The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

April 17, 2014

Lordstown eyes fall rollout of updated Cruze

YOUNGSTOWN — Production of the updated Chevrolet Cruze is tentatively set to begin early this fall at the General Motors facility in Lordstown, a plant official confirmed.

The 2015 Cruze should hit dealers’ lots just a few weeks later, he said.

On Sunday, General Motors previewed the new model year, which will feature revised exterior styling, more interior convenience and greater connectivity for the LS, LT, RS and LTZ models.

“We’ve simply made a great, versatile car even better,” Steve Majoros, Chevrolet’s director of passenger car and crossover marketing, said in a statement. “Chevrolet continues to design, build and sell the most-compelling small cars in its history, and the 2015 Cruze offers more of the features, connectivity and efficiency that are important to today’s customers.”

The company is unveiling the 2015 Cruze at this week’s New York International Auto Show.

According the GM’s news release, the Cruze’s exterior styling cues, inspired by the new Impala and restyled 2014 Malibu, provide a more-cohesive look across Chevrolet’s sedan range, while more intuitive controls enhance the Cruze’s interior.

The updated standard technology features include Apple Siri integration, OnStar 4G LTE with available Wi-Fi hot spot and a text-message alert system for smartphone users with Bluetooth profile that reads incoming messages through the car’s speakers.

The 2015 interior also will feature revised cup holders, a trunk release on the center console and door-lock switches that were moved from the center console to the front doors.

New interior and exterior colors will be available as well.

“Continuous improvement is really what it’s all about,” said Tom Mock, communications manager at the Lordstown plant. “So far it’s been a very successful journey.”

Since the Cruze replaced the troubled Chevrolet Cobalt in 2010, it has become GM’s second-best-selling model and helped Chevrolet break into a younger demographic of car buyers.

“These new customers are discovering the fun, value and durability Chevy stands for,” said Paul Edwards, Chevrolet’s U.S. vice president of marketing. “In fact, Chevrolet is second among buyers under 25, as the brand continues to grow share in the small-car segments.”

So far, the Cruze has sold more than 2.5 million units worldwide.

One the oldest models in the Chevrolet line, the Cruze has yet to receive a full redesign, but GM officials have remained tight-lipped as rumors of a future remodel have swirled.

Still, the compact has remained competitive in one of the auto industry’s toughest segments. Independent auto analyst Michelle Krebs said the 2015 Cruze would benefit from stylistic upgrades until the next generation’s release.

“Design really does sell,” she said. “This will help sustain sales in the interim, but it’s the redesign that will be really significant.”

The GM official said there is still no timetable for the next-generation Cruze.

GM said the 2015 Cruze lineup will include the Cruze Eco and Cruze Diesel, with a driving range of up to 717 miles per tank.

The standard safety features include 10 air bags, a side blind-zone alert, rear cross-traffic alert, rear park assist and a rearview camera.

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