We’re not talking about a digital threat here; no, it’s more just one more headache caused by the viral outbreak rampaging through the Chinese manufacturing heartland — the source of so many components crucial to domestic auto production.
At General Motors, a supply chain disruption is the last thing the company needs after weathering an expensive 40-day strike at its U.S. plants last fall. The automaker is now attempting to allay fears of idled plants in the wake of an ominous social media post.
As reported by Bloomberg, GM says the threat isn’t serious, suggesting it has other suppliers on the hook that could step in if necessary.
“We continue to monitor our supply chain and are in close communications with our tier-one suppliers to mitigate any risk to production in North America,” GM spokesman David Barnas said in an email to the publication. “The situation is still quite fluid, but GM, other automakers and suppliers have begun the process of restarting vehicle and parts production in China.”
The comment came after a UAW local representing workers at GM’s Flint, Michigan truck plant posted to social media, warning of potential production snags at truck and SUV plants in Flint, Arlington, Texas, and Fort Wayne, Indiana if parts shortages continue. The situation would be especially worrisome if supply doesn’t ramp up by March, the post said.
The message to members of UAW Local 598 reportedly stemmed from a report from the automaker’s materials department.
“However, if this continues in March, there will be more significant parts impacted. The first being trailer harnesses. The company is still trying to develop a process to run shy and still pass PTT and DVT,” the post stated, as reported by The Detroit Bureau.
“The company has leased two cargo planes and also been able to get the government to release two of them. They are hoping to improve shipments. The company has set Flint has a priority plant and will sacrifice volume at Arlington and Fort Wayne to keep us running.”
The three plants crank out key product for GM: full-size Chevrolet Silverados and GMC Sierras, as well as the company’s body-on-frame, full-size SUVs. Those SUVs were just revealed in next-generation guise; production has already begun ahead of a mid-2020 on-sale date.
Earlier this week, GM announced that its joint-venture plants in China would restart on February 15th, following extended downtime caused first by the Lunar New Year holiday, then by the virus.
[Image: General Motors]