SPRING HILL, Tenn. -- General Motors Co. is evaluating new investments in North American plant capacity to ease short supplies of key vehicles, Mark Reuss, the automaker's North American president, said today.
Reuss said that tight dealer inventories of some models are crimping GM sales, and the company is studying how to carefully correct the situation.
He said that supplies of the Chevrolet Equinox and Camaro, Buick Enclave, and the GMC Acadia and Terrain are lower than dealers currently want.
He did not specify how or where GM might free up more factory capacity. The company closed several U.S. assembly plants as part of its bankruptcy reorganization last year.
Reuss made the comments to reporters today in Spring Hill, Tenn., where GM announced plans to invest $483 million in a new four-cylinder engine line. The Spring Hill complex includes an active engine factory, and a vehicle assembly plant that GM idled last year.
Reuss said the plant will now tool up to produce a direct-injection Ecotec engine that will go into vehicles that have not been identified yet, and recall 483 of the plant's approximately 2,000 laid off workers.
More fuel economy
The new Ecotec engine is a key part of GM's drive to increase fuel economy and meet more stringent government regulations.
GMinsidenews.com reported a few weeks ago that GM is moving toward offering 4-cylinder engines exclusively in most mid-sized models, including a redesigned Chevrolet Malibu scheduled to go on sale in 2012. The Malibu would join a growing list of mid-size sedans, including GM's German-built 2011 Buick Regal, Hyundai Sonata, Audi A4 and Suzuki Kizashi, that have ditched optional 6-cylinder engines entirely in favor of 4-cylinder engines, in part to meet stricter fuel economy rules and likely limits on carbon-dioxide emissions.
Hyundai said earlier this year that it is replacing the V-6 engine in its best-selling Sonata sedan with a direct-injection, turbo-charged four-cylinder engine.
“This engine really leads the way for us on small cars like the Cruze and other small vehicles like what we're going to do next,” Reuss said, referring to the Chevrolet Cruze which launched production this month in Lordstown, Ohio, and other future products. “This is really the new GM.”
What about a vehicle?
But Reuss was unable to answer the question he was asked repeatedly as he moved through the throngs of Spring Hill workers -- when will GM put another vehicle into production there?
He answered only that GM wants to build a new vehicle at the Spring Hill site, but will do so only in response to market demand.
“Where is the industry going? It's tough to forecast,” he said. “GM has invested $3 billion in North America since last December, and we continue to move forward.”