DETROIT — General Motors will lay off 14,700 factory and white-collar workers in North America and put five plants up for possible closure as it restructures to cut costs and focus more on autonomous and electric vehicles.
The reduction includes 8,100 white-collar workers, some of whom will take buyouts and others who will be laid off. Most of the affected factories build cars that won't be sold in the U.S. after next year. They could close or they could get different vehicles to build. They will be part of contract talks with the United Auto Workers union next year.
The salaried employee reductions amount to 15 percent of GM's North American workforce out of 54,000. At the factories, 3,000 workers could lose jobs in Canada and another 3,600 in the U.S. Some U.S. workers would transfer to truck and SUV plants where GM is increasing output, the company said.
GM, the largest automaker in the U.S., whose brands include the Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac and GMC, said the moves will save $6 billion in cash by the end of next year, including $4.5 billion in recurring annual cost reductions and a $1.5 billion reduction in capital spending.
Those cuts are in addition to $6.5 billion the company has announced by the end of this year.
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.
Barra said GM is still hiring people with expertise in software and electric and autonomous vehicles, and many of those who will lose their jobs are now working on conventional cars with internal combustion engines.
Barra said the industry is changing rapidly and moving toward electric propulsion, autonomous vehicles and ride-sharing, and GM must adjust with it.
The company, she said, has invested in newer architectures for trucks and SUVs so it can cut capital spending while still raising investment in autonomous and electric vehicles.