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GM prepares to add shifts as it ramps up truck production

Keywords: Tags  General Motors, assembly operations, truck sales, new platform, capacity utilization, Daniel Akerson, Daniel Ammann, Corinna Petry

CHICAGO — North America continues to be a growth market for General Motors Co., chairman and chief executive officer Daniel F. Akerson said during the automaker’s first-quarter earnings conference call.

"This was a solid quarter for GM, and we are much more of a formidable competitor now than we have been in more than a generation," Akerson said. "We increased our global market share to 11.4 percent, with (realized) gains in North America, Europe and international operations."

U.S. dealer inventory totaled 744,000 vehicles at the end of the first quarter, up from a year earlier due to recently launched vehicles in new segments, senior vice president and chief financial officer Daniel Ammann said.

Detroit-based GM has launched two new full-sized pickup trucks—the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and the 2014 GMC Sierra 1500—and expects to ramp up the new K2XX pickup truck platform during second and third quarters.

"On a two-shift basis, we’re running (North American facilities) at about 100 percent," Akerson said. "As we think about (future) U.S. industry sales at 16.5 million to 17 million (vehicles), we would expect to build and meet that by increasing the number of our facilities on three shifts."

GM has eight facilities, or 50 percent of its plants, on three shifts now, so it could still double the number of operations running 24/7. "Our expectation is to run at a 120- to 130-percent utilization rate going forward (on a two-shift basis), or closer to 100 percent on a three-shift basis," Akerson said.

GM and other automakers have reported consistently strong pickup and SUV sales this year (, May 2).

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