Automakers move warily on 3rd-quarter production


DETROIT -- U.S. automakers are keeping a cautious eye on third-quarter production schedules amid economic uncertainty, and General Motors Corp. is scaling back plans for fourth-quarter production.

GM could cut as many as 100,000 cars and trucks from production schedules proposed in June for the August-December period, industry sources said. A GM spokesman declined to comment.

GM has about 3,300 employees at its plant on Broening Highway Baltimore, which makes the Chevrolet Safari and GMC Astro vans.

But the spokesman indicated that the No. 1 automaker still plans to increase fourth-quarter U.S. passenger-car production from the 673,000 cars assembled last year.

Still, top GM executives have expressed pessimism recently about prospects for strong growth in new-vehicle sales. And GM's determination to cut back unprofitable sales to rental-car fleets is likely to force cuts in production of several midsized and luxury car lines that have sold heavily to fleets in the past.

A tentative schedule for the full 1993 model year indicates that GM will run many midsized and luxury car plants well below capacity.

For the industry as a whole, auto analysts say, the latest third-quarter production plans reflect doubts about the direction the economy, weakened consumer confidence, unemployment and uncertainty over the presidential election.

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