By Kalea Hall
November was the second-worst sales month for the Lordstown-built Chevrolet Cruze with 8,330 sold.
Last month was second only to November 2010, when the Cruze had just hit the market and there were 8,066 sales.
“There is concern when the sales aren’t where the membership is used to seeing them,” said Robert Morales, president of United Auto Workers Local 1714. “With that being said, we still have to maintain our product for our customers and continue to strive for our benchmarks the corporation put in front of us.”
Morales attributed the compact car’s sales struggle to the popularity of compact SUVs and other vehicles.
“That’s what is really hurting us,” he said. “We know the accolades the Cruze has received.”
The Cruze received the Consumer Reports level of “Top Pick” earlier this year. The Cruze’s 153-horsepower, turbocharged, four-cylinder engine, its roominess and gas mileage of 30 mpg city and 47 mpg highway were highlighted in Consumer Reports. The Cruze is the first domestic compact car in more than a decade to receive the “Top Pick” title. From 2013 through 2016, the Subaru Impreza took the title.
“It shows that the commitment is there. It’s just getting people to purchase our vehicle,” Morales said.
November was the seventh-consecutive month in which year-over-year sales of the Cruze declined. The slowdown in sales for the Cruze has led to several down weeks at the plant. The first two weeks of January, after a week holiday break, are marked on the calender as placeholders for more downtime.
“It’s not an isolated case,” Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst for Edmunds, said of the slowdown of car sales. “It’s a pretty tough [segment] across the board.”
Meanwhile, union leaders say the 3,000 workers at the plant are working hard to meet benchmarks the company has set. The UAW has taken strides to make the complex more profitable by merging the two unions: Local 1714, which represents fabrication plant workers, and Local 1112, which represents assembly plant workers.
The unions are still working through completing the merger.
The Cruze hatchback version, which is built in Ramos Arizpe, Mexico, had 2,652 sales – up from November 2016’s sales of 1,587.
Overall, General Motors reported a 3 percent year-over-year decline in November with 245,387 sales. In its November sales release, the Detroit automaker highlighted large year-over-year increases in sales of Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC crossovers to individual customers.
Chevrolet crossovers were up 16 percent, driven by a 59 percent increase for the Traverse; and Buick crossovers were up 20 percent with Enclave sales more than doubling. GMC crossovers posted an increase of 11 percent.
Ford Motor Co.’s U.S. sales totaled 210,771, a 6.7 year-over-year gain.
American Honda Motor Co. Inc. reported record November sales of 133,156 Honda and Acura vehicles, an increase of 8.3 percent over November 2016.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles U.S. reported sales of 154,919 units, a 4 percent decrease compared with sales in November 2016.
Toyota Motor North America Inc. reported November 2017 sales of 191,617 units for a 3 percent year-over-year decline.
Overall, analysts said the month was strong. The year is expected to end with more than 17 million sales, but below last year’s record year of 17.5 million.
“We need to recognize that these are terrifically strong sales, but we also need to realize that we are in the post-peak era,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst for Autotrader.