More auto plants close as gas prices rise

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GM, Ford and Chrysler have announced plant closures in Wisconsin,Georgia,Virginia, Minnesota. These are not poor performing plants but highly efficient ones. It’s just that skyrocketing gas prices has made driving around difficult and driving around in gas guzzling SUV’s even more economically difficult and socially embarrassing.

But as Governor Jim Doyle mentioned if the plant is efficient and world class, is that not an advantage for the auto company? Small cars are booming and surely re-tooling the plants are possible? Why is it so difficult to change product mixes in the auto industry? I guess it is just that no one thought that “flexible” manufacturing was required in the days of low cost gas prices. This was a case of making contingency plans for the product life cycle for SUV’s .Now it’s just too costly to switch gears ( alas an auto metaphor) and many communities must suffer.