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GM slows production at another plant due to Japanese crisis

General Motors was the first American automaker to shut a plant down due to the string of disasters in Japan and yesterday, GM announced more downtime as the Tonawanda engine plant in Buffalo, New York saw one of their production lines halted due to the Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear explosions.

In addition to GM closing the line at the Tonawanda engine facility in New York responsible for the GM small pickups (Canyon, Colorado), the automaker is laying off 59 of the 623 employees from Tonawanda. The reason for the engine line being shut down is a shortage of parts from Japanese suppliers but considering the fact that the Shreveport Production Facility has been shut down, halting production of the GMC Canyon and Chevy Colorado and the Tonawanda facility builds the engines for those compact pickups- this downtime shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

According to USA Today, the production stoppages at the two Canyon/Colorado related plants may be due more to the company’s desire to save parts for more popular vehicles rather than using them on vehicles that are more likely to sit around on dealership lots once they are completed. The Colorado and Canyon sold less than 3,500 units last month while the larger (and more expensive) GM pickups like the Silverado and Sierra sent out over 43,000 trucks over that same period. While there aren’t a great many identical components between the compact and full sized GM pickups, small electrical components could prove to be far more precious to the American automakers over the next few weeks as analysts expect the full force of the Japan earthquake to hit the US industry.

Unfortunately for the folks employed at the Tonawanda and Shreveport production facilities, General Motors has no clear time table (publicly) as to when these plants/lines will re-open. The good news for the New York employees is that Tonawanda is part of a planned $890 dollar investment plan to develop the next generation of GM V8 engines. On the other hand, the Shreveport production facility is slated to be closed for good in 2012.

Source: USA Today, General Motors

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