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GM Oshawa Plant Tops Productivity List

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  General Motors

GM Oshawa Plant Tops Productivity List

Anthony Fontanelle
June 5, 2007

During the past years, Toyota has been leading the host of car manufacturers in the US in terms of productivity. Recently though, American carmakers are gaining on the Asian car-making giant. A study recently published showed that the most productive plant does not belong to Toyota but to General Motors. That distinction went to GM’s Oshawa assembly plant which is located in Ontario, Canada. Aside from the Oshawa plant, four of GM’s assembly facilities landed on the top ten list of the most productive car assembly factories. The study was conducted by Harbour Consulting which is based in Troy, Michigan.

“Topping the Harbour Report is a great achievement at a time when productivity is a critical challenge facing Canada's economy,” says Arturo Elias, the President of General Motors of Canada. “This really shows what can be accomplished with constant focus and it is a testament to our great employees at GM Canada,” he added further.

The said assembly plant produces General Motors vehicles such as the Buick Allure - a mid-size car - and the Pontiac Grand Prix - marketed as a personal luxury car. The Oshawa plant is also tasked with assembling the Chevrolet Monte Carlo and the Impala. The Camaro which General Motors will resurrect for the 2009 model year will also be produced at the assembly facility according to GM. These vehicles and other components such as the GMC pickup alignment kit, body kits, and other accessories are what General Motors hopes to anchor on its turnaround plan.

According to the study, Toyota’s assembly plants took 29.93 work hours to manufacture its auto parts and assemble a vehicle. Meanwhile, Nissan took the second spot with an average of 29.97 hours in assembling a single vehicle. Nissan topped last year’s list of the most productive car companies. The figure for Nissan though was only estimated by the consulting firm since the third largest Japanese car manufacturer declined to provide them with data for 2006.

Honda, the second largest Japanese car manufacturer, landed on the third place with about 31.63 hours spent on assembling a single vehicle. Honda is also reported as the carmaker to show the best improvement from 2005.

General Motors is fourth on the list with an average time of 32.36 hours spent on building a single vehicle. The gap between the leader Toyota and General Motors showed that the largest American car manufacturer is gaining on the Japanese firm. DaimlerChrysler AG follows General Motors on the list with an average of 32.9 hours spent on manufacturing and assembling car parts. The Ford Motor Company finished last with an average of 35.1 hours. While Ford posted the lowest productivity rating, their productivity improved by 2 percent as compared to 2005.

Ron Harbour, the president of Harbour Consulting, said that the gap between the highest, Toyota, and the lowest, Ford, is at 5.17 hours. Compared to 2005, the gap is two hours better. In 2005, the gap between the most productive and the last on the list is 7.33 hours. The reason pointed out by the study for the closing gap is the result of the workforce reduction implemented by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler. The said step made the companies more productive although in terms of sale they are still performing at a low level compared to the three Japanese car manufacturers.

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