GM Will End Production at Four Plants, Might Axe Hummer

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) -- General Motors is closing four truck and SUV plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico as surging fuel prices hasten a dramatic shift to smaller vehicles.

CEO Rick Wagoner said Tuesday before the automaker's annual meeting in Delaware the plants to be closed are in Oshawa, Ontario; Moraine, Ohio; Janesville, Wis.; and Toluca, Mexico. He also said the iconic Hummer brand may be discontinued.

Wagoner said the GM board has approved production of a new small Chevrolet car at a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, in mid-2010 and the Chevy Volt electric vehicle in Detroit.

Wagoner announced the moves in response to slumping sales of pickups and SUVs brought on by high oil prices. He said a market shift to smaller vehicles is permanent.

GM shares rose 36 cents, or 2.1 percent, to $17.80 in premarket trading.

The cuts will affect about 2,500 workers at each of the four facilities, although Wagoner did not know exact numbers. Many will be able to take openings created when 19,000 more U.S. hourly workers leave later this year through early retirement and buyout offers.

He said the company has no plans to allocate products to the four plants in the future.

The moves will save the company $1 billion per year starting in 2010. Combined with previous efforts, GM will have cut costs by $15 billion a year, Wagoner said.

Wagoner said GM's board approved the production schedule of the Chevrolet Volt, and the company plans to bring the plug-in electric car to showrooms by the end of 2010. The Volt runs on an electric motor and has a small engine to recharge its batteries.

He said the change in the U.S. market to smaller vehicles likely is permanent.

"We at GM don't think this is a spike or a temporary shift," Wagoner said.

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