Amid unprecedented financial difficulties, General Motors has had to make some tough choices. As the company struggles to survive, it has been forced to sell off subsidiaries to make ends meet. However, unable to find a buyer for its line medium-duty trucks, the automaker has decided to cease production of the GMC Topkick and Chevy Kodiak.
GM has sought for four years to unload the medium duty trucks, and in 2007, it seemed likely that Navistar, a manufacturer of truck and engine parts, would purchase the line. Negotiations were also held with Isuzu, but neither deal panned out. Exotic car enthusiasts are closely watching the struggles of GM.
Once noted for its production of impressive sports cars and large SUVs like the Hummer H2, GM is now fighting for its life. If things don’t look up soon, the only way to drive a Hummer may be through exotic car rental.
The cease in production of the GMC Topkick and Chevrolet Kodiak means more plant closings for the already desperate auto industry. One plant in Flint, Michigan, employs 398 people on the assembly line for medium duty trucks. GM and the United Auto Workers union are still discussing the fate of these workers.
The Chevy Kodiak and GMC Topkick are the only medium duty trucks made by GM. Medium duty trucks are designed for commercial use, mainly as tow trucks and dump trucks. This sector of the market has been especially hard hit by the economic downturn, with sales slumping 30 to 40 percent 2007 to 2008 and an additional 30 to 40 percent so far this year.
Several GM dealers will be significantly affected by the change. 470 dealers sell the medium duty trucks, and of those, 129 deal exclusively in GM products. Dealers now have 18 months to unload their existing inventory of medium duty trucks.
For fans of American automobiles, the last couple of years have been hard to watch. GM, Chrysler, and Ford have all struggled to remain competitive amid a perfect storm of high gas prices, a credit crunch, and other factors of the economic downturn. GM’s decision to cease production of the Chevy Kodiak and GMC Topkick is only the latest installment in a sad story.
If you are interested in the fate of Hummer, it sounds like that brand may be purchased by a Chinese company. Right now, you can drive a Hummer with exotic car rental or an exotic car sharing club. Exotic car rental also makes it possible to experience the thrill of other great American cars like the Dodge Viper.
Kate Miller-Wilson is a professional freelance writer living in the Twin Cities. Visit her website or email her for information about her freelance writing services.