By Kalea Hall
Union leaders are happy.
Analysts are impressed.
The Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze saw an 8.4 percent year-over-year increase in September sales to 15,216, General Motors said in its report released Monday.
“It looks as if the Chevy Cruze and Malibu are doing admirably in a market that’s loving sport utilities instead of cars these days,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at Autotrader.
The increase in Cruze sales wasn’t because of a heavy increase in fleet sales, which GM has been pulling back on to increase residual values.
The Cruze’s total retail sales, which includes the first-generation, second-generation and Cruze Hatchback, were 13,221, compared with 12,458 retail sales in September 2015.
The all-new, second-generation Cruze launched at the Lordstown plant at the beginning of this year. In late March, second-generation Cruzes started to ship out to dealers.
TrueCar’s data show the Cruze’s fleet sales average for the year is 12 percent, compared with the 2015 average of 40 percent.
“I think it is just a huge improvement in the vehicle,” said Patrick Min, TrueCar senior analyst, of the Cruze’s sales increase.
Min noted the fuel-efficient power train and the features on the new Cruze resonate with customers. The new Cruze came with a revamped style, more technology and enhanced safety features.
“Obviously the numbers are fantastic,” said Glenn Johnson, president of the United Auto Workers Local 1112. “It speaks volumes for the people who come to work every day.”
The GM Lordstown Assembly Complex employs nearly 4,500 workers. About 3,000 are employed on the assembly side in UAW Local 1112, and 1,400 are employed on the fabrication side in UAW Local 1714.
“We are making progress on the processes, and we are getting better as a whole,” said Robert Morales, president of Local 1714. “The hard work and effort by the membership has paid off, and now we are starting to build more Cruzes.”
This month, Cruzes built at the Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, plant were sent to the U.S. market to supplement the Lordstown-built supply. GM said the temporary supplement from Mexico was to help meet the demand for the Cruze here. The Mexico plant produces Cruzes for the Mexico, Canada and Central America markets.
Cruzes from the Ramos Arizpe plant started to arrive in the U.S. in mid-September, a Chevrolet spokesman told The Vindicator on Monday.
“Chevrolet is pleased with the supply of Cruzes available at dealerships today,” the spokesman said. “The Cruze continues to grow segment retail share with retail sales up 6 percent in September.”
Chevrolet would not comment on how long the Mexico production will be used to supplement U.S. Cruze production.
GM’s overall sales were down by just 0.6 percent to 249,795. The automaker sold 204,449 vehicles to individual customers. GM’s total fleet sales were down 4 percent in September, and daily rental sales were about 12 percent of GM’s total sales in September.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. LLC reported U.S. sales of 192,883 units, a 1 percent decrease compared with sales in September 2015.
American Honda Motor Co. Inc. reported robust September sales of 133,655 Honda and Acura vehicles, a 0.1 percent decrease from September 2015.
Ford’s U.S. September sales totaled 204,447 vehicles, an 8 percent decline versus a year ago.
Analysts expected to see a decline in sales for most automakers as consumer demand slips, but they also stressed the industry is still solid.
“These are quality sales – a lot of retail sales and less fleet sales,” Krebs said. “While incentives are rising, they are not spiraling.”
Heading into end-of-the-year promotions, TrueCar analysts still think this year will be another record-breaker with more sales over last year’s record-breaking 17.47 million sales.