MORAINE, Ohio (AP) — General Motors Corp. plans to lay off about 340 of the 2,250 production workers at its assembly plant in this Dayton suburb next year because of expected softening in demand for the midsize sport utility vehicles the plant makes.
Layoffs will start in the first quarter and continue through mid-2008 while cutting production from 58 SUVS to 50 an hour, Jessica Peck, spokeswoman for the GM Moraine plant, said Wednesday.
GM told members of the International Union of Electronic Workers-Communications Workers of America Local 798 at Moraine in October that production cuts were coming, based on GM's market forecasts, Peck said. Union members were informed on Wednesday of the number of layoffs expected, she said.
GM has plans to keep making the GMC Envoy, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, Saab 9-7X and Isuzu Ascender with the two shifts at the plant, company spokesman Tom Wickham said.
GM Moraine currently has about 2,500 employees at the plant, including the 2,250 hourly production employees.
A message seeking comment was left for Local 798.
The future of the plant is clouded because the market for the SUVs made there is being taken over by crossover vehicles, such as the Saturn Outlook, a hybrid of a smaller SUV and a minivan, said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich.
''The market has pretty much just dried up, and in many respects just shifted to the crossover vehicles,'' Cole said. ''I think GM likes the plant and the workers. The real question is, is there a product queued up that would be a natural for the plant?''
The plant employed about 4,100 people there until mid-2006, when GM eliminated the third production shift based on slowing sales for SUVs, which were hurt by higher gasoline prices. The company also closed an Oklahoma City plant that made midsize SUVs.