Demand drives overtime at Lordstown plant

LORDSTOWN – While the rest of the auto industry is struggling with oversupply as cold weather causes sales to lag, the General Motors Lordstown plant is adding overtime shifts to maintain necessary supplies of the hot-selling Chevy Cruze produced here.

Three shifts of workers in both the fabrication and assembly plants here are scheduled to work extra shifts on two Saturdays this month.

Workers have been instructed to report at their usual times for overtime shifts scheduled for March 15 and 29, according to information released by United Auto Workers Local 1112.

On average, dealer inventories, especially for the Detroit automakers, have hit their highest level in five years, putting pressure on companies to clear their lots. At the end of January, dealers had an 89-day supply of cars and trucks, according to Ward’s AutoInfoBank. Detroit automakers had the most, with General Motors at 114 days, followed by Ford at 107 and Chrysler at 105. A 60-day supply of vehicles is considered ideal.

The Cruze was GM’s top-selling car in both January and February, setting new sales records each month. February sales figures released Monday showed the Cruze increased in sales by nearly 22 percent over February of 2013. By contrast, GM, Ford and Toyota all reported overall declines in auto sales last month, attributing the dip to harsh winter weather.

February month-end supply figures were not immediately available for Cruze supplies, but UAW Local 1714 president Robert Morales said supplies of the locally made compact have remained constant at around 60-day supplies.

For now, auto dealers are offering bargains on overstocked models in attempts to reduce the supply.

Larry Dominique, executive vice president of TrueCar, predicts those bargains will wane as the weather gets warmer and customers go shopping again.

“We expect a return to balance once the winter subsides and inventories ease,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.