General Motors Corp. will eliminate a combined 2,000 jobs at assembly plants in Michigan and Ohio in the first quarter, as well as schedule additional down weeks at sites across North America, to better align production with current market demand.

The auto maker will take its Delta Twp., MI, facility down to one shift, from two, effective March 30, resulting in the indefinite layoff of 1,200 employees.

The plant, which produces the once red-hot Buick Enclave, Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia midsize cross/utility vehicles, will come back on line Feb. 2 after an extended holiday shutdown and move to alternating shifts the week of March 23.

GM also reschedules its Lordstown, OH, facility to one shift from two, effective April 6. The facility resumes production from the holiday break on Feb. 2 and moves to an alternating shift schedule a week later.

Lordstown builds the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5/Pursuit compact cars. The plant just a few months ago was running on three shifts to satisfy demand for smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles after the summer’s spike in gas prices.

Lordstown is scheduled to begin production of the all-new Chevy Cruze, which GM considers its answer to a fuel-efficient small car executed with higher content and craftsmanship, in mid-2010.

GM spokesman Chris Lee says all of the auto maker’s North American assembly plants will restart production in the first quarter, although most will receive additional down weeks. Scheduling varies widely from facility to facility.

Lee says the production changes come, “as a result of the tight credit market and continued low consumer confidence heading into 2009.”

GM’s sales closed 2008 down 22.7%, according to Ward’s data, while industry deliveries slid 18% to 13.2 million vehicles. Analysts predict more pain in 2009, with some worst-case forecasts, including GM’s own outlook, calling for sales of only 10.5 million light vehicles.