DETROIT (June 10, 2106) — General Motors Co. plans to outsource the production of some of its commercial vans to Navistar International Corp. in a move to enable GM to produce more of its popular Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups.
Navistar said it will assemble cutaway versions of the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans — currently made at GM's plant in Wentzville, Mo. — at its plant in Springfield, Ohio, starting in the first half of 2017. Cutaways are incomplete versions sold to upfitters for a specific use, such as ambulances.
A person with knowledge of GM's plans said the move will enable GM to assemble roughly 40,000 additional Colorados and Canyons in 2017 at Wentzville. GM Spokesman Tom Wickham declined to comment, beyond saying that production of the pickups would increase.
In a statement, Cathy Clegg, GM's head of manufacturing and labor relations in North America, said the Navistar deal “will provide our Wentzville…assembly plant more flexibility to keep up with continued demand for midsize trucks and full-size vans.”
GM's discussions last year with contract manufacturer AM General to build cutaway models didn't pan out, the source said. Automotive News reported in November that a note distributed to workers in Wentzville said GM was “studying a partnership” with Indiana-based AM General for cutaway production.
Cutaway models account for roughly one-third of the vans built in Wentzville, the source said.
GM sold 56,142 Colorados and Canyons in the U.S. through the first five months of the year, compared with 36,639 Express and Savana vans sold in the same period.
GM has strained to keep pace with demand for the midsize pickups since they were launched in fall 2014, and inventories remain tight.
The Wentzville plant will continue to assemble the cab for the cutaway models, which will be shipped to Navistar to attach it to the chassis and install the interior, Mr. Wickham said. He declined to discuss the projected volume that Navistar will produce.
Mike Colias is a reporter with Automotive News, a sister publication of Tire Business. This piece appeared on autonews.com.