By GRACE WYLER
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.
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.”