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,’” Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation, told Bloomberg.

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC

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