GM made announcements several weeks ago that the three truck plants producing the full-size half-ton GM pickups — Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra — will stagger their shutdowns to accommodate the retooling and renovation for the coming pickups.
The shutdowns at plants in Indiana, Michigan and Texas are required to completely change out some line machinery in some cases, while other equipment will be able to be modified. Some industry analysts speculated that the huge downtime — said to amount to about six weeks for each plant — was due to the added procedures needed to build more complex and very different types of trucks.
However, Mark Reuss, vice president and president of North American production, explained to us that these plant closures are very different from the previous full-size truck redesign. "When we did this last time around, we had more than a dozen plants around the U.S. making parts and pieces of our pickup truck. Now we have just three," he said. "That creates a few issues for us.
"And it's not like we're shutting down the plant and people aren't working. ... We'll be keeping everyone on to do the work, and may have to hire more to help out," Reuss continued.
As to what this shutdown procedure might imply for the next GM half-tons, Reuss was emphatic. "The new truck will be far less complex to build than the current pickup," he said. But when asked in what ways the vehicle might be less complex, he just smiled and said, "We don't need the guys at Ford and Ram to know that."