GM widening production cuts in South Korea due to weak Chevrolet sales in Europe

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 12, 2013

Due to poor Chevrolet sales in Europe, General Motors Co. is widening the production cuts at one of its several factories in South Korea. According to a company official, the operations of this plant located in the southwestern city of Gunsan will be suspended for nine days, higher than the six days that it was idled in March.

The factory assembles the Chevrolet Cruze compact car and Orlando minivan and has a yearly production capacity of 260,000 units. GM has five plants in South Korea. The Korean unit of GM builds majority of the Chevrolet models sold in Europe and over 40% of those sold worldwide. Last Monday, the official said that the company is amending factory output in response to a drop in orders for Europe exports.

The official didn’t explain how much the output is expected to decrease. Chevrolet sales fell by 39% to 18,790 units from January to February in the EU, ACEA said. Meanwhile, the wider passenger vehicle market decreased by 10% amid the euro zone debt crisis and government austerity measures.

JATO Dynamics said that Cruze sales in Europe declined to 5,704 in the first two months from 5,035 units in the same period of last year. For the first two months of 2013, Chevrolet sold 2,101 Orlando units, a drop from 3,955 units.

Chevrolet Cruze

On the exterior, what makes the design of the Chevrolet Cruze unique is that it has that bold face that the whole world is familiar with. This includes, of course, the two-tier grille that has the well-known Bowtie logo. Giving it proportions similar to a sports coupe are the fast-sloping pillars in the rear with the arching roofline that’s connected to the steeply-raked windshield.

Compared to other models in the same class, the new Cruze is not only longer but wider as well. By ensuring bodywork that is tightly drawn and taut, it manages to express solidity. Meanwhile by making sure that enhancements to the exterior trim were kept to a minimum, it gives this new offering a feel of top quality. In terms of overall look, it has one that shows purposeful precision.

This same precision can be observed as well on the build quality. With the goal of ensuring that the new Cruze would have a solid body structure, it was important to optimize it. As such, the company needed to retool the body shop of its assembly plant in Lordstown and put in the most advanced welding and body-framing equipment. This resulted in a body structure that is so strong that production variance is ensured to be at minimum with the repeatable gap tolerances in between majority of the exterior panels at most 3 mm.

For those who get to own a Cruze, this translates to a car that looks good upon purchase and eventually one that feels solid even for the years after that. The sporty look is not only seen on the panels but in the headlamps which envelopes the corners and then goes up to the sculpted hood and fenders. Going to the rear, the deck is short which is what one would expect from a sports coupe.

Its wheels have been placed at its corners making the overhangs in the front and the rear minimal. Since all of these different components are able to work well together, the Cruze is able to have that aggressive appearance matched with that confident and wide stance. While it is clear that the extra attention to detail was done on the exterior with its strong design cues, these can all be seen in the interior too. It has that twin-cockpit theme, clearly inspired by the Corvette, and complemented with the excellent tolerances of the assembly and the use of high-quality materials.

The components have that soft-touch and grained feel to them and when paired with the low-gloss trim panels, give the interior a characteristic that is rarely seen for its class. Another example of how the Cruze is able to avoid what people expect from a compact car is to look at its instrument panel. In addition to having instruments with rich details, it uses LED technology as a backlight. Because of this, the analog controls get that ice-blue and sharp light. This is also the same for the other controls in the interior. There is also the driver information center, which delivers a large amount of data to the driver, another feature that is rare for its segment.

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