Click above for more high-res shots of the Chevy Cobalt SS
Less than 2 months ago the headline here was GM ramps up Cobalt production to meet demand. It's amazing how quickly things change in this crazy environment. Just months after adding a third shift at the Lordstown, OH assembly plant where the Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5 are built, on Friday GM gave 1,100 employees at the facility layoff notices. The company isn't getting rid of the third shift but, it is slowing the build rate in line with current sales demand. Earlier this summer, GM was selling Cobalts as fast as they could build them and now all of a sudden, those sales have dried up. The spike was triggered by $4 gasoline, and even though gas prices have dropped to half that level, you might not expect sales to fall so fast. The real problem is the lack of available credit for financing. Most of the inherent customer base for cars like the Cobalt simply can't afford to pay cash for a new car. With credit increasingly hard to get, car sales have crashed almost across the board in October. Even the Honda Civic that sold 53,000 copies in May got just under 19,800 in October. Expect to hear more about slowdowns at other carmakers, including mighty Toyota and Honda, very soon.