LORDSTOWN - Hailing the moment as the rebirth of the American economy, General Motors Co. North America President Mark Reuss joined hundreds this morning in officially launching the long-awaited Chevrolet Cruze at the Lordstown Complex.
"The rebirth of the American economy starts right here at Lordstown with a world-class, high-volume car built in the heartland of America," Reuss told the crowd after arriving in front of the plant with Gov. Ted Strickland in a red Cruze that led a caravan of red, white and blue 2011 Cruzes.
Held under a blue sky dotted with fluffy white clouds, complete with the marching band from Boardman High School and color guard, the launch kicks off a campaign to sell a car that experts widely consider to be GM's most important new vehicle.
Strickland said the Cruze repudiates "naysayers" who doubt GM's ability to make high-quality vehicles, saying he has four words for them: "Look at this car."
Union leaders representing about 4,150 hourly workers hailed the Cruze launch as proof the complex and GM can compete with foreign small cars.
"The Asian markets can throw what they want at us; we will compete with anything, and we will beat them," said Jim Graham, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112 at the Lordstown East assembly plant, where the cars are built.
"To the naysayers, I say go out and drive a Cruze. We'll change the way you think," said Dave Green, president of Local 1714 of the Lordstown West Metal Center.
The upscale small car, which GM expects will draw buyers from segment leaders Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic, is scheduled to start arriving at dealerships this afternoon or Friday, dealers said.