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Axle strike could limit supply of hot-selling Chevy Malibu
Sharon Terlep / The Detroit News
The strike at parts maker American Axle could threaten production of General Motors Corp.'s hot-selling Chevrolet Malibu, sources familiar with production of the vehicle said today.

The recently launched Malibu is a critical product for GM and already is in short supply. Until now the only GM factories affected by the United Auto Workers work stoppage have been ones that produce slow selling large trucks and full-size sedans.

American Axle doesn't directly supply components for the Malibu, but the parts maker does sell to major suppliers that in turn provide parts for the car, the sources said. The Malibu is produced at GM Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas and its factory in Orion.

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The strike, under way for five weeks, has forced GM to stop or slow production of 30 factories. Most those plants build fill-size pickup trucks and SUVs, of which GM has several months' worth of inventory.

The Malibu is a much different story. As of last week, Malibus were sitting on dealer lots an average of only 18 days, according to data from J.D. Power and Associates.

"GM does stand to lose quite a bit if they find themselves running short," said Jim Gillette, director of supplier analysis for CSM Worldwide. "It's a serious situation. The part that they're supplying isn't that significant, but you can't put a car together unless you have all the parts."

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Malibu Production May Be Suspended In "Mid-April" Due To American Axle Strike
Source - Automotive News Email Alert

DETROIT -- General Motors will have to shut production by mid-April of its hot-selling Chevrolet Malibu if supplier American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. can't end a strike by the UAW, a UAW official said today.

GM is fast running out of an American Axle-supplied knuckle used in the rear suspension of the Malibu and Pontiac G6 sedans, said Mike Dunn, shop chairman of UAW Local 5960. The local represents some 2,900 hourly workers at GM's Orion (Mich.) assembly plant.

The plant makes about 1,000 G6 and Malibu sedans per week. Dunn said a shortage of the knuckle also will shut GM's Fairfax assembly plant in Kansas City, Kan., by mid-month. Fairfax is the main plant for Malibu production.

" I'm hoping GM can help resolve the strike before that happens, but we'll stand by our striking union brothers and sisters at American Axle if not," Dunn said.

GM spokesman Dan Flores declined to comment on the situation. American Axle spokeswoman Renee Rogers also declined comment on Monday evening.

So far, the strike has caused GM to idle seven truck plants, one sedan assembly operation and 22 parts plants. Suppliers have also slowed or idled several other plants.

GM today shut down sedan production at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, which makes the Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS models.

Meanwhile, production at the Lordstown, Ohio, assembly plant could shut down as early as this week, according to a bulletin posted on the Web site of UAW Local 1112.

The plant makes the Chevy Cobalt and Pontiac G5 models. American Axle makes a brake spindle sent to the plant through suppliers Delphi Corp. and Automodular, the UAW says.
 
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