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The Detroit News

June 23, 2008

General Motors Corp. will offer six years' of free financing on most trucks and several cars, the automaker announced today along with pricing increases and production cuts aimed at stemming losses in North America.

The interest-free loans, which are being offered to customers Tuesday through Monday, apply to pickup trucks and SUVs across the automaker's eight brands. Even trucks sold by GM's luxury marquees -- Hummer, Saab and Cadillac -- apply. Some cars are included as well, such as the Chevrolet Impala, Saturn Vue and the Cadillac STS and DTS sedans.

The automaker also told dealers it will increase prices on a number of 2009 models to offset increased costs associated with rising commodity prices, increased content and new technology to improve the fuel economy of its vehicles.

Prices will go up 3.5 percent on average or about $1,000.

GM notified dealers of the sale and pricing changes today.

On the production side, GM today said it plans to temporarily idle several North American truck plants starting next month as the company struggles to adjust to shrinking demand for pickups and SUVs.

The moves come less than a month after GM announced sweeping plans to cut truck production and add capacity on the car side of the business. The automaker is eliminating shifts this year at four truck factories and plans to altogether idle four plants by 2010.

GM, like Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC, is scrambling to remake itself amid a dramatically shifting U.S. auto market. U.S. auto sales are on track to sink below a 10-year low, and consumers hit by $4-per-gallon gasoline are shunning large trucks and SUVs in favor of more fuel-efficient smaller vehicles.

News of the pricing changes and production cuts came as GM's share price flirted with a 33-year low. Shares were trading at $12.78 in midday trading. The automaker, which lost $3.3 billion in the first quarter, has been losing money on a yearly basis since 2005.

GM assembly plants in Fort Wayne, Ind.; Arlington, Texas; Janesville, Wis.; Moraine, Ohio; Silao, Mexico; and Oshawa, Ont., will be shuttered anywhere from one to 11 weeks starting in July.

Factories that build popular cars and crossovers, meanwhile, will schedule workers for overtime or Saturday shifts. The plants slated for extra work are in Lansing; Lake Orion; Wentzville, Mo.; and Kansas City, Kan.

In addition to the cuts, GM is moving forward with plans to possibly sell its Hummer brand. The automaker is telling dealers today that it has secured a broker to shop the brand to potential buyers, according to sources familiar with the plans. GM, in its annual shareholders' meeting earlier its month, said it was considering all options for the struggling brand.


LINK:GM further modifies production; hires broker for Hummer
 
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