June sales of Cruze down from last year

By VIRGINIA SHANK

Special to the Salem News

LORDSTOWN — Although U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Cruze downshifted last month, domestic deliveries of the popular small car continued to see year-to-date gains year over year.

There were 12,828 Cruzes sold nationwide in June, down 31.3 percent from 18,666 the same month last year, according to numbers the Detroit automaker released Monday.

Of those, 10,897 were Cruze sedans produced at the General Motors Assembly Plant in Lordstown and 1,931 were Mexican-made hatchbacks, sales reports show.

Year-to-date Cruze sales rose 21.3 percent, as of June 30, to 105,188 from 86,731 in the same period in 2016. Of those, 86,698 were locally made sedans, while 18,490 were hatchbacks.

Numbers for the first half of 2016 do not include sales of the hatchback because it wasn’t launched until the fall.

There were 17,120 Cruzes sold in May, up 2.7 percent from 16,671 last year.

The Lordstown plant has exclusively been making the Cruze sedan since it launched here in 2010. Early last year, the local plant started making the model’s second generation. The carmaker cut back Lordstown’s production in a move the company said was needed to align inventory with demand in response to a market shift from small cars to larger vehicles. Analysts have said the trend is expected to continue as fuel prices remain lower than they were a few years ago.

In January, some 800 jobs were cut at the local plant with the elimination of the third shift that had been in place since the Cruze was launched at Lordstown in 2010.

The model’s second generation went into production early last year. Most workers at the plant are on five weeks of down time that started in June and is scheduled to continue the next three weeks.

GM’s overall sales for June were down 4.7 percent. The company delivered 243,155 vehicles last month compared to 255,210 in June 2016. The company’s retail sales, in the same comparison, fell 3.1 percent, with 202,908. However, in the fastest-growing U.S. retail market segment, GM’s crossover retail sales were up 23 percent, due largely to the strength of the Chevrolet Equinox, which were up 36 percent. Buick’s U.S. retail sales were up 6 percent.

Year-to-date, GM’s overall sales slipped 1.7 percent, from 1.49 million in 2016 to 1.41 million this year.

“U.S. total sales are moderating due to an industry-wide pull-back in daily rental sales, but key U.S. economic fundamentals clearly remain positive,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM chief economist. “Under the current economic conditions, we anticipate U.S. retail vehicle sales will remain strong for the foreseeable future.”

In June, GM’s top sellers, compared to May 2016, were the Chevy Silverado with 50,515, up 1.7 percent from 49,662; Chevy Equinox, 29,182, up 49 percent from 19,582; GMC Sierra, 15,743 down 8.3 percent from 15,743; Cruze; Chevy Malibu, 10,812, down 33 percent from 16,138.

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