Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
We've recently reported on two major investments by General Motors in its American manufacturing plants. We have also recently reported on GM's closing of five North American plants. Why is GM investing in some plants, while closing others? Obviously, GM considers this to be a good business decision, but what is becoming pretty clear is that GM will be building the high-volume trucks it sells in North America and primarily inside the borders of the U.S., while it shifts to imported crossovers for its high-volume family vehicle models. There are two reasons that underly this shift.
Before we get to those two reasons, let's list off the newest family model vehicle introductions by General Motors, and look at where GM has shifted work on other family vehicles. First up the newbies. The Encore and Envision are two new Buick models that GM introduced over the past half decade. The Encore is imported from South Korea and Mexico. The Envision is imported from China. Next up, GM introduced the Chevy Trax, which is a clone of the Encore. Also made outside of the U.S. GM then introduced the Chevy Blazer, which it builds in Mexico. Most recently, GM has introduced the new Encore GX and Chevy Trailblazer. There are derivations of the Encore with more space. They are also imported. GM also shifted the manufacturing of its Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain from Canada to Mexico. These models make up the bulk of GM's non-truck sales volume.
There are two main reasons why GM has shifted its family vehicle business away from the U.S and Canada. Cost and import duties. On the cost side, GM's plants are among the most expensive to operate. This is partly due to the United Auto Worker's successful wage and benefit gains over the past half-century. These workers earn a bit more than the non-union workers who build Hondas, Toyotas, and Nissan inside of the U.S. However, they earn dramatically more than the workers in Mexico, China, and other overseas markets. Other reasons that plants inside the U.S. are more costly to operate than plants in China and Mexico are taxes, environmental costs, and safety costs.
The same unions represent workers who build GM's trucks in expanding American plants. However, trucks are protected by a 25% import duty, and that tariff had nothing to do with President Trump. It was promoted by President Kennedy as far back as 1962 and was implemented by President Johnson in 1964. The official name of the order signed by Pres. Johnson, and kept in place by every president since (both Democrat and Republican) is Proclamation 3564. Because of this 55-year-old tariff, hundreds of thousands of American workers have jobs building trucks and parts for trucks. The North American Free Trade Agreement allows GM and other truck makers to build trucks in Canada and Mexico if they so choose without paying the import duty, and most have truck manufacturing operations in those countries to some degree. However, a long-running but fading sentiment in America to buy American has helped influence where the plants are located.
There is no tariff that protects crossovers in this fashion. America does have small import duties on vehicles from some countries, but none are double-digit duties like the 25% on trucks. This is why GM is shifting its high-volume family vehicle production and jobs to cheaper markets. It is not alone. Ford builds its new EcoSport crossover that replaces the Focus in India. Jeep's Renegade and Fiat's 500X are imported from Italy. The new Jeep Compass crossover is made in Mexico. Interestingly, the Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and many other "foreign brand" top-selling crossovers are built in America. In non-UAW plants.
Top of Page Image Note: GM CEO Mary Barra shakes hands with UAW President Dennis Williams.
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
General Motors has decided that displaying Mexican-built crossovers just 3.4 miles from where it is closing a Michigan plant is not a great idea. The promotional display at Comerica Park was set to highlight GM's new vehicles for opening day. The UAW, among others, noted the Blazer is not built in the U.S. GM is closing plants in the U.S. and Canada, and shifting work to lower-cost of labor areas such as China and Mexico in order to keep costs down.
GM has opted to remove the Blazer and replace it with one of the many crossovers the company does assemble in the U.S. In a statement, GM said in part, "American workers contribute significantly to the success of the Chevy Blazer. The Blazer will pump more than a half-billion dollars into the U.S. manufacturing economy each year, helping support thousands of good-paying U.S. Jobs." Comerica Park is about 3 miles from the GM Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant, which GM is leaving "unallocated."
Related Story: General Motors Tries Two Ways To Dodge Tariff On Chinese-Built Buick Envision Import
Contributing Writer, GM-Trucks.com
The new unibody Chevy Blazer may not be your cup of tea, or may not fit your budget. But if you have $500 and want to enjoy some serious off-road action check out the Traxxas TRX-4 Blazer RC vehicle. It is styled after the iconic 1979 K5 Blazer and uses Traxxas' proven running gear.
Traxxas went so far as to get an official GM license for this scale reproduction. You can learn more at the Traxxas site.
So My current 2001 4 door Blazer plow truck/daily driver needs a ton of work. It has over 243K on the clock, very low oil pressure, a leaky heater core, cracked windshield, and multiple emissions problems that I've been leaving unfixed because I don't care (EGR, Air pump, etc.). Oh, and lots and lots of rust. Did I mention it's a 4 door, I hate 4 doors.
Anyways, I saw a 1999 Two door ZR2 show up on Facebook Marketplace with 134K and an engine knock for $580 bucks with brand new tires so I immediately message the seller and went to look at it. I talked him down to $500 and towed it back to my shop. Oh, and it even had a full tank of gas. (bonus!)
Sounds like a bad rod knock. Will most likely need a crankshaft, rod and rebuild, but I might be able to find a cheap used engine.
I already located the correct pushplates locally to mount the fisher plow, So I'll pick those up sometime this week (they are different plates than the standard Blazer takes).
Tomorrow after work I will pull the oil pan and see what actually failed.
So here's a pic of the truck:
and here's a picture of my current 2001 Blazer that is going to be retired (junk yard) after I keep it for a few months to rob any parts that I may need for the new one. And my beat Fisher Plow:
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