General Motors has earmarked $220 million for new tooling and other plant equipment to build its “next-generation” Chevrolet Cruze. The capital will be invested at plants in Lordstown, Ohio, where the Cruze is built, and the stamping plant Parma, Ohio, where panels and metal assemblies are produced.
In its announcement, GM emphasized the investment will mean it retains 5,000 jobs at those two plants. The Lordstown plant employs an estimated 4,500 workers now, according to the automaker.
Specific details of the investments were not released. Space is being cleared in the body shop at Lordstown in preparation for the new manufacturing program. GM emphasized that it has invested over $7.3 billion in its U.S. operations since 2009.
The Chevy Cruze has been built at Lordstown since 2010, and over 500,000 have been produced there. A $350-million improvement program was carried out at the plant beginning in 2009, and was viewed as a statement of purpose for the automaker during its bankruptcy reorganization.
"Thanks to northeast Ohio's supportive business climate, we're able to build on a great foundation and steer the Chevrolet Cruze into the next generation," stated GM manufacturing manager Arvin Jones. "A special thanks goes to Governor John Kasich and his team at Jobs Ohio for their strong leadership and advocacy for GM and our employees."
The four-door compact Cruze (with a hatchback variant) is scheduled for a revamp, apparently in time for the 2015 model year. The “next generation” of the Cruze will be the first entry for GM’s new compact and crossover vehicle platform, which also will be the basis for the Chevy Volt and Equinox, Opel Astra, and other models produced worldwide.
Officially, GM said the timing of the next-generation Cruze would be announced at a later date. Jones said it would have new exterior and interior styling, improved fuel economy, an updated interior compartment, and more storage space.