GM halts most Chevy Cruze sales

Posted at 3:45 PM, Mar 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-28 15:45:33-04

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — General Motors has halted the sale of most of the Chevrolet Cruzes now on dealer lots due to an issue on which officials are not yet commenting.

The Cruze is GM’s best-selling car model in the United States, and is also widely distributed internationally.

Officials say the halt will not affect operations at the Lordstown plant, where the Chevy Cruze is built.

Spokesman Alan Adler confirmed that GM has ordered a halt to sales of models with the 1.4-liter turbo engine, the most popular version of the compact car. Adler did not know the reason for the halt, and said there hasn’t been a recall issued on cars already sold.

The news comes as GM contends with a damaging recall of 1.6 million small cars worldwide due to an ignition switch flaw that has been linked to at least 12 deaths. This stop order is minor in comparison to that recall, but comes at a bad time, as Congress and federal prosecutors probe why GM did not recall the cars for a decade after it discovered the problem. GM CEO Mary Barra is due to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.

The Cruze is one of GM’s best-selling models worldwide, with more than 2 million sold globally since it went on sale in 2009. GM sold 248,000 in the United States last year. Adler said the stop sales order is only for U.S. dealerships.

GM had about a 70 day-inventory of Cruzes at the end of February. That comes to about 7,000 cars nationwide.

Adler said stop orders are not uncommon and can be for something as minor as a flaw in the window sticker, or as major as a problem that leads to a recall. But not all stop orders lead to recalls.

Also on Friday, GM recalled just under 700 of the Cadillac ELR, the plug-in hybrid that is the luxury brand’s version of the Chevy Volt. Only 55 of the cars have been sold to customers, Adler said, while the rest are on dealer lots.

The recalled ELR’s have a calibration problem with their electronic stability control. Adler said the fix is a 20-minute software update.

Shares of GM were higher in mid-morning trading, though the news briefly sent the stock down from earlier highs.