Workers at the General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) CAMI assembly plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, walked out on September 17, idling production of the second-best selling vehicle in the GM lineup, the Chevrolet Equinox compact sport utility vehicle. GM is trying to ramp up production of the vehicle at two of its Mexican plants, but inventories of the vehicle continue to decline.
According to a report in Automotive News, inventories of the Equinox totaled 74,400 units in June, a 66-day supply. At the beginning of October inventories totaled 43,453 units, a 41-day supply.
GM sold 27,512 Equinoxes in the United States in September, a jump of 80% year over year. For the first nine months of the year U.S. sales are up 22% at 212,735 units. Canadian sales for the year to date are up 39% to 19,035 units.
In a statement to Automotive News, GM downplayed the inventory situation:
We believe we have sufficient inventory and production to meet demand while negotiations continue and we continue to work closely with dealers to ensure customers continue to be well served.
In a blog post Thursday, Canada’s autoworkers union, Unifor, said the union and the company remain “far apart on Economics and Job Security” and that Unifor is waiting for GM to respond on these issues. The two sides have been “in contact” daily but plan to take the coming weekend off before resuming discussions on Tuesday.
Earlier this year, GM announced a layoff of some 600 workers at the Canadian plant, and so far about 424 jobs have been shaved due to buyouts, retirements and some recalls of formerly laid-off workers. At the same time, GM shifted production of its Terrain compact SUV from the CAMI plant to the San Luis Potosi plant in Mexico.
Unifor is seeking higher wages, benefit improvements, and an investment in the Ingersoll plant similar to the $421 million investment GM promised to make in three other Canadian plants earlier this year. A total of $300 million of the agreed investment will go to the company’s Oshawa, Ontario, plant, which had been tabbed for closure in 2019.
Union leaders fear that GM will move production of the Equinox to its San Luis Potosi and Ramos Arizpe plants in Mexico, where the company is now trying to build more of the vehicles to offset the CAMI shutdown. The CAMI plant produced more than 132,000 Equinox vehicles in the first eight months of the year and the two plants in Mexico built just over 40,000 units between April, when production on the model began, and August.