GM's CEO Won't Commit to Keeping Lordstown Open

Breaking: GM Lordstown Going to Single Shift

LORDSTOWN, Ohio — General Motors will eliminate its second shift at its manufacturing complex here effective June 18, workers were told this afternoon. The last Chevrolet Cruze turned out by some 1,500 second-shift workers will roll down the assembly line June 15.

GM said an attrition program could reduce the number of people who will lose their jobs. Just last year GM eliminated the third shift at the plant, which once was the Mahoning Valley’s largest employer with more than 10,000 workers.

Nationwide, sales of all cars have been slipping since 2014 becausen of consumer demand for crossover, trucks and SUVs, as well as lower fuel prices.

In March, Cruze sales fell 13.4% to 16,122, making it the 11th consecutive month of sales declines. Last year, 184,751 Cruzes were sold nationwide, down from the 2014 peak of 273,060.

Said GM in a statement, “As the market continued to undergo historic changes, it required us to reduce production rates and take numerous down weeks to match production with lower customer demand for compact cars. As we look at the market for compact cars in 2018 and beyond, we believe a more stable operating approach is to match market demand on a one-shift schedule.”

GM noted the “steady decline” in the U.S. car market since 2014, citing “consumer demand for crossovers, trucks and SUVs, and lower fuel prices. Nevertheless, the automaker said, “The car market remains important to GM and Chevrolet since it represents 36% of industry retail sales. The small car segment also brings new and conquest customers to Chevrolet.”

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D–Ohio 13, released a statement that linked the timing of GM’s annoucement to the EPA’s determination April 2 that rolled back fuel economy standards for trucks and SUVs.

“I am deeply disappointed by today’s GM Lordstown announcement,” Ryan said. “While low gas prices encourages the decline of compact car like the Chevy Cruze, President Trump’s intention to weaken fuel economy standards is putting his thumb on the scale in favor of the larger cars and SUV’s made elsewhere. He claimed he was against the government picking winners and losers, and yet he goes against the very region and state that helped put him in office. As these layoffs are implemented, I will do everything in our power to assist the affected employees and their families get through this difficult time.”

Last week Chevrolet disclosed updates to the Lordstown-built Cruze, including new stylings and several new safety features. The 2019 Cruze will arrive in dealerships later this year.

“Cruze is a cornerstone of Chevrolet’s car strategy, bringing new customers to the brand,” said Steve Majoros, Chevrolet marketing director for cars and crossovers, in a release. “In fact, 53% of Cruze customers in 2017 were new to Chevrolet. Cruze has been so successful at attracting new buyers to Chevy because its lineup offers something for every customer, from body style to fuel choice to trim and design.”

GM Lordstown began assembling the Cruze in 2010. The 6.2 million square-foot complex, which opened in 1970, is considered among the highest volume single-line vehicle assembly plants in the world. As of today, it employs 2,700 hourly workers and 300 salaried workers.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.