General Motors announces the closing of eight manufacturing plants globally


General Motors has announced its intention to close eight manufacturing facilities and cut 15 percent of its workforce next year as part of its global restructuring and an effort to free up USD $6 billion per year in cash by 2020. Five of the factories are located in North America, including Oshawa, Canada, Detroit and Warren in Michigan, Warren, Ohio, a site near Baltimore in Maryland, plus one in South Korea, and two additional undisclosed international locations.

GM’s rationale follows rising costs, including from new tariffs on materials such as steel, and slower car sales as buyers in North America have turned away from smaller cars to bigger vehicles such as SUVs and trucks, which now make up nearly 70 percent of total car purchases in the United States (U.S.), and investment in electric and autonomous vehicles, which are expected to drive future industry growth.

Ohio’s Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown called the decision "corporate greed at its worst" while the state’s Republican Senator Rob Portman said he was "deeply frustrated". U.S. President Trump said he thought pressure on GM would lead it to direct new work to the plants, at least in Ohio. Labour unions in Canada and the U.S. also said they would press the company to allocate more work to the factories, instead of closing them.

During the 2009 global financial crisis, the Canadian federal government offered automakers a CAD $10.8 billion bailout in loans, share purchases, and subsidies. Some of that money was paid back, however the net loss is between CAD $4 billion to $5 billion, including a CAD $1 billion loan write-off. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he expressed his "deep disappointment" in the closure of the Oshawa GM plant, which is sixty-five years old and currently employs 2,522 works, compared to nearly 23,000 thirty-five years ago. The plant accounts for 6 percent of total vehicle production in Canada, according to Scotiabank economist Juan Manuel Herrera, who publishes the bank's monthly Global Auto Report, and said production in Oshawa was set to decline next year by 40 percent from current levels because the vehicle models made there aren't big sellers.