By Gary Gastelu
Published March 06, 2019
The last Chevrolet Cruze is scheduled to roll out of the General Motors plant in Lordstown, Ohio, on Wednesday afternoon.
Workers at the soon to be idled facility have been chronicling the sedan’s journey down the assembly line with photos released to local news outlets since last week. More as a protest than a celebration, as they are facing job losses or transfers to other General Motors facilities.
In one image posted to WKBN last week, the phrase “we succeed despite you” can be seen written on the car’s unibody. Another provided to WFMJ on Tuesday shows a group shot of workers outside of the paint shop holding up signs that read “GM, we invested in you. Now it’s your turn to invest in us,” alongside the white car draped in an American flag.
The message is a reference, in part, to the United Auto Workers union’s role in General Motors emergence from bankruptcy a decade ago, when a union trust took a stake in the company in exchange for assuming responsibility for some retiree benefits.
The Lordstown facility is one of two final assembly plants in the U.S. set to be “unallocated” this year, due to dwindling demand for their products as the market shifts toward utilities and trucks. Production at the other one in Detroit, however, has been extended to 2020 and GM President Mark Reuss said in January that the automaker is "looking at a lot of different options" for Lordstown. The UAW has filed a lawsuit arguing that the plant is effectively being closed in violation of its collective bargaining agreement with GM.
The first vehicle built at the factory when it opened in 1966 was a white Chevrolet Impala, whose whereabouts are today unknown, and 16 million cars and trucks have come out of it since then. Among them were 1.9 million Chevrolet Vegas, which is approximately the same number of Cruzes it has produced.
President Obama visited the plant in 2009 and signed the hood of a Cruze prototype heralding the fuel efficient compact as “the car of the future,” while Reuss drove the first production car off the line the following year when he was president of GM’s North American operations.
The destination of the last American-made Cruze has not been officially announced. The model is still produced and sold in several locations around the world.