OPINION: Go-slow approach for Cruze complements GM’s resurgence

Momentum continues to mount for General Motors Co. and its hot new Chevrolet Cruze.

Just yesterday, GM announced it had posted a $1.3 billion profit in the second quarter of 2010, its best in six years and a major turnaround from its $12.8 billion loss in the second quarter of 2009. Considering that the No. 1 North American automaker was teetering on the brink of bankruptcy just 18 months ago, its soaring profitability illustrates that it has learned valuable lessons from past blunders and is poised for ongoing growth and vitality.

As a result of that good news, GM is expected to file paperwork today laying the groundwork for an initial public stock offering — a historic step that will begin the government’s exit from its ownership stake in the automaker.

The timing of those developments and the optimism and enthusiasm they engender could not have been more propitious, particularly for the Mahoning Valley and its sprawling Lordstown production complex.

Just this week, the Lordstown work force began limited production of showroom-ready Cruzes. The plant’s evolution from a one-shift production schedule whose very future was in doubt to a buzzing, three-shift, full-capacity, state-of-the-art auto factory parallels GM’s meteoric rise from the ashes.


In addition to the momentum the plant received from a $350 million makeover to produce the Cruze, recent reviews of the new crown jewel of Lordstown — and perhaps GM itself — could not be more glowing. Consider:

“Now, there is solid evidence that GM is fighting back. It is the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, arguably the first small Chevy in 20 years that GM designed to be better than the competition,” Warren Brown of The Washington Post wrote this week.

David Indiviglio writes in this month’s Atlantic: “Overall, I thought the Cruze was a very nice car. Drivers who switch from a Civic or Corolla to the Cruze should be pleased.”

Ron Amadon of The Wall Street Journal compliments the Cruze thusly: “I would say that for the first time Chevy has a car that is the equal of anything on the market today and one that is light years ahead of the Cobalt in refinement. We all said that they could do it, and now they have.”

Fortunately, however, local and national leaders of GM and of the United Auto Workers union are not letting the avalanche of praise go to their heads.

“We are taking it slow and methodically. We want to make sure that every car that comes off the line is perfect,” said Jim Graham, longtime president of UAW Local 1112, which represents assembly workers at the Lordstown complex.

This go-slow approach has been the hallmark of the Cruze since its inception. Its formal launch was postponed several months to give GM more time to test and troubleshoot the vehicle. The result ought to ensure the Cruze will not be your granddaddy’s old — and often much maligned — GM compact Chevy.

We commend GM and UAW leaders locally and nationally for their attention to detail, quality, looks, engineering and safety aspects of the Cruze. As a result, we are confident that this product will meet and likely exceed the nearly universal positive hype it has generated.

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