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GM Won't Hit Market Share Goal, CEO Says

Autos: Strikes that crippled production at plants in Oklahoma and Michigan are to blame.

May 30, 1997|From Bloomberg News

DETROIT — General Motors Corp. won't reach its goal of boosting its U.S. market share to 33% in 1997 because strikes have crippled production, Chairman and Chief Executive John Smith Jr. said Thursday.

In 1996, when it was also hurt by strikes in the U.S. and Canada, GM captured 31.3% of the U.S. market, then a post-World War II low for the world's largest auto maker. The company has said the 14 new car and truck models introduced this year will boost its market position.

Smith said GM's market share will be higher this year than in 1996, but he wouldn't say how much. "It will be tough to get to 33% share with the strikes," he said.

GM settled a 50-day strike at its Oklahoma City car assembly plant Saturday. Another strike continues at its Pontiac, Mich., assembly plant that builds full-size extended-cab pickups. The company said earlier this month that the strikes have cost $225 million in lost profit so far.

The Oklahoma City plant makes Chevrolet Malibu cars, one of the auto maker's most important new models, and Oldsmobile Cutlass cars. Smith said the lost Malibu production can't be made up because the plant was operating at full capacity.

On Wednesday, UAW officials said GM agreed to create 280 jobs now and possibly an additional 45 later to settle the Oklahoma strike. Smith didn't comment on that specifically but did say the settlement allows the plant to stay competitive.

"I wouldn't call it a gain," he said of the agreement. "We're still in line to have the new car be very competitive in the marketplace."

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