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General Motors has extended single-shift production operation at its Oshawa plant, seen on Jan. 24, to May 28. The move comes amid a continuing slump in sales of passenger cars generally in North America and specifically in the U.S. market for the two cars that are built in Oshawa.

Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS

General Motors Co. is extending a cutback in production of cars in Oshawa, Ont., into April and May before its plant in that city begins a second shift of pickup truck output later this year.

GM halted production of its Cadillac XTS and Chevrolet Impala passenger cars completely for three weeks in January, brought the plant back online on one shift instead of the previous two shifts for the rest of the first quarter and has now extended the single-shift operation to May 28, according to a Unifor memo sent to its members at the plant.

Output of pickup trucks began in January and the auto maker is expected to add a second shift on the pickup side of the assembly line in June or July, the memo said.

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The move comes amid a continuing slump in sales of passenger cars generally in North America and specifically in the U.S. market for the two cars that are built in Oshawa.

The sales declines are the result of the crossover utility vehicle replacing the four-door sedan as the vehicle of choice for families.

Sales of mid-sized cars in Canada slumped 13 per cent last year, while compact crossover deliveries jumped 5 per cent and luxury compact crossover sales soared 17 per cent.

Sales of the XTS fell to 16,275 last year in the United States from 22,117 in 2016 and dropped again in January. Impala deliveries slid to 75,877 in 2017 from 97,006 a year earlier and also fell in January.

Sales in Canada bucked that trend last year, but the Canadian market is not large enough to compensate for the drop in U.S. sales.

"As market demand shifts from cars to trucks, we are aligning our production schedules accordingly," General Motors of Canada Co. spokeswoman Jennifer Wright said in an e-mail. "Employment levels are expected to be retained."

Truck production will increase over the coming months, Ms. Wright said.

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About 2,200 skilled trades and production employees work at the plant. Unfinished Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup truck bodies are shipped to Oshawa from Fort Wayne, Ind. They are painted in the Oshawa plant's paint shop and Oshawa employees perform final assembly.

Car Help Canada Consultant Mohamed Bouchama says simple checks like looking at a used car’s engine fluid can indicate the level of care by the previous owner. Bouchama says an independent inspection is invaluable when buying second-hand. The Canadian Press
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