Shutdown will precede new model

The company won't build the new car and the Cavalier simultaneously.
& lt;a & gt;By DON SHILLING & lt;/a & gt;
LORDSTOWN -- The Lordstown Assembly Plant will close for one week in fall 2004 before it begins producing General Motors' new small car.
Officials have abandoned a previous plan to keep the plant open during the model changeover and build both the current small car models and the new model at the same time.
Dan Flores, a GM spokesman in Detroit, said only test models of the new car will be built before the plant is closed for a week. Construction of several hundred test models will begin months before the changeover and will allow workers to make sure all of the new equipment is working properly, he said.
Plant officials had said in the past that a key part of the plant renovations would be to allow both types of cars to be built at the same time.
This strategy would allow the new model to be produced in small quantities at first to protect quality, officials said. It also would help GM finances because the continued building of the current models would allow for normal production volumes during the ramp-up of the new car, officials said.
Flores said he wasn't sure why the change was made, although he said changes to production plans are normal. An attempt to reach plant officials knowledgeable about the decision wasn't successful.
Details under wraps
GM hasn't announced a name for the new model or released details about the design. It is expected to announce such details closer to the launch of the new model.
It will replace the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire, which are built at the plant.
Renovations have started at the assembly plant and adjacent fabrication plant in advance of the addition of new equipment that will be used on the new model. GM will spend more than $550 million to upgrade the two plants. The assembly plant will receive a new body shop, new paint shop and some new assembly line equipment.
The assembly plant has about 4,100 hourly workers. GM has said it will need fewer workers to build the new model but hasn't said how many.
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