Can GM revive Chevrolet?

A once-great American icon is losing market share. Can GM make Chevy attractive again?

By Bruce Kennedy Nov 27, 2012 10:35AM

A young man admiring a new car -- i love images/Cultura/Getty ImagesDecades ago, Chevrolet used to brag that it was as American as baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. But these days, America is moving on.


General Motors (GM) has seen slumping sales of its all-important Chevrolet line. The brand is reportedly losing market share to Chrysler, Toyota (TM), Jeep and Volkswagen (VLKAY). Chevrolet only had 13.2% of U.S. auto sales in the first half of this year -- down from 14.3% a year earlier.


Chevrolet has been a drag on GM in the two years since the automaker emerged from bankruptcy and returned to the markets. Still, GM's October U.S. sales were the highest they've been since 2007, with deliveries up 5% from to a year earlier and sales to retail customers up 7%.


GM can't afford to lose Chevy. So in this evolve-or-perish market, it's choosing to evolve by reinventing its brands.


The company will replace 70% of its U.S. nameplates with redesigned or all-new vehicles over this year and 2013. And the Chevrolet is the focus of many of those changes.


"They really started by revamping their entire product portfolio from top to bottom," says Alec Gutierrez, senior market analyst at Kelley Blue Book. And he points as examples to the redesigned Chevrolet Malibu, the new Impala scheduled for 2014 and the rebirth of the Camaro muscle car.

 

At the same time, Chevrolet and other U.S. automakers are aware that American consumers are buying smaller cars and paying attention to innovations like all-electric cars and compact SUVs. Despite its sales slump, Chevrolet is still GM's top-selling brand, and is taking the lead in innovation and change.

 

"A lot of people were curious as to why (GM) launched the Volt, a $40,000 premium electric vehicle, under the Chevrolet moniker and not, say, under Cadillac or even under Buick," Gutierrez says. "But I think it just proves GM's commitment to the Chevrolet brand as… a green-friendly company, on the cutting edge of technology. I think they're really trying to redefine what that brand means to consumers."


Gutierrez believes Chevrolet vehicles are currently on a par with its competitors, domestic and foreign, when it comes to quality and options. The big challenge for Chevy and its rivals, he says, is the rise of what were formerly second-tier companies in the U.S. like Hyundai (HYMLF), KIA, Volkswagen, Subaru and Mazda (MZDAF).


"The level of parity in the industry is so strong that you're going to see, in these high-volume segments, the market share becoming more and more diluted across all brands, versus someone like a Chevrolet or even a Toyota really dominating any given segment," he says. "I think segment share is going to be more evenly distributed among the major players as everyone kind of comes up to the same competitive benchmark. "

 

Chevrolet will soon get a new addition to its lineup in the Spark, an all-electric mini-car that will go on sale this summer in California and Oregon. The five-door hatchback is only about 145 inches long, the Associated Press reports. By comparison, Toyota's new Prius C is about 157 inches long.


Will Americans flock once again to a completely redesigned Chevrolet? The company is overhauling 13 Chevrolet vehicles in the next year. It's a risky move, but one that could make Chevy hot again.


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Tags: Autos
346Comments
Nov 27, 2012 10:58PM
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Toyota might only be assembled in the US but GM after taking a handout and then filling bankruptcy is spending billions to build plants that make GM cars to sell here. After taking our money you would think they learned their lesson and would make all there vehicles here. I will not buy another one until they do and if they fold again it will be because they did not learn a thing.
Nov 27, 2012 10:49PM
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hmm why not put lines back into the cars.. a little more chrome highlights

and get away from the jelly beans with wheels designs..

Nov 27, 2012 10:45PM
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if they make cars that working ppl can buy with out paying 30 thousand buck a pop then they may stay in bizz most ppl i know cant pay 300 a month for a car . Use to u could buy a chevy for a good price but with all the greed in bizz today no one i know can buy one  

 

Nov 27, 2012 10:39PM
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The big challenge for GM is that the mainstream media is so far up the foreign car company's butts that no matter how good the GM cars are, all the sheeple think that the European and Japanese are sooo much better, even though its really a push quality-wise.
Nov 27, 2012 10:38PM
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With gas the way it now they need to bring back the Chevrolet Chevette
Nov 27, 2012 10:34PM
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GM wants to reinvent something?  I admit they reinvented my image of them.

I have owned 2 Cavaliers, Lumina, Skylark, Lemans, and a Malibu.  The Malibu I bought new had a thunk in the steering when making a right turn.  I complained about it every time I took it into the dealer.  Well long story short after it is off warranty and I took it in for a different problem they realize the steering shaft needed replaced.  Dealer would not cover it even though it was their mechanics error and they could find in the records where I reported it under warranty.  GM wasted over 2 weeks promising return calls on a day and then not calling back till 2-3 days later with a promise to return my call another day.  

GM initially said the dealer's offer of a 10 percent discount was fair.  I called them on that BS.  They finally offered to cover all but $100.  I called my dealer still ticked to have to pay anything to arrange an appointment.  GM did not inform them of it .... that was in October.  I am still waiting to have my car fixed as the dealer promised me a call back when GM contacted them.
Nov 27, 2012 10:30PM
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You are right, Toyotas are just assembled here but, let's not forget that Toyota does employ about 37,000 American workers.  I currently own two Chevys, a Saturn and a Mazda.  I've also had two Pontiacs and another Chevy along with a Plymouth and two Toyotas.  I've yet to find the perfect car but, I do like the way Chevy has been going recently with the Cruz and the Spark.  If I were in the market right now, that's where I would start looking. 

I am USA loyal too, including to those 37,000 Americans employed by Toyota. 

Nov 27, 2012 10:19PM
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Wake up people. If it were not for Japan GM would still be building cars that rust out in three years and engines needing valves and guides after 75,000 Mi. Obama did not bail out GM, Obama bailed out the UAW period and did nothing to make the company any more viable than it was. Get ready for round two  of bailout money. Competition should rule the day and winners and losers are chosen by the quality of product. For those of you who think that GM has paid us back I ask you to look at the stock price which is low 20s and they need to get the stock back to $53.00 to pay us back. That aint gonna happen. I will never ever buy another auto from GM or Chrysler.
Nov 27, 2012 10:04PM
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i had stock in gm before it became goverment motors and was given to the unions and stock holders were screwed by obama it will be a cold day in hell before i buy a car from obama and the unions
Nov 27, 2012 10:01PM
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They're junk and their operations are70% overseas,they just moved their research and development unit to china for cheaper labor and their volt still sucks.
Nov 27, 2012 9:53PM
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To someone bla bla bla I assume u work at wallmart u brain washed fool.  10 dollars an hour  is good for you ? U live in the hills obviously.
Nov 27, 2012 9:41PM
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Never will buy a GM(Government Motors) car. Should never have been bailed out should have gone thru bankruptcy. Buy a Ford
Nov 27, 2012 9:37PM
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I had a 1956 Chevy P.U., and a 1971 Camaro, love both vehicles.
Nov 27, 2012 9:32PM
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The Chevy Spark...sounds like a piece of crap. Let is hit a bigger vehicle and see how the occupants fare. Unbelievable.
Nov 27, 2012 9:26PM
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The government bailout of GM was just a buyout of union workers which saved 800000 jobs but threw by the wayside 23 million jobs of workers whom  lost jobs and pensions no equality here so would you buy a Chevy with that thought on your mind.
Nov 27, 2012 9:10PM
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Ever since GM decided to let Oldsmobile die, General Motors has never reclaimed their excellence and innovative stature.

 

Look at the new Camaro, with the front and back designed by two different designers, and told by the Chief Designer that he did not want it to look like a 1969 model - which obviously he got his way, as it looks terrible.

 

Chevrolet/GM got the Camaro completely wrong, instead of a new car designed to look like an old car, it looks like an old car designed to look like a new car. 

Nov 27, 2012 8:58PM
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Anyone think Chevy is American, check out the China V8, Tiawan Alternator, etc. If they started building a great car today they would still have to come to my house with a refund and an apology for 2 Oldsmobile pieces of junk and my first Chevy that like all early Chevy V8's was worn out at 65k miles right on schedule.  Took a while to learn.  When I got bit by the "plastic parts transmission" scam, just out of warranty of course, I drove to a Toyota dealer and never looked back.  Now my entire family drives Toyota.  I went from being in shop or parts house every week to never raising a hood on an automobile.

 

Nov 27, 2012 8:51PM
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what goes around comes around! screw GM! you dance with the devil you get burned! where was Obama's bailout of Hostess? oh that's

right 18,000 lost their jobs cause of big unions! where's Obama now? meeting with unions at the white house? playing golf? xmas shopping

and having a great thanxgiving! i'm sure the big union bosses were too but the 18,000 are OUT OF WORK! i would never buy another GM!

i thought the chevy volt was selling so good it was bringing back GM??? LIES! PROPAGANDA! COVER UP! JUST LIKE BENGAZI except

4 americans didn't DIE! we can thanks all the retarded obamanites who voted for this socialist PIG! UNIONS KILLED AUTO INDUSTRY!

Nov 27, 2012 8:36PM
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where's barry to the rescue with another $30 bil bailout for gubment motors?

Nov 27, 2012 8:33PM
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After owning a Chevelle Malibu SuperSport in 1967, I was certainly pissed that GM could have the audacity to turn it into a twinkie car. While Chevy was faithful to the Camaro line, it left the Chevelle behind, while it was as much an icon as any other car Chevy ever made! I would assume I was not the only one who decided on buying an alternative from a different manufacturer, if that is all the care Chevy cares about its icons. Maybe they could have retired the name! That would have been preferable!

 

Also, the Chevy dealerships are nothing but money mills, who give lousy service once the warrantee work is done. And All the car manufacturers can kiss my **** when it comes to using plastic lens on the headlights that yellow after a few years....what a waste! At least some of the new cars have retractible headlights or are inset and don't have to suffer the plastic degradation that out-front and sunstruck plastic represents in this new, throwaway world! 

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