Area GM dealers take calls, emails & preorders
By GRACE WYLER
Although the Chevrolet Cruze won’t be parked in dealer showrooms until later this month, Valley auto dealerships already are taking orders for the new Lordstown-built car.
Local car dealers said that they are fielding daily calls and emails from customers eager to know when they can test-drive the Cruze. Most dealers said they already have filled more than half of their initial allocations for the new compact car.
“The interest level in the Cruze is more than I have seen in 20 years of doing this,” said Tim Arbutina, sales manager for Spitzer Chevrolet in North Jackson. “We are selling them even before they start production.”
Spitzer has gotten a lot of interest from potential buyers across Northeast Ohio who have heard “all the hype” about the Cruze and want to know more, said general sales manager David Sabolsky.
“We are getting more interest constantly,” he said. “We are looking for it to be a huge seller.”
Cars built at the General Motors complex in Lordstown have typically sold well in the Mahoning Valley, dealers said, where buyers are supportive of the locally-made products. They added that they expect the Cruze to perform better, both locally and nationally, than past Lordstown-built cars.
“I think that, as availability picks up, its sales will double or triple Cobalt sales in this market,” said Doug Sweeney, president of Sweeney Chevrolet in Boardman. “This is a huge car that is doing very well across the world — it competes against the Toyotas, Hondas and Nissans.”
Stadium GM Superstore in Salem already has sold more than 20 of the cars, said general manager Mike Hudock.
“We have had an incredible amount of interest in the car,” he said. “I think it is one of the best cars GM has made in a long time.”
The Cruze is a high-quality car that is well-designed for a modern car buyer, Hudock said.
“I think it is going to beat its competition in every category,” he said. “It’s going to be a great car for the Valley.”
The Cruze’s urban, modern appeal could help GM expand its market share among younger buyers, said Greg Greenwood, owner of Greenwood Chevrolet in Austintown and Hubbard. The dealerships have taken more than 60 orders for the Cruze.
“A lot of people might have the perception that GM was a little stodgy in its design,” Greenwood said. “But this is a cool car designed by car guys.”
The Cruze is part of the legacy of Bob Lutz, the “rock star” of car executives, Greenwood said. Lutz, GM’s recently retired chairman of North American development, was responsible for the popular new design of the Chevrolet Malibu, the forerunner of the Cruze in terms of its design style, among other successful initiatives.
The Malibu and the Cruze give GM a “great one-two punch” in the highly competitive mid-size and compact segments, Greenwood said. After the successful launch of the Cruze, it will be up to the dealers to effectively market and sell the new compact car, Greenwood said.
“The dealers now have to really step up and make people happy with the buying process,” he said. “The third leg of the mission still needs to be accomplished.”