Starting 2013 with good news on the Cruze, looking for more

It doesn’t get much better than starting a new year with good news.

And so it is that the entire Mahoning Valley should welcome the year-end sales figures for the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze.

Cruze sales were lagging through the first half of 2012, and by July were falling behind the comparable figures for the first half of 2011. Then came a string of months showing strong sales increases, and the last two months of the year were extraordinary.

Last month saw 21,230 Cruzes sold, a 27 percent increase over December 2011, which had sales of 16,675. November 2012 sales were also 27 percent higher than a year earlier.

Those banner months helped give the Cruze a 2.6 percent increase for the year. A total of 237,758 Cruzes left the showroom floor in 2012, compared with 231,732 in 2011.

Competition in the U.S. auto market is as tight as ever, and the Cruze remains a General Motors success story and a success story for the Mahoning Valley.

The Lordstown plant is getting back to production following it holiday shutdown and a weekend scare from a fire that broke out during maintenance work at the closed plant.

The Cruze faces the same challengers as other domestic car makers in a new market.

A photograph in Sunday’s Years Ago column is a perfect example of the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words.

Here it is, taken in 1955 to illustrate a story about how business was doing at General Fireproofing Co. in Youngstown that year.

It is basically a portrait of the products of the Big Three auto makers of the day, a collection of Fords and Mercurys, Chevrolets, Oldsmobiles, Buicks and Pontiacs and Plymouths. It’s possible there’s one Volkswagen in the far right-hand corner, but even with a magnifying glass, an editor couldn’t be sure.

But look around most parking lots today, and the automotive demographics tell a different story.

Today, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are competing with Honda, Toyota, Volkswagen, Subaru, Hyundai and Kia, among others.

The ability of the Cruze to compete in this now-crowded market is a testament to a commitment to quality by the company and its workers.

In 2013 the Cruze will make a bid for another piece of the economy market with the introduction of a diesel version. And beyond that, GM and its employees here will begin looking toward building the next generation of the Cruze, already slated for production in Lordstown.

Competing for today’s buyer isn’t getting any easier, but the men and women working at the Lordstown plant are showing that they can find success by just getting better.

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