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GM Starts Building 40 MPG Subcompact

Lake Orion, MI--(WWJ) General Motors has begun production of its new subcompact, the Chevrolet Sonic.

The Sonic is the replacement for the Chevy Aveo, which had been made in South Korea.  But, the new vehicle will be made at GM's Orion plant in Oakland Country.  An innovative deal with the UAW—to use more lower paid "second tier" workers, allowed Orion—which had been idled, to reopen.

"Today is the start of regular production," said Kenneth Knight, GMs executive director of global and North American manufacturing engineering.  "Today is when we press the button to go live."

Knight says the Sonic will soon be joined on the line by the new compact Buick Verano.  But they want to make sure they have Sonic production perfected before they add the second vehicle.

Most vehicles are on "rolling launches" where production is increased slowly.  That's what's happened with the Sonic.

"We've built saleable vehicles up to this point," Knight told reporters at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.   "We've had vehicles that will eventually be into the marketplace, but today is the start of regular production."

The Sonic is expected to get about 40 miles per gallon highway, with a starting price just under $15 thousand dollars.

In the past, a vehicle with this small a price tag couldn't have been built profitably in the United States.  But the creative arrangement with the UAW cleared the way for the Sonic to be assembled here.

Connect with Jeff Gilbert:
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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