Instead of saying it will shut down three auto assembly plants, GM said the plants "will be unallocated in 2019".
The decision leads to the biggest restructuring in North America for a leading carmaker since GM's bankruptcy announcement over a decade ago. GM shares rose 2.2 percent to $36.72 in early trading.
It is also a response to a business cycle that has passed its peak and is now expected to show declining sales, said Kristin Dziczek, vice-president of industry, labour and economics at the Center for Automotive Research in MI.
The company also said it will reduce the size of its global workforce by 15%, including a 25% cut in white-collar staff.
The issue will be addressed in talks with the United Auto Workers union next year.
Most of the factories to be affected by GM's restructuring build cars that will not be sold in the United States after next year.
Sen. Rob Portman, Ohio Republican, said he is "deeply frustrated with General Motors' decision to shut down its Lordstown plant and disappointed with how the hardworking employees there have been treated throughout this process".
He said he told Ms. Barra that GM should stop making cars in China and open a new plant in OH to replace the facility targeted for closing.
The automaker says the decision to reduce American production has to do with reduced demand for cars like the Chevrolet Cruze, which is built at the OH plant, and an overall strategic shift towards more popular crossover and SUV models. Some US workers would transfer to truck and SUV plants where GM is increasing output, the company said.
Barra is cutting staff from operations that make conventional cars and hiring people who can design electric cars or add software prowess to GM Cruise LLC, the automaker's autonomous vehicle unit in San Francisco. Over the years, Oshawa has been responsible for producing cars from GM's most important brands, including Chevrolet, Buick and Pontiac, and it is equipped to make just about every model GM sells. Also affected are transmission factories in Warren, Michigan, as well as Baltimore.
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Trump won OH in 2016 campaigning on bringing manufacturing jobs back to America.
She now faces an uncertain future, not knowing whether the plant will close for good or if there's a chance it could find another use.
In a press release, GM said it will cut 15 percent of its salaried workers and new products will be brought to fewer plants next year.
Let's start in the U.S. If GM wants to close those OH and MI plants, it can't just lock the doors tomorrow and throw the keys away.
It's also a reason why the company is unlikely to take Trump's advice, offered Monday afternoon, to replace production of the Cruze with something else in Ohio.
GM said Lordstown is one of five factories up for possible closure as it restructures to cut costs and focus on autonomous and electric vehicles.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles got out of small and midsize cars two years ago, while Ford announced plans to shed all cars but the Mustang sports auto in the USA in the coming years.
The maneuvers by GM amount to a major restructuring, and it's still too soon to say what kind of long-term impact it will have on the company's stock price.
The compact Cruze is the only vehicle built in Lordstown.