DETROIT — General Motors will cut up to 14,000 workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it abandons many of its car models and restructures to focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles, the automaker announced Monday.
The reductions could amount to as much as 8 percent of GM's global workforce of 180,000 employees.
The restructuring reflects changing North American auto markets as manufacturers continue to shift away from cars toward SUVs and trucks. In October, almost 65 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. were trucks or SUVs. That figure was about 50 percent cars just five years ago.
GM is shedding cars largely because it doesn't make money on them, Citi analyst Itay Michaeli wrote in a note to investors.
"We estimate sedans operate at a significant loss, hence the need for classic restructuring," he wrote.
The reduction includes about 8,000 white-collar employees, or 15 percent of GM's North American white-collar workforce. Some will take buyouts while others will be laid off.
At the factories, around 3,300 blue-collar workers could lose jobs in Canada and another 2,600 in the U.S., but some U.S. workers could transfer to truck or SUV factories that are increasing production.
The company also said it will stop operating two additional factories outside North America by the end of next year, in addition to a previously announced plant closure in Gunsan, South Korea.
General Motors Co.'s pre-emptive strike to get leaner before the next downturn likely will be followed by Ford Motor Co., which has said it is restructuring and will lay off an unspecified number of white-collar workers. Toyota Motor Corp. also has discussed cutting costs, even though it's building a new assembly plant in Alabama.
GM isn't the first to abandon much of its car market. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles got out of small and midsize cars two years ago, while Ford announced plans to shed all cars but the Mustang sports car in the U.S. in the coming years.
Shares of GM, the largest automaker in the U.S. which sells the Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC brands, rose nearly 6 percent on the news to $37.98 in Monday afternoon trading.
GM doesn't foresee an economic downturn and is making the cuts "to get in front of it while the company is strong and while the economy is strong," CEO Mary Barra told reporters.
She also noted that tariffs on imported aluminum and steel have hit the company, but she stopped short of saying they had anything to do with the restructuring.
After the morning announcement, Barra was to head for Washington to meet with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow in what was described as a previously scheduled meeting, according to a White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official is not authorized to discuss the meeting publicly.
President Donald Trump said his administration and lawmakers are exerting "a lot of pressure" on GM.
Trump said he was being tough on Barra. He said he told the company that the U.S. has done a lot for GM and that if its cars aren't selling, the company needs to produce ones that will.
At a rally near Lordstown, Ohio, plant last summer, Trump told people not to sell their homes because the jobs are "coming back. They're all coming back."
Most of the factories to be affected by GM's restructuring build cars that will not be sold in the U.S. after next year. They could close or they could get different vehicles to build. Their futures will be part of contract talks with the United Auto Workers union next year.