GM idling Kansas plant until January to reduce Malibu inventory

December 17, 2012
GM idling Kansas plant until January to reduce Malibu inventory
By MELISSA BURDEN
/ The Detroit News
General Motors Co. is idling its Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kan., for all of December and into early January to help trim inventories of the Chevrolet Malibu, a union official said Monday.
Automotive News earlier Monday reported the Fairfax plant was not producing vehicles last week and this week, in addition to traditional holiday downtime.
The plant employs about 3,500 hourly workers who build the Malibu and the Buick LaCrosse sedans. A note on UAW Local 31’s website says the plant will not run Jan. 2-4 and most workers will return Jan. 7.
GM Fairfax plant spokeswoman Lauren Indiveri said the plant was “taking idle time” in December, in addition to holiday downtime, but declined to provide exact dates. She said the plant was “matching supply with demand.”
“We have strategically built Chevrolet Malibu stock levels based on scheduled downtime and a strengthening vehicle market,” she said in a statement. “This idle time gives us an opportunity to conduct scheduled facility projects aimed at improving the plant’s future competitiveness. Additionally, we are hosting select employees for training and carrying out standard maintenance work.”
The Malibu was redesigned for the 2013 model year. Sales were down 0.4 percent in November, but are up 3.9 percent year-to-date through November compared to the same period in 2011.
Earlier this month, Kurt McNeil, GM vice president of U.S. sales operations, said the company’s year-end total inventory target of 660,000 to 670,000 vehicles was “in jeopardy.” Total inventory climbed by 49,000 units in November to 788,194 vehicles at the end of November and executives said they would consider production cuts to help.
GM’s Lordstown Assembly Plant in Ohio, which builds the compact Chevy Cruze, is halting production this week to balance builds to market demand. The Cruze plant is scheduled to resume production Jan. 7, according to a union website.
Most plants have holiday downtime scheduled next week through either Jan. 2 or Jan. 6-7, according to GM.
The Malibu also is built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant.

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