Carmakers make SUV and pickup sites work overtime during holidays

Article by Andrew Christian, on December 26, 2014

A number of carmakers are placing some of their plants on overtime and others on extended break during Christmas and New Year’s holiday period in North America. Plants producing SUVs, crossovers and pickups are scheduled for overtime work, highlighting strong demand for these vehicles. On the other hand, sites building small and midsize cars are extending their downtime, prompted by weaker demand for these vehicles this year.

Assembly sites in North America are usually on a downtime between Christmas and New Year’s days. For instance, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is switching from double- to single-production shifts for five straight days beginning Friday at its two sites in Toledo, Ohio, where the Jeep Wrangler, Wrangler Unlimited and Cherokee are being built.

The Jeep is currently the hottest brand in the US, surging 44 percent so far this year to over 629,000 units. Likewise, FCA’s Belvidere site in Illinois will be open on a single shift on three days: Friday, Sunday and Dec. 29. On the other hand, General Motors is having its Arlington plant in Texas operating overtime this week and the week of Jan. 5 to cater to growing demand for large SUVs like the Chevrolet Suburbans and Tahoes, GMC Yukons and Cadillac Escalades.

GM is also planning to have its plants in Canada work overtime to produce Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups, Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain midsize crossovers and the full-size Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave crossovers. GM is likewise planning its plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky work overtime to build the Chevrolet Corvette.

Carmakers have seen their light-truck sales in the US surge 10 percent in the first 11 months of 2014, thanks to the launch of new models and dropping gasoline prices as well as a strengthening economy.

On the other hand, carmakers saw car sales just gain 1 percent in the period. Combined, light vehicle sales in the US jump 6 percent in the January-December period. John Krafcik, president of TrueCar, remarked that 2014 has been remarkable years in terms of growth and revenue, as boosted by big gains in pickup, utility and luxury vehicle sales.

Topics: suv, pickup truck

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