GM Small Car Plant to Build Multiple Models

Companys plants will be more agile in the future; bankruptcy proceedings not impacting sales

General Motors Corp. needs to become a faster company and build flexibility into its manufacturing plants as it proceeds with its restructuring plans, said GM CEO Fritz Henderson during the National Summit in Detroit on June 17.

The company will select by the end of the month one of three idled plants to produce a new small car by the year-end 2011 or early 2012. The company is considering existing plants in Michigan, Tennessee and Wisconsin for the new small car.

The new plant will primarily build one car class but have the ability to produce other models, Henderson said.

"By and large, as a firm, we're going to build more flexibility across our assembly plants," Henderson said.

He also expects a faster-moving company in the future.

"We have not been known for being a fast or speedy company, and I do think there's a real benefit to it and it means you make decisions faster," he said.

Meanwhile, Henderson said GM's bankruptcy proceedings have not impacted sales. Retail sales in June are progressing ahead of May, while fleet sales are down, Henderson said.

A hearing for the sale of the company's assets remains on schedule for June 30, Henderson said. The federal auto task force has been involved with the company's restructuring on nearly a daily basis, according to Henderson, who said he expects the company to operate on its own once it emerges from bankruptcy.

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