GM Detroit factory’s idling delayed

Lordstown plant still slated to stop production March 8

DETROIT — General Motors is extending the life of its only Detroit factory until early next year.

The plant on the border of Detroit and the hamlet of Hamtramck was to stop making vehicles as of June 1. But the company now says production of the Chevrolet Impala and Cadillac CT6 will continue into January 2020.

The factory is one of five that GM plans to shutter as part of a restructuring to cut costs and reduce underused plants. In all, GM is shedding about 6,000 factory jobs and another 8,000 salaried positions.

The company says the plant will stay open as it produces a high-performance version of the CT6 and vehicles with its “Super Cruise” advanced driver assist system.

But the plant is likely to close early next year.

The announcement in November by General Motors it was placing the five plants on “unallocated” status was joined by news the automaker would stop producing the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze, which has been produced at the plant since 2010. The last day for Lordstown employees is March 8.

In addition to the Detroit and Lordstown plants, the company plans to stop making cars and transmissions at factories in Oshawa, Ontario; Warren, Michigan; and near Baltimore. The company says it has 2,700 jobs available for factory workers at other U.S. plants.

Technically, the company can’t close the plants without negotiating with the United Auto Workers union, and many workers are hoping their factories can be saved in contract talks that start this summer. But GM says it has too much capacity to build cars as the U.S. market has shifted dramatically to SUVs and trucks.

Union leaders welcomed the extension for the Detroit plant and promised to fight the other closures.

“Let me reiterate that the UAW will leave no stone unturned in seeking to keep your plants open, and we hope today’s news brings a measure of hope as we continue that important work,” President Gary Jones said in a statement Friday.

GM spokesman Dan Flores said about 700 hourly workers remain at the Detroit plant, down from 1,348 in November. Most of those laid off have been placed at other factories, the majority at a pickup truck plant in Flint, Michigan.

Last month, GM announced it plans to invest another $22 million in its Spring Hill, Tennessee, manufacturing facility to build more engines.

It’s where, according to the latest numbers from the automaker, 132 employees at the GM plant in Lordstown were placed after the November announcement that GM intends to idle the local plant and four others in North America in March.

The company says the investment will let the plant build 6.2-liter V8 engines with GM’s dynamic fuel management technology, which uses 17 cylinder patterns to optimize performance.

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