California Autos Examiner

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Chevrolet previews future models to journalists

Chevy Cruze and its vehicle line director Chuck Russell

Chevrolet offered members of the media a sneak preview of its North American International Auto Show yesterday and while information from that event is embargoed, Chevrolet PR revealed plenty via its Twitter account.

Here are some of Chevrolet's tweets:

Camaro Convertible just shown to journalists! Looks great. Red Jewel color. Top down. Can't wait till 2011!

Next gen Aveo just unveiled! Larger than current Aveo and definitely more dynamic design.

From Mike Simcoe, head Chevy designer:" Next gen Aveo is no longer an econobox. It's a performance car."

Now showing the production version of the Chevy Orlando. We're looking forward to it.

Chevy Orlando to seat seven people! Not a minivan though.

And for the grand finale...the next Malibu. Wait till you see this car!

You might notice that in all of those tweets, there was nary a mention of a truck. Part of that obviously has to do with the fact that there are no truck introductions in the near future, but also that the tide is turning and trucks will be deemphasized as Chevrolet focuses on smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles.

Chevrolet certainly does have a bumper crop of small cars headed our way. Many of us recall driving around in a rental Cavalier, with the Cruze on deck General Motors would like to take a memory eraser, not unlike the kind used in the movie Men In Black and make you forget everything you know about Chevrolet small cars. Whereas previous domestic small car entries from the General might have been bunts or base hits, the Cruze promises to be a triple if not a home run. Take, for example, the airbag count on the Cruze: It stands at ten. Many luxury cars crow about seven or eight airbags, few can claim a number so lofty as ten. Look at the Cruze’s interior, for another case in point: It is no low-buck affair with a nice interplay of various materials and shapes that would have heretofore been the domain of more expensive German models. You can view more pictures of the Chevrolet Cruze that I took at the Los Angeles Auto Show in this linked slideshow.

The next Aveo, as mentioned in the above tweet, is also looking for a fresh start as a sportier, more stylish entry. The Aveo's Gamma II platform will also spawn a GMC model, said to be a Scion xB-like design, which has been previewed to some outsiders already, and a mini-Enclave model for Buick, which I was shown at the Buick Regal debut in Hollywood. In addition, look for Chevrolet to also get several body Gamma II variants in addition to the Aveo. This news comes from former Chevrolet General Manager Brent Dewar who I interviewed at the recent Los Angeles Auto Show. GM Inside News suggests that the mystery Gamma II model for Chevrolet may be Mazda5-like in its design. With the Aveo shifting around a bit in the lineup, room will be made for the forthcoming Chevrolet Spark mini-car. The well received HHR will be replaced by the Chevrolet Orlando which will offer seven seater capacity.

When it comes to the next Chevrolet Malibu, those who have seen the car have raved that it is a very impressive design. In an interview with Automotive News, General Motor's Bob Lutz told the publication that the next generation Malibu, which will arrive in about two years time, will have an overall length that will be slightly shorter than the current model, but that interior space will be larger.

Despite the recent management upheaval at General Motors, its resurgent product should be able to keep the lights shining brightly at the company's headquarters for many years to come. It is disappointing that so many changes are occurring around the critical start of the auto show season, not the least of which was Los Angeles Auto Show keynote speaker, former GM CEO Fritz Henderson getting the boot one day before his LA show address, forcing GM employees to scramble around at the last minute. Such events distract the media from the what should be the main focus: General Motors is producing some of the best products in the company's history.

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