GM CEO Mary Barra expects North American plants to return to near pre-coronavirus levels by late June


Mary Barra, Chairman and CEO of General Motors.

Bill Pugliano | Getty Images

General Motors expects its North American vehicle production to return to near pre-coronavirus levels by the end of June, Chairman and CEO Mary Barra said Wednesday.

The Detroit automaker has worked aggressively to restart its operations, particularly those that produce pickup trucks, since restarting production May 18. The plants closed in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“This week we’ll continue to add additional shifts in our North America plants, and we think we’ll be close to normal capacity by the end of June, and sooner, if possible,” Barra said during a Wolfe Research automotive conference.

GM’s U.S. operations have been able to ramp up quickly during the past two and a half weeks but its plants in Mexico have been on a slower pace due to government restrictions. The country experienced a later surge of Covid-19 cases than the U.S. GM also has faced problems with parts shortages from suppliers.

GM’s U.S. plants that produce large pickups returned to pre-coronavirus levels of three shifts on Monday, however they are not to pre-coronavirus production levels, according to a GM spokesman Jim Cain. Its Silao plant in Mexico that produces pickups remains on one shift.

“It’s important now, especially with trucks, that we are getting vehicles back online,” Barra said. “There’s very strong demand from our dealers for more vehicles, especially trucks.”

GM is “working with all the stakeholders to develop a responsible plan” regarding increasing production in Mexico, she said.

Cain declined to comment on what percentage of plants in North America have returned to pre-coronavirus production. A vast majority of its U.S. workers are expected to have returned to work.

Fiat Chrysler said this week 88% of its North American full-time hourly workers are back to work, including 85% in the U.S. and 88% in Mexico. The company employs roughly 33,350 people in the U.S. and 13,700 people in Mexico. The company expects to have all of its workers back by Monday.

A spokeswoman with Ford Motor declined to comment on the percentage of North American workers who have returned to work. A majority of its U.S. workforce has returned. 

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