GM's Barra: We have more products to build in U.S.

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News
Mary Barra, General Motors Corp. Chaiman & CEO, answers a question during a fireside chat at the Automotive News World Congress dinner at the Renaissance Center Marriott Hotel in Detroit, Wednesday night, January 16, 2019.

As General Motors Co. undergoes a restructuring that will indefinitely idle four U.S. plants this year, the Detroit automaker plans to build more cars in America, CEO Mary Barra said.

"We have more products coming that we will build in the United States," Barra told reporters after an appearance Wednesday at Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.

Barra declined to comment further on GM's future product or manufacturing plans.

GM announced on Nov. 26 a sweeping workforce and manufacturing restructuring for 2019 that will include idling five plants in the United States and Canada, and cutting some 8,000 white collar jobs. That restructuring effort is expected to save some $2.5 billion this year, helping GM to achieve what it expects to be a modest increase in earnings.

GM is addressing an excess plant capacity issue at its Detroit-Hamtramck and Lordstown assembly plants by stopping work there later this year.

"We have other plants that are lower in capacity utilization that we would want to increase," Barra said. "We need to make sure that we keep the capacity utilization up at other plants that we’re still working to improve."

Less than a month after GM said it had 2,700 transfer opportunities for the 2,800 United Auto Workers employees affected by pending plant idlings, the Detroit automaker said Friday that 1,500 workers have volunteered to transfer and about 700 are already en route to new jobs in Michigan and Tennessee.

GM also is looking for ways to keep selling the Cadillac CT6 in the United States after the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, where the brand's halo vehicle is built, stops production this summer.

"We do have several opportunities," Barra said at the Automotive News World Congress, held in conjunction with the Detroit auto show at GM's Renaissance Center headquarters. 

She declined to comment on whether the CT6 could be built at one of GM's U.S. plants to avoid the cost of importing the vehicle from China.

GM President Mark Reuss told The Detroit News this week that importing the CT6 from China would not be the automaker's first choice.

As GM's $7,500 federal tax credit dwindles, Cadillac will lead GM's electrification push in the coming years. The luxury brand, which flashed a sneak peek of its first-ever fully electric vehicle ahead of the Detroit auto show Sunday, takes the baton from Chevrolet, which established an early-adopter EV following with its plug-in hybrid Volt, which will stop production later this year.

The new, electrified Cadillac will be built on GM's next-generation EV platform. Dubbed BEV3, the new electric-car architecture will be designed to accommodate multiple body styles as well as front-, rear- and all-wheel drive options.

Twitter: @NoraNaughton