On Tuesday, General Motors made a major announcement surrounding its South Korean operations and delivered the news that the Gunsan assembly plant would shut down by May 2018 amid restructuring efforts. Shortly after the announcement, President Donald Trump spoke on the matter and said his administration’s pro-business policies led the closure and that GM is moving “back from Korea to Detroit.”
That’s not the case, according to David Albritton, GM’s executive director of product development and international communications.
“That announcement in particular was about our Gunsan plant closing and our need to restructure the business in South Korea,” he told The Detroit Free Press in a report published yesterday. He added that 100 percent of the South Korean announcement has to do with Korea and it does not translate to additional jobs in the United States.
President Trump touted the news during an infrastructure meeting and said, “You don’t hear these things except for the fact that Trump became president. Believe me, you wouldn’t be hearing that. So they’re moving back from Korea to Detroit. … Also you saw Chrysler moving from Mexico to Michigan, and you have many other companies, they all want to be where the action is.”
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles is not shutting down its Mexican factory, but it will move Ram Heavy Duty production to the Warren Truck Plant. Since 2015, GM has invested well over $5.4 billion in U.S. manufacturing.
The Gunsan plant, which builds the Chevrolet Cruze and Orlando, has run at 20 percent capacity for the past three years, per GM. A local South Korean outlet added high wages, union battles and lower productivity has hurt GM Korea in recent years. Per the report, it takes about 3 hours longer to assemble a car in South Korea than in the U.S.
GM said it has a concrete plan for GM Korea stakeholders, which include the government and unions, to continue operations in the country. Now, the future of the automaker’s presence rests in the hands of those entities, Albritton said.