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Published: Friday, 8/22/2008

GM to invest $350 million in Ohio factory

The Chevrolet Cruze small car is to be built at Lordstown, near Youngstown. The Chevrolet Cruze small car is to be built at Lordstown, near Youngstown.

LORDSTOWN, Ohio - General Motors Corp. said yesterday it will invest more than $500 million in the United States, including $350 million in the Lordstown factory, near Youngstown, to build a new compact car.

The factory now makes Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 small cars.

Rick Wagoner, GM's chief executive officer, showed off a full-size model of the new vehicle, called the Chevrolet Cruze. It is to be launched in Europe and Asia next year and is to be in U.S. showrooms in second half of 2010. It shares its design with the Opel Astra and Saab 9-3 and is part of a GM plan to use common parts and engineering for models sold around the world.

GM has added a third shift at Lordstown to keep up with heavy demand for Cobalts.

GM has released little information on the Cruze, which is to make its official debut in October at the Paris Motor Show.

Whether or when the Cobalt and G5 might cease production has yet to be determined, GM has said.

The investment in Lordstown, about 50 miles southeast of Cleveland, is good news for a region hit hard by the demise of the U.S. steel industry.

With the third production shift, the factory added 1,400 jobs - the largest hiring since it opened in 1966. The complex has about 4,300 hourly and 300 salaried employees.

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