Falling Gas Prices Jump-Start GM SUV Sales

Automaker Puts Texas Plant On Overtime Amid Other Closures

Despite the down economy, falling gas prices have driven consumers back to the sport utility vehicles they once gave the cold shoulder.

Workers at General Motor's Arlington, Texas, SUV assembly plant began working overtime this month and are scheduled to remain on overtime for the rest of the year.

The plant, which employs 2,500 workers, is now the only GM factory building full-size sport utility vehicles like the Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade.

Although sales of the vehicles are still down overall, they have rebounded in recent weeks as gas prices have fallen and cash-strapped automakers have slashed prices. The vehicles have proven to be a solid source of revenue for GM.

"We're still on overtime," plant spokeswoman Wendi Sabo told The Dallas Morning News. "Nothing has changed.

"GM is also placing a high-stakes bet on its SUV line overseas, opening a new $300 million plant Friday near St. Petersburg, Russia.

The plant will produce GM SUVS, the Chevrolet Captiva and Opel Antara, which have become status symbols in Russia, reported Edmunds.com.

Chevrolet is the sales champion in Russia, with 190,553 cars sold last year alone, allowing GM to claim a 10.9 percent market share there. Likewise, Opel is in Russia's top 10 in sales, recording a whopping 238 percent sales growth in 2007, according to GM figures. [via wsoctv]

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