GM Lordstown plant switches over to 2019 Cruze production

By CHRISTOPHER KROMER

Special to the Salem News

LORDSTOWN — The assembly line at the General Motors Lordstown Complex shifted gears this week as the plant began production of the 2019 Chevrolet Cruze amid growing uncertainty about the local automaker’s future.

The start of regular production for the model year change began Monday.

GM Lordstown spokesman Tom Mock said the process of turning a coil of steel into a 2019 Cruze — with stops at the stamping plant, paint, electrical and other departments along the way — takes about 24 hours. After the car is assembled, plant executives review the process to check the vehicle for safety and customer specifications.

Cars are typically delivered to all North American dealers between two and four weeks after the vehicle leaves the production line.

GM said the car is aimed at tech-savvy consumers searching for an entry-level vehicle. Updates in the 2019 model include 4G LTE Wi-Fi, a universal tablet holder and remote vehicle start on certain models. Other changes include enhanced safety features such as rear park assist, side blind zone alert and rear cross traffic alert.

Style changes include new colors, such as Pacific blue metallic and Oakwood metallic, and new LED tail lamps for the Premier model.

Cruze sales have languished as consumers switch from cars to trucks and SUVs. GM’s second-quarter figures show Cruze deliveries down 26.2 percent over the same period last year. Even as the company shifts toward production of trucks and SUVs, the Cruze remains the fifth-highest selling model of the 18-vehicle Chevy brand, trailing the Silverado, Equinox, Malibu and Colorado.

Mock said Chevrolet has made it clear it is committed to cars.

“There’s still a need for cars,” said Mock. “We feel the Cruze is the best for fuel efficiency, reliability and safety.”

The rollout of the 2019 Cruze comes as many in the area have begun to contemplate life without the Lordstown complex. Members of Ohio’s congressional delegation have failed to secure a commitment from GM CEO Mary T. Barra to keep the plant operational into the future.

Dave Green, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112, which represents GM Lordstown employees, said production of the 2019 Cruze could send a positive message to GM leaders.

“It’s extremely important to build this product here and now,” said Green. “Our members work hard every day, and hopefully corporate sees that.”

“It’s been one of the best cars GM has made,” said Green. “It’s the best car we’ve ever built in Lordstown, and we’re proud to be building it.”

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