The cash for clunkers program continues to have positive effects, as GM is now increasing production to meet the new demand.
With its Chevrolet Cobalt in demand because of the federal “cash for clunkers” rebate program, General Motors said today it would restart the second shift at its Lordstown plant early next month.
More than 1,000 people will return to work, bringing employment at the plant to about 3,300. The news comes just in time for some laid-off workers who were about to see their benefits reduced.
“It’s a huge relief,” United Auto Workers Local 1112 President Jim Graham said. “We’ve know for some time that this would happen. We just didn’t know when it was coming back.”
GM executives said they had to restart the shift at Lordstown, where the Cobalt is assembled, and add production at other plants because the automaker was running out of cars. The clunkers program, which offers up to $4,500 to people who trade older gas-guzzlers for new, more fuel-efficient models, had left some dealers short of cars. The program is expected to end around Labor Day.
The increased production is not limited to Lordstown.
In addition to the new shift at Lordstown, GM is restarting a shift at the Canadian plant that builds the Chevrolet Equinox, a five-passenger crossover that can get 32 miles per gallon on the highway, said Tim Lee, GM’s vice president for manufacturing.
He added that demand for GM’s small pickups and its HHR wagon are also up, so GM could add shifts to plants in Louisiana and Mexico, too.
In addition, GM plans to keep open its Lake Orion, Mich., plant until November to build the Chevrolet Malibu. That plant had been scheduled to close next month. It was set to reopen in 2011 to make small cars.
Needless to say, this is excellent news for the auto industry and for the overall economy. Areas like Northeast Ohio have been suffering from growing unemployment, and every little bit helps. This also bodes well for auto suppliers.