US: Detroit three on short summer break image

Looks like the summer vacation is no going to last for the US Detroit automakers, as the rising demand from consumers has imposed shorter or inexistent plant shutdowns.

US buyers again surprised all with a strong performance in June, with the pickups and SUVs on high demand – which means the traditional two-week summer shutdown at US manufacturing facilities would be shorter or eliminated altogether. Traditionally, the US automakers stop producing cars for the first two weeks in July – during the break also preparing the plants for the model year changes.

“Today, plant downtime scheduling is driven by specific vehicle life cycles and market demand,” said GM spokesman Bill Grotz. “This approach gives us more flexibility and enables quicker response to market conditions.”

“I think our plants are doing a good job of keeping up,” also said Reid Bigland, Chrysler’s US sales chief. “But they are able to keep up by doing things like shortening summer shutdowns, working some overtime.”

Chrysler has decided to keep open through July four of its assembly facilities, next to all of its engine and transmission plants, except for the Indiana Transmission Plant II in Kokomo.

General Motors also plans to keep open around a third of its production capacity, with summer idling being based on the timed arrival of the new or refreshed models. Ford is also planning to idle for one week just four of its manufacturing facilities, in addition to seven powertrain and stamping plants.