Can GM revive Chevrolet?
A once-great American icon is losing market share. Can GM make Chevy attractive again?
Decades 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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hmm why not put lines back into the cars.. a little more chrome highlights
and get away from the jelly beans with wheels designs..
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
I am USA loyal too, including to those 37,000 Americans employed by Toyota.
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.
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.
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!
where's barry to the rescue with another $30 bil bailout for gubment motors?
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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ABOUT BILL FLECKENSTEIN
This column is a synopsis of Bill Fleckenstein's daily column on his website, FleckensteinCapital.com, which he's been writing on the Internet since 1996. Click here to find Fleckenstein's most recent articles.
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