NUMMI prepares for Pontiac elimination

April 27, 2009 7:09:06 PM PDT
General Motors announced a major restructuring plan that eliminates its 85-year-old Pontiac line. Three more factories will close, thousands more will lose their jobs and the government will own more than half the company.

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There are three assembly lines running inside the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant, but by this time next year, it could be down to only two.

NUMMI has been making the Pontiac Vibe for seven years, producing as many as 74,000 of them a year.

Each of them showed up at dealer lots with a sticker proudly proclaiming: "made in Fremont."

What NUMMI will do is uncertain. A plant spokesman will only say they are: "discussing alternative options with GM regarding the elimination of the Pontiac brand."

NUMMI's 4,000 employees think its on-going production of the Toyota Corolla and Toyota Tacoma will help.

"Are you worried about your job?" asked ABC7's Moneyscope reporter David Louie.

"A little bit, but with the Toyota Corolla still going as well as it's going, not too bad," said NUMMI employee Katrina Ponce.

There was no comment from the United Auto Workers Union. Its leaders were at an off-site meeting.

Also facing uncertainty are the two dozen california suppliers who make parts for NUMMI.

Wingard makes wheel assemblies for NUMMI, its sole customer.

Injex Industries up the road in Hayward makes door panels for NUMMI. Over half of its production is for the Pontiac Vibe.

"If NUMMI stops producing Pontiac, it's going to have a big effect on us. We'll have to cut back more on production. So it may mean more layoffs or less hours," said Injex Industries Plant Manager Ebi Mogharei.

Injex has 450 employees. An estimated 10,000 people work for NUMMI suppliers.

Even if GM decides to build a new vehicle at NUMMI, it won't happen quickly.

"A model change, if they started today, would be at best two years before they go into production," said Mogharei.

For Pontiac dealers, it will soon will be the end of one era and the start of a new one.

"If you take the vast resources of a company like GM and you devote their attention and interests in engineering and product development and marketing to four brands instead of eight, you're going to have four more focused brands, more energy. I think in the long run, it's going to be very successful, said Mark Balestra from Pearson Buick Pointiac GMC.

NUMMI is already operating on a four-day schedule to put production in line with demand. But the picture would get worse, if sales of the Pontiac vibe drop with its demise now official.

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