Suzuki-Based Cruze of Past Fizzled

It was a joint project with then-alliance partner Suzuki, which launched its own version of the car, with a smaller engine and sheetmetal changes, as the Suzuki Swift. Combining Suzuki engineering and architecture with Chevy design, suspension and all-wheel-drive capability, it was the most ambitious joint project of GM and Suzuki in 20 years of partnership. At that time, GM owned 20 percent of Suzuki.

GM offered the Cruze with a 1.3-liter or 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine, both assembled by Suzuki at its Kosai complex in Hamamatsu, Japan. The car went on sale in Japan in November 2001 through GM’s network of AutoWorld facilities in Japan, as well as through Suzuki ARENA dealers – a new distribution system launched to sell compact cars, as opposed to the minivehicles sold at traditional Suzuki dealerships.

Despite the two-pronged sales effort, Cruze sales fell far short of the first-year goal of 20,000, and the vehicle continued to underperform until GM dropped it from the lineup in 2006. The Suzuki Swift continued to sell well, and the Japanese automaker—in which GM no longer has a stake—will sell a version in the U.S. in 2010. A Holden Cruze for Australia also sold well until it was discontinued in 2005.

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