Demand for larger vehicles in the US is on the wane
General Motors is closing four truck and sports utility vehicle (SUV) plants in the US, Canada and Mexico as it looks to environmentally-friendly cars.
Recent strikes at some GM factories have dented production of SUVs.
And surging fuel prices have heralded a shift to smaller vehicles, with GM also considering selling its Hummer brand.
But GM's board has approved production of a new small Chevrolet car at a plant in Ohio and the Chevy Volt electric vehicle in Detroit.
Boss Rick Wagoner said plants to be closed were in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada; Moraine, Ohio; Janesville, Wisconsin; and Toluca in Mexico.
The world's largest carmaker said it was making the moves "to aggressively respond to growing demand for fuel-efficient vehicles and to economic and market challenges in North America".
GM, which has lost a combined $51bn over the past three years, said it had no plans to allocate products to the four affected plants in the future.
The closures will save the firm $1bn a year from 2010, it said.
However, Mr Wagoner said GM was not ready to lay out a timetable for returning to profitability.
GM shares have lost almost 60% of their value since their peak in October 2007.
Some analysts said GM had dithered over what to do with the Hummer brand which could be revamped or sold pending a review of its future.
"Unfortunately, it's just a sign that once again they're behind the curve," said Peter Jankovskis, a chief investment officer with Oak Brook Investments, which owns GM shares in some of its portfolios.
"If they were looking to sell the Hummer brand, the more sensible thing would have been to do it three years ago," he added.
"They're not going to get anything for it. Just in terms of timing, it's a very poor example."