Cruzes take off to dealers


By Kalea Hall

khall@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

Dealership owner Tom Colussy already had a best-selling car in the first-generation Chevrolet Cruze.

But the longtime Pennsylvania dealer believes the next-generation Cruze will do even better.

“It will reach a broader audience,” Colussy said. “We actually have some older buyers who are excited for the Cruze.”

Colussy, a fourth-generation owner of a Bridgeville, Pa., dealership that has been selling Chevrolet vehicles for 98 years, only recently started to see the next-generation Cruzes arrive at his dealership. Two already have been sold.

Wednesday, Colussy was with a group of 50 Pittsburgh-area and West Virginia dealers to pick up new, next-generation Cruzes from the General Motors Lordstown Assembly Plant where the car is built.

Together, they drove the siren- red Cruzes away in single-file fashion.

The dealers all received a tour of the plant, a review of Cruze highlights and a look at how the new Cruze compares to the compact car competition from Honda, Hyundai and Toyota.

“The people that are in charge here have very strong processes in place,” Colussy said of the plant. “Anything that isn’t 100 percent, they try to correct it right there in the plant.”

The Cruze first came to the Lordstown plant in 2010. There were more than 1.5 million Cruzes built for the North American market at the plant where about 4,500 are employed.

After more than five years with the first-generation Cruze rising to the best-seller for GM, the next-generation was launched to build on that success.

GM focused on design, performance and technology to accomplish this.

“We had to make a car that looks killer,” said David Poniatowski, GM product manager.

The new Cruze has improved fuel economy, enhanced technology, upgraded safety features and it’s longer, leaner and lighter for better performance and roominess.

The next-generation Cruze launch this year is still progressing.

Cruzes started to head out to dealerships March 21 and are still filing out of the plant.

“We are all excited to see more and more vehicles arriving in dealerships across North America and customers having an opportunity to get behind the wheel of the new Cruze,” said Steve Notar Donato, Lordstown plant manager, in a statement.

The event on Wednesday is expected to elevate the launch of the Cruze.

“Not everyone gets this opportunity,” Stacey Hardway, field marketing manager for GM, said of the event. The dealers “have that excitement and that first-hand knowledge.”

There’s a noticeable change on the plant itself – made to promote the launch of the next-generation Cruze.

A 261-foot-wide by 61-foot-tall banner now hangs on the East Plant, where the Cruze is assembled, for Ohio Turnpike drivers to see.

Another banner will go up this week on the West Plant, which is the fabrication side of the complex.

“It is definitely the greatest feeling that all the hard work is paying off,” said Robert Morales, president of United Auto Workers Local 1714. “It’s about our membership taking the time and doing their part to produce a quality vehicle.”

Next month not just dealers, but everyone is invited to see first-hand the Cruze and the plant.

GM and UAW Local 1112 will have a 50th anniversary open house event at Lordstown Complex East Plant from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. May 20.

Open house registrations forms are available at the 17 Chevrolet All-Star dealerships in Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. Tour guests are advised to register in advance at the Chevrolet dealerships.

There will be an All-American Car Show from 12 to 4 p.m. May 21 in the parking area of Lordstown Complex East off Hallock-Young Road.

The first vehicle built at Lordstown left the assembly line at 10 a.m. April 28, 1966. The four-door Impala sport sedan with fawn trim was sent to Martin Chevrolet of Warren.