GM Leave Tennessee Saturn Future In Doubt

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

General Motors Corp. has decided not to build a new front-wheel-drive minivan, leaving workers at a Spring Hill, Tenn., Saturn plant wondering whether they will have any vehicles to assemble in the future.

In a newsletter dated Tuesday, UAW Local 1853 President Mike O'Rourke said the GM board decided Thursday to cancel the new minivan, which he said was tentatively scheduled to be built at the Spring Hill assembly plant.

That leaves the plant with no new product coming and only four months of production left on its current models, the Saturn Ion small car and the Vue, which is a small sport utility vehicle, he wrote.

O'Rourke said the next generation of Vue will be produced in Mexico, and Ion production has been canceled.

"We are now down to just four months left of production of that same little car we introduced to the world back in 1990, and the reality of facing an indefinite layoff with nothing tangible, nothing that we can place our hands on, just a lot of empty promises from GM," O'Rourke wrote in the newsletter.

GM spokesman Dan Flores confirmed that the board decided not to build the new minivan, which was proposed for the company's front-wheel-drive truck platform. He said the minivan was never given final approval.

Ion production will cease in March, and no announcement has been made on the next generation Vue, he said.

"We're continuing to study Spring Hill for a potential future product. We're looking at a variety of scenarios," Flores said.

GM employs about 4,700 hourly workers at the Spring Hill complex, which includes an assembly plant as well as a four-cylinder engine plant.

In an Internet chat discussion with workers Tuesday, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger was asked by a worker if he saw a future for the Spring Hill plant.

"Yes. Stay the course," he answered. "Product announcements are made by the corporation, and we will leave that to them."

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