GM pares pickup production amid high inventories
DETROIT -- General Motors is trimming output at one of its truck plants, a sign that the automaker is trying to whittle down its historically high pickup inventory.
GM's Fort Wayne, Ind., assembly plant, which makes full-sized Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, recently canceled Saturday shifts for the rest of the year, according to a posting Wednesday on UAW Local 2209's Web site. The local represents Fort Wayne hourly workers. The posting was no longer available on the site on Thursday.
A person familiar with the plans said the plant had been working a Saturday shift about half the time since the start of the year.
Local 2209's Web site posting said the elimination of Saturday shifts is because of "the amount of trucks we have had on hand."
Some analysts have expressed concern over GM's pickup inventory, which hit a 122-day supply in June before falling to 115 days at the end of July. Analysts say an 80-day inventory is typical for full-sized pickups.
Last month, GM U.S. sales chief Don Johnson said he expects the automaker's pickup inventory to fall to around 200,000 units, or a 90-day supply, by year end. He said GM would "match demand with our production decisions" and not use big discounts to move the trucks.
Johnson said GM had built up a larger-than-usual pickup inventory partly because of an anticipated uptick in demand during the second half of the year. GM also is trying to build inventories ahead of next year, when the plants will be down for several weeks as GM prepares to build the next-generation pickup, which is scheduled for a 2013 launch.
GM spokesman Jim Cain today declined to comment on production plans at Fort Wayne or GM's other pickup plants, which are in Flint, Mich., and Silao, Mexico. He reiterated that GM will adjust its inventory through production changes, rather than incentives.
"We'll make production adjustments at different facilities to make sure we have the right stock on the ground," he said.
GM has not trimmed production at its Flint plant, another source familiar with the matter said. The plant recently added a third shift, a decision made in February in part to fill healthy demand for the automaker's heavy-duty pickups.
GM also has scheduled an extra week of downtime at Fort Wayne following the usual two-week closure over the Christmas holiday, according to the posting on the Local 2209 site. That work is for "facility upgrades and maintenance."
Last month, GM said it would spend $328 million to overhaul the Flint plant to produce the next-generation truck. It hasn't announced a similar investment for Fort Wayne.
You can reach Mike Colias at firstname.lastname@example.org.