General Motors Co. will halt Hummer production next week at its Louisiana plant until sale of the brand to a Chinese company is completed.
Hummer spokesman Nick Richards said Wednesday it was unclear whether jobs would be affected at the plant in Shreveport, La., which also builds Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks.
"It hasn't been determined what the impact will be but right now, but Hummer production is under a quarter of production" at the plant, Richards said.
GM agreed last year to sell Hummer to Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Corp. and expected the deal to close early in 2010 after approval by U.S. and Chinese regulators.
Assembly of Hummers will halt Jan. 19 because there's "sufficient inventory in the field" to sustain dealers while the sale makes its way through the regulatory process, Richards said.
Richards said the company still expects to get regulatory approval and to complete the deal.
The plant once employed about 3,000 people, but layoffs and buyouts have reduced that to about 1,120.
Calls to the local United Autoworkers Union chapter and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindals's office seeking comment were not immediately returned.
However, when the Hummer deal was announced last year, Jindal said state officials would continue working with GM "to help keep this facility permanently open and return it to full production levels."
Hummer sales have been struggling since the sale announcement. High gasoline prices and the national economic slump get some of the blame.
Sales peaked at 71,524 in 2006. But in December 2009 sales only 325 Hummers were sold, down 85 percent from the previous year, according to Autodata Corp.
Sticker prices start at more than $42,500 and rise to about $63,000, according to data posted at the Hummer.com Web site.
GM, which filed for bankruptcy protection in June 2009, has closed more than a dozen plants.
Under the sales agreement, the Shreveport plant would continue producing the H3 model and H3T pickup truck on a contract basis until June 2011, with a one-year option until June 2012.
The larger H2 was made under contract with South Bend, Ind.-based AM General LLC, which also makes military versions of the vehicles. The workhorse military vehicles used in Iraq and Afghanistan are not a part of the Chinese deal.
Associated Press writer Dee-Ann Durbin in Detroit contributed to this story.
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