GM to close 5 factories, including Hamtramck and Warren

The grill and bumper assembly are installed on a Chevrolet Camaro at GM's car assembly plant in Oshawa Ontario in May 2009
The grill and bumper assembly are installed on a Chevrolet Camaro at GM's car assembly plant in Oshawa Ontario in May 2009

27 November, 2018

The Oshawa plant is one of five in North America that the automaker plans to shut down as it restructures to cut costs and focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles.

GM doesn't foresee an economic downturn and is making the cuts "to get in front of it while the company is strong and while the economy is strong," Barra told reporters.

"In the past four years, GM has refocused capital and resources to support the growth of its crossovers, SUVs and trucks, adding shifts and investing $6.6 billion in USA plants that have created or maintained 17,600 jobs", the company said Monday.

The changes announced Monday include closure of a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, that makes the Chevrolet Cruze; a Detroit plant that makes the Chevrolet Volt, Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac CT6 and a plant in Ontario, Canad, a that makes the Chevrolet Impala. The company has scaled back production at its plants, with its hourly workforce down by 4,000 people in 2017, according to GM's annual report.

General Motors will cut more than 14,000 salaried staff and factory workers and close seven factories worldwide by the end of next year, part of a sweeping realignment to prepare for a future of electric and self-driving vehicles.

GM offered buyouts to about 18,000 white-collar workers in the USA and Canada October 2018.

"The PC government is also asking the federal government to work with their US counterparts to remove all tariffs so that impacted auto parts suppliers can remain competitive after the Oshawa Assembly Plant closes its doors".

Ontario Premier Doug Ford said it was a "difficult day" for the Oshawa plant workers, Ontario auto part suppliers and their families. Two transmission plants - one in White Marsh, Md., and another in Warren, Mich. - are also set to stop production.

GM isn't the first to abandon much of its vehicle market.

The plant, a 45 minute drive east of Toronto, produces cars such as the Chevrolet Impala and the Cadillac XTS. It was about 50 percent cars just five years ago.

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The cuts will happen during the remainder of the year and the first quarter of 2019. "There is a long-standing, proud history in terms of General Motors's presence in Oshawa, so now to see this plant incredibly devastating".

This is the biggest restructuring at GM in a decade, with 15% of its workforce being eliminated in North America. Several thousand factory workers are expected to lose their jobs.

The likely shutdowns have already opened up GM to political pushback, with Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeting that he has expressed "deep disappointment" with Barra directly.

She also noted that tariffs on imported aluminium and steel had hit the company, but she stopped short of saying they had anything to do with the restructuring.

A former Canadian auto executive said it would be hard for Canadian government officials to entice GM further to keep the plant open.

Senator Sherrod Brown describes the decision to close the plant's doors as, "Corporate greed at it's finest".

Premier Doug Ford is acknowledging a very hard day for GM and its suppliers, after learning of the closure of the Oshawa Assembly Plant. That means GM needs to allocate more resources to purely electric cars, unlike the hybrid Volt, and to autonomous technology, Barra said.

"Today is a hard day for the workers at the General Motors Oshawa Assembly Plant".

"These actions will increase the long-term profit and cash generation potential of the company and improve resilience through the cycle", says GM CEO Mary Barra.

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