Chevy, GMC dealers could have reason to cheer for UAW-GM pact

DETROIT -- Some good news for Chevrolet and GMC dealers is starting to seep out in the details of General Motors' tentative deal with the UAW.

Most significant: the prospect of a boost in production of the high-demand Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers.

GM could use its shuttered Spring Hill, Tenn., assembly plant for spillover production of the crossovers, The Tennessean newspaper reported, citing union sources and Tennessee officials.

The paper quotes a Tennessee economic-development executive who says GM officials raised that prospect during a visit with them in Detroit last week. Sources have said GM committed to opening Spring Hill as part of the tentative deal, though it's still unclear what might be built there.

Ask just about any Chevy or GMC dealer how sales are going, and the first thing they're likely to tell you is how hot their Equinox or Terrain sales are. That's usually followed by something like: "I would have sold 15 more if I'd gotten my hands on them."

The Equinox and Terrain remain hot despite being introduced two years ago. Equinox sales were up 48 percent this year through August; Terrain sales increased 61 percent.

But production at the Oshawa, Ontario, plant that assembles them hasn't kept up. GM has cranked it up repeatedly. Last year, it even began shuttling Equinox bodies from the CAMI Automotive Inc. plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, 125 miles to Oshawa for final assembly.

There's also speculation that GM's mid-sized pickups, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon, could find salvation at GM's assembly plant in Wentzville, Mo.

Last week, Wentzville officials approved an incentive package for GM to expand the plant, potentially adding up to 2,000 new jobs, though GM says there are no firm plans. There's buzz at the union that the expansion would make way for the next-generation Colorado, which GM unveiled this spring.

GM reportedly committed to additional jobs in Wentzville as part of its tentative contract with the UAW, but it's unclear whether a new product is slated for the plant. It now produces the Chevy Express and GMC Savana vans.

GM has been coy about whether the next-generation Colorado, which will be produced in Thailand, will be made or sold in North America. The current Colorado and sister vehicle GMC Canyon are assembled in Shreveport, La., which is set to close next year.

There's still no official word from the GM or the UAW on the plans for either Spring Hill or Wentzville.

Stay tuned.

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