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Lordstown’s Cobalt rides quietly into history



Published: Tue, June 22, 2010 @ 12:02 a.m.

By GRACE WYLER

gwyler@vindy.com

LORDSTOWN

After six turbulent years, the General Motors complex here will bid farewell to the Chevrolet Cobalt when the last car rolls off the line this week.

photo

The Chevrolet Cruze and its older sister, the Chevrolet Cobalt, are displayed on the fl oor of the General Motors complex in Lordstown. The last Cobalt will roll off the line June 24.

Launched in October 2004 to succeed the Chevrolet Cavalier, the Cobalt has survived poor reviews, safety recalls and the near-collapse of General Motors. Almost 1 million Cobalts have been sold to date.

The Cobalt, which will end its run sometime early Wednesday morning, will be replaced by the Chevrolet Cruze, GM’s highly anticipated new compact model.

Nostalgia for the end of the Cobalt has been overshadowed by excitement about the launch of the Cruze, said David Green, president of United Auto Workers Local 1714, which represents workers in Lordstown’s fabrication plant.

“We’re excited to get this new car launched — out with the old, in with the new,” Green said. “Everyone’s excited because they know something better is coming.”

But the Cobalt always will be an important part of the plant’s history, he said.

When GM announced the Cavalier would end its 22-year run, it was widely believed the company would shut down the Lordstown plant, Green said.

But through the Regional Chamber ‘s “Bring It Home” campaign — a collaboration of the region’s political and business leaders and the 7,800 GM workers in Lordstown then— the community persuaded GM to build the Cobalt here, Green said.

“Cobalt meant life to this facility,” Green said. “Without the Cobalt, the Cruze would never have gotten here.”

Lordstown’s successful campaign for the Cobalt has been integral to the plant’s survival, agreed Jim Graham, president of UAW Local 1112, which represents workers at Lordstown’s assembly plant.

“The Cobalt has been great for Lordstown,” Graham said.

To ensure GM’s investment, workers agreed to a contract that altered team sizes and scheduling, among other changes. These concessions helped the plant in its bid for the Cruze, Graham added.

“Our membership did a great job securing the Cruze after the Cobalt,” he said. “It’s just been a great ride at Lordstown, and something I am very proud of.”


Comments

1Jay(6 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

Now that the Cobalt is officially leaving Lordstown for Mexico, does this mean that the union's insistance to buy American will include the Cobalt? You know the union members, who wear tennis shoes and buy TV's made in China, and shop at Walmart (China's largest customer), but expect the rest of us to buy a poorly made GM car.

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2walter_sobchak(1893 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

FairandEqual,
GM was not alone in choosing to throw salaried retirees under the bus. Barack Hussein Obama and his minions had a hand in it. It's interesting that Ford was able to mortgage their company to the hilt and turn it around.

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3OSUBuck16(12 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

The Cruze is going to get crushed. The price point of $17K for a base model is way too high, especially in this economy. I have to admit that the content, interior, and exterior are huge upgrades over past small car platforms. But, the upcoming Ford Fiesta is about $5K less expensive for base models. A fully loaded Fiesta is about the same price as the base Cruze. If a Fiesta is too small for a consumer, then the Focus which is being significantly updated, will be able to match Cruze. In light of the events of the past 2 years, non-GM-lifers are more likely to buy from Ford if staying with a domestic manufacturer. Plus, the Corolla outsold the Cobalt 3-to-1 last year, a huge margin to overcome even with a great product. In my opinion, this is the most competitive space in the the auto industry and it will be tough to command a $17-$22K price tag given the level of competition.

Does anyone have any word on how the Volt is coming and/or expected to perform?

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4OSUBuck16(12 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

could_it_be,

It was very unsuccessful. Lordstown was significantly overcapacitized during Cobalt production as evident by the cutting of shifts. Also, the number of shutdown weeks in 2008 and 2009 also reveal how unsuccessful the car was. When it got outsold 3 to 1 to the Corolla last year, I wouldn't call that successful. What you are overlooking is what the costs were to sell one million units. The company has to flip the bill for all the fixed costs that they incur regardless if they sell 1 or 1 million Cobalts. The contribution margin on these cars isn't the highest either, so the company would have to sell many more than 1 million to break even. However, the valley is in need of a winner, I just don't see it happening with the Cruze. That's my objective opinion and not trying to be negative.

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5Valleys_Voice(149 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

The Cruze will be a vehicle that alot of families will purchase or lease. It's larger than the Cobalt and I'm estimating slighter smaller than a Malibu. I'm glad GM is still in business and I look forward to seeing the new Cruze hit the road. No matter what your stance is on that, it's important that we all buy American.

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6janeyblue(227 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

And alot of Cobalts were sold to......Rental Agencies! fleet cars. Subtract those numbers and you will see how few were sold to the public. All those silly tourists putzing around in a Balt. Poor dears. Hope it does not lock down because of the defective batteries installed in them.
Hey Hope...get a life!

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7OSUBuck16(12 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

could_it_be,

I agree with the economy being the most influential factor over the past 2 years. And, it's always a great thing to have as many people working, especially in a high unemployment city. I just don't believe the demand was there before 2008 either. I know GM is updating their product life cycles, but if Cobalt was such a cash cow they would still be milking the nameplate.

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8ront(119 comments)posted 4 years, 2 months ago

the cobalt was supposed to be built several years earlier.

the cavalier was selling so well, and costs for the cavalier were lower because it was in production about 20 years.

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