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GM considering contracting out cutaway van production

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. may be looking to move production of cutaway vans as early as late next year from its Wentzville Assembly Plant in Missouri to AM General, according to an internal message shared with workers in the plant Monday.

Moving production of the cutaway vans is being studied to free up more production for the popular-selling Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize trucks, according to a source familiar with the review.

“We have nothing to announce with regard to production changes at GM Wentzille Assembly,” GM spokesman Bill Grotz said.

AM General is based in South Bend, Indiana, and has facilities in Mishawaka, Indiana; Livonia; and Franklin, Ohio; and offices in Arlington, Virginia. AM General makes vehicles for the military and commercial sectors. Earlier this year, AM General and Mercedes-Benz U.S. International Inc. announced a deal in which AM General would produce Mercedes-Benz R-Class luxury vehicles in the company’s Mishawaka plant; the first vehicle rolled off the line in August.

An AM General spokesman did not immediately comment. UAW Local 2250 President Van Simpson declined to comment. The local represents about 3,500 hourly workers at the plant.

GM produces cutaway vans for commercial customers. Its Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans, which are full-length on frame, are upfitted into utility or service vehicles, ambulance or rescue vehicles, shuttle buses or school buses.

The Wentzville plant, which recently added a third shift and has been working on the weekends to keep up with demand, employs more than 3,700 workers who build full-size versions of the Express and Savana vans and the Colorado and Canyon pickups.

Through October, GM has sold 70,291 Colorados and 24,841 Canyon pickups. GM revived production of the midsize trucks with new designs last fall.

Automotive News reported the possible move earlier Tuesday.

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