GM extends downtime at 2 car plants to trim inventory

Melissa Burden
The Detroit News

Two General Motors Co. car plants are taking extended weeks of temporary layoffs to help the automaker trim inflated car inventory levels.

The automaker’s Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio will be down for a total of five weeks, beginning the week of June 19 through the week of July 17, according to United Auto Workers locals which represent hourly workers at the facility.

And GM’s Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kansas, also will be down for five weeks beginning in late June, according to a source familiar with the automaker’s planning.

A GM spokesman on Wednesday declined to comment on the downtime.

In April, GM’s North America President Alan Batey told reporters that GM would shutter some U.S. plants for a combined total of 10 weeks of production time in the second half of the year to cut inventory levels. Both Fairfax and Lordstown were expected to be affected, plus the Fort Wayne Assembly Plant in Roanoke, Indiana. That GM truck plant is slated to be down for several weeks for work related to a launch of new product.

Workers at the Lordstown plant build the compact Chevy Cruze sedan. Cruze sales are up 35.7 percent so far this year through May due to higher fleet sales of the compact car than the same period a year ago.

The Fairfax plant is home to the Chevrolet Malibu midsize sedan. It already had a temporary layoff from May 22 through June 4. Sales of the Malibu have fallen nearly 30 percent this year through May compared to the same five months last year.

At the end of May, GM had a stock of 963,448 vehicles or 101 days supply including 94 days worth of cars. That compares to 57 days of cars at the end of May 2016, according to Autodata Corp.

GM had 67 days of stock for its Malibu at the end of May and 87 days of stock for the Cruze.

The company says it has plans to trim its overall inventory to the low- to mid- 70 days range by the end of the year, with fewer cars and more trucks and crossovers as part of its mix.

GM at the beginning of June said downtime in the second half of the year related to new vehicle launches would cut about 100,000 vehicles from overall inventory levels. It said it would continue to monitor supply and sales and would make additional production adjustments if necessary.

Last week, Ford Motor Co. said its assembly plants, with the exception of Louisville Assembly in Kentucky, would take the traditional two-week summer shutdown which falls around the Fourth of July holiday. The Louisville plant builds the popular-selling Ford Escape and Lincoln MKC SUVs and will take one week off.

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