General Motors is planning to shut seven factories and shed 15% of its workforce as part of a major restructure that will also involve shifting investment into developing autonomous and electric vehicles.
The US firm has struggled with falling sales in recent years prompting a major revamp, which has included selling Vauxhall and Opel, its British and European brands, to the PSA Group. GM had previously axed Chevrolet's UK arm in 2014.
In North America, GM's sales have been hit hard by falling demand for saloon cars, and the firm is set to follow rival Ford’s lead in culling most of its saloon models to put greater emphasis on SUVs and pick-up trucks. According to reports, the Chevrolet Cruze and Impala, Cadillac CT6, Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Volt hybrid will all be axed.
GM has now announced it is planning to close five North American plants by the end of 2019: assembly facilities in Detroit, Ohio and Ontario, Canada; and transmission factories in Michigan and Maryland. It will shut two unnamed plants outside North America, in addition to the previously announced closure of a plant in Korea.
As part of a ‘staffing transformation’, the firm is also aiming to reduce its workforce by around 15% – about 18,000 jobs – which it says will include cutting 25% of its executive staff. GM expects the move to reduce costs by around £3.5 billion.
Having developed new vehicle platforms, GM says that future investment will be focused on developing its next-generation battery-electric vehicles.