GM adds downtime at 2 Lansing plants, Lordstown

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. said Wednesday it has added downtime to build schedules at three assembly plants this year, including two in Michigan. The company said two plants will have time off to cut inventory levels, while one is related to a vehicle changeover.

The company said “several weeks” of downtime will happen this year at its Lordstown Assembly Plant in northeast Ohio to trim inventories of the Chevrolet Cruze car.

GM said production downtime was added to Lansing Grand River and Lansing Delta Township’s schedules this year, but GM declined to share specifics on how many weeks or timing. Time off at Lansing Grand River, a car plant, is planned to trim inventory levels, while time at Lansing Delta Township relates to the end of production of the previous-generation GMC Acadia, called the Acadia Limited. The new Acadia is built in Tennessee.

GM is slated to shutter the Lansing Grand River plant for one week in March and Lansing Delta Township for four weeks in the spring, according to a source familiar with the company’s plans.

The Detroit automaker said Lordstown employees were notified Wednesday morning of the additional down weeks that were added to the 2017 build schedule. The automaker would not say how many weeks of downtime it plans to take this year.

Late last month, GM cut the third shift at the Lordstown plant to help reduce inventories of the compact car. At the end of January, Cruze inventories totaled about 100 days supply. Analysts say a 60-day supply is typically healthy for cars.

Small cars have not sold well in recent months as consumers continue to choose trucks and SUVs in favor of sedans.

Cruze sales in January totaled 19,949, up 38.9 percent. Cruze sales in 2016 fell 16.6 percent to a total of 188,876.

The Lordstown plant third-shift reduction was expected to affect 1,200 hourly workers and 43 salaried workers, GM said in November. The plant late last year employed more than 4,500 workers.

Robert Morales, president of UAW Local 1714, one of two union locals representing workers at Lordstown, said 235 of his members were laid off with the third shift being cut.

“We want our members to get back to work,” he said. “We’re keeping our hopes up.”

Morales said the union does not have information on how many weeks of downtime GM is planning, though they will be announced closer to when the company takes the time. He said the union was encouraged by the strong month of sales in January for Cruze and is hopeful it’s a sign the trend will continue with small cars.

UAW Local 1112 President Glenn Johnson said more than 600 of his members were laid off as GM cut the third shift at Lordstown.

GM also cut the third shift last month at Lansing Grand River, where it builds the Cadillac CTS and ATS and Chevrolet Camaro.

The Chevrolet Traverse and Buick Enclave are built at the Lansing Delta Township plant. A redesigned 2018 Traverse is due out in the summer and analysts also expect a new Enclave is in the works.

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