By BURTON SPEAKMAN
The Chevrolet Cruze is the top-selling small car in the United States for September.
General Motors sold 25,787 of the Lordstown-built Cruzes last month. The nearest competitor was the
Toyota Corolla at 23,036.The Honda Civic ranked third in compact car sales at 21,546. Sales of the Cruze dropped by 188 from the sales record set in August.
“This is the best possible scenario for GM. The Cruze is the top-selling small car, and it was able to do it while offering less in incentives than its competitors,” said Kristen Andersson, senior analyst at TrueCar.com, an automotive information website.
The sales figures are a testament to the quality of the vehicle, she said.
“As more people hear about the vehicle through word of mouth and more people drive it, they’re easier to sell,” Andersson said.
Actual prices paid for the Cruze also remain high. It was part of an overall trend of less incentive spending that indicates solid growth for the auto industry, she said.
“The Cruze has gotten back to numbers we were seeing after the Japan tsunami and earthquake last year,” said Michele Krebs, senior analyst for Edmunds.com, an automotive information website.
The Cruze has been able to pick up sales because higher gas prices cause more people to choose smaller, more fuel efficient cars, she said.
Credit markets have also been loosening allowing more people to get loans. Those budget-conscious consumers tend to pick smaller and less expensive vehicles, Krebs said.
The credit markets are opening up to a number of people who were waiting on the sideline to purchase a new car, Andersson said. The small-car segment tends to be where these people make purchases.
The Cruze is the best small car available and that’s a credit to the members of the union who build them, said Glenn Johnson, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112.
“If you’re in the market for a small car, I don’t know why you would buy anything else. It’s got an excellent safety rating and excellent fuel efficiency,” he said.
These sales just show what happens when dedicated workers put together a good quality car, said Dave Green, president of UAW Local 1714.
“We have a lot of positive momentum at Lordstown right now. Many good things are happening, and the continued sales surge of Cruze is a reflection of that,” said Tom Mock, communications manager for the Lordstown and Parma GM plants.
Sales of GM’s mini, small and compact cars alone were up a combined 97 percent, and all GM brands increased their retail sales, according to a company statement.
“Passenger cars have been the launch point for a broad and deep GM product offensive,” said Kurt McNeil, vice president of U.S. sales operations. “Auto sales will continue to be a bright spot for the U.S. economy, which is particularly good news for GM as we walk into an even stronger cadence of new products in 2013 and 2014.”
In addition to ranking as the top-sellng small vehicle, the Cruze was the second-most sold vehicle by GM behind the Silverado truck. It ranked sixth highest in sales among all models of cars and trucks sold in the U.S. last month.