By on May 29, 2020

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]

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17 Comments on “GM Hits the Ramp, Accelerates...”


  • avatar
    redapple

    Steph

    GM Flint Assy makes Chevrolet and GMC HD versions. The Chevrolets have the special Gorgon / Medusa styling.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    First picture: I see that GM’s Alien Dreadnought has eliminated all the humans in the assembly process. (That’s not a Body line, that’s a Trim line – note the pretty paint and fiddly bits on the truck [stickers!] – traditionally there would be a *lot* of people visible at this stage of production.)

  • avatar
    redapple

    It s had plenty of people crawling on it.
    Seats in.
    Dash in
    Doors on.
    Lots o folk doing that.

    Now come wheels and Faschia and bumper. Lot s o folk there too.

    Just it 3-6 job spaces where some automation takes place. No big.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      Its also after Cab and ,Box drop /marriage done with completed front sheet metal .That job is on its way to final assembly . Lots of human hands have most certainly been involved .

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    ““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.””

    Agreed. I’m all for prudence regarding the CV, but there is no need to feed media hysteria. Besides, the UAW is (properly) there to provide oversight of the new health measures.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The BedStep visible in that picture is pretty cool – as is the CornerStep:
    https://tinyurl.com/ydhen8c9

    And on the topic of bed access, there is a brand-new Ford Ranger 4×4 in my driveway at the moment. I am a little over 6’2″, with long arms [and large hands – shhhh]. The side of the Ranger bed is roughly 9″ higher than the side of my GMT400. This is a critical 9″, since it moves us from below my elbow to just below my shoulder (now we can’t lean over).

    On the GMT400, I can (relatively easily) touch any part of the [significantly larger] bed while standing on the ground.

    With the Ranger, it is impossible to reach items in the center of the [smaller] bed.

    I’m sure you’re all excited to know that I plan to do some side by side F-150 comparisons at the Ford dealership and report back. :-)

    [The ‘unloading mulch with a pitchfork from the side of the bed’ exercise is my acid test.]

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Pretty much all modern fullsize pickups will fail that test, unless you are really tall and have long arms…

      The biggest failings of today’s trucks is the bed sides are too damn high.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    I have zero problems with taller bed-sides. I don’t carry loose objects in the box that I’d ever need to reach over to grab other than a few sticks along side my toolbox for my dogs. Loose objects in the box are a liability to the driver, the vehicle and others around the vehicle.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    The large industrial robots in the picture are Chinese, for the record.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      * Japanese

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        The logo says “KUKA”?

        KUKA is a German manufacturer of industrial robots and solutions for factory automation. It is owned by the Chinese company Midea Group. – Wikipedia

        • 0 avatar
          MGS1995

          The end of arm tooling is Kuka. (Yes German) The yellow robot looks a lot like a Fanuc.( Japanese). I had not heard that Kuka was sold to a Chinese interest.

          • 0 avatar
            ToolGuy

            I looked at some KUKA’s before my original post and they do have similar-looking yellow ones. Regardless, I don’t have a problem *wherever* they get their stuff – I get stuff from all over.

            But I find it… amusing? frustrating? when people think GM (for example) is a “U.S.” company (it’s “global” and has been for a *long* time) and then think I’ve converted my car to “Chinese” because I hang parts on it from there (in many cases genuine OEM parts).

  • avatar

    America does not make many industrial robots. It is sad.

    At least America can send people into space again.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Isn’t it true that America can launch astronauts into space again thanks to the efforts of that enemy of the internal combustion engine, Elon Musk?

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        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.)

  • avatar
    SSJeep

    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.

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