Car giants to tweak manufacturing plants

What does increasing consumer demand for smaller vehicles mean for SUV manufacturing plants?
By Plant Engineering Staff June 10, 2008

The Ford F-150 has been the best-selling vehicle in America for a long time. The continued increase in gas prices throughout the past year has caused the vehicle to drop to fifth place in sales, giving way to more fuel-efficient automobiles like the Civic from Honda, and the Corolla from Toyota. Chrysler’s SUV models have faced a similar response.

Numerous plants used for the production of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are being shut down. It remains to be seen if those plants will be rebuilt and fitted to produce smaller hybrid vehicles. Of the few SUV manufacturing plants that are being left intact, most of the focus is on producing hybrid SUVs. Even then, industry experts are not sure if the sales of these hybrid SUVs will be enough for the plants to become financially viable.

One possibility is the increased production of crossovers, which while providing the look and space of a SUV, are built on a car frame instead of a truck frame. It is yet to be seen if this option will become the successor to the SUV manufacturing plants and market.

NPR podcast discussion on GM’s plant closing

Gary Haber of Delaware Online reports on the shift in mindset of the automotive industry

Tim Tresslar reports on the closing of GM’s SUV manufacturing plant in Moraine

A positive outlook on the future of the automotive industry, posted on Decatur Daily

The Detroit News reports on Ford’s decision to retool SUV plants to produce smaller cars