GM May Spend $1 Billion to Shift Output

From United Press International

General Motors Corp. may spend about $1 billion to realign its luxury car production, including a move that could breathe new life and new jobs into its Detroit-Hamtramck plant by 1992, a trade publication said Tuesday.

It has been rumored for months that the giant auto maker intends to consolidate Cadillac production at its Detroit-Hamtramck plant, which has been building GM's smaller luxury models since it opened in late 1985.

But the facility, billed by GM as its technological showcase, has been operating substantially below capacity for several years.

In 1986, it employed more than 5,900 workers on two shifts. Today, it employs fewer than 3,600 workers on a single shift because of relatively slack demand for the Buick Riviera, Oldsmobile Toronado and Cadillac Seville, Eldorado and Allante models assembled there.

"We have said publicly that we think it makes sense for a dedicated Cadillac facility, especially in light of the progress we've made in engineering and manufacturing in the last several years," Cadillac spokesman William O'Neill said in response to a report by MetalWorking News about the massive program.

"That obviously has not changed, and we are working toward a dedicated facility," he said. "But there has been no final decision made on what facility or what products will be involved."

MetalWorking News, a weekly publication that tracks tooling and machinery orders for steel-intensive companies such as auto makers, said the new generation of Cadillac DeVille and Fleetwood cars would be transferred to the plant in 1992, when they switch to the front-drive "K" platform used by the Seville sedan.

GM is also reportedly finishing plans to transfer production of the Riviera and Toronado to its Orion Township plant north of Detroit, where they will be based on the car maker's larger front-drive "C" platform, the publication said.

Sources said the second phase of GM's large car realignment could be completed in time for the 1994 model year--provided that part of the program gets final corporate approval.

Also planned but awaiting final approval because of possible new fuel economy pressures is a new full-sized, rear-drive Cadillac to replace the current aging Brougham model. It is known as GM380 and could debut in mid-1992.

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