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GM to shed SUVs, jobs

By Blogger for The Christian Science Monitor / June 4, 2008

General Motors employees arrive at the truck plant in Oshawa, Ontario, Tuesday. GM announced they will close the plant along with three others as part of restructuring across North America.

AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Adrian Wyld


"Capacity adjustments." That's what the General Motors press release calls the closure of four North American truck plants that provide jobs for 10,000 people.

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GM's pickup and SUV business has fallen on hard times lately. According to the LA Times, sales of the gas-guzzlers plummeted 37 percent in May, and things at Ford and Chrysler are not looking much better. The Big Three automakers, who in the 1990s came to rely on the super-sized vehicles as a business model, are now having their lunches eaten by the likes of Honda, whose Civic sold in record numbers last month, as well as Hyundai, Mazda, Kia, Subaru, and other makers of smaller, more fuel-efficient cars.

So few were surprised Tuesday at GM's annual shareholder meeting when chairman Rick Wagoner announced that the company would be shutting down truck plants in Oshawa, Ontario; Toluca, Mexico; Moraine, Ohio; and Janesville, Wis. Mr. Wagoner also announced that the Hummer brand, that 16-foot-long, three-ton icon of American excess, would be under "strategic review" for a possible sale. In May, Hummer purchases dropped 60 percent.

Instead, GM will go back to making cars. The company announced that it will be adding third shifts in September to the Orion Assembly Center in Michigan, which builds the Chevy Malibu and the Pontiac G6, and to the Lordstown Car Assembly in Ohio, which builds the Chevy Cobalt and the Pontiac G5. The company also plans to roll out the Chevy Volt, a plug-in hybrid, by the end of 2010.

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