GM Works Ten Weeks of Factory Downtime into 2017

General Motors will be idling multiple North American plants for 10 weeks this year to allow for the factory retooling necessary to build upcoming models.

It also provides a buffer for the overabundance of product it currently has. At the moment, GM has a 97-day supply of vehicles. That’s well above industry average and substantially higher than its domestic peers. As of April 1st, Ford Motor Co. had 80 day’s worth of product and FCA had 82.

“Our inventory is high because we’re going to take 10 weeks out in the back end of the year as we’re modifying our plants, particularly with pickup trucks,” Alan Batey, GM’s head of North America, explained to reporters after GM unveiled a redesigned Buick Enclave.

Despite overall demand being lower than anticipated for this year, Batey says GM is exactly where it wants to be in terms of inventory and sales. He explained to Automotive News earlier today that GM intends to leave 2017 with roughly the same vehicle reserve as it entered it with. However, it will stall production further if the market takes a turn for the worse. “If we need to balance supply and demand, we’ll do it,” he said.

While the 10 week reprieve should help, odds are good that GM will need to idle factories anyway. General Motors terminated production shifts at two plants in Michigan and one in Ohio in 2017’s first quarter. That helped to bring inventories down from a 123 day supply in March to 101 days in April. However inventory of some models, like the Chevy Silverado, have remained abnormally high.

That’s most likely due to a product changeover for next-generation pickups sometime between now and 2018. GM hasn’t confirmed anything yet but Batey said that trucks will comprise a large portion of this year’s factory retooling. “I’m not going into details,” Batey said, “but we have some exciting things coming out.”

GM will begin depleting its 925,000 unit surplus in the second quarter of this year, when retooling begins in earnest. Assembly changeover will account for the next-gen Chevrolet Equinox in March and updated versions of the the Chevy Traverse, Buick Enclave, and GMC Terrain sometime in autumn. Pickup trucks are expected to follow in 2018.

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