The Detroit auto industry's annual summer shutdown is a tradition that goes back many decades, but this year, General Motors is taking a pass. It comes from a time when the new model year started in September for every car and they all debuted simultaneously, usually in dealer showrooms. The shutdown was the two week period in the summer during which all the plants installed updated tooling for the new models.

In more recent times, the practice has persisted as a time to do maintenance and other work that might interfere with production – even if it hasn't coincided with the launch of a new model. This year, however, GM's inventories on many models are running so low that nine of the automaker's 11 assembly plants will keep producing vehicles during the designated shutdown period. Among the plants that will stay open are the Detroit-Hamtramck plant that builds the Cadillac DTS, the Delta Township plant builds the Lambda crossovers and the Chevrolet Corvette plant in Bowling Green, KY. Full press release after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]
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Buyer Demand Keeps Most GM U.S. Plants Running During Summer Shutdown

2010-06-18

* July production to help reduce wait times for popular vehicles

DETROIT - Most General Motors U.S. plants will forego traditional summer shutdowns to help meet buyer demand for popular Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and Cadillac cars, crossovers, and trucks.

Nine of the 11 assembly plants will continue to operate during the traditional shut-down period from June 28 to July 9. Most of GM's U.S. stamping and powertrain plants will also work to support assembly operations. The decision is expected to generate up to 56,000 additional vehicles.

"This move will help buyers waiting for high-demand products such as the Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Traverse, and GMC Acadia," said Mark Reuss, president of GM North America. "Our manufacturing teams are taking creative approaches to increase production and reduce the wait times for our dealers and customers."

Historically, the summer shut-down was used by the automakers to complete the annual model changeover. Over the last 20 years, the two-week shut-down evolved, allowing the domestic auto industry to support maintenance operations and enabling employees to use their vacation weeks without interrupting overall productivity.

New language in the UAW-GM national agreement allows the company to "flex" when down weeks will be taken. In some circumstances, it will be possible to designate those weeks as mandatory vacation time. In other circumstances, when no downtime is possible due to market demand, the plants can hire temporary employees to provide vacation coverage. The temporary employees receive training in safety and quality to ensure they are capable of supporting production at a high level.

"We've added shifts to plants, run significant overtime, and optimized line speeds to get more products to our customers," said Diana Tremblay, GM vice president of Manufacturing and Labor. "Our UAW-GM workforce has contributed to our ability to make these changes while continuing to meet our business targets."

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Assembly plants working through the traditional summer shut-down are: Arlington, TX; Bowling Green, KY; Detroit Hamtramck, MI; Fairfax, KS; Flint, MI; Fort Wayne, IN; Lansing Delta Township, MI; Lansing Grand River, MI; and Wentzville, MO.

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About General Motors: General Motors, one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 205,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in some 157 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, FAW, GMC, Daewoo, Holden, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall and Wuling. GM's largest national market is the United States, followed by China, Brazil, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Italy. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com.