Having found a more efficient process to manufacture the Chevy Volt, General Motors will delay plans to add a second shift at its Detroit-Hamtramck factory.
During a four-week shutdown this summer, The General streamlined the plant’s production line and body shop, resulting in the ability to build twice as many Volts in the same amount of time. Before implementing the improved manufacturing operations, GM announced plans to add 2,500 workers across two shifts at D-Ham in May. The first of those shifts was scheduled to commence this fall.
By in-sourcing the subassembly of the Volt’s instrument panel, dashboard, steering wheel, and center stack that was previously performed by a a supplier outside the plant, GM will realize a $10 million savings as it aims to produce 16,000 Volts in 2011 and 60,000 units in 2012.
“This approach is just a more efficient way to make the same number of vehicles,” GM spokesman Chris Lee told the Detroit Free Press in an e-mail. “It’s good for our business and good for our customers.”
The savings don’t all result from a reduced amount of workers, though, as transportation costs for the aforementioned components will be eliminated. GM now plans on adding 300 workers by January. These positions will go to laid-off workers and potentially a few employees who transferred outside of D-Ham.
The General still plans to add the originally-planned additional shifts. The second shift will start by the second half of 2012 for the production of the new Malibu, which is due out next summer. The third shift will start once the facility begins building the all-new Impala sometime in 2013.
With the 300 new hires in January, D-Ham will have about 1,300 hourly and salaried workers.
The GM Authority Take
GM has been looking for ways to make the Volt profitably — and cutting down the production time certainly helps. Unfortunately, no new vehicles will see the Volt’s Voltec powertrain before 2015. The addition of such vehicles could, potentially, decrease the cost of the Voltec powertrain — including sourcing and production expenses.