Chrysler will close all 30 of its North American manufacturing facilities at the end of the day tomorrow (December 19) and keep them shuttered until at least January 19, with a few closing for an additional week or two beyond that. The company says it is taking the step as a cost-cutting measure due to slumping sales. In its statement, Chrysler cites a "continued lack of consumer credit for the American car buyer" for the sales slowdown. The company normally halts operations between December 24th and January 5th. CNN.com reports that 46,000 employees will be out of work for the period and will be paid through a combination of state unemployment benefits and company contributions, but will not receive the full amount of their working pay. At the same time, Ford Motor Company will extend a scheduled closure of most of its North American assembly plants from two to three weeks at end-of-business tomorrow. General Motors (GM) says it will delay construction on a previously announced project to construct a new engine factory in Michigan for its Volt electric car brand, but that the rollout of the new auto in 2010 is still on schedule. President George W. Bush told Fox News Channel yesterday that he is still "thinking through" the details of any government assistance to the U.S. auto industry.
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