GM also announced the impending closure of its Janesville, Wisconsin, production plant "where the big S.U.V. was born in the early 1990s." That plant currently produces the automaker's current full-size sport utility vehicles. GM will also be closing the Moraine, Ohio, plant that builds the GMT360 mid-size SUVs on December 23.
Promising to slash an additional $10 billion in costs (while burning through an estimated $1 billion per month in operating costs), the lumbering giant must act fast and think quick if it is to survive a down market and rapidly changing automotive tastes. A $25 billion low-interest Federal loan guarantee has already been promised domestic vehicle manufacturers, and some are pressing for even more assistance. Though gas prices have recently dipped to levels that might seem to suggest a resurgence of these distinctly American vehicles, it appears the die has been cast, and the market is shifting for good. Admits Robert Lutz, GM vice chairman and head of product development (not to mention champion of the Pontiac Solstice and upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Volt): "Reality had set in.”--Colin Mathews