General Motors Corp. said it will eliminate 30,000 jobs and close all or part of 12 facilities as the automaker confronts the biggest threat to its survival since the onslaught of Japanese rivals led to a vast overhaul in the early 1990s.
GM has made strides since then, improving vehicle quality and making plants more flexible and efficient. But GM's rivals have stepped up, too, placing the No. 1 automaker in the painful position of shrinking again and possibly losing its spot as the world's largest automaker to Toyota Motor Corp.
As part of the latest overhaul, GM will reduce its annual North American manufacturing capacity to 4.2 million vehicles by 2008, down from 6 million vehicles in 2002, a 30 percent reduction.
Monday's announcement adds 5,000 job cuts to the 25,000 the company promised in June, lowering GM's workforce to about 100,000 by the time the reductions are completed in 2008. Plants singled out for closing or reduction build a wide range of vehicles, including sport-utility vehicles, minivans and passenger cars with a rich GM legacy, such as the Chevrolet Impala and the Monte Carlo.
GM has dominated the U.S. auto market for much of the industry's history. Thirty years ago, GM accounted for half of all vehicles sold in the United States; the company's market share now stands at 26 percent.
GM chief executive G. Richard Wagoner Jr. said the job cuts and plant closings are part of a larger strategy to bring the size of GM's manufacturing operations in line with the reality of the company's U.S. market position. During a news conference in Detroit, Wagoner acknowledged that GM is in a "difficult period" and that his plan faces opposition from the United Auto Workers union.
In a statement Monday, the United Auto Workers called GM's announcement "extremely disappointing," adding that for thousands of workers, the future is unclear and "hope is diminished."
-- Sholnn Freeman