WARREN - The Lordstown-built 2014 Chevy Cruze clean Turbo Diesel has hit a few area showrooms, with at least one car sold and motoring about local roadways.
Warren's Diane Sauer Chevrolet received its first clean turbo diesel late last month and sold it July 6, according to the dealer's sales staff. A second Cruze Diesel, a 2LT model stickering for $27,035, has been on the dealer lot for about a month.
Austintown's Greenwood Chevrolet also has a Cruze Diesel model on the dealership lot and is anticipating delivery of up to three more very soon.
Lordstown production of the diesel small car began this spring with marketing initially targeted to only 13 areas across the nation chosen for their high volume of long-distance commuters and history of strong diesel sales. The Mahoning Valley was not among those markets, leaving local dealers to wait anxiously for their opportunity to sell the model manufactured just a few miles away.
General Motors has declined to share volume predictions, but has said they will adjust production at the the Lordstown plant to match demand.
On Friday, the sales staff at both Greenwood and Sauer said the car as a niche product for long-distance drivers that, so far, has generated a lot of interest.
"It has been test-driven quite a lot," said Greenwood sales manager Ed Yohman.
And so far, Yohman and Diane Sauer said reports have been good.
Noting that General Motors sometimes puts early models out in the field, Sauer said her district sales manager has been driving one and reporting fuel mileage of up to 56 miles per gallon, or about 10 mpg higher than its fuel economy rating of 46 mpg, the highest of any non-hybrid U.S. passenger vehicle.
"The bulk of the driving was on the highway," Sauer noted. "But it's tremendous to get that kind of mileage."
Sauer's sale manager Bill Rutledge said the car's fuel economy and durability are driving most of the interest.
Sauer and Rutledge said the buyer who already has taken delivery of a Cruze Diesel was very focused on fuel economy. He traded in a Toyota Prius, a small foreign hybrid also known for high gas mileage.
"We are working with a customer now who drives 25,000 miles a year. His job requires him to drive a lot, so he is looking at one," Rutledge said.
Several other area Chevrolet dealers, including Cole Valley in Newton Falls, R.D. Banks in Champion and Wollam in Cortland, contacted Friday said they are expecting delivery of their Cruze diesels in coming weeks.