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GM Plant Gets a Break

July 08, 1986|ALAN GOLDSTEIN | Times Staff Writer

General Motors' decision to postpone development of its next-generation Chevrolet Camaros and Pontiac Firebirds may extend the life of the models made at its Van Nuys plant, company officials said Monday.

The company had intended to replace existing models with front-wheel-drive, plastic-skinned cars in 1989. GM officials said Friday, however, that the new models won't be produced until at least 1993, opening the possibility of producing current lines in the next decade.

Mary Elliott, a GM spokeswoman in Warren, Mich., said resources that had been devoted to designing the replacement cars, which will be styled like the Pontiac Fiero, have been shifted to other, higher priority projects.

She said existing models are selling well enough to consider continuing to build them. Nevertheless, the plant shut down its second shift Monday, laying off 2,190 workers, GM said, as a result of high dealer inventories.

"How well a car is selling dictates how long we keep it," Elliott said.

Ernest D. Schaefer, Van Nuys plant manager, said the plant is not in the running to make the replacement Camaros and Firebirds. Converting the plant to build front-wheel-drive cars would cost $200 million to $300 million, according to GM.

GM has not said what model, if any, might be built in Van Nuys when current lines are phased out, Schaefer said.

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