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GM LORDSTOWN After 22 years, Cavalier production has ceased

By Don Shilling

Wednesday, October 6, 2004


Workers are to start focusing on training for the Cobalt.
By DON SHILLING
VINDICATOR BUSINESS EDITOR
LORDSTOWN -- The Lordstown car complex was to produce its final Chevrolet Cavalier this morning.
Plant and union officials were to say a few words as the last Cavalier came down the line and then start to focus on the plant's new model, the Chevrolet Cobalt, said Tom Mock, a plant spokesman.
Mock said he thinks many workers are sentimental about ending production of the Cavalier after 22 years. The plant has made just shy of 5 million Cavaliers.
"It's been our trophy car for 22 years. It's been a phenomenal car," Mock said. There are no special plans for the last Cavalier, so it will end up on a dealer's lot, he said.
Preparing for Cobalt
Most workers at the plant will be given time off from today through Monday as the plant gears up for Cobalt production. Team leaders, however, will be at the plant for training, Mock said.
When all workers return Tuesday, Cobalts will be coming down the line for training.
So far, the plant has been working on Cobalts mixed in with Cavaliers. The plant has produced about 400 Cobalts, which have been used by General Motors' employees for test driving.
Mock said production of sellable Cobalts is scheduled to begin the week of Oct. 17, but a specific date has not been set.
Each Cobalt will be followed by nine vacant assembly-line spaces to give workers time to work with new production methods, Mock said. Those vacant spaces will be reduced as time goes on, he said.
The assembly plant at the Lordstown complex has about 3,700 hourly workers, while the fabricating plant has about 1,800. GM is spending about $1 billion to revamp the complex to prepare for production of the Cobalt, which Chevrolet is calling a premium small car.
The starting price for the base model is $14,190. Chevrolet says the Cobalt will impress buyers with its power, handling and ride.
Mexico plant
Meanwhile, GM also will stop making the Cavalier and four-door Pontiac Sunfire this month at its plant in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, said Dan Flores, a GM spokesman. The Lordstown plant stopped producing the Sunfire earlier this year.
The two-door Sunfire will continue to be made in Mexico until sometime in the middle of next year, he said. He said most of the Cavaliers and Sunfires from that plant are sold in Canada.
In 2003, the Mexican plant produced about 48,000 Cavaliers and Sunfires, compared with 335,000 in Lordstown. The plant also produces another small Chevrolet model for the Mexican market, while a nearby plant produces the Pontiac Aztec and Buick Rendezvous.
shilling@vindy.com