Chevy targets 1 million sales in Europe image

Chevrolet is looking to break through the 1 million cars a year sales barrier in Europe within the next five years on the back of new products from its South Korean unit and improved marketing.

Last year Chevy sold 420,000 vehicles in Europe, not including Russia, growing from 140,000 in 2003. Mike Arcamone, president and chief executive officer of GM-Daewoo Automotive Technology Company based in Incheon, South Korea, said that sales will grow as new models replace ‘legacy’ vehicles inherited from the bankrupt Daewoo Motors.

Some of these are close to sign-off at the Incheon engineering and design centre. These include new versions of the Aveo – a sports RS model and a four-door notchback. There is also an all-new small SUV.

Design chief Taewan Kim said that the as yet unnamed SUV is based on the Aveo platform with a slightly longer wheelbase.

“The design is not yet finalised, nor is there a final decision on market introduction but this could be a very important model for us in Europe. It is a growing segment and if the Chevrolet brand is to grow we have to be in it.

“We have taken a lot of existing Chevy design cues inside and outside the car and looks young, robust and will be affordable.”

Arcamone meanwhile, acknowledged there was still a marketing job to do with the brand in Europe.

He said: “Chevrolet is a well known brand but it means different things to different people. In Europe people tend to associate it with large American vehicles while in South America and Asia Chevy has been known for many years as a maker of smaller cars, mainly based on Opels.

“We have to draw on both those strands in Europe, playing on the American heritage – we are the only mainstream US brand in the region. That heritage is embodied in some 600 songs which include the Chevrolet name, the open roads of the USA and the iconic brand.

“What we don’t want to do is compete head to head with Opel which is being positioned slightly more premium. Chevy will be more of a value brand. By that we do not mean cheap. As our new products are launched they will be providing added value – more car for your money.”

Arcamone added that Chevy will be targeting brands like Citroen, SEAT, Ford, Toyota, Hyundai and Kia.

The Orlando small SUV unveiled at this year’s Paris Motor Show will be launched in Europe in the middle of next year.

GM-DAT gave journalists a brief drive opportunity this week of the Vauxhall Zafira-size model at its Cheongna proving ground near Seoul.

The Orlando is equipped with the Zafira’s seven-seat flexible seating system and will come with a choice of petrol and diesel engines.

The 2-litre, 160bhp unit in the vehicle driven was quieter, more responsive and altogether more refined than the 1.8-litre petrol version.