DETROIT -- For the fifth time this year, General Motors is eliminating a production shift at one of its U.S. assembly plants in response to slowing industry sales. As many as 1,000 workers will be laid off.
GM today confirmed that it will cut the overnight shift at its Chevrolet Malibu factory in Kansas City, Kan., in late September. That follows shift reductions at three plants in Michigan and one in Ohio since January.
After the layoffs, which were reported by several media outlets in the Kansas City area on Friday, GM will have no plants still building cars on three shifts in the U.S. Five plants still operate around the clock making pickups, SUVs and crossovers.
"We believe the steps we are taking will provide the smallest impact on employment at the plant going forward," GM said in a statement Monday.
The Kansas plant, known as Fairfax Assembly, has run on three shifts since January 2010. It built about 199,000 cars in 2016 and currently has about 3,000 workers, making GM one of the area's largest private employers.
The midsize Malibu sedan, after a well-received redesign, had its strongest U.S. sales since 1980 last year, climbing to 227,881 units. But as demand for midsize cars plummets, the car is on pace to have its worst sales in a decade in 2017, down 30 percent on the year through May.
The plant already has taken or scheduled seven weeks of downtime since mid-May to reduce Malibu inventories, which stood at 67 days worth as of June 1. That's down significantly from a 172-day supply on Feb. 1.
GM's president of North America, Alan Batey, when asked this month whether the company would further cut production at the Malibu plant, said nothing was "imminent."
"It's an ongoing process," Batey told Automotive News on June 6, "but we don't have anything imminent to announce with regard to anything we haven't previously signaled."
Batey said GM also is planning downtime for retooling at several pickup and SUV plants later this year that will reduce output by about 100,000 units.