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GM restores 3,000 jobs, prepares to raise output

General Motors Co said on Tuesday it planned to restore about 3,000 jobs at US assembly plants and related facilities and is getting set to raise North American production by up to 45% next year.

GM said it would add shifts at three assembly plants as the automaker consolidates production from plants that are closing or retooling, a process that would not add immediately to its production schedule for 2009.

But GM expects to increase North American production to about 2.8 million vehicles in 2010, up about 40% to 45% from 2009. GM had sharply curtailed North American production around its government-guided reorganization.

GM said it would add shifts at three US assembly plants next year, restoring 2,400 jobs, and expected to restore 600 jobs at related facilities across the United States that produce engines, transmissions, stampings and castings.

The addition of shifts at plants in Kansas, Indiana and Michigan comes at a time when US auto industry sales are thought to have hit bottom and manufacturers are raising production to restore depleted vehicle inventories.

US dealer inventories were trimmed sharply after the federal government's “cash for clunkers” program lifted sales in July and August with incentives of up to $4,500 to turn in gas-guzzling vehicles and buy new more fuel-efficient models.

Earlier in September, GM said it expected to build 535,000 vehicles in North America in the third quarter and 655,000 in the fourth quarter, down about 20% from a year ago.

GM expects US auto industry sales of about 10.5 million vehicles in 2009, down from about 13.2 million last year. It expects US auto industry sales of 11.5 million to 12 million in 2010. (Reuters)