The final Chevy Cruze was built at the GM Lordstown plant in Ohio on March 8th, but parts production remained, and could have continued through June. But that’s also a done deal now, as the few workers who remained at the plant tasked with building Cruze replacement parts finished doing so on April 5th.
The proposed indefinite idling of the Lordstown factory has been a lightning rod of controversy since November, when GM announced a new restructuring plan. Politicians on both sides of the aisle, including Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and U.S. President Donald Trump, have criticized GM’s decision to idle the factory. The local Lordstown economy is expected to lose $3 billion this year alone from the idling.
General Motors proposed idling the Lordstown plant as Cruze sales have fallen in the last few years, forcing the automaker to eliminate two shifts at the plant in the last few years. At one point, the factory operated three shifts and employed 4,700 people. In hopes of saving Cruze production at the plant, the United Automobile Workers union made various confessions totaling $118 million in hopes that production would continue at Lordstown. In hindsight, the move likely only delayed the inevitable.
It should be noted that, as GM discontinues its Cruze compact sedan and hatchback in the U.S., all foreign automakers are continuing to offer their compact models, including Toyota Corolla, Honda Civic, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Elantra, Kia Forte, Mazda3, and Volkswagen Jetta.
General Motors has received a fair amount of criticism for the way it has handled communications about its restructuring. The proposed closing of five North American plants has not sat well with many who see a robust U.S. economy. Last month, Paul Ingrassia, editor at the Revs Institute for Automotive Research, said the automaker should take a different approach to communicating its plan to the public.
The Detroit-based automaker is, however, investing in U.S. factories that produce high-profit models like crossovers, SUVs, and trucks while also investing in autonomous and electric vehicles.