GM Ramps Up Truck Production as Dealers Run Out of Sierra and Silverado Pickups

America's insatiable demand for trucks cannot be stopped, even by a pandemic. 

GMC

Buyers just can't get enough of the recently redesigned Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, an issue that already existed before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now General Motors is rushing to fix that, putting its three mid- and full-size pickup truck factories on three shifts of production starting June 1, reports Automotive News

The GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado started out behind on production this year after the 40-day UAW strike at the end of 2019 brought factories to a halt. Then the novel coronavirus forced GM to idle these plants in March, putting them further behind schedule. 

It's a big problem for GM given that these two models are some of its most profitable, attracting everyone from high-end buyers looking for a cowboy Cadillac to those in need of a solid work truck. Dealers have complained that they simply don't have enough pickups on the lot to meet customer demand, so this ramp-up is aimed to solve both of those problems. The redesigned Sierra and Silverado started off with limited availability at their debut in 2019, Automotive News notes, so GM as well as its dealers had their goals of catching up in 2020 crushed.

“If they can restart the pickup truck plants first, I’ll be standing here in line saying ‘send me all you can get,’” Mike Jackson, CEO of AutoNation Inc., the largest U.S. new-car retailer told Automotive News.

GM planned to add second shifts to its pickup lines by May 26, but couldn't source enough parts to do so, reports the Detroit Free Press. The production of wiring harnesses for the trucks in Mexico was also brought to a halt by the COVID-19 pandemic. Roughly 80% of the trucks' wiring harnesses come from these Mexican facilities. 

This delay meant that workers at these pickup facilities remained laid off for another week after months of no work, per the Detroit Free Press. The opening up of third shifts for the Sierra and Silverado lines was always planned for June 1, however, so this at least means that third shifts will return on time. 

GM confirmed in a statement that they will also increase production at three crossover plants in the U.S. and Canada to two shifts of production. Five of its other U.S. assembly plants will operate on one shift. 

Like other automakers, this return to work came with assurances that workers will adhere to strict safety measures to limit the spread of coronavirus. 

"The restart of vehicle production at General Motors’ component and assembly plants in North America has gone smoothly thanks to strong teamwork," GM's statement read. "Our comprehensive safety procedures are working well, and our suppliers have done a great job implementing their return-to-work strategies and safety playbooks. We are now in a position to increase production to meet strengthening customer demand and strong dealer demand."

All of GM's planned production changes will go into effect June 1.

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