Most of the dollars involved will go to retooling the Lordstown, Ohio, plant where the Cruze will be built, once the current Cobalt lineup is evicted. That's not expected to happen until after the 2010 model year, since the Cobalt is enjoying a surge in popularity as gas prices remain high.
Fuel economy will be a hallmark of the new car. While today's Chevrolet Cobalt XFE gets upward of 37 miles per gallon, GM's Bob Lutz says the new Cruze could top 40 mpg with a high-economy turbocharged 1.4-liter engine.
GM showed off the Cruze yesterday in high-resolution photos and also showed a mockup of the real car at the announcement of the plant investment. The rest of the world has to wait for the Paris auto show in October to get a look at the Cruze compact.
Europe gets the Cruze next year; we'll have more from the Paris auto show.