GM to temporarily idle three Mexico assembly plants

MEXICO CITY, Dec 15 (Reuters) - General Motors Mexico will temporarily shut down assembly lines at three of its Mexican car factories as part of an overall strategy to cut production due to falling demand, the company said on Monday.

GM GM.N, one of the car companies asking the U.S. Congress for immediate injections of cash to avoid near-term collapse, announced on Friday it would slash first quarter production in North America by 60 percent.

As part of its plan to idle some 30 percent of its assembly plant volume in the region, the San Luis Potosi and Ramos Arizpe factories in Mexico, which make Chevrolets, Saturns and Pontiacs will both go offline from Dec. 22 to Jan. 5.

The Silao factory, which makes Chevrolets, GMC trucks and Cadillacs will shut down from Dec. 22 to Jan. 8 and two assembly lines will be closed until February.

The three plants have more than 10,000 employees -- the bulk of the 13,000 GM jobs in Mexico -- and workers will have to use some of their vacation days for the lost work time, General Motors Mexico said in a statement.

“These stoppages will allow for preventive maintenance on the equipment and an adequate production balance,” the statement said.

Mexico, the world’s 10th-biggest car producer last year, is heavily dependent on the U.S. economy. It builds cars for most of the world’s top companies, but exports are slackening as the United States goes through its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

U.S. automotive giants GM, Ford F.N and Chrysler -- known as the Detroit Three -- have all been badly battered by the crisis and turned to the government for a bailout package that could be announced this week. (Reporting by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by Anshuman Daga)