By Susan Tebben
A slowdown in sales of the Chevrolet Cruze reported last week by General Motors Co. may reverse course, thanks to new recommendations from Consumer Reports, observers say.
The April 2013 issue of the magazine, released over the weekend, features the respected publication’s best and worst cars of 2013. It recommends to consumers three models of the Lordstown-built automobile among 10 it selected in the compact-car category: the Cruze Eco, Cruze 1LT and Cruze LS.
The magazine notes “impressive” crash-test results and improved reliability as positives for the models.
Members of the Lordstown plant’s autoworkers unions said the praise speaks volumes for the quality of the car and the quality of the work that went into the automobile.
“Any time you get recommendations from publications like that, it says good things about the members or the assembly teams and the design team who bring the car together,” said Glenn Johnson, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112, which represents the assembly plant.
Johnson said the Cruze has what people are looking for in a compact car, including amenities that have not been in place in compact cars before.
“The durability and the reliability of the car bring about praise,” Johnson said.
The 3,100 workers of the Lordstown East Complex assembly plant and the 1,500 in the West Complex fabrication plant have struggled to move up the ranks and obtain praise for their work, union leaders say.
“The workers take pride in their work,” said Dave Green, president of UAW Local 1714, representing the fabrication plant.
“We’ve had so many people write in to say they’ve been in a crash and have been so glad to be in a car that protected them so well. That shows the quality that is put in at each work station,” he said.
The Eco model garnered mild criticism for increasing fuel economy by only 1 mile per gallon, and the interior was described as “spacious up front but cramped in the rear.”
But Green said he hopes the new recommendation will attract people who haven’t driven the Cruze to test-drive it.
Cruze sales had dropped from 20,427 in February 2012 to 17,947 last month, which was the second month in a row that sales had declined for the model.