Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Another Plant Closing?

Fort Wayne has suffered significant job losses when a major employer leaves town or shuts down.

Years ago it was International Harvester.

Later it was Lincoln Life.

There have been plenty of others, but those 2 stick out in my mind.

The following story is of local importance because on the southwest edge of town, we have a GM Truck plant that pumps lots of money into the Northeast Indiana economy.

What, (if anything), is being done if that plant closes?

Read this:

GM Studies the Future of Full-Sized Trucks

General Motors might be closer to becoming more of a car company and less of a truck company.

The automaker is conducting a major study on full-sized trucks and SUVs. The internal study looks four years ahead to determine market conditions and how much GM should change its lineup, possibly by offering fewer trucks and SUVs.

GM has asked its researchers to "give us a view as to what the long-term truck and full-size SUV demand might be and why you think it is that way," Troy Clarke, GM's president of North America, said in an interview with Automotive News.

He said GM needs to understand whether the current shift in sales mix from big pickup trucks and SUVs to more fuel-efficient vehicles represents a long-term change -- what Clarke calls a "structural impact."

The industry also has seen demand for the vehicles decline in an era of near-$4-per-gallon gasoline.

Through April, sales of GM's full-sized pickups were down 18.5 percent compared with April 2007. Over the same period, GM's SUV sales were down 31.5 percent compared with last year. That is making GM consider adding more crossovers, says Mike DiGiovanni, executive director of global market and industry analysis.

"We're keeping a close eye on full-sized trucks and asking ourselves how much more aggressively we want to enter the crossover space, given where the world is going," he says.

DiGiovanni is leading the study. He is looking at all the factors that drive up oil prices and considering the impact on GM's lineup if gasoline prices stay the same or go higher.

"I will tell you that even with higher oil prices, there'll still be a sizable market for full-sized pickups," DiGiovanni says. "It'll be down from where it is now, but it'll still be there."

If oil prices stabilize, there would be modest declines in SUV demand, DiGiovanni says. But, he adds, "All bets are off if oil skyrockets."

(Source: Automotive News, 05/19/08)

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