General Motors and Ford continue restructuring program
By Daniel Williams
The Chicago auto show, the largest of its kind in North America, has become a key launchpad for companies to show off their latest collections. Chevrolet, a division of General Motors, has launched their new Silverado. It comes as GM continues a major restructuring program.
Despite announcing last year's net profits of 8.1 billion U.S. dollars, the company began the process of laying off more than 4,000 workers.
Five plants in North America are set to close. The company insists it's the right decision to make. Steve Majors, Marketing Director for Chevrolet Cars, said, “We are really putting ourselves into a position to succeed. Not just for the next two, three or five years－but the next 50-100 years. We are very proud of the legacy of our company, but in order to be successful in the future, we have to respond to market conditions.”
GM hopes that the restructuring process will boost profit margins, prepare the company for a downturn and allow GM to invest more in electric and autonomous vehicles.
But it remains a tough pill to swallow for workers－given the company's strong economic rebound.
Ford is also undergoing an 11-billion-U.S.-dollar restructuring, recently announcing plans to lay-off thousands of workers in Europe.
But in contrast to GM, the company announced here that they would invest one billion U.S. dollars into their Chicago plant.
The move adds 500 jobs and brings the total number of employees to 5,800 in the city. Joe Hinrichs is the Ford President of Global Operations. “Our commitment to U.S. manufacturing has never been stronger. As the leading producer of vehicles in America, we employ more hourly workers in manufacturing on the automotive side than anybody in America. We are one of the leading exporters of automobiles out of the United States, and that's why we continue to be so focused on making sure the American manufacturing environment is competitive.”
For Chicago's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, the news is a further boost to the area. It comes as neighboring Michigan struggles with the job losses in the sector at GM. “Look, why does a company make a decision, you are right, they can look at any facility. They've got a tremendous work ethic and workforce. They got a city willing to invest to make sure that if they have to move a product efficiently, they can do it. What it says is that they have a great partnership.”
The auto industry as a whole is preparing for significant change as the move towards electric vehicles accelerates.
Ford and GM hope their restructuring will allow them the chance to build towards more success in an ever competitive market.