Flint, Mich. plant to increase output while Salio, Mexico plant slows

General Motors is rumored to be reallocating a majority of its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup truck manufacturing from its Salio, Mexico plant to the Flint, Michigan assembly plant, where a large percentage of Silverados and Sierras are built.

The rumor comes from United Auto Workers Union members who say they received a letter from GM advising them of the likelihood of increased hiring of both full-time and temporary assembly line workers at the Flint plant, along with the ability for current workers to log significant overtime hours. The Detroit Bureau, which broke the story, reports union workers quoting the letter as saying, “The increase in light-duty pickup volume for Flint Assembly is (for vehicles) currently being built in Silao.” Workers say the letter continued in saying union members can work as many Saturdays as they want, earning an extra $12,000 to $15,000 next year.

Though GM and the UAW have not made official announcements regarding the move, the news does line up with GM’s sizeable, $877 million investment at the Flint plant, which was announced in August of 2015 with an estimated completion date of 2018. As we reported, the investment will bring a new body shop facility that stamps body parts like doors, hoods, fenders, and bed panels. Upgrades to the paint facility, added shipping docks, and upgraded assembly line equipment are also included in the investment.

The realignment in production is likely scheduled to commence with the introduction of the next-generation Silverado and Sierra pickups, due out for the 2018 model year. Production would need to begin in early to mid 2017 for the updated pickups.

There is no word on GM’s plans for its Silao, Mexico plant, or if this will affect Silverado and Sierra production in GM’s other assembly plants, located in Indiana and Canada.

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Why It Matters

This rumor comes at a time of huge political debate among the 2018 U.S. Presidential contenders as many blame America’s economic woes on large-scale outsourcing. No other candidate has been more vocal than Donald Trump, who publically scolded Ford for the recent announcement it would move production of several of its compact cars to Mexico, pulling the models away from U.S. manufacturing facilities.

While it’s impossible GM foresaw this political smack-talk when it announced its Flint investments last year, its rumored decision to move Silverado and Sierra production from Mexico to the U.S. couldn’t come at a better time – at least in the eyes of Donald Trump and those who share his viewpoints. Added jobs and the pride that comes with a U.S.-built product will be highly celebrated.

Also unknown is how much capacity will be added to the Flint assembly plant. Current estimates list annual output of more than 250,000 trucks. With added workers and a more productive assembly line, Flint could surpass 300,000 trucks annually. In The Detroit Bureau’s report, GM spokesman Monte Doran is quoted as saying, “We’re excited we can sell every truck we can make (because of) incredible increases in customer demand.”

Source: The Detroit Bureau

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