DETROIT -- General Motors plans to add a third shift at its Arlington, Texas, assembly plant that builds the Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade SUVs.
Employees on the plant's current two shifts have frequently been forced to work overtime since the end of 2009 in order to keep up with demand.
The addition of the third shift, which will entail adding about 800 jobs, will ease the burden on workers while affording the automaker the ability to ramp up production as it prepares the plant for the next generation of GM's full-sized SUVs.
"Based on economic uncertainty and gas-price volatility, we took a prudent approach by relying extensively on overtime over the past few years," Larry Zahner, GM North America's manufacturing manager, said in a statement. "We see this segment stabilizing enough to add a third shift, reducing the cost and personal demand of overtime and providing us flexibility for possible increased demand as we introduce new trucks."
GM plans to start the new shift in the first quarter of 2013. Hiring will begin in the fourth quarter of 2012.
U.S. demand for the SUVs made at Arlington has been mixed through the first five months of the year. Through May, GM has sold 17,932 Suburbans, up 18 percent, and 26,847 Tahoes, down 6 percent, according to the Automotive News Data Center. Total light-vehicle sales in the United States through May are up 13 percent.
About 2,500 hourly and salaried employees now work at the Arlington Assembly plant. Almost 270,000 vehicles were manufactured at the plant in 2011.