By Will Dancer (Staff Reporter)
General Motors plants in Michigan, Ohio, Maryland and Ontario have “halted production” on their cars for an undisclosed amount of time, with some worrying it could be indefinite.
As a result, they have laid off approximately 14,000 workers and executives in an effort to restructure and refocus the company to emphasize the production of electric and self-driving cars according to Time Magazine.
Potentially in a bid to modernize their line of cars to better compete with the foreign market, the recent struggles for the American auto industry seems to indicate an overall deceleration of growth, the opposite of the promise President Trump made back in 2016.
Trump seemed to declare the auto industry as a top priority during his 2016 campaign, and before he even took office, he spoke out against Ford’s plan to build a manufacturing plant in Mexico, stating, via Twitter, “Make in U.S.A. or pay big border tax.” In 2017, Ford announced that they have cancelled plans to build the new plant, but instead will move their intended production into an already existing Mexican plant.
Since then, tariffs on imported steel and aluminum have created more challenges for manufacturers, with both GM and Ford expressing concern for losses meeting or exceeding the one billion dollar mark. With sales already struggling to reach their adequate level, the added tariffs act as just another nail in the coffin.
Now it appears that those concerns have become a reality for GM, with the holiday season pretty much in full swing, families and the areas surrounding the closed factories will take a hit.
The auto industry has been in bad shape for a while it seems, and the states that produce and manufacture automobiles as a reliance for their local and state economies are the ones who suffer the most.
The failing auto industry is a significant contributing factor in Detroit’s bankruptcy, and some are concerned that the closures of these GM plants will have a trickle down effect on the Chicago-based auto parts suppliers according to Robert Channick of the Chicago Tribune.
It’s a shame for these workers because they’ve been kept in this job insecurity for too long and their worst fears have come about at the most stressful time of the year. 14,000 is a large number of displaced workers and I can imagine that the areas around these plants are suffering as well because of it.
It’s unlikely that GM will make any sort of dramatic comeback anytime soon, and frankly, I feel that more American car companies might soon be following a similar route.
China and Japan are seeming to take the lead, and whether through legitimate labor and wage practices or not, they are shifting the focus of the global auto market. American companies like GM were just a bit too set in their ways, perhaps.
To many Americans, cars are a sort of symbol of pride. They are seen as a representation of our industrial status and our sense of innovation, and the gradual global shift we’re experiencing might be partially caused by an overemphasis on tradition and entitlement by companies like GM and Ford. While the foreign market was showing a clear shift towards electric cars, GM was still producing sedans and pickup trucks, seemingly because that’s the “American way.”