Today is a rather sad day for fans of General Motors. The company announced that it is laying off 15 percent of its workforce in North America, and will close a total of five manufacturing plants on the continent. With regards to its workforce, a total of 14,000 contract and salaried workers will be out of a job in 2019.With regards to its workforce, a total of 14,000 contract and salaried workers will be out of a job in 2019.
As for its manufacturing plants, the following will all be closed within the next year:
- Oshawa Assembly in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada
- Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in Detroit
- Lordstown Assembly in Warren, Ohio
- Baltimore Operations in White Marsh, Maryland
- Warren Transmission Operations in Warren, Michigan
General Motors says that this represents the latest step in its efforts to “accelerate transformation” at the company. In other words, customer buying habits are changing, with the masses moving away from small (and large) sedans towards compact, mid-size, and full-size crossovers/SUVs (along with pickup trucks).
The company says that the layoffs and plant closures will result in a cash savings of $6 billion, cost reductions of $4.5 billion, and lower capital expenditure annual run rate of nearly $1.5 billion.
“The actions we are taking today continue our transformation to be highly agile, resilient and profitable, while giving us the flexibility to invest in the future,” said General Motors CEO Mary Barra. “We recognize the need to stay in front of changing market conditions and customer preferences to position our company for long-term success.”
The closures of the above plants mean that six vehicle models are also on the chopping block for 2019. The Buick Lacrosse — a full-size luxury sedan that was just completely redesigned just two years ago — will go to the car junkyard in the sky. The same goes for the Cadillac XT6 and the Cadillac CT6; both of which are full-size luxury sedans. The Chevrolet Impala, a full-size mainstream sedan, is ending its long run as will the compact Chevrolet Cruze sedan and hatchback. All of these vehicles are victims of the crossover explosion that has taken over the entire auto industry.
One of the names on the General Motors “kill list” is surprisingly the Chevrolet Volt. The Volt was first shown off in concept form at the 2007 Detroit Auto Show, and went into production in 2011. The second-generation model debuted at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show and deliveries commenced later that year. The Volt marked a big step forward for General Motors in electrifying its vehicle range, and the plug-in hybrid vehicle (in its current form) is capable of driving in excess of 50 miles on battery power before its gasoline engine/generator kicks in to keep the vehicle moving.
The Volt gave customers the best of both worlds: it allowed them to travel under quiet, battery-only conditions for much of their daily commute (with recharging at night), yet provided the gasoline engine backup necessary to travel for much longer distances. In essence, “range anxiety” was not a factor for the Volt.
However, General Motors has taken the lessons that it learned with the Volt and is applying that knowledge to build a wide range of electric vehicles. The company’s most prominent electric vehicle at the moment is the Chevrolet Bolt, which can travel 238 miles per charge.
Interestingly enough, the Volt has continued to outsell the Bolt for much of 2018 according to InsideEVs.