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  1. Analysis
July 13, 2017

ANALYSIS – what the future holds for Chevrolet cars

Following a major expansion in the 2000s, Chevrolet is now shrinking. Fast. GM has pulled its largest brand from all European markets (though the Corvette and Camaro remain available), and a withdrawal from India and South Africa has now begun too. Meanwhile, in the US, China and South Korea, sales of Chevy car models are falling, leaving Brazil as the world's only large market where things are improving.

By Glenn Brooks

Following a major expansion in the 2000s, Chevrolet is now shrinking. Fast. GM has pulled its largest brand from all European markets (though the Corvette and Camaro remain available), and a withdrawal from India and South Africa has now begun too. Meanwhile, in the US, China and South Korea, sales of Chevy car models are falling, leaving Brazil as the world’s only large market where things are improving. 

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Even with the retreat from dozens of markets, Chevrolet is still present in dozens of countries, of which the US is by far the largest. In June, US market deliveries dipped by 1.5 per cent to 169,842 cars and light trucks, while in China, sales were up by 7.2 per cent to just over 38,000 vehicles. Numbers for Brazil reached 33,606 in June with the brand retaining its dominant position there thanks to the Gravataí-built Onix hatchback.

A segment / Mini-car

G2SC is the model code for the Spark. This five-door small car would enter production at the Changwon plant in the first half of 2015, a GM Korea union spokesman told the press in July 2013. GM Korea’s management briefed union negotiators on its plans during annual wage talks that month. Production of the fourth generation Spark commenced in June 2015, with the car in South Korean dealerships from August 2015.

GM’s December 2013 announcement concerning the future of Chevrolet Europe means the Spark is not sold in the region. Instead, a version of the car is imported by Opel-Vauxhall as the Agila replacement. This is the Opel Karl and Vauxhall Viva. The Karl/Viva and Spark share an engine and front doors.

The Spark had its world premiere at the Seoul motor show in April 2015, with North America’s model debuting the following day at the New York auto show. All are built in South Korea and powered by a 1.4-litre gasoline engine linked to either a five-speed manual gearbox or a CVT. The smallest Chevy went in North America during the fourth quarter of 2015 for the region’s 2016 model year.

The Spark should not be confused with the Chevrolet Beat which GM India began exporting to Mexico in September 2015. This is an older car and is examined below.

For North America’s 2017 model year, Chevrolet added a renamed Beat Activ to its model range, the federalised Spark Activ mini-crossover premiering at November 2016’s LA auto show. Only minimal changes are expected for the 2018 model year, with a facelifted car due to appear during CY2018 and a fifth generation Spark expected to be released during 2022.

As noted above, GM still sells the older shape Spark – the third generation model – in some markets. This small five-door hatchback had its global debut at the Geneva show in March 2009, introducing GM’s Gamma 2 architecture. In Europe (launched in early 2010), the Spark 3 offered buyers a choice of 1.0- and 1.2-litre petrol engines.

The then GM Daewoo launched its version of the model in September 2009. In South Korea, where the second generation Daewoo Matiz remained on sale as a cheaper model for a time, the newer car was initially badged as the Daewoo Matiz Creative – it became a Chevrolet in 2011.

GM India launched its variant, the Chevrolet Beat, at the New Delhi motor show in January 2010. It went on sale soon after. The Beat is assembled from CKD kits supplied by GM Korea. Also, an even older Chevy Spark – M300 model code – remains in production in India as a cheaper model to the Beat. A diesel Beat went on sale in July 2011, powered by a 1.0-litre locally-made (Talegaon, Maharashtra powertrain plant) engine.

The GM-Uz Daewoo joint venture in Uzbekistan began assembling the Spark from CKD kits in August 2010.

The Spark/Beat for the US and Canada, meanwhile, was launched there in September 2012 for the 2013 model year. Mexico was the first market in North America for the car: the ‘2011 Spark’ was launched there in late 2010.

The Shanghai GM joint venture launched a Chinese market version of the Spark at the Guangzhou motor show in December 2010. It is priced above the second generation (Chevrolet Le Chi) Spark. The latter is built by another joint venture, SAIC GM Wuling.

GM South Africa began building the Spark in March 2012. This was the first time in 31 years that a Chevrolet passenger vehicle had been made at the Struandale plant in Port Elizabeth. These vehicles are also exported to selected markets in sub-Saharan Africa.

GM India launched a facelifted Beat at the Delhi motor show in February 2014. It began exports, including to LHD markets such as Chile, from the first quarter of 2015. Exports to Mexico commenced in September 2015: this car is sold there as the Spark Classic and was renamed for the 2016 model year. The older Spark remains on sale in India too.

Two additional versions of the Beat were revealed by GM India at the Delhi auto expo in February 2016. The Beat Activ is a crossover and the Beat Essentia is a sedan. Each is manufactured at the Talegaon plant, not the Halol factory, which closed earlier in 2017 and which was recently bought by SAIC.

Mexico’s Spark Classic gained a facelift for the 2018 model year.

In June 2017, GM India announced the start of Best Essentia/Beat sedan exports to markets in South America. GM will likely phase out the M300 series Spark/Beat range during 2019 or 2020.

B segment / Sub-compact

In contrast to North America, where it is Chevrolet’s larger sedans which sell in the greatest numbers, the most successful models in both Brazil and China are sub-compact or B segment sedans and hatchbacks. The Onyx is now the Brazilian market’s best selling vehicle, in fact. Some of this is due to the existence of the low-price Onyx Joy variants.

GM do Brasil revealed the Onix five-door hatchback, at the 51st Salão Internacional do Automóvel in Sao Paulo in October 2012. This B segment model is said to have the same basic architecture as the Sonic/Aveo but with a shorter wheelbase and narrower tracks.

GM do Brasil calls the platform Global Small Vehicle (GSV): it was designed in South Korea with Brazilian engineering cooperation.

The Chevrolet Prisma is a sedan version of the Onix, as is the low-price Prisma Joy. Both had a facelift in July 2016. A second update should hit the market in about a year’s time, with new generations of both due in 2020.

The Onix was the best selling car in Brazil during 2016, helping Chevrolet to become the number one brand for the first time in 30 years. During the first half of 2017, the Onix was still far and away the country’s best selling vehicle and also outpaced the rising market.

The eventual replacement model series is expected to be based upon the GM-SAIC architecture which was announced in July 2015.

A further B segment car for Brazil and certain other lower income countries is the Cobalt. This small sedan was launched in Brazil in November 2011. The standard engine there is a 1.4-litre bi-fuel unit.

Russia had at one time been expected to be a major market for the Cobalt, following the start up of production at the Uz Daewoo plant in Uzbekistan in May 2013. The car for the Russian market was revealed at the Moscow motor show in August 2012. GM Uzbekistan also assembles a version of the Cobalt, the Ravon R4.

The Chevrolet Cobalt concept, a small sedan which debuted at the Buenos Aires motor show in June 2011, was a preview of the production car.

The Chevrolet Spin, a minivan, which will be looked at in a forthcoming second Chevrolet feature, is closely related to the Cobalt: the two models share a platform and wheelbase and in Brazil, they are built in the same plant.

A mildly facelifted Cobalt debuted at October 2014’s Sao Paulo motor show. A more substantial update went on sale in Brazil in December 2015.

The eventual Cobalt replacement is expected to be based upon the GM-SAIC architecture which was announced in July 2015. It should be revealed in Brazil in 2019 and go on sale there first, towards the end of that year.

Another vehicle in the B segment is China’s Lova RV. This small minivan, which is manufactured by SAIC GM and derived from the Chevrolet Sail, had its world premiere at Auto Guangzhou in November 2015. It went on sale in January 2016, powered by a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Transmission choice is between a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic. The Lova RV is 4,205mm long, 1,722mm wide, and 1,525mm high. It is due for a facelift in late 2019.

The next generation Lova RV should appear towards the end of 2022 and be based on the same GM-SAIC platform as the fourth generation Sail small car as well as Brazil’s future Onix and Prisma.

Still in China, another big selling model is the third generation Sail. This small sedan (see image) had its world premiere at the Guangzhou motor show in November 2014. The ‘Sail 3’ entered Chinese dealerships the following month. It is manufactured by SAIC GM. Both 1.3- and 1.5-litre petrol engines are available, in combination with manual and automated manual transmissions. The Chinese JV began exports of the Sail to Chile and Peru in July 2015.

While GM China claimed in its 20 November 2014 press release that the Sail 3 is “built on Shanghai GM’s new-generation small car architecture”, and despite it having a longer wheelbase, it is a major restyle of the old model. A truly new model, the Sail 4, to be based on the new architecture announced by GM in July 2015, should enter production during 2018.

Back in North America, one of the smallest Chevrolet hatchbacks is the Bolt. Unlike the larger Volt, this is a fully electric model. The Bolt EV concept was a world premiere at the Detroit auto show in January 2015. This was a bright orange five-door hatchback which looked something like the Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The 4,166mm long production version was revealed in Las Vegas in January 2016 at the CES (Consumer Electronics Show). It also appeared a few days later at the Detroit auto show.

Bolt production commenced in October 2016 with the first cars delivered to customers in California two months later. US$30,000 would be the target starting price, GM stated at the 2015 Detroit auto show. All production is at Orion Assembly, some 30 miles north of Detroit. The Bolt is put together on the same line as the Chevrolet Sonic and the plant works only one shift. It is therefore possible to raise Bolt production capacity relatively easily should there be sufficient demand. GM Korea imports small numbers of the electric hatchback.

Specs of the car released in January 2016 reveal that the battery pack is a weighty 435kg and the kerb weight is 1,625kg. The United States Environmental Protection Agency rates the Bolt as having an official average of 238 miles on a full recharge.

In June 2017, GM announced the release of 130 Bolts with Level 4 autonomous drive capability. These cars are for real world testing on the streets of three US cities.

The Bolt’s mid-life refresh should take place in 2020. Should the car be successful – it is still early days – a second generation model could be on sale as soon as late 2023.

Once a big-volume model, the Aveo/Sonic is Chevrolet’s global rival for the Ford Fiesta, Toyota Yaris, VW Polo and other B segment cars. This small four-door sedan and five-door hatchback range is or has been marketed as the Sonic in the US, Canada, Brazil, Japan, South Africa, Thailand and some markets in the Middle East. In China, South Korea and Mexico, it is the Aveo.

The current shape model had its global debut (in five-door hatchback form as the Aveo) at the Paris motor show in September 2010. Chevrolet Europe launched the then-new model from June 2011. GM Korea built both bodystyles for Chevrolet Europe. In March 2011, it launched its own replacements for the South Korean market’s Daewoo Gentra and Gentra X – the Chevrolet Aveo sedan and five-door.

GM began building the Sonic in the USA from August 2011. Orion Assembly in Michigan was refitted for production of the little car. The Sonic was revealed in both sedan and five-door hatchback form at the Detroit auto show in January 2011. Aveo build (CKD) in China by the then Shanghai GM joint venture started in April 2011.

In February 2011, GM stated that GAZ Group would assemble the Aveo at its Nizhniy Novgorod plant in Russia from mid-2012. There was a delay but assembly eventually began in December 2012. Aveo production in Nizhny Novgorod is CKD (completely knocked down). GAZ carries out welding, painting and assembly.

In July 2013, a report carried by just-auto.com stated that GM had begun stamping body parts at a plant in Colombia for the locally assembled Sonic and Cobalt models.

A facelifted Aveo had its world premiere at the Beijing motor show in April 2014: the headlights and taillights are no longer circular, and there was a new grille too. The restyled car went on sale in China in June 2014.

In October 2015, GM announced it would cut build at its Orion plant to one shift, from two. This was due to low sales of the Sonic in the US.

A facelifted Sonic for North America premiered at the New York auto show in March 2016. This is the region’s 2017 model year car.

The Sonic and Chevrolet Bolt are built on the same line at Orion Township and the plant still operates on one shift.

It now appears that the Sonic/Aveo replacement for North America will be delayed until 2019, due to slow sales of small cars in the US market. The next model will use the Gamma 2 architecture and is likely to have a seven-year life cycle.

C segment / Compact

The biggest nameplate in Chevrolet’s global cars line-up is the Cruze, but there are several different vehicles which have this badge.

GMX003, also known as J300, is the oldest Cruze. It has been around since late 2008 though its Delta platform was previewed by the Ultra, a world touring car concept at the 2006 Paris show.

Originally a compact sedan for the US and Canadian markets, the Cruze premiered at the Los Angeles auto show in December 2009. In North America, it was new for the 2011 model year, replacing the Chevy Cobalt sedan. In Europe, it replaced the Chevrolet Lacetti and in South Korea, the Daewoo Lacetti (and from early 2011, the Daewoo Lacetti Premiere).

US production at the Lordstown plant started in August 2010, while in May 2011, GM stated that it could, if needs be, add Cruze production at a second US plant: Orion Township.

What was then Shanghai GM launched the Cruze sedan in April 2009: the version for China is still built from kits supplied by GM Korea and has a 1.8-litre gasoline engine. Its most recent update was a facelift which appeared at the Beijing motor show in April 2014. It continues in production there as a cheaper alternative to the newer Cruze which also premiered at the same motor show. Despite North America’s Cruze also being given a facelift, it was a different update: China’s car now has the number plate in the rear bumper and its name changed to Cruze Classic. It went on sale locally in August 2014.

There was a further update for the oldest Cruze in September 2016: a major facelift and a name change to Chevrolet Cavalier. The Cavalier’s public debut was at the Chengdu motor show that same month. Sales also commenced in September 2016.

In Russia, meanwhile, the Cruze was built at GM’s Shushary plant outside St Petersburg between August 2009 and June 2015.

General Motors India also revealed in November 2008 that it would build the Cruze. Production then started in October 2009. In June 2016, GM India told the media that the Halol plant would be closed in March 2017. A deal to sell it to SAIC was being negotiated so the closure was delayed into April. However, no deal was signed by GM’s deadline and so Halol built its last GM vehicles on 28 April 2017 and was then closed. It will re-open as an SAIC plant, building MG vehicles, it was recently announced.

In Europe, Cruze sales commenced in June 2009. A five-door hatchback Cruze premiered in concept form at the Paris motor show in September 2010, with the production model following at the Geneva show in March 2011. GM Korea and Chevrolet Europe started selling this car in mid-2011. Shanghai GM added it to GM China’s model range in September 2013.

A wagon bodystyle was rolled out in relevant markets (mostly European) from July 2012, following its global debut at the Geneva motor show four months previously. The ‘Station Wagon’ featured the same frontal styling as the sedan and hatchback’s facelift. This mid-life makeover also debuted at Geneva, as did a 1.4-litre turbo in European spec, a revised 2.0-litre turbo diesel and a then-new 1.7-litre turbo diesel.

GM Korea announced an updated Cruze range in April 2013. As well as a new six-speed automatic gearbox, the car gained indicators in its door mirrors. Another facelift premiered at the New York auto show in April 2014 (North America’s 2015 model year Cruze). This car began to reach dealerships from October 2014. It was replaced by the new shape model for North America’s 2016 model year.

GM Korea’s Gunsan plant continues making the current car despite the introduction of the newer generation model in China, North America and elsewhere. The replacement had its world premiere at the Beijing motor show in April 2014.

A next generation Cruze would be launched first in China, GM stated in March 2014. This took place in August 2014, with several of GM’s then-new Ecotec engines available. Its world premiere (as a sedan) was at April 2014’s Beijing motor show. North America’s Cruze was revealed in June 2015 but this is a different car.

The China-built car is available with the choice of a 1.4-litre turbocharged and 1.5-litre naturally aspirated four-cylinder petrol engines. The Cruze is also offered with a DCG seven-speed dual-clutch transmission co-developed by GM and SAIC, a six-speed manual transmission developed in Europe, and the third-generation S6 six-speed automated manual transmission.

SAIC GM’s Chevy Cruze was given a facelift and renamed Cruze Classic in August 2014. The reason for this became clear in July 2016, when the JV added production of another Cruze at one of its plants. This is more or less the same sedan which is built in the US.

The other Cruze was new for North America’s 2017 model year. In July 2013, reports emerged (attributed to suppliers based in North America) which claimed that GM had chosen to delay the launch of North America’s next Cruze by roughly one year. In August 2012, GM stated that its Lordstown Complex in Ohio would see an investment of $220m to build the Cruze replacement. There would be a sedan and a five-door hatchback for North America. In March 2015, GM stated that the Cruze would also be manufactured in Mexico, at Ramos Arizpe.

In June 2015, GM announced that North America’s new (2016MY) Cruze would be “available [in] Spring 2016”. The five-door hatchback premiered at the Detroit auto show in January 2016. It was new for the 2017 model year, going on sale in October 2016.

Cruze sedan production was added by GM’s Rosario plant (Argentina) in June 2016. This factory also supplies the Brazilian market. The five-door variant for South America is based on the Opel Astra hatchback.

China’s SAIC GM joint venture continues to build another Cruze, which had been called Cruze Classic and exclusive to the local market. However, what is more or less the same model as the sedan already built and sold in North America entered production in China in July 2016. The five-door for China was revealed at the Guangzhou auto show in November 2016. It has slightly different front and rear ends to North America’s model.

Some sources had for a time believed that GM Korea would not build the latest model, which raised questions about where the supply of CKD kids would be sourced from. However, GM Korea CEO Sergio Rocha told the media at April 2015’s Seoul motor show that the Cruze would enter production at Gunsan in late 2016. This is for both the local market and for export. GM Holden’s Cruze sedan was replaced by imports of the Opel Astra, rebadged as a Holden. Cruze production at GM Korea’s Gunsan plant commenced in November 2016 and the car was in local market showrooms a few weeks later.

GM’s 1.4-litre turbo and normally aspirated 1.5-litre engines feature in North America’s Cruze. A 1.6-litre diesel was added in CY2017 and has a standard Hydra-Matic 9T50 nine-speed automatic. This auto gearbox for front-wheel drive cars is built by GM at its San Luis Potosi transmission plant. The Ecotec 1.4 is assembled in Flint (Michigan) with locally and globally sourced parts. GM’s Toluca engine facility in Mexico also builds the 1.4, as well as the Ecotec 1.5.

So, there are now three different versions of the Chevrolet Cruze: one which is sold mainly in North America and China, one which is just for China and which was introduced there in 2014 but is now called the Chevrolet Cavalier, and an older generation model which will be phased out later in 2017.

D2JC, the second generation Volt, was fully revealed at the Detroit auto show in January 2015, though its front had been briefly shown at the CES a few days earlier. The car entered production in August 2015. The styling is an evolution of the first generation model. Due to slow sales of the Opel & Vauxhall Ampera (slightly restyled versions of the Volt), these were not replaced. For the same reason, nor was the Holden Volt.

According to GM, owners of the first generation Volt told the company they wanted more interior room, including a middle rear seat, more range in EV mode and a lower price. The car’s main markets continue to be the north east and west coasts of the US. These regions were in fact the only ones for the 2016 MY Volt. A slightly revised car became available nationally for the 2017 model year, going on sale in mid-2016.

The Volt’s range extender is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. There are two electric motors, each of which powers the wheels. As for the battery pack, the cells are larger, with their storage capacity raised by 20 per cent. The LG Chem-supplied cells number 192, whereas there were 288 in the first generation Volt.

The drive unit is manufactured at GM’s Powertrain plant in Warren (Michigan) and the 1.5-litre engine was manufactured at GM’s Toluca (Mexico) engine plant for the first year of production. This then shifted to the Flint engine plant in Michigan during the second half of 2016.

In North America, the second generation model was new for the region’s 2016 model year. A rebodied version, the Buick Velite, is exported to China. The Chevy should be facelifted for the 2020 model year. The third generation Volt is due out in CY2022 and it could well become an EV due to advances in battery cell chemistry.

Another small volume model in the global C segment is the Optra. China’s SAIC General Motors Wuling (SGMW) joint venture rebadges its Baojun 630 for certain North African markets such as Egypt. The car had its world premiere at Algeria’s national motor show in March 2014, with exports from China commencing during the second half of the year. The Optra, a sedan, is based on the long-outdated Daewoo J200 platform. As such, it will be replaced by a far more modern architecture – GM’s global Delta seems likely – when both it and the Baojun 630 successors are released either in late 2017 or 2018.

D segment / Mid-size

There are presently two generations of Chevrolet’s Malibu sedan, which is GM’s North American markets rival for the Camry, Accord, Fusion, Altima and Sonata. The car is also available in China and South Korea. 

The eight generation Malibu was new for North America’s 2013 model year but the car had an extremely short life in that region, being discontinued at the end of the 2015 model year. Details of the ninth generation Malibu follow below. The older car is still available in other regions.

In April 2010, GM revealed that Fairfax Assembly would be the main plant for the then next generation Malibu, although Detroit-Hamtramck also manufactured this sedan. US production of the Malibu 8 started in January 2012. The standard engine in North America was originally a 2.5-litre ‘Ecotec’ four-cylinder which produced a claimed 190hp.

In China, where the Malibu 8 is still sold, there are 2.0- and 2.4-litre four-cylinder units as well as a 1.6 turbo. In Europe, the smaller petrol engines were available, along with a 2.0-litre diesel. There was also a mild hybrid in North America, at least – the Malibu ECO, which used GM’s eAssist system. GM Korea added the option of the diesel engine in the domestic market in September 2014.

The older of the two global Malibus is basically a rebodying of the first generation Opel Insignia (and equivalent Buick Regal) with which it shares its 2,737mm wheelbase dimension. The car has a 4.5-inch (114mm) shorter wheelbase and 62-inch (1,574mm) front and rear tracks that are more than 2 inches (51mm) wider than the seventh generation model, according to GM.

GM Korea’s Bupyeong plant began building the Malibu in October 2011, with the car launched locally during the following month. Chinese production is at SAIC GM’s Jinqiao (an alternate Romanisation is Jingjiao) plant in suburban Shanghai. This began in early 2012, as did US build.

In March 2012, GM announced that the Malibu would also be built in Uzbekistan for the local and neighbouring markets. GM Uzbekistan is a manufacturing joint venture between General Motors and government-owned UzAvtosanoat. The local launch took place in July 2012.

GM revealed plans for an early Malibu facelift in May 2013: US market sales of an updated car would commence “in the fall”. The revised model, new for North America’s 2014 model year, gained an extra 31mm of rear legroom, retuned suspension and engine modifications. There was also a new centre console and a revised front-end. The 2.0-litre turbo engine saw its torque output rise to 400Nm (295 lb-ft), an improvement of 14 per cent. In addition, the base 2.5-litre engine was new: it produced 145kW (196hp).

North America’s 2015 model year Malibu gained OnStar with 4G LTE and standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.

A facelifted Malibu for China premiered at the Shanghai motor show in April 2015, while a new, ninth generation model premiered during the same month at the New York show. China’s car will remain in production for a few years yet while the car for North America was replaced for that region’s 2016 model year. China also gets the ninth generation car but it is sold there as the more expensive Chevrolet Malibu XL.

The Malibu 9 looks more distinctive than the previous one. Its development was brought forward in response to disappointing US market sales of the eighth generation sedan.

North America’s 2016 Malibu went on sale in December 2015. An Ecotec 1.5-litre turbo engine with stop/start is standard, offering 160hp (119kW) in combination with a six-speed automatic gearbox. An optional 2.0-litre turbo with 250hp (186kW) is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

In North America, the Malibu is offered in L, LS, LT and Premier trims, with a Hybrid added in April 2016. Premier, Chevrolet’s uplevel designation, debuted in the 2016 Malibu. Unlike some rivals, the latest Malibu is not available with a V6 engine. Also, the car cannot be ordered with all-wheel drive.

Fairfax Assembly in Kansas City was the first plant to build the ninth generation Malibu. China’s equivalent Malibu XL entered production in February 2016. Two months later, GM Korea began building the ninth generation model at its Bupyeong plant.

One of the changes for the 2017 model year Malibu is the availability of General Motors and Ford’s co-developed nine-speed automatic transmission. GM brands it as the Hydra-Matic 9T50. This nine-speed gearbox for front-wheel drive & AWD cars is built by GM at its San Luis Potosi transmission plant. It replaced the Aisan-supplied eight-speed automatic.

North America’s Malibu should have a facelift for the 2019 model year. The tenth generation car is likely to be on sale from the first quarter of 2022. This should be based on an update of GM’s Epsilson 2 architecture.

E segment / Large

The 5,113mm long Impala is Chevrolet’s largest four-door car. While it doesn’t look it from some angles, it is 190mm lengthier than the Malibu. This full sized sedan is a rival for the Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon. 

Holden had at one stage been developing a rear-wheel drive Impala but that project was put on hold in 2008 as GM sought to preserve cash. Instead, the tenth generation car uses the Epsilon 2 architecture as introduced by the first generation Opel Insignia.

The next Impala would be built at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant, the company confirmed in May 2011. The Impala 10 was new for the 2014 model year. Production commenced there in April 2013. This was the second plant to build the model.

In December 2011 came news that the tenth generation Impala would be made in Canada as well as in Michigan: the Oshawa #2 plant in Ontario continued to build the ninth generation model until May 2016. With the planned shuttering of that facility in 2014, the new Impala would have switched to Oshawa #1. However, in December 2012, GM stated that the then-current Impala would be built on the Oshawa Consolidated line (Oshawa #2) until June 2014. Production of the latest shape model started in Canada in March 2013. In October 2013, GM Canada said the Consolidated line would now remain running until 2016 but in August 2015, the company said this would be extended until 2017. Nonetheless, plunging sales of the car in the USA meant that production ended early.

The 2014MY Impala had its global debut at the New York auto show in April 2012. The car was launched in base form with a 182hp 2.4-litre four-cylinder engine with eAssist, making it a mild hybrid. There was also a 195hp 2.5-litre four-cylinder, as well as a 303hp 3.6-litre V6.

The older-shape, ninth generation Impala became a fleet-only model for North America’s 2014 model year. It also changed names to ‘Impala Limited’. Like the former Malibu Limited, it was discontinued at the end of the 2016 model year.

GM Korea began imports of the Impala during September 2015.

There should be a facelift for the 2018 model year. The eleventh generation Impala is expected in CY2020 and to use the same Epsilon 2 architecture as the new Opel/Vauxhall Insignia as well as those cars’ closely related Holden Commodore and Buick Regal derivatives.

US dealers still have stocks of the only other large Chevy sedan, though the car is now out of production. The SS was a version of the VF series Holden Commodore. This big rear-wheel drive sedan would be launched in the US market from late 2013, GM and GM Holden announced in May 2012. A rival for the Chrysler 300 SRT and Dodge Charger SRT, it had a 415hp 6.2-litre V8 engine and would be a ‘limited production’ model.

The SS was revealed at the Daytona 500 in February 2013. The first deliveries were confirmed as being due to commence in the fourth quarter. The motor show debut was at the New York auto show in March 2013. The 2015 model year SS gained the options of magnetic ride control and a six-speed manual gearbox.

GM’s December 2013 announcement that it would close Holden’s car and engine manufacturing operations by the end of 2017 mean that any replacement for the Chevy SS will not be made in Australia. No successor model is under development though.

A facelifted SS was announced in September 2015 for North America’s 2016 model year. There was no 2017 model year SS. Holden ceased building the SS in May (2017).

A total of 12,953 Chevrolet SS sedans for the USA were made at Holden’s Elizabeth plant in South Australia as well as 7,305 Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol vehicles. The latter was a version of the Holden Caprice V, the long-wheelbase version of Holden’s Commodore sedan.

Sports cars

A1BC is the internal code for the current Camaro. General Motors began building this car in October 2015 for North America’s 2016 model year. There are both coupe and convertible bodystyles. The first of these was revealed to the media in May 2015. The open top car was then announced a month later. The sixth generation Camaro is two inches shorter than the previous one, an inch narrower and an inch lower.

The Canadian Workers’ Union (CAW) reacted with anger to GM’s December 2012 announcement that the replacement for the Oshawa, Ontario-built generation five Camaro would shift to the Grand River plant at Lansing in Michigan.

The Camaro 6 shares the basis of its Alpha platform with the Lansing-built Cadillac ATS sedan, ATS coupe and CTS sedan. GM, however, insists that 70 per cent of the architecture is unique to the Chevy. The base variant is powered by a four-cylinder engine, while V6 and V8 engines also feature. The 2.0-litre engine was the first turbocharged unit to be available in any Camaro. It produces 275hp (205kW), while the 3.6-litre V6 has an output of 335hp (250kW) and the 6.2-litre V8 produces 455hp (339kW). Six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions are available depending on the engine.

The coupe reached US dealerships in November 2015, with the convertible following two months later.

Chevrolet announced the first 2017 model year Camaros at the Chicago auto show in February 2016. These were the 1LE cars, featuring a black-painted bonnet/hood, unique wheels and other changes. The track day package is available for both V6 and V8 variants. There was also a new ZL1 for the 2017 model year. It has the same 10-speed automatic gearbox as the Ford F-150 Raptor. This transmission was co-developed by GM and Ford.

There should be a facelift for the 2019 model year, and the seventh generation Camaro should be on sale in 2022. A heavily overhauled Alpha platform will likely be the basis of this model. That being the base, the model code would be A2BC.

The Y1BC Corvette Stingray is Chevrolet’s fastest and most expensive car.

In October 2012, GM stated that there would be a six-month production hiatus at the Corvette plant in Kentucky during 2013. Manufacture of the sixth generation (2013 model year) car ended in February to make way for retooling, renovating the body shop and retraining employees.

Production of the seventh generation model commenced in August 2013 and the first cars for the US market were delivered in September 2013.

The C7 series Corvette Stingray had its global debut at the Detroit auto show in January 2013. As well as a new aluminium platform, the car has so-called ‘carbon-nano’ composite underbody panels as well as composite fenders/front wings, doors and rear quarter panels. The hood/bonnet is made from carbonfibre. GM’s Bowling Green plant in Kentucky gained a new body shop to manufacture the aluminium frame in-house for the first time.

The Corvette has HID headlights with integrated LEDs. At the rear, there’s a prominent spoiler, a four-tailpipe exhaust system and Camaro-inspired taillights. The coupe has a removable ‘double bubble’ roof.

An optional Z51 Performance Package adds an electronic limited-slip differential, a dry-sump lubrication system and an improved differential/transmission cooling system. The Z51 is distinguished by a body kit.

As was the case with the previous generation car, there is no right-hand drive version.

The Corvette Stringray is powered by what was at launch, a new engine, the ‘LT1’. This 6.2-litre V8 was originally said to produce 450hp (336kW) with 450 lb ft (609Nm) of torque. In May, 2013 GM stated that the car’s output is 460hp (343kW) following SAE certification. Torque was also upped, to 460 lb ft (624Nm).

The Corvette Stingray convertible had its world debut at the Geneva motor show in March 2013.

The then Chevrolet Europe announced in June 2013 that cars for the region would be available from ‘the autumn’. The December 2013 announcement of the end of Chevrolet Europe’s imports of most models did not affect the Corvette (and Camaro).

An additional derivative, the (2015MY) Corvette Stingray Z06, had its global debut at the Detroit auto show in January 2014. The convertible Z06 followed three months later at the New York auto show.

The 2015 model year Stingray gained GM’s own 8L90 eight-speed automatic transmission. The Z06 was the first Corvette to have this gearbox. The 2016MY Corvette was announced in April 2015. In addition to three new Design Package options, the 2016 Corvette gained a new flat-bottom steering wheel, restyled wheels and an optional carbonfibre bonnet/hood.

The Corvette Grand Sport coupe and convertible were additions for North America’s 2017 model year. These cars premiered at the Geneva motor show in March 2016. They are powered by a normally aspirated engine and positioned in the range above the Stingray and below the ZO6.

A facelifted range is due for the 2019 model year. The eighth generation Corvette should be in US showrooms in early 2022. Its architecture will most likely be a revamp of the C7’s.

It was reported in the US media during June 2014 that General Motors had trademarked the name ‘Zora‘. This may be for a future Corvette derivative, which is said to be informally termed the ‘Emperor’ project within GM.

Zora Arkus-Duntov, a GM engineer, was one of the key people involved in the first generation Corvette and amongst enthusiasts, he is remembered with special fondness. GM might well be planning to turn Corvette into a brand, which would explain why the current model has always been called Corvette Stingray.

In June 2016, GM announced a US$290m planned spend for the Bowling Green plant in Kentucky. The money is being used for improvements to the manufacturing process which might also suggest that the factory is being modified for the potential addition of a mid-engined car. It is said that such a vehicle could be set for release in late 2018. The current Corvette would continue alongside it for some years.

Chevrolet will need to be careful not to price the ‘Zora’ too highly, given that this could be part of the reason for the curiously low rates of Ford GT build: Multimatic, the contractor, made just two cars in June and 32 during the first six months of the year. This is according to manufacturing data which Ford issues at the end of every month. That is a long way short of the supposed 250 cars per year which Multimatic should be making if Ford’s claims of a long waiting list are true.

Future model plan reports for other manufacturers can be viewed in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

Additional data on vehicle lifetime and future product plans, such as code names, production plants and expected annual build, are available in PLDB from QUBE.

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