GM sets May 18 North American restart, profit falls 88%

General Motors on Wednesday reported a huge plunge in first-quarter profit as stay-at-home orders hammered sales and forced it to close factories.

The No.1 U.S. automaker managed to squeeze out a $247 million quarterly profit. That's down over 88% from the more than $2 billion it made in the same period last year.

GM has slashed costs, suspending its dividend and share buybacks.

Auto production in the U.S. ground to a screeching halt in March, but with President Donald Trump pushing for Americans to get back to work and several states reopening their economies, the focus in the auto sector has shifted to when production can safely resume.

GM on Wednesday outlined plans for a May 18 restart of most of its shuttered plants in North America. Ford and Fiat Chrysler have similar plans.

All three are negotiating with the United Auto Workers union, which represents their hourly workers, about when and how to safely restart.

GM's strategy relies heavily on social distancing, temperature checks, regular sanitizing, improved plant ventilation and use of personal protective equipment, but does not address assembly line workstations.

Investors cheered the plan. The automakers' shares rallied on the news.

Video Transcript

- General Motors on Wednesday reported a huge plunge in first-quarter profits, as stay-at-home orders hammered sales and forced it to close factories. The number one US automaker managed to squeeze out a $247 million quarterly profit. That's down more than 88% from the more than $2 billion it made in this same period last year. GM has slashed costs, suspending its dividend and share buybacks.

Auto production in the US ground to a screeching halt in March, but with President Donald Trump pushing for Americans to get back to work and several states reopening their economies, the focus in the auto sector has shifted to when production can safely resume. GM on Wednesday outlined plans for a May 18th restart of most of its shuttered plants in North America.

Ford and Fiat Chrysler have similar plans. All three are negotiating with the United Auto Workers union, which represents their hourly workers, about when and how to safely restart. GM's strategy relies heavily on social distancing, temperature checks, regular sanitizing, improved plant ventilation, and use of personal protective equipment but does not address assembly line workstations. Investors cheered the plan. The automaker's shares rallied on the news.