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'Cars Are Disappearing': GM Plants Close As Sedans Get Phased Out

Jeff Swensen
Getty Images
GM said it would end production at five North American plants including in Lordstown, Ohio, and cut 15 percent of its salaried workforce. The Lordstown Plant assembles the Chevy Cruz.

General Motors announced in November that it's closing five plants in the U.S. and Canada and stopping production of several of its passenger cars. That will result in thousands of job losses as GM works to turn its financial picture around.

Analysts say GM has not adjusted to changing consumer tastes fast enough, which is why the company will now discontinue the once-popular Chevy Cruze and Volt lines, along with some Buick and Cadillac models.

"What's going on in the car world right now, is that cars are disappearing, sedans in particular," says auto contributor Mark Savage. "The car sales are just dropping right now."

Ford cars are down 20 percent this last month and down 18 percent for the year. Toyota sales are down 17 percent for the month and its two best selling cars, the Camry and the Accord, are down roughly 30 percent this last month, according to Savage.

GM’s SUV, crossovers, and pickups are its most profitable lines, which runs counter to other companies that have had success with smaller hybrids and other fuel-efficient passenger cars. And what's profitable is what they're going to make more of, notes Savage.

"It doesn't make sense for the carmakers to keep making as many as they were making. I'm a little shocked that so many are disappearing so quickly," he admits, "but I'm an old guy and I expect cars to be out there on the road."

Savage says that foreign carmakers have clearly been able to fill niche markets more effectively and economically compared to American companies, but he hopes these sweeping changes will correct the course for General Motors.

"I hope that what this means is that they will have better products down the road, that something else will come out," he says. "In a perfect world, one of these plants at least is refurbished and you put some money into it and start building another vehicle and employ those people."

Savage joined fellow Lake Effect auto contributor Dan Harmon to breakdown what led to GM’s sweeping changes, which models will no longer be on sales lots, and what the trend of larger vehicles could mean in a future potentially filled with electric and self-driving cars:

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage on Wheels, for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Savageonwheels.com. He is also editor of Scale Auto magazine, part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.

Mark Savage writes the auto review column, Savage On Wheels, for WUWM (formerly for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) and Savageonwheels.com. He is the former executive editor of American Snowmobiler magazine and FineScale Modeler magazine, both part of Kalmbach Media in Waukesha.
Dan Harmon was one of the original members of Lake Effect (formerly At Ten). He started at WUWM in November of 1998 and left December of 2015 after 17 years of production.
Audrey is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.