Production at General Motors’ Lordstown plant is winding down. The last Chevrolet Cruze has rolled off the assembly line—early. The plant’s parts-stamping operations are continuing to produce fenders and other repair service parts. That’ll come to an end later this month. To commemorate the plant’s 53-year production history, United Auto Workers union members will hand out commemorative posters highlighting the plant’s history during a St. Patrick’s Day parade in Boardman, Ohio, according to WKBN.
Production at Lordstown started when the Chevrolet Impala rolled off the assembly line on April 28, 1966. Two years earlier, General Motors bought a 1,100-acre cornfield that’d soon become the Lordstown plant. Since then, the plant has built 23 different models.
In the few years after the first Impala rolled off the line, the automaker added a new stamping plant and added a van to the production lineup. Six years after production started, a labor dispute resulted in a 22-day walkout. The 1970s also brought the Chevrolet Vega to the Lordstown plant. However, due to a litany of issues, production ended in 1977. This was when the plant began to build a plethora of GM small cars.
After the Vega discontinued production, GM introduced the Chevrolet Cavalier and rebadged stablemate the Pontiac Sunbird. Full-size van production continued at the factory until the early 1990s as minivans grew in popularity. The 1990s also saw trouble at the factory as production costs continued to rise for the Cavalier, making it difficult for GM to make a profit on the compact, fuel-efficient car. There were threats the plant could shut down.
But it didn’t. Workers at the plant worked to reduce costs, eventually securing production of the Chevrolet Cobalt, the first of which rolled off the assembly line in 2004. Then, in 2010, GM introduced the Chevrolet Cruze to the world, and production of another small GM car headed to the Lordstown plant. Cruze production scooted along for several years with the factory employing 4,700 across three shifts just two years ago.
Changing market forces have ended Lordstown’s 53-year production run. Sedan sales are plummeting as consumers flock to crossovers, SUVs, and trucks. GM discontinued the Cruze, effectively ended any production at the plant. Since 1966, the faculty produced 16 million vehicles.