General Motors will stop producing the Chevrolet Cruze after eight years at its plant in the town of General Alvear, near Rosario. It is the last conventional medium car manufactured in the country, which will go out of production at the end of the year, as confirmed by the subsidiary of the American automaker.
"Cruze will continue to be produced until the end of 2023, closing a successful manufacturing cycle of almost 8 years in Argentina. GM will continue to produce parts in its Automotive Industrial Complex in this country for the next 10 years," General Motors said in a statement.
In this way, the automotive industry of Argentina will definitively abandon the production of medium cars, a specialization that it adopted since the terminals were installed massively in the country from 1960. That specialization was consolidated with the automotive integration agreement with Brazil in 1991, which in turn was one of the legs on which the creation of Mercosur was based.
The Cruze is the last of the "C" sedan models, as they are now called, and which were once simply large midsize cars. Its direct competitor is the Toyota Corolla, which is produced in Brazil. Other local competitors had already left production: it was the case of the Peugeot 308 and 408, as well as the Citroën C4 that were made in El Palomar and that were discontinued at the end of 2020, as well as the Renault Fluence from Cordoba that ceased to be produced in 2019. That year also went out of production another emblematic medium, the Ford Focus.
Peugeot 308 and 408, discontinued along with its "cousin" Citroën C4 at the end of 2020.
General Motors' Rosario plant does not plan to reduce its production or its personnel, currently by about 1,500 people. According to the statement, the place of the Cruze will be occupied by the Tracker, a small SUV (segment "B") that began to be produced in parallel with the Brazilian Tracker in the middle of last year. By May, Rosario had shipped 25,000 trackers, the company said.
"At the end of the year, Tracker's production will be increased to ensure its availability in the local market and strengthen Argentina's exports to the region's markets. In this way, GM reaffirms its commitment to industrial production in the country," the statement added.
That specialization in medium cars was left behind: a work by the Association of Automobile Dealers (ACARA) indicates that in 2013 medium sedans represented almost 8% of the market and today they do not exceed 3.3%. Conversely, SUVs went from 11.3% of the market, a decade ago, to almost 20% today.
The Argentine Chevrolet Tracker, produced in Rosario. It began to be manufactured in July and goes for the 25,000th unit.
The striking thing is that the Cruze does not leave production due to lack of demand: in May, according to the patents that ACARA relieves, it was the ninth best-selling model in the domestic market. So far this year, 4,587 Cruzes have been patented, not counting exports of that model to Brazil.
But globally, General Motors had already been discontinuing it: the version made in Rosario was the same that the automaker produced in plants in the United States and China. When it went out of production in those countries, the company lost scale and bargaining power with suppliers of global auto parts, such as electronic components.
The investment of the Cruze, which at the time involved 750 million dollars when the head of General Motors Argentina was Isela Costantini, also brought the incorporation of an engine factory within the Rosario manufacturing complex.
In principle, this line will continue active, since the automaker has the obligation to maintain the stock of spare parts and parts up to ten years after the last zero kilometer of each model is marketed. But aftermarket motors represent only a fraction of the current production volume, so that also a part of the personnel specialized in this task will end up being transferred to the assembly line of the Tracker.