videoGM’s money makers are in big SUVs
DETROIT – General Motors Co is ready to start building its new generation of large sport utility vehicles at a plant in Arlington, Texas, when it reopens North American assembly plants on May 18, Philip Kienle, the automaker’s North American manufacturing chief, told Reuters on Thursday.
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The big SUVs, including the Cadillac Escalade and Chevrolet Suburban, are critical to the automaker’s profitability, and especially so now that GM has taken on billions in new debt and suspended its dividend to ride out the coronavirus crisis.
“That was an amazing feat in itself,” Kienle said.
“That work is complete. We are ready to start the system fill and start the new model,” Kienle said. Before it had to shut its North American plants, GM had told suppliers it was aiming to launch the new large SUV lineup beginning in late April.
As North American vehicle manufacturing restarts, GM also plans to focus on accelerating production of its profitable large pickup trucks, Kienle said. He would not comment on the timetable for restoring three-shift operations at the company’s pickup plants.
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The 2021 Chevy Tahoe (Credit: Chevrolet)
Like rival U.S. automakers, GM has had workers going through its North American factories this week, fitting them with new safety equipment ahead of Monday’s relaunch. GM, Ford Motor Co and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV are following the same coronavirus safety procedures, in agreement with the United Auto Workers.
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Kienle said the pace of the company’s production restart will be “slow and deliberate” and will depend on safety within GM’s plants, and the performance of suppliers that are restarting their own factories.
“There’s going to be bumps in the road,” Kienle said.
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