General Motors is planning for the majority of its production plants to be back up and running at full capacity in about four weeks, Philip Kienle, GM’s vice president of North American manufacturing, told reporters on Monday.
A small number of GM parts plants restarted this week, while the first of its vehicle assembly lines are expected to return to work the week of May 18th. Additional GM assembly lines in the United States and Canada will also reopen the week of May 24th.
Kienle said not all of the automaker’s plants will return to 100% production capacity right away, although most will be back to operating as normal by mid-June.
“Not every facility will ramp up as fast as possible,” he said, as quoted by The Detroit Free Press. “Ideally, in a perfect world, by around June 15th, all of our facilities would be operating at their original capacity. But, again, I just give the caveat: market demand. We’re not going to override market demand.”
GM will be eager to get its Fort Wayne Assembly and Flint Assembly plants back up and running at full capacity. These plants are responsible for building the automaker’s Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra line of pickups, which have been in high demand and short supply since the UAW strike ended late last year. The Arlington Assembly plant in Texas will also be busy upon its return, with GM preparing to launch its new line of full-size SUVs this summer.
GM said this week that it has had no transmission of COVID-19 within any of its global production plants, including those in China and South Korea. The automaker credits its newly introduced safety protocols in helping to prevent transmission within its plants. GM recently purchased hundreds of thermal cameras to take employee temperatures when they arrive at work and requires them to wear gloves, a facemask and goggles before entering a work area.
“Our confidence is in that since we’ve done that we’ve had no transmission of the virus inside of our facilities, not in China, not in South Korea, not here in North America,” said GM’s executive vice president for global manufacturing, Gerald Johnson.
GM’s Michigan-based rivals, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, also plan to return to work this month, though they have not said when their facilities may be back running at 100% capacity.