WASHINGTON – General Motors general manager Mary Barra promised on Wednesday to "keep an open mind" on the future of an Ohio plant that is losing vehicle production, but warned that the Detroit automaker had excess capacity and did not suggest that the company this was rethinking the plan.
"I want to make sure the workforce knows there are restrictions and we have overcapacity across the country," Barra said, urging factory workers to go close to GM jobs in other parts of the country.
"A strong GM is the best way for me to maintain the more than 90,000 jobs in the US, in addition to all the people who have withdrawn from GM and their pensions," she said
Barra came under pressure of two US Senators in Ohio and other legislators who want GM to relocate production of a vehicle from Mexico or to build electric vehicles at the Lordstown Assembly plant in its state that the automaker intends to close soon.
"GM expects to build 20 new electric vehicles over the next five years, and we want one or more of these vehicles to be built in Lordstown, Ohio, that's where it belongs," said Sen. Rob Portman, R -Ohio.
In a brief interview with Reuters after their meeting on Wednesday, she said it was "very expensive" to relocate production of the Chevrolet Blazer from Mexico in the next few days.
US President Donald Trump was critical of Mexican production and told GM last week that the company needed to "better" find a new vehicle at the Ohio plant that could be vital to him re-election opportunities in 2020. [1
"I understand that this means something that affects the country, and I understand that there is a lot of emotion and concern about it," said Barra. GM said last week that it would shut down five North American assembly plants and cut as many as 15,000 jobs next year, blaming the slow sale of car sales for restructuring. GM has been harshly criticized by lawmakers and Trump since November 26, when US automaker # 1 announced the biggest restructuring since its bankruptcy a decade ago.
Portman said he spoke with GM Trump on Wednesday about GM.
The CEO said that GM is planned Next year, more products will be added to the US plants, and the automaker would fill some jobs in other Ohio garages in 2019.
She chose Downsize as critical to keep GM competitive. In the interview, she said GM wanted "to do the right thing for our employees, but also to ensure that General Motors is strong and lean in the future."
Sen. Portman said Barra made no promises about the future of the Lordstown Ohio plant, where the soon-to-be-expiring Chevrolet Cruze sedans will be made.
Barra said the plant's final status will be set next year with the company's United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
"We do not ask for charity." Portman said members are asking for a new product for the facility.
Barra is in Washington to meet with legislators, including the Democratic leader of the Senate, Chuck Schumer, as well as legislators from Ohio and Maryland. It was also expected to meet lawmakers from Michigan on Thursday. After GM announced its plans, Trump threatened to stop GM subsidies in retaliation.
Administrative officials later said they wanted to end subsidies for electric cars in 2020 or 2021, which affects GM and other automakers.
Trump also said the new car tolls were investigated, claiming no evidence that they could prevent downsizing, as planned by GM.
The UAW has objected to GM's plan to cease production in four US plants in 2019, raising objections in 2015. The union has asked GM to repeal the decision and the fate of the plants in talks about a new employment contract to solve next year.
Report by David Shepardson