GM Announces Major Shift Away from Trucks and SUVs

General Motors CEO, Richard Wagoner, announced today that the company will shut down four North American plants in a move designed to shift production away from pickups and SUVs, toward smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. Wagoner said that the plan comes in response to a rapid change in consumer behavior tied to rising fuel costs, a trend that he did not expect to reverse soon.

GM’s overall production capacity will drop by 500,000 vehicles, with cuts of 700,000 trucks to be supplanted by a 200,000 unit increase in more fuel-efficient cars. The centerpiece of the move towards fuel efficiency is the Chevy Volt, an extended-range plug-in automobile that Wagoner assured the public was still on schedule for a 2010 release. “We believe this is the biggest step yet in our industry’s move away from our historic, virtually complete reliance on petroleum to power vehicles,” he said.

For years, critics and shareholders have blasted GM for a failure to adapt to rising fuel costs and growing consumer demand for more environmentally responsible vehicles. To date, GM has sold only a few thousand hybrid vehicles, while sales of the Toyota Prius recently passed the one million mark. Today’s announcement leaves no doubt that GM has received the message, with the company even considering the sale of its notorious Hummer brand. Investors responded this morning by pushing share prices up nearly 3 percent on the news.

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  • Skeptic

    Received the message? Years too late. Buh bye.

  • Black Ice

    Ha…Now they receive the message! Typical. Americans are a day late and a dollar short.

  • uktiger

    I hope they make it. This country needs GM.

    1000 hybrids? What more do you need to convict them of gross incompetence?


  • tigerspirit

    I’m waiting on the Volt but they will have to really blow the prius out the water to make any headway.

  • Andrew Hime

    Waiting for the Volt? Hope you have a lot of time.

  • Andy

    If you are waiting for the Volt, they don’t even need to make it. It’s just to keep you from buying the competition.

    The Volt is a mere idea. Any idiot can imagine a high performance electric car. You need to hire smart engineers to actually create one, and forward thinking managers to actually build one. GM has an excellent track record of assuring that neither of those get carried away into bringing this into reality.

    Looking closely at the press release, GM has only really said what they are going to stop. They haven’t actually started anything new. As usual, GM’s solution to everything is to lay people off and expect a sudden return to profitability.

    Bah Humbug.

  • Dom

    Sounds like they’re finally taking some serious and drastic action. And based on the other articles I’ve read on this, it sounds like the Volt won’t be vaporware for too much longer. I guess time will tell for sure.

  • ash

    While GM is a few years late in joining other companies in the hybrid car production, at least they are stepping up to the challenge now. While they haven’t actually made any concrete progress, hopefully they will follow through and give consumers a good product. Smart consumers need to support any company in their plans to create an alternative method to petrolium, because our governemnt isn’t doing enough to get the ball rolling on this critcal issue. If we show a willingness to buy the product, more action will be taken.

  • faa_engineer

    You really have to admire GM’s predictablility. Back in the 70’s when Toyota was importing the Corolla, they came out with the POS Vega. That was their answer. Now GM is faced with the Prius problem. Very similar situation. Their answer is a vehicle that doesn’t exist, and I bet it never will. They should stick with trucks and drop everything else. SUV’s and Pickups are what they do well and are probably the only lines that are in the black. Bad management with no vision.

  • JPW

    Hmmm. Bet the dinosaurs that were fat and happy decided it was time to evolve *really fast* once they saw the asteroid coming, but I suspect only the ones who were already lean and mean lived to tell about it.

  • Curt

    If GM were serious about alternatives they would look to buyout ZENN before they get their next product out – assuming the new technology from EEStor they have licensed pans out. If it does, you might very well see GM, Ford, and Chrysler all go bye-bye.

    Very sad that more effort wasn’t put into PLEV and Hydrogen to make it viable sooner.

  • Need2Change

    The Prius is a great car, but in some ways, it will be difficult to compare the Volt and Prius.

    First, the Volt is targeted to have a 8.5 second 0-60 time. The Prius has a 10.5 second 0-60 time–slower than 95% of the cars on the road. For many, this is a big difference. The Volt has the potential to be more fun to drive.

    Second, the Volt will be able to operate in all electric mode up to 40 miles. The cost to operate is estimated to exceed the equivalent of 100 mpg during this 40 miles. This would cost about one-half the current Prius. For those who typically drive less than 40 miles/day, this is signifiant savings.

  • Quirky

    The centerpiece of the move towards fuel efficiency is the Chevy Volt, an extended-range plug-in automobile that Wagoner assured the public was still on schedule for a 2010 release.

    This means that GM will make a direct Prius competitor and the chances of getting the large battery needed for the 40miles of electric usage is low. It will be all the things the Volt is just ‘adjusted’ to make it $30,000. At least its a step in the right direction.

  • Eric2

    I really want to buy American, and I really want to buy the Volt. Problem is, is it Vaporware, or are they serious?

    So far, it looks like GM and Ford have awaken, but is it too late, and are they really trying…

    Now here’s the kicker:

    (Crystler’s product lines are 70% truck/SUV)

  • Scott M.

    It’s amazing. It’s like they’re caught in a 5 year time-warp. They’re closing down all these plants, laying people off, and will likely centralize their production in places with less expensive labour while the other car companies are moving away from that model, recognizing that transportation costs for their autos are going to be prohibitive Real Soon Now.

    In 5 years they’ll be scrambling to build more local plants so they can save on transport costs.

    I wonder if part of the company’s lack of nimbleness is caused by their relationship with the union. If so, both the union and the management who accepted these contracts over the years should recognize their part in this fiasco.

  • TD

    Blame it on the unions if you want, but Japan, South Korea and Germany have solidly union work forces and much more vacation time and benefits than American union workers yet their auto manufacturers are not suffering like Detroit. Detroit’s problems have much more to do with poor management than anything else.

  • john miachels donalds CONCEPT CHEVY VOLT

    We spotted 2 of these test CONCEPT CHEVY VOLT electric cars from the USA on the road in Sydney today at Coogee Beach. Both had LEFT HAND DRIVE stickers on their back windows and Victoria Number plates. They had no badges or any markings at all trying to stay unnoticed But they definitely stand out as they look Hot like a muscle car! The cars look a lot like ford Mustangs.




  • skeller

    Sad news. It’s not entirely their fault that the GM trucks and SUV’s are not the auto in demand nowadays. But I hope they don’t phase out all of their trucks and SUV’s, just convert them into a hybrid or something.