GM invests to keep Cruze in North America image

Last month, the Beijing Auto show debuted the refreshed Chevrolet Cruze, a model that is utterly important for GM in its strive to keep a hold of the growing compact segment.

While in Europe and China such sedan models have long been on top of the shopping list for many buyers, offering a mix of space, compact exterior dimensions and technologically advanced powertrains, the US market only recently shifted towards such models – which also bring mileage savings.

Now, General Motors looks committed to keep the model in production in North America – especially since it’s leaving a traditionally prone (for such models) market, with Chevrolet’s retirement from Europe. The US automaker is investing $50 million at its assembly complex in Lordstown, Ohio to build a new flexible Trim Shop and upgrades to the Press Room – all used in the production of the Cruze.

“This investment will enhance our customer responsiveness while providing our team with the tools and processes needed to be the best at building the next generation Cruze,” said Lordstown Plant Manager Bob Parcell.

The plant achieved the 1 million Cruze milestone last month, with the model the seventh best-selling car in US through March and GM’s second best-selling vehicle this year, only behind Chevy’s Silverado.

Partly because last year the company launched the Cruze Clean Turbo Diesel – offering the best mileage of any gas or diesel only car in America – sales have lately picked up pace. For the first four months of the year, Cruze sales passed those of Ford’s Focus, up from 77,763 to 86,937 units. The model is now close to the Honda Civic, which sold in the same time 98,707 cars, but still lags far behind Toyota’s Corolla – which tallied 106,798 vehicles.