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Published: Wednesday, 8/19/2009

Clunkers spur GM to hike output

DETROIT Higher sales, in part from the government s Cash for Clunkers program, are causing General Motors Co. to boost production at several of its factories.

The automaker said yesterday it will add 60,000 vehicles to its production in the third and, mainly, the fourth quarter.

It also will bring back about 1,350 laid-off workers in the United States and Canada.

GM will add a shift to its factory in Ingersoll, Ont., where the new Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain midsize crossover vehicles are made.

The company s Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant also will get additional shifts. The Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 are made there.

The Lordstown plant is now running at one shift for 10 hours a day from Monday through Thursday, but the company will add the next two Fridays to the schedule, said plant spokesman Tom Mock.

GM s plant in Orion Township, Michigan, that makes the Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac G6 midsize sedans also will increase production.

Production may be boosted at other factories, including those that make the Chevrolet HHR small wagon, the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickups, the Chevrolet Camaro muscle car, Buick LaCrosse sedan, and Cadillac SRX and CTS Wagon, GM said.

The Cobalt and Malibu have been popular with people trading in older, less-efficient models under the clunkers program.

It offers up to $4,500 to people to scrap vehicles with fuel efficiency of 18 miles per gallon or less.

At the end of July, GM had 70 days worth of Cobalts on dealer lots, according to Ward s AutoInfoBank.

A 60-day supply is ideal to maintain a good selection for buyers without overstocking dealers.

But since the clunkers program began in late July, dealers have reported spot shortages of both vehicles.

Ford Motor Co., Honda Motor Co., Toyota Motor Corp., Hyundai Motor Co., and Chrysler Group LLC all have announced production increases because of the clunkers program.

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