General Motors has solved a nagging problem that forced it to temporarily halt production of one of its most important products.
Operations are getting back to normal today at the maker’s big assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, where it builds the popular Chevrolet Cruze sedan. Production of the Cruze – as well as the new Buick Regal – where halted early this month as the result of an issue with a key supplier.
While GM declined to detail the issue a report from Deutsche Bank indicated the problem was with a suspension strut supplied by Canadian partsmaking giant Magna International.
How many vehicles GM lost is unclear, though industry analysts estimate the Lordstown Assembly Plant typically produces about 1,000 cars a day. The factory had been idled for about two weeks.
Halting production of the Chevy Cruze was a difficult decision for GM to make, though the automaker has said it is now putting quality at a priority over production. A report from Deutsche Bank also noted that Chevrolet dealers had a reasonably good supply of the Cruze going into the temporary shutdown, though reports indicate there may have been some regional shortages of some versions of the compact model.
The Chevy Cruze has been one of the surprise hits of the past year. It has been one of 2011’s best-sellers, often leading the passenger car side of the sales charts and for Chevrolet was second only to the brand’s Silverado pickup.
The compact Cruze was designed to gain traction in a market segment long dominated by Japanese imports like the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. But the Japanese, in general, ran into problems due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that caused months of production shortages. And Honda’s new 2012 Civic was also battered by poor reviews – including a thrashing from influential Consumer Reports magazine.
But the Japanese shortages have largely been resolved and Cruze will now have to battle its Asian competitors on a more level playing field.
Both first and second-shift workers at Lordstown were expected to report back to the plant today. The factory employs 4,500 hourly workers.