By Nat Shirley
Wednesday, Dec 19th, 2012 @ 4:30 pm
 

Looking to reduce its bloated dealer inventory, General Motors is temporarily halting production at the Lake Orion, Michigan, factory that builds the Chevrolet Sonic and Buick Verano.

The plant's assembly lines have been idled this week, two sources with knowledge of the situation revealed to Automotive News. Production is expected to restart on January 2 following a traditional holiday break.

The move comes as part of GM's efforts to pare back its new vehicle stock, which stood at 788,200 units - a 106-day supply - on December 1. That level is the highest for GM's inventory since April 2009, and significantly greater than the 60-day supply that most automakers strive for.

GM is also idling its Fairfax, Kansas, plant - the primary source of Malibu production - for nearly three weeks, and has canceled shifts at the Lordstown, Ohio, facility that builds the Chevrolet Cruze.

Though GM North America President Mark Reuss confirmed last week that the automaker is reducing output, company officials have declined to officially specify which models will face diminished production.

Despite the overstock issues, sales of the Sonic and Verano have been relatively brisk. With 75,257 units sold through November, the Sonic is selling at nearly double the rate of its predecessor, the Aveo. The Verano, Buick's first foray into the compact segment in years, is also outperforming expectations with sales of 36,222 units.

GM, which today announced plans to buy back $200M of its shares from the U.S. Treasury, introduced both the Sonic and Cruze in 2011.