$500 Million to go Cruzing
By Jason Lu
Ford has done it and so has Chrysler. Automakers are saying good-bye to gas-guzzlers and retooling plants for small vehicles. Now in the wake of a small-car battle, the Big Shots at General Motors have decided that $500 million will be invested in the U.S. for Chevy’s all-new, global Cruze. After indulging on some official photographs of the Cruze, shown in an earlier post, I have to say, this investment is worth every penny.
The majority of the money will be spent on the production of the Cruze at GM’s Lordstown, Ohio plant, which will take place next to the Cobalt and the G5 until those are phased out. “Based on the quality of work [at the Lordstown plant], we are pleased to announce our plans to invest another $500 million in the Chevy Cruze product program in the U.S., including more than $350 million in Lordstown.” This move brings the total investment in Ohio to more than $2 billion for the past five years. The United States as a whole has received more than $20 billion of investment in the same time period.
The Chevy Cruze, designed not by Americans, but by Asians and Europeans, will “build on the already successful Chevrolet Cobalt, Cobalt XFE and Cobalt SS, all of which are nearly sold out in dealer showrooms.” Despite a 16-percent rise in year-to-date sales for July 2008, the Cobalt is understandably not the best product in its class. Thankfully GM will strive to “continue the attention to quality, fuel efficiency, and strong value promise of the highly successful Malibu and all other vehicles under the Chevrolet brand.” From the looks of the Cruze, GM does not seem to be lying. The car not only incorporates Malibu design themes, but takes what are already handsome elements and makes them downright sexy with an aggressive grille that appears to be even better looking than its big brother’s. From some angles, there are even hints of Audi, which is a good thing. We have not seen pictures of the interior (other than a few spy shots), but after experiencing the class-leading Malibu’s, we shouldn’t be too concerned.
The Cruze will make its debut at the Paris Motor Show in October and Europeans will be able to sign the paperwork in March 2009. In Europe, it will slot above the Spark, a subcompact based on the Beat concept, which is expected to hit showrooms next year as well.
The automotive market and industry analysts have been belaboring the phrase “Bring over the European products.” Well, we asked for European products on our shores and our wish has been fulfilled. The Cruze is getting its passport stamped in the next few months. We just won’t be able to buy the car for another year or two, albeit it will be built right in front of our eyes in Ohio. Nevertheless, General Motors may be starting to get it and it is benchmarking its competition, and going beyond that, even if it costs a little bit more. Once it Cruzes to American showrooms, GM’s awesome little compact will join the Traverse and a hopefully face-lifted Malibu, in an effort to reestablish the bow-tie brand as an American Revolution.
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