General Motors’ Lordstown, Ohio, manufacturing complex will build the company’s next generation small passenger car following an investment of over $US500 million to renovate the assembly and stamping plants. Production is scheduled to begin in late 2004.

“GM’s investment in Lordstown signifies that GM will continue to aggressively compete in the very important, small car segment,” said GM North America president Gary Cowger, who was plant manager at Lordstown Assembly in the mid 1980s.

With this investment, GM will reconfigure and retool the assembly plant’s general assembly area, retool the plant’s body shop and construct a paint shop. In addition, GM will refurbish its metal stamping plant at the Lordstown complex.

GM updated the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire for the 2003 model year with a mild exterior restyle, side impact air bags and availability of the Ecotec 2.2L L4 engine to all models.

However, GM has been criticised for not fully redesigning the ageing Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire models while Japanese rivals such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla have been redesigned at four-year intervals. GM has not yet revealed any details of the new cars (over)due in 2004.

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Lordstown Assembly currently builds the Cavalier and Sunfire while Lordstown Metal Centre stamps sheet metal parts for Lordstown Assembly and several other assembly plants.

The assembly plant currently employs 4,200 hourly and 300 salaried employees.

In calendar 2001, Lordstown Assembly built nearly 324,000 vehicles (approximately 241,000 Chevrolet Cavaliers and 83,000 Pontiac Sunfires).