Memorial Day is often considered the start of summer and, in the past, Detroit OEMs closed down production plants for a couple of weeks in July and August.
But, times have changed and the summer production schedules of GM, Ford and Chrysler reflect that fact.
“Historically, most plants across North America would schedule summer shutdown periods in early July as standard process to accommodate plant work needed for model year changeover, providing opportunity for facility maintenance and employee vacations,” said Bill Grotz, GM communications manager for Manufacturing and Labor.
“Today, plant downtime scheduling is driven by specific vehicle life cycles and market demand. This approach gives us more flexibility and enables quicker response to market conditions.
“Shutdown periods will vary by plant based on launch timing of new or refreshed models across the portfolio and our on- going efforts to align production with market demand.”
Ford will produce an extra 40,000 units by idling select plants for only one week during what has been the traditional two-week summer shutdown. “To meet surging customer demand for our top-selling cars, utilities and trucks, we are continuing to run our North American facilities at full manned capacity, and we will add 200,000 units of annual straight-time capacity this year,” said Jim Tetreault, vice president of North America Manufacturing. “Approximately 75 percent of our plants are running at a three-crew, threeshift or four-crew pattern in order to ensure we’re get- ting more of our products into dealerships.”
To meet demand for Ford vehicles, the company will add nearly 3,500 hourly jobs in 2013. With its latest announcement of more than 2,000 new jobs at Kansas City Assembly, as well as more than 1,400 new jobs at Flat Rock Assembly, Ford is three-quarters of the way to its plan to create 12,000 hourly jobs in the United States by 2015.
Chrysler spokesperson Jodi Tinson said that in order to meet demand for some of the company’s most popular models, several Chrysler assembly plants will not observe a summer shutdown. Two of the three plants – Jefferson North and Conner Avenue – are in Detroit. The third is the Toledo North plant in Ohio.
Tinson said that, additionally, all engine, transmission and stamping plants, with the exception of Indiana Transmission Plant II, will work through the summer.
“It’s not that unusual for Chrysler to not have a summer shutdown at a particular plant anymore,” Tinson said.
One reason is that in previous eras new models were launched in September. So it made sense to close the plants down so that