    @gasser I wouldn't worry about corona virus coming from ocean containers .... The worry with COVID-19 is a significant spread in direct person to person transmission. As noted in the media some possible scenarios are pretty severe.. Hopefully they don't play out as they would be much more devastating than worrying about manufacturing plants shutting down..

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