GM's Oshawa, ON assembly plant is coming to truck capacity rescue. Excess capacity on a highly flexible assembly line will be used to cut Sierra and Silverado production losses in half during the changeover to all-new trucks later this year.

General Motors is launching all-new versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 1500 pickups this year. It's a big deal for the company, where trucks are one of the most profitable vehicles in the fleet. All-new pickups on a new architecture mean big changes are needed at the plants that build the pickups. Extensive downtime is needed to change the facilities over to the new model.

That downtime means lost production. On a recent GM earnings call, GM CFO Chuck Stevens said that in this case it would mean missing production of about 120,000 trucks. That's nearly two months of North American sales for the two trucks.

Enter the Oshawa Shuttle. That's GM's nickname for the plan to use one of the Oshawa assembly lines to make up for the loss in production. The "shuttle" was first used in 2010, when extra capacity was needed to build the Chevrolet Equinox crossover. The body shop at the Ingersoll, ON, home of the Equinox was able to build more bodies than that plant could paint and assemble. The bodies were shipped to Oshawa for paint and final assembly.

This time, an unused line at the Oshawa plant is being converted to make pickups. GM's Fort Wayne, Indiana, plant, one of the facilities where the trucks are currently built, will partially assemble trucks and components. Those stockpiled components will be shipped to Oshawa for paint and final assembly.

The plan won't make up the entire production shortfall, but it will put a big dent in it. Stevens said GM will be able to build around 60,000 extra 2018 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks thanks to the Oshawa facility. That cuts the production shortfall in half, helping reduced lost profits for GM. The production change also means up to 500 new jobs at the Oshawa facility, which last built pickups in 2009.