DETROIT -- The next-generation Chevrolet Cruze, due in autumn 2014 as a 2015 model, will be the first model to use a new General Motors Co. global platform that eventually could underpin nearly 2.5 million GM compact sedans and crossovers worldwide by 2018, several sources told Reuters.
GM would not confirm plans for the new platform, which will combine two existing platforms for compact models, one for sedans and one for crossovers.
The new global platform will be used as the foundation for a wide range of compact vehicles that will be sold under various GM brand names, including the successors to the Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Equinox and Opel/Vauxhall Astra, industry sources told Reuters.
The platform carries the internal GM designation D2XX, according to sources familiar with the program. A GM spokesman declined to acknowledge the existence of the D2XX program.
On Thursday, GM said it will continue to build the Cruze at its Lordstown, Ohio, plant, when the next generation goes on sale in a few years.
The automaker plans to invest $220 million for tooling and equipment for the changeover to the redesigned Cruze, which isn't expected to go on sale until late 2014. GM wouldn't disclose production timing for the redesigned car.
Production of the current Cruze, which was launched in fall 2010, is expected to run through the 2014 model year.
A UAW official said that while GM did not say how long it will extend production at Lordstown, he suspected it would be until 2019 or 2020, based on the five-to- six-year life cycle of a new or completely redesigned vehicle.
The redesign will feature "new exterior and interior styling, improved fuel economy and an improved interior compartment and more storage space," GM said in a statement.
Since it replaced the Cobalt in Chevy's lineup, sales of the Cruze have surged, making it GM's second-best selling car behind the Malibu mid-sized sedan.
Through July, Cruze sales totaled 128,838 units for the year, down 13 percent from a year earlier. GM sold 153,782 Malibus. The Cruze is the No. 4 U.S. compact, behind the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla and Ford Focus.
GM is likely to consider adding a body variant or two for the next-generation Cruze, including a hatchback and possibly a coupe. GM already has confirmed plans to build a diesel Cruze, which is expected to reach the market in the second half of 2013.
The Cruze also is expected to feature the new face of Chevrolet, as seen on the 2014 Impala that is scheduled to arrive early next year. The new front end eschews the split grille that has marked most Chevy cars for a decade in favor of a wider, flared-back grille that connects to the headlamps.
About 4,500 employees work on three shifts at the Lordstown plant, which is near Youngstown in northeast Ohio.
Mike Colias contributed to this report.