DETROIT >> General Motors is extending the normal two-week summer shutdown for at least two U.S. car factories because of slumping sedan sales.
Union officials say the Lordstown, Ohio, plant near Cleveland and the Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas, will close for as many as five weeks in June and July. The company confirmed that some car factories would be shut down longer than usual but would not give details. Lordstown makes the Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan, while Fairfax builds the Chevrolet Malibu midsize car.
The additional shutdowns come as all automakers struggle to deal with a shrinking U.S. market that is dramatically shifting away from cars toward trucks and SUVs of all sizes. Some are continuing to produce cars and selling them to rental car companies or offering big discounts to individual buyers while others are cutting production. Through May, U.S. car sales were down 11 percent while truck and SUV sales rose nearly 5 percent, according to Autodata Corp.
Also, overall demand for vehicles is slowing after seven years of growth. Total U.S. sales are down 2 percent through May and many analysts are predicting that full-year sales will slow to 17.2 million, compared with last year’s record of 17.5 million.
Robert Morales, president of a United Auto Workers union local at the Lordstown factory, says the plant will stop production for the last two weeks in June and another three weeks in July. “It’s just to align with market demand, that’s all,” he said Wednesday.
The Lordstown plant has about 3,000 hourly and salaried workers….
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