By Kalea Hall
The next-generation Chevrolet Cruze has some big shoes to fill.
In the past five years, its predecessor carved a successful path leading to excitement for the next-generation Cruze’s June 24 global debut.
Now, the world has learned a little more about the newest compact car that will come out of Lordstown.
It will be a larger, yet lighter vehicle. It will have new technology, powertrain and safety features.
“We are just anticipating the launch,” said Glenn Johnson, head of United Auto Workers Local 1112, which represents assembly workers at the plant. “The team members are excited. The anticipation is building, and I think the customers are going to be pleased with the end result.”
The next-generation Cruze also will have better integration with drivers’ phones. It will be one of the first Chevrolet-branded cars to offer Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
The new model will have about 2 inches more rear legroom, GM said. The next versions of the Cruze, Chevy Volt, Spark, Malibu and Camaro will be unveiled in 2015, bringing 25 new technologies to the brand to improve, safety, fuel economy, performance and connectivity.
Thousands of workers at the Lordstown plant have built the Cruze since it was launched in 2010.
To date, about 1.3 million Cruzes have been built at the local assembly plant, where about 4,500 work.
“When we introduced the Cruze, it replaced 15 other compact vehicles around the globe,” Alan Batey, president, General Motors North America, and global Chevrolet brand chief, said in a news release. “By consolidating design, engineering and marketing efforts, we were able to produce an award-winning, value-driven sedan that won over customers around the world.”
Outside the U.S., the Cruze is sold in 114 countries with its top market in China, the U.S., Brazil and Canada. The compact car continually has built momentum to get to the top of the compact-car segment and to be the automaker’s best-selling car.
Through last month, a total of 105,291 Cruzes have been sold in 2015, down 11.8 percent from last year’s year-to-date figures. But 2014 was a milestone year for the Cruze with 273,060 sales, a 10 percent increase over 2013.
Globally, Cruze sales have surpassed 3.5 million.
The Cruze also is considered the compact-car segment’s second-best seller to customers under age 25 in the U.S., GM said.
The Cruze also has brought a list of new buyers to the Chevrolet brand. Of those customers trading in a Cruze, 56 percent tend to stay with the Chevrolet brand and 23 percent trade in for another Cruze.
“In every corner of the globe, Cruze has been successful at introducing new and younger customers to Chevrolet,” said Batey. “Compact-car customers are looking for style, safety and connectivity at an affordable price, and the Cruze delivers on all fronts.”
Bloggers and analysts have hinted the next-generation Cruze will have a more-sleek design to compete in an extremely competitive segment. More than 95 percent of Chevrolet’s U.S. product will be less than 3 years old when the next-generation Cruze hits showrooms in early 2016.
For its part, GM has “leaked” a picture showing a shadowy but sleek, dark-blue Cruze front to whet buyers’ appetites.
“It is a beautiful car, and we are excited about the innovation,” said Robert Morales, head of UAW Local 1714, which represents the metal-fabrication plant workers. “If [customers] thought this was great vehicle, wait until they see the next one.”