TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Remember the old days when auto plants knocked out 250,000 units of one model a year?
Its wake-up time.
By 2010, the average nameplate will deliver a scant 40,000 sales, down from about 100,000 a decade ago, according to forecasts from specialty producer ASC Inc. of Southgate, Mich.
The new reality will be low-volume factory lines that assign more importance to flexible work forces than to expensive tooling, said Jerry Mosingo, ASC COO, who spoke at the Management Briefing Seminars.
We need to stop building monuments, Mosingo said, referring to high-volume assembly plants. We need to stop building conveyers.
ASC produces the retro Chevrolet SSR pickup for General Motors at GMs boutique Lansing Craft Centre in Lansing, Mich. Mosingo said the truck will sell more than 9,000 units this year, coming close to GMs original 10,000-unit target.
In Lansing, ASCs workers perform many production tasks manually, including the application of sealant, which is commonly performed by robots.
Weve never had a problem with sealant, he said. Not one.
Other industry executives endorsed the forecast of shrinking volumes yesterday.
Mark Reuss, GMs executive director of vehicle architecture and its Performance Division, said the new Pontiac Solstice roadster will sell at a volume of just 20,000 a year.
He said the program was made financially feasible by curbing traditional program costs, such as parts development. The car will use seats developed for the Opel Corsa and the heating and air conditioning system developed for the Hummer H3.
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