GM to restructure in Thailand, seek worker separations

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Friday it will restructure in Thailand, as it will phase out production and sales of the Chevrolet Sonic vehicle and sales of the Chevrolet Spin and will launch a voluntary separation program for all salaried and hourly employees.

The Detroit automaker, which a day earlier announced it will stop producing vehicles in Indonesia, shutter its Bekasi plant and cut 500 jobs by the end of June, said the restructuring in Thailand includes its corporate office in Bangkok and manufacturing plants in Rayong. GM did not immediately say how many employees it hopes to see voluntarily leave. It has 3,200 at its Rayong plant.

“We must accelerate the transformation of our operations in Southeast Asia, particularly Thailand given the sluggish domestic market demand, by implementing changes to increase customer satisfaction and our competitiveness, speed up all processes and put us in a better position to achieve future growth,” Tim Zimmerman, president of GM Southeast Asia Operations, said in a statement.

GM said it responding to market trends and customer demand for the Chevrolet Colorado truck, TrailBlazer and Captiva SUVs and Cruze compact car. Those vehicles total more than 75 percent of Chevy sales in Thailand and 95 percent of GM Thailand exports. The automaker also said it is withdrawing participation in Thailand’s Eco Car Phase 2 program.

Stefan Jacoby, president of GM International, said, “We are focusing our investments where the opportunity for GM’s growth is the greatest. We have made solid progress in our region, and this decision is an important part of this strategy.”

GM sold 25,798 Chevrolet vehicles in Thailand last year. It produced 55,491 vehicles in Thailand and exported 35,117 to 64 countries.

The company established GM Thailand in 1993. As part of a $1.4 billion investment, it opened its Rayong facility in August 2000. GM added a $200 million powertrain facility, which opened in September 2011.

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