GM Hits the Ramp, Accelerates

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
gm hits the ramp accelerates

There’s inventories to be filled with trucks and crossovers, and time’s wasting. After staging a cautious, production-limited restart of its North American assembly plants on May 18th, General Motors is prepared to put its foot down, boosting output at numerous locations.

Hungry dealers can’t wait.

Reporting a restart process that went “smoothly,” GM said Thursday, “We are now in a position to increase production to meet strengthening customer demand and strong dealer demand.”

In the U.S., sales of full-size pickup sales never dropped more than 25 percent during the coronavirus lockdowns, leaving GM’s inventory to dwindle after shutting down production in late March. No-interest, 84-month financing offers helped move them out whatever doors remained open. Earlier this month, many dealers began growing antsy, reporting increased demand but fewer and fewer desirable vehicles to sell.

The automaker claims that, starting Monday, “three crossover assembly plants in the United States and Canada will be operating two production shifts, and three U.S. assembly plants building mid- and full-size pickups will move from one- to three-shift operations.” Five more U.S. plants will continue with one shift.

Getting suppliers back online in short order, and in a reportedly safe manner, was essential in realizing GM’s production plans.

As reported by CNBC, the three plants hopping from one shift to three are Flint Assembly in Michigan, maker of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra HD pickups; Fort Wayne Assembly in Indiana, home to the light-duty versions of the Silverado and Sierra; and Wentzville Assembly in Missouri, site of Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon production, as well as GM’s commercial vans.

While Ford’s restart, made possible by rigorous new health protocol, was marred by brief shutdowns related to coronavirus-infected employees turning up at their work site, GM’s experience wasn’t as well publicized. The company did report infected employees, but wouldn’t go into detail about where the employees showed up or when.

“The circumstances around each case were different but none required production to be paused,” GM Spokesman Jim Cain told CNBC. “We are not providing statistics on Covid testing.”

The Detroit News reports the other plants moving to two shifts as Lansing Delta Township Assembly in Michigan, home to the Buick Enclave and Chevy Traverse; Spring Hill Assembly in Tennessee, maker of the Cadillac XT5, XT6, and GMC Acadia; and Ontario’s CAMI Assembly, home to the Chevrolet Equinox.

Numerous reports have spoken of dealers chomping at the bit for fresh deliveries.

“If they can restart the pickup truck plants first, I’ll be standing here in line saying ‘send me all you can get,’” Jackson said.Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, told Bloomberg.

[Image: General Motors]

Join the conversation
4 of 17 comments
  • Akear Akear on May 31, 2020

    America does not make many industrial robots. It is sad. At least America can send people into space again.

    • See 1 previous
    • ToolGuy ToolGuy on May 31, 2020

      @Arthur Dailey Bad news: The SpaceX Merlin engines burn 'kerosene'. Good news: Around [at least?] 50% more efficient than the F-1 engines on Saturn V first stage. Compare the in-flight exhaust trail (I am not a rocket scientist - consult your rocket scientist.)

  • SSJeep SSJeep on Jun 01, 2020

    Dealers around here are starving for inventory, new trucks cant come soon enough. Our local GMC dealer has two Sierras left on the lot - both top trim Denalis, and zero Canyons. They have three 2500 HDs. For them, its like COVID never happened.

  • Arthur Dailey When I grew tired of the T-Bird trying to kill me by refusing to start at the most inconvenient times/places, I replaced it with a '79 fullsized Dodge (Sportsman) van. Similar to this but with a different grille and rectangular headlights. The 4 'captains' chairs in my van were pretty much identical to the ones in this van. Mine certainly was not as nicely finished inside. And it was a handful to drive in snow/ice. One thing that strikes me about this van is that although a conversion it does not seem to have the requisite dark tint on the windows.
  • Jeff S I am not a fan of Tesla and they were niche vehicles but it seems that they have become more common. I doubt if I get an EV that it would be a Tesla. The electrical grid will have to be expanded because people over the long run are not going to accept the excuse of the grid can't handle people charging their EVs.
  • AMcA The '70 Continentals and Town Cars may have been cousins to the standard body Fords and Mercurys, they didn't have to be disguised, because they had unique, unbelievably huge bodies of their own. Looking at the new 1970 interior, I'd say it was also a cost savings in sewing the seat. Button tufted panels like the 1969 interior had require a lot of sewing and tufting work. The 1970 interior is mostly surface sewing on a single sheet of upholstery instead of laboriously assembled smaller pieces. FINALLY: do I remember correctly that the shag carpet shown under these cars was a Photoshop? They didn't really go so peak '70s as to photograph cars on shag carpets, did they?
  • Inside Looking Out Toyota makes mass market cars. Their statement means that EVs are not mass market yet. But then Tesla managed to make mass market car - Mode; 3. Where I live in CA there are more Tesla Model 3s on streets than Corollas.
  • Ltcmgm78 A lot of dirt must turn before there's an EV in every driveway. There must be a national infrastructure plan written by other than politicians chasing votes. There must be reliable batteries that hopefully aren't sourced from strategic rivals. There must be a way to charge a lot of EVs. Toyota is wisely holding their water. There is a danger in urging unplanned and hasty moves away from ICE vehicles. Do we want to listen to unending speeches every election cycle that we are closer than we have ever been to 100% electrification and that voting for certain folks will make it happen faster? Picture every car in your town suddenly becoming all electric and a third of them need a charge or the driver will be late for work. This will take a lot of time and money.