General Motors has idled the main plant where it builds the Chevrolet Malibu and Buick LaCrosse for two weeks, the second time in two months that GM has curbed production of the sedans.
GM will suspend work at its Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kan., this week and next, resuming the week of Feb. 17, according to the Web site of UAW Local 31, which represents the plant’s 3,561 hourly workers.
A.J. Shumate, the local’s vice president, confirmed to Automotive News that the plant will be idled for two weeks to allow demand to catch up with supply.
The shutdown follows three weeks of idle time at the plant in December and early January that also was intended to ease high inventory, in addition to seven days of planned holiday downtime.
‘Matching supply to demand’
A GM spokeswoman said the company does not comment on production schedules. “We’re matching supply to demand,” she said.
Malibu stocks stood at a 94-day supply on Jan. 31, GM said. That was down from 129 days on Jan. 1 and 164 days on Dec. 1, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
LaCrosse supply stood at 117 days on Jan. 31, GM said. It had a 98-day supply on Jan. 1 and 124-day supply on Dec. 1, Automotive News Data Center numbers show.
Many Chevrolet dealers have been disappointed by sales of the Malibu, which was redesigned for the 2013 model year.
Last month, Malibu sales rose 8 percent to 15,823 units. That lagged sales of mid-sized sedan rivals the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Ford Fusion and Nissan Altima, which all topped 20,000 units for the month.
Malibu’s sales volumes “are still somewhat disappointing relative to a segment in the market that’s got some good growth,” Credit Suisse analyst Chris Ceraso remarked to GM sales executives during a conference call last week.
Gains in six straight months
Chevrolet U.S. sales chief Don Johnson said he was pleased that Malibu sales increased in each of the past six months, since the ’13 models were fully rolled out.
“We’re on the trajectory we expect to get the share that we expect in the segment,” Johnson said.
Also last week, GM executives said they were comfortable with the company’s overall inventory of 737,885 units on Jan. 31, a 95-day supply, given their expectation of rising sales this year.
Kurt McNeil, vice president of GM’s U.S. sales operations, said the company would use a variety of tactics, including production cuts, to ensure that supply aligns with demand.
“We feel very good about where we are,” McNeil said. “So no immediate obvious production cut.”
Last week, GM said it will invest $600 million to build a paint shop and make other improvements at Fairfax. GM said that work, scheduled to begin this year, will not affect production.