July 8, 2014 at 11:06 pm

SUV demand revs up GM plant in Texas

GM's Arlington plant is humming to build such SUVs as the hot-selling Yukon. (Kye R. Lee / MCT)

Arlington, Texas— Already operating around the clock during the week, the General Motors Assembly Plant plant here also ran three Saturdays last month as workers try to meet the demand for GM’s 2015 model full-size SUVs.

In a rare move, the Arlington plant even ran overtime on a recent Sunday. Enough workers volunteered to schedule one shift, plant spokeswoman Donna McLallen said.

The Arlington plant remains a bright spot for GM, which has been beset by millions of recalls and a national controversy over defective ignition switches on old compacts linked to at least 13 deaths — none of which affects Arlington’s SUVs. The plant is GM’s only full-size SUV factory now, and the 4,500 workers build the Tahoe, Suburban, GMC Yukon, Yukon XL and Cadillac Escalade.

Although big truck-based SUVs don’t sell in the volumes they once did, those left in the segment tend to be loyal repeat buyers. And GM’s full-size SUVs dominate the segment, with a 75 percent share.

In April, Yukon sales shot up a startling 136 percent from the same month in 2013, and they were up 42.2 percent in May. The Escalade, the last vehicle to be added to Arlington’s build mix, reported a modest 2.6 percent sales increase in May, though business was slowed by an air bag recall.

“We haven’t seen these kinds of numbers since early 2008,” said Mark Clawson, marketing manager for the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban. “We’re turning Suburbans in 10 days and Tahoes in 17.”