GM postpones addition of third shift at Spring Hill plant

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

Detroit — General Motors Co. has delayed the addition of a third shift at its Spring Hill, Tenn., plant, the automaker told employees this week. 

GM said the delay was "due to near-term supply constraints and the need to further evaluate market conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, we do not have an official return date for third shift. We will continue to monitor business and market conditions moving forward."

GM's CEO Mary Barra has said the goal is to be back at full production by the end of this month. GM began restarting North American plants the week of May 18 after closing them in mid-March to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. About 90% of GM's workforce is back to work now. 

"Obviously ... with some product lines, we are watching what market demand will be," Barra said during a webinar with the Automotive Press Association this week. "But also we entered the COVID situation with a fairly tight inventory."

GM's solid truck sales in the first quarter depleted truck supplies. The GMC Sierra was down to 29-day supply at the end of May, and Chevrolet Silverado, down to 39 days, according to Cox Automotive. In comparison, GM had a 98-days supply of the Sierra and a 99-days supply of the Silverado in May 2019.

The automaker worked through Mexico supplier issues in May to get shifts added at its profit-rich truck plants in Flint and Fort Wayne. GM was finally able to add shifts at those plants and the Wentzville, Missouri truck plant at the beginning of June. Arlington Assembly in Texas is also back to three shifts and starting up the launch of GM's new full-size SUV lineup.  

Spring Hill employs about 3,800 to build the Cadillac XT5, XT6 and GMC Acadia sport utility vehicles. 

First -quarter 2020 sales of the XT5 were down 32% year over year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, The new XT6, a three-row crossover, had just over 5,074 sales. Sales of the GMC Acadia were down 43%.

Twitter: @bykaleahall