Are new models cruising into GM Lordstown?

By Don Shilling

Reports say the Valley plant will produce a Korean version of the Cruze, a minicar and a crossover vehicle.

LORDSTOWN — Officials at the General Motors car plant here said production plans have not changed, despite news reports that the automaker may be shifting some production from South Korea to Lordstown.

Tom Mock, a GM spokesman in Lordstown, said the plant is continuing to build only the Chevrolet Cobalt with plans to launch the Chevrolet Cruze in the third quarter of 2010.

“We don’t have any other news or product allocations to report on at this time,” Mock said.

The Chosun Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, and Dow Jones Newswires reported this week that some additional GM models are coming to Lordstown because a South Korean plant doesn’t have enough capacity for them.

The South Korean paper said Lordstown would be used to make the Lacetti Premiere, which is the Korean version of the Cruze. Production is to start in April, the paper said.

It was unclear, however, if the report was indicating that the cars would be Premieres to be sent to Asia or if it was referring to the startup of Cruze production for the U.S. market.

GM said last month that it was pushing back the Cruze launch at Lordstown from April to the third quarter of 2010.

The South Korean paper also said two other vehicles are coming to Lordstown in 2011 — the Matiz Creative, which will be called the Chevrolet Spark in the U.S., and the MPV7, which will be called the Chevrolet Orlando in this country.

Again, the report didn’t indicate which markets the vehicles would be designed for.

The Spark is a minicar, while the Orlando is a crossover vehicle.

GM officials have said they have remodeled the Lordstown complex to be able to assemble more than one type of vehicle but haven’t announced any models beyond the Cruze.

Jim Graham, president of United Auto Workers Local 1112, said Lordstown is prepared for additional models, but union leaders haven’t heard that any have been committed to the plant.

“If anything comes our way, we’d be happy to take it but right now our main focus is the Cruze startup in August,” he said.