Chart Of The Day: The Rise And Fall Of The Chevrolet Cruze

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
chart of the day the rise and fall of the chevrolet cruze

Ever since emerging from bankruptcy, the Chevrolet Cruze has been something of a symbol of GM’s rebound. Widely hailed by the automotive media as General Motors’ strongest effort to date in a compact segment that has become increasingly important in recent years, the Cruze seemed to show that the “new” GM was capable of selling smaller cars on their merits, rather than as afterthoughts to more profitable truck, SUV and large car offerings. And indeed, through the first half of this year, it seemed that the Cruze was something of a roaring success, regularly outselling its segment competitors. But then, in June, when production shifted from 2011 models to 2012 models, something changed: sales started to slow, and inventories started to rise. As Cruzes began piling up on dealer lots, GM trimmed production moderately, but still, inventories began to grow out of control. Clearly something was going wrong.

UPDATED: “Big Six” compact sedan monthly sales graph (Jan-Nov, 2011) added to gallery after the jump.

Last week, GM shut down production of the Cruze, saying only that it had an unspecified “supplier issue.” But Automotive News [sub] reports that had already GM shut down the Lordstown plant for the entire week of November 28, after inventories shot from 33 days supply to 73 days supply during the months of September and October. As of December 1, inventories had risen higher still, to 88 days, as sales continue to slacken. Lordstown reopened yesterday, but with sales falling and inventories running out of control, another slowdown or stoppage of production seems inevitable.

So, what happened to the Cruze’s sales? The fact that its downturn coincided with the switch from 2011 to 2012 is certainly mysterious, as GMInsidenews’s reliable guide to 2012 model-year changes shows that only the following features were deleted from Cruze in the switch from 2011 to 2012:

  • (GAP) Imperial Blue Metallic exterior color
  • (EN4) Cargo cover compartment
  • Rear center headrest on all trims

Surely a lost cargo cover compartment and rear center headrest don’t explain the downturn… which might actually be cause for even greater concern. If GM could pinpoint a specific problem that is keeping buyers away from new 2012 Cruzes, it could remedy it fairly easily. As things stand though, it’s tough not to conclude that GM may simply have filled the bulk of market demand for their car, and that it’s now losing out to the brutally tough competition in its segment. If that’s the case, it doesn’t bode well for The General… at least in terms of perception, as the Cruze goes, so goes GM.

Join the conversation
3 of 109 comments
  • Alluster Alluster on Dec 21, 2011

    Ignoring seasonal factors, here's how the C segment has been compared to 2010 Model 2011 2010 Change Cruze 215908 110360 105548 Elantra 173336 119150 54186 Jetta 138092 86925 51167 Sentra 106281 83285 22996 Forte 71564 62806 8758 Focus 161436 159679 1757 Corolla 219250 244024 -24774 Civic 200690 231955 -31265 Total C Segment 1286557 1098184 188373 Cruze Market share 16.78% 10.04% Corolla Market Share 17.4% 22.22% If the General has a problem, the others have much bigger problems. Will only get more interesting once the Dodge Dart is out. Sales start at 0 and have to come from somewhere.

    • Alluster Alluster on Dec 21, 2011

      The difference between Corolla and (Cruze+cobalt) in 2010 = 134,000 Units The difference between Corolla and (Cruze+cobalt) in 2011 = 3,300 Units In 2010 Civic led the Cruze+Cobalt by 121,500 Units In 2011 Cruze now leads the Civic by 15,300 Units That pretty much says it all. Sorry for ruining a great story by letting facts in!!

  • Lammp4 Lammp4 on Dec 22, 2011

    i think there is a problem with the pricing of compact was commented on earlier, you can get into a misize car for roughly the same money as a loaded compact. there are also too many choices. i think chevy is competing, as are most car companies, with itself. i think the sonic and the cruz and soon a new malibu will overlap in price. maybe gm is still too big a company for the us market.

  • Dwford Are these wild prices a function of financial necessity, or does the tech and the luxury actually justify the price? I can't imagine this minivan looking thing costing over $300k
  • Lorenzo Back in olden times, I stopped reading the Superman comics for the stories. It was worth the dime to just read the letters to the editor, with all the letter writers trying to trip up the comics writers with discrepancies, mostly caused by the 4-color printing process, and others arguing the physics of of sn imaginary cartoon character who wore his underwear over his tights. I now find the same thing is hppening here. I'm beginning to shift my interest in TTAC from the articles to the comments section!
  • SCE to AUX Faraday Future shouldn't even be here, and they won't make it. Other ultra-expensive EVs are fun projects for companies who can fund them from other revenue.The Lucid Air is a strange one because it starts at $87k but can run to over $250k. Most cars jump only around 50% for top trims, not 300%.As for EVs - don't give me more power (easy); give me more range (hard). And quicker filling time.
  • Dukeisduke It's funny how stuff like this crosses over between sites nowadays - there's an article about it today on MacRumors: Polestar 2 Software Update Brings Wave of New Apple CarPlay Features - MacRumors
  • Fahrvergnugen "If you’re itching for an ultra-exclusive EV – and who isn’t – "Me...