GM raves about Cruze

LORDSTOWN – Chevrolet Cruze sales in August dipped 8 percent from this time last year but still hit nearly 24,000 units as General Motors’ third-best-selling vehicle behind only GM’s Silverado pickup truck and Chevy Equinox sport utility vehicle.

GM officials were quick to point out that Cruze sales remain strong with a year-to-date increase of 18 percent and a jump of 37 percent over the last three months.

Don Johnson, Chevrolet vice president of U.S. sales and service, noted inventory of the car has dipped to about a 35-day supply, much lower than the usual supply of 50 to 60 days that the manufacturer would prefer. A two-week shutdown at the Lordstown GM plant initially planned for August was canceled in order to keep the supply rolling.

“We are rebuilding inventory, and I expect Cruze is going to get back on track,” Johnson said.

General Motors on Wednesday reported its highest sales month since the pre-recession and pre-bankruptcy sales of September 2008.

In a monthly sales conference call from Detroit, top GM officials said U.S. dealers sold 275,847 vehicles across all four brands last month, up 22 percent from sales of August 2012.

Despite a decline in sales of the Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales operations took the opportunity during his opening comments to rave about the car that on Sunday will mark its three-year anniversary.

“During that time our designers and engineers laid their foundation for launch of the Chevy Cruze, which went into production almost three years ago to the day,” said Kurt McNeil. “We think the Cruze is emblematic of General Motors’ progress on many fronts. We replaced a competitive car with a great car that was a much better value and customers really responded.”

McNeil said 677,030 Cruzes have been sold in the U.S. during the 36 months.

Alan Batey, GM’s senior vice president of global Chevrolet brand chief and U.S. sales and marketing, called the introduction of the Cruze a “defining moment” for the company’s return to profitability.

“Mark Reuss (now GM president of North America) was really convinced that for Chevrolet, we had to not only compete, but we had to win in the small and compact car division,” Batey said. “From day one, we have been able to get momentum and keep it.”

Johnson added, “We put all our cards on the table and went strong, and it’s proven to be a great car for the market.”