2012 Chevy Sonic
July 13, 2011 by staff
2012 Chevy Sonic, The subcompact car is only being built on American soil early deployment of an assembly plant here in suburban Detroit that is as unusual as the car itself. The production line has been cut in half the space of a traditional plant. Welding robots focus on effective groups, instead of being spaced along the line, while many workers earn half the wages typical union. Even the first oxide layer test has been reformulated so that is one hundredth of the thickness – and therefore cheaper – the coating of other cars.
One of the oldest axioms in the automotive industry is that any company can build a subcompact car in America and make money because they have too low a price. The Ford Fiesta is built in Mexico. The Honda Fit is done in several places, including China and Brazil. But the Americans – and Detroit – rediscovering small cars due to gas prices, General Motors intend to break that idea with its new Chevrolet Sonic. The car, with a base price of about 14,000, and give GM a new entry at the bottom of the market when it goes on sale this fall. Sonic is also expected to be a breakthrough in establishing a new level of cooperation between Detroit and the U.S. Automotive Industry.
The factory radically new here operates with fewer and cheaper workers, many of whom are paid and 14 hours instead of the entire UAW wage an hour and 28.
The plant itself is smaller and reconfigured to save money, company executives of some of the changes modeled after GM’s most efficient factories in Germany and Korea. The footprint of the production line itself was reduced from one million square feet to 500,000 – the equivalent of losing the space of more than two Super Wal-Mart. The energy bill was cut by some operations supply of methane gas from landfill neighbors.
Sonic GM will be smaller and more fuel efficient, conventionally powered vehicles. It was conceived in 2008, before the federal government bailout of the bankrupt automaker, when negotiators from the company and the union began brainstorming about what it would take to make a subcompact car profitably in the United States and in countries low wages.
“We wanted to prove we could do,” said Diana D. Tremblay, director of GM’s global production.
The U.A.W. tried to persuade Ford Motor Company to build the Fiesta subcompact in the United States. But Ford chose a plant in Mexico, where wages and benefits a combined total production worker and less than 10 hours. By contrast, a full union member wages in the United States costs GM about 60 hours. Even entry-level employees on salary costs and 30 per hour in wages and benefits.
While not the only factor in the production of a subcompact profitable, reduce costs of employment are critical to the decision to build the Sonic in Michigan. Under a pioneering work, the union allowed GM to pay 40 percent of its unionized workers in Orion Township an “entry-level” wages dramatically reducing overall production costs.
“The structure of entry-level wages was an important factor, because, obviously, the smaller the car the lower the margin,” said Tremblay.
The UAW president, Bob King, said the union considered the importance of a competitive subcompact to the general line of GM products. Sonic is the first subcompact G.M. has tried to build in its home market as the Chevrolet Chevette for almost 40 years, apart from a brief joint effort with Toyota to build Prizms Geo. The smallest car in its current lineup is the Chevrolet Aveo, a subcompact developed by the South Korean subsidiary GM. A version of Sonic to be sold abroad will be built in South Korea.
“We are committed to the success of the company,” King said recently. “We had to talk about a business model that makes sense.”
Despite its promise, Sonic still has to convince consumers that GM has found the right formula for an attractive and affordable subcompact. Past efforts such as the Geo Prizm subcompact Aveo and were soft and low power, and has contributed to the mediocre reputation of GM’s automotive market in general.
“GM has a lot to prove with Sonic,” said Joseph Phillippi of Auto trends research firm. “They have cut back, but still put a competitive car.”
The car itself is a mosaic of innovation to the Sonic Lighter, less expensive and more efficient fuel, including high-strength steel used in the windshield pillars and the ultrathin film applied to prevent oxidation. Sonic the sedan looks like a shrunken version of the Chevrolet Cruze, while the hatchback version is distinguished by its short rear overhang and upright posture.
The Sonic weighs 500 kg less and is eight inches shorter than the previous GM’s largest car does, and small 1.4. Liter turbocharged engine will give the best gas mileage in the fleet of the company. “It will be north of 40 miles per gallon,” said Jim Federico, global director of GM small cars and electric vehicles.
However, to get the car to meet the objectives of cost savings, a team of GM engineers and manufacturing specialists also had to adapt and reconfigure the Orion plant, which opened in 1983 and was used to build cars large as the Buick Riviera. G.M. spent a lot of conversion of the plant, and 545 million investments in new equipment and recycling workers – and it shows, from the floors gleaming banks of fluorescent lights that illuminate the ground and save and 430,000 a year in energy costs. The plant is also the greenest company, produces 80 percent less solid waste and water use 20 percent less, all at a savings.
Several stages along the assembly line as the body shop and cutting area, are more compact, with teams of six workers who install parts supplied to them in the automatic cars by independent providers operate within the plant. It reduces costly inventory and increases productivity. “Usually, providers would be five miles away in front of 50 feet,” said John Barry, a GM manager.
The plant employs more than all the 1,800, a reduction of 25 percent. To increase the small profit made on the Sonic, workers also will get larger, more luxurious Buick Summer in the same line. The total plant capacity is 160,000 cars a year. Even the two shifts have been adjusted to four 10-hour days instead of the usual five days a week to better maintain the machinery and energy savings.
Every dollar saved is essential for Sonic to compete, automobile experts said. And if the car is a winner with consumers – production begins in August – the Orion plant could become a model.
“This plant has the potential to redefine the U.S. manufacturing,” said Harley Shaiken, a professor of labor at the University of California, Berkeley. “Success here indicates untapped capabilities.”
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