It's quieter than usual in the South Bend, Ind., suburb of Mishawaka, and it doesn't look like that will change any time soon.
The plant located there that assembles the HUMMER H2 sports-utility vehicle for General Motors was idled on Monday for what was originally expected to be five weeks, but staff members say they have been told that it will be closed for at least an additional 15 weeks beyond that.
Responding to rumors that the assembly line has been permanently dismantled, Craig MacNab, a spokesperson for AM General, the company that operates the facility for General Motors, says the plant is intact and ready to restart production when and if they get the word from GM.
A HUMMER spokesperson would not confirm the exact details of the length of the closure, but said, "we will produce more when we get more dealer orders."
A target for critics because of its low fuel economy, H2 sales were down more than 50 percent in 2008, with just 374 units sold in December of last year. The HUMMER brand is currently under review by General Motors as part of the company's restructuring plan spurred on by the recent government bailout and is reportedly being considered for sale or elimination.
Two hundred employees were affected by the shutdown, but MacNab says AM General is in the process of transferring them to a neighboring plant that builds the military-spec Humvee for the U.S. and foreign military outfits, rather than allowing them to be laid off indefinitely. Fifty workers already have found new positions helping build 80 of the off-road vehicles each day.