BREAKING: GM to close 4 truck plants, may sell or close HUMMER

At the General Motors annual meeting in Delaware today, CEO Rick Wagoner will be publicly announcing the latest restructuring round for the beleaguered automaker. In response to plummeting sales of large trucks, GM will close down four more North American Assembly plants by 2010. The plants in Janesville, Wisconsin, Oshawa Ontario, Moraine, Ohio, and Toluca, Mexico are already running reduced production schedules and will cease operations entirely as products are discontinued or shifted to other plants. The Janesville plant builds medium trucks and SUVs while Moraine builds the old body on frame Trailblazer, GMC Envoy and Saab 9-7x SUVs. The other plants build full-size pickup trucks. The closures affect 10,000 employees at those plants. Those that aren't among the 19,000 who are taking buyouts will be offered transfers to other locations to fill spaces vacated by the departing workers. The closures are expected to save GM about $1 billion a year.

Wagoner will also be announcing that GM has begun a strategic review of the HUMMER brand. We contacted GM spokesperson Joanne Krell this morning who told us that the review has just begun and there is no time frame for a decision. "The HUMMER brand is a great brand and we're probably not maximizing it to its fullest. Perhaps somebody else would have that opportunity." All options are being considered including "ramping up the portfolio," shutting the brand down or "selling it in whole or in part." At this point, GM has not had any discussions with other manufacturers about the possibility of a sale, which won't happen until the review is completed.

On the positive side of things, the board of directors has approved production of a new small Delta platform car (the eventual Cobalt replacement) at the Lordstown, OH assembly plant next year. The Chevrolet Volt has also been approved for production in 2010 at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant. Thanks to Craig and Matthew for the tips!

[Sources: Chicago Tribune, General Motors]

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