LORDSTOWN, Ohio (AP) -- General Motors Co. launched its Chevrolet Cruze compact sedan at its factory near Youngstown on Wednesday, with company and state officials touting the production as a boost to the U.S. and Ohio economies.
The 2011 Cruze goes on sale this month in U.S. showrooms, with a starting price of $16,995. The car, about the size of a Ford Focus or Honda Civic, replaces the Chevrolet Cobalt and is expected to achieve up to 40 mpg on the highway.
"The rebirth of the American economy starts right here at Lordstown with a world-class, high-volume car built in the heartland of America," GM North America President Mark Reuss told those who attended the launch at the plant that employs about 4,500.
Reuss arrived with Gov. Ted Strickland in a red Cruze followed by a parade of red, white and blue models.
Strickland addressed critics who he says have written of GM and written off manufacturing in Ohio.
"To every naysayer out there planning to meekly surrender our future, let me say this: Look at this car made in Ohio by Ohioans," he said.
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown called the launch "a turning point for our country's manufacturing sector."
"Manufacturing helped build this country's middle class, and its importance to our economy will only grow as our nation demands cleaner and more energy-efficient American-made products like the Cruze," he said.
Union leaders at the plant said the car shows that Detroit-based GM can take on foreign automakers for the compact car market.
"We will compete with anything, and we will beat them," said United Auto Workers Local 1112 President Jim Graham.
GM said the Cruze is Chevrolet's top-selling car worldwide this year, with more than 165,000 sold.