Three years ago, Detroit automakers were running around 50% capacity as the auto industry hobbled toward a year with just 10.4 million new-car sales. With sales this year poised to break 14 million, capacity usage is back. GM, Ford and Chrysler will run at more than 100% capacity by year's end, the Detroit News reports.
How does it break down? Automotive consultant Ron Harbour told the Detroit News he expects Ford to run at 113% capacity, followed by GM at 108% and Chrysler at 104%. Harbour developed the influential Harbour Report, which grades the performance of automotive facilities across North America. That means a lot more factories are running three shifts or paying workers to run overtime.
Dave Andrea, vice president of the Original Equipment Suppliers Association, told the Detroit News he expects North American facilities from all automakers to build 14.9 million cars this year. That's up from 13.2 million light vehicles in 2011, according to Automotive News. But stress among auto suppliers — which let go 100,000 jobs through the recession — means automakers are finding a long line to get new machinery. In the meantime, factories are running seven days a week, in many cases 24 hours a day.