General Motors Co. is continuing its leadership in the safe reopening of Indiana’s industrial sector by increasing the output of its Fort Wayne Assembly Plant after returning it to pre-COVID production levels.
“Plant management is still finalizing the manpower plan, but we will be adding jobs,” Dan Flores, a senior manager with GM Communications, said in an email.
Widely published reports project a workforce increase of at least 200. But managers working on the plan “don’t want to speculate on how many new jobs we will need.,” he said.
“Those new jobs might be filled by GM transfers from other locations. All transfers will be handled in accordance with the UAW/GM national agreement.”
The Detroit-based vehicle manufacturer employs about 4,200 at the plant making Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups. United Auto Workers Local 2209 represents everyone there with the exception of about 300 management positions.
“We don’t publicly discuss production rates,” Flores said. “We are increasing production within our normal products schedules.”
That means the plant’s output can rise without the need for overtime with additional employees by increasing line speed.
“Fort Wayne runs on 3 shifts. It’s a very important, high-volume plant for GM,” Flores said. “Full-size pickup inventories are very tight.
“Customer and dealer demand continues to be very strong, so the pending production increase at Fort Wayne will help enable us to build more trucks for our customers and dealers.”
Plans for the production increase were first mentioned publicly in GM’s second quarter report on its financial performance.
The company lost $806 million for the quarter because of statewide shutdowns across the country to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but pickup truck sales were a bright spot in the report.
“Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra sales were strong, leading to year-over-year U.S. market share growth, despite tight inventory. Solid demand translated to stronger average transaction pricing and lower incentives, with full-size pickup ATPs increasing $1,526 versus the first quarter,” it said.
“GM’s Fort Wayne Assembly plant will be increasing regular production of light-duty full-size pickups by about 1,000 units a month beginning September 1.”
While the company saw its second-quarter sales in North America fall 24% from the prior-year quarter, Dhivya Suryadevara, GM’s executive vice president and chief financial officer, told securities industry analysts during a conference call the company’s share of full-size pickups improved to 36.1% from 35%.
Pickup inventories stood at 120,000 units as of July 25, compared with 270,000 units in June of 2019 and 87,000 units at the lowest inventory level during the most recent quarter, she said.
“We continue to take a number of actions to increase production and replenish dealer inventories,” Suryadevara said. “We have returned to a normalized run rate in all of our full-size truck plants and are matching supply with demand in our remaining facilities, building inventory where we need it the most.
“Our dealers are doing a great job of selling deep into their inventory, and there are many initiatives under way to optimize logistics so we can rebuild our inventory faster,” she said.
“We’re also disciplined from a go-to-market standpoint with light-duty ATPs up over $1,000 per unit quarter over quarter. This is driven by low incentives, as well as rich mix.”
Flores said the Fort Wayne Assembly Plant will be able to hit its higher production target without the need for additional capital investment to expand its production capacity.
From the standpoint of using existing production capacity at its truck plants, GM will be “running all out,” Suryadevara said.
“And we are taking all the measures we can to increase or add to production levels on trucks as much as possible.”