A General Motors (GM) spokesperson responded to concerns over the planned shutdown of one of its production plants happening later this month.
About the Shutdown
Late last month, The Detroit News obtained a memo from the assistant plant director for the Fort Wayne, Indiana, light-duty truck plant about an upcoming production halt. Cherry Weiland wrote that the shutdown was being done to "help the company maintain optimal inventory levels." A GM spokesperson later confirmed the shutdown to The Detroit News, saying it would start the week of March 27. GM's three other full-sized truck plants in Mexico, Canada, and Flint, Michigan, will not be affected. The spokesperson went on to say that the shutdown was to maintain optimal levels at its dealerships.
"The plant constantly reviews and adjusts production schedules according to customers’ needs," the statement continued. Any moves made by GM are made in accordance with provisions of the UAW-GM National Bargaining Agreement, as well as a local agreement.
Fort Wayne Assembly By the Numbers
Employees at the plant built Chevrolet Silverado 1500 trucks, as well as GMC Sierra 1500 trucks, according to GM's website.
Some other details:
- Opened in 1986.
- More than 1,300 trucks built each day.
- Nearly 4,400 employees.
- Assisted by more than 2,000 robots.
Fleet Manager Raises Concerns
This led a fleet manager, who would like to remain anonymous, to reach out to Government Fleet with concerns over the production halt. The fleet manager was concerned over the shutdown, when, "there is a backlog of government fleet orders for [GM's] trucks," the fleet manager wrote in an email.
Government Fleet brought this concern to GM employee Yuri Tello, who recently moved from his role as manager of global fleet and government sales support for GM to government sales manager for BrightDrop. Tello released a statement, reading:
"Bottom line is that GM does not schedule production based on specific customers, and our system does not allow re-scheduling of orders without creating a high level of 'shuffling.' The impact on government or any other fleet customers should be minimal since those are sold orders and get priority during production periods."
Cindy Tow, who stepped into Tello's previous role, agreed with his statement and said she had nothing further to add.
When asked whether GM was still dealing with delayed order deliveries and order cancellations, Tow released this statement:
"[Order to delivery] timelines for all customers throughout the industry continue to be longer than normal. However, GM regularly communicates with both fleet customers and dealers to help manage expectations and mitigate issues."
Move in Line with Previous Reports from GM
The move comes after GM shared its full-year 2022 earnings at the end of January. According to Auto Dealer Today, company executives noted plans to cut $2 billion in costs over the next two years. The company shared that the cuts would come from vehicle development programs, company overhead, and employee attrition, not layoffs. According to The Detroit News, CFO Paul Jacobson also told investors that the automaker will work this year on maintaining inventory levels that align with demand.
Jacobson also said GM ended the year with around 50 days of supply on dealer lots and vehicles in transit. That's up from 20 to 30 days in mid-2019.
According to Kelley Blue Book, at the end of January 2023, Chevy had more than 100 days’ worth of Silverado pickups in its inventory, something Cox Automotive Executive Analyst Michelle Krebs said would be considered "hefty even in 'the old days.'"
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