DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Co. began production of a version of the Chevrolet Cruze compact car more than three weeks behind schedule because of quality issues that the company declined to specify.
Output of Cruze models with the optional RS appearance package began last week, said Lesley Hettinger, a GM spokeswoman. GM's plant in Lordstown, Ohio, was supposed to begin making the cars in early October, she said.
“There were some issues affecting the quality of the package, and in order to ensure that no vehicle leaves without meeting our standards, we held off until it was perfect,” Hettinger said. She declined to specify what caused the delays.
GM is counting on the Cruze to help make up ground on Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. in the compact car segment. The automaker sold 5,048 Cruzes in October, the car's first month in showrooms. Toyota had 18,636 Corolla sales, and Honda sold 17,121 Civics.
The Cruze is "the workhorse" that's going to carry GM, Don Johnson, the automaker's vice president of U.S. sales, said on the company's sales conference call last week.
"We haven't been as strong in cars, especially at the low- end, as we would have liked to have been, and Cruze is really going to be the game-changer in that regard," Johnson said. GM wants to “significantly increase” Cruze deliveries starting in November as dealers build inventories, he said. He didn't give specific sales targets.
The Cruze starts at $16,995 and sells for as much as $22,695. The RS package includes “rocker moldings, unique front and rear fascias, front fog lamps, and rear spoiler,” GM said.
GM said in October last year it would push back the start of Cruze production to the third quarter of this year, from the previous three-month period, to have all variations of the new model available. The Cruze replaces the Cobalt in Chevrolet's lineup.
“Long term, we expect that Cruze is going to be substantially more of a vehicle than the Cobalt and will better meet consumer needs, and therefore we would expect the Cruze to outsell the Cobalt,” Johnson said on the conference call.
The Lordstown plant had 4,150 hourly employees as of July 28, according to the company's media website.