The new-for-2019 755hp ZR1 is the fastest, most powerful production Corvette yet

The new-for-2019 755hp ZR1 is the fastest, most powerful production Corvette yet

After the recent analyses of the current and future models of Baojun, Wuling and GMC, the latest feature in the GM series centres on Chevrolet's cars, minivans and electrified models.

City cars

The Spark is an A segment five-door hatchback. Manufactured by GM Korea, it has been in production at the Changwon plant since June 2015. A version of the car is exported to Europe and sold by Groupe PSA divisions as the Opel Karl and Vauxhall Viva. Engines and front doors are identical to the Chevrolet.

North America's Spark is also built by GM Korea, available since the fourth quarter of 2015 for the region's 2016 model year. For 2017 model year, Chevrolet added the Spark Activ, the little crossover premiering at November 2016's LA auto show. The car is really just a Spark with raised suspension and a few other changes.

A facelifted 2019 model year Spark was announced for North American markets in April.

As for the Spark replacement, there have been suggestions that this could be a mini-crossover. The supply deal to Opel and Vauxhall seems unlikely to continue, however. The new Spark is due in 2022.

The Beat is another small car and in effect, the previous Spark (first released in 2009) with some changes. GM India revealed the Beat at the New Delhi motor show in January 2010. It went on sale soon after. The little car is assembled from CKD kits supplied by GM Korea.

In certain markets, the Beat is sold as the Spark. The GM-Uz Daewoo joint venture in Uzbekistan for example, began assembling the Spark from CKD kits in August 2010.

While the newer Spark is sold in Canada and the USA, GM also sells the Beat in Mexico and the car is very popular there due to its low price. It was renamed from Spark after the arrival of the newer model and became the Beat (five-door) and Beat NB ('notchback').

Given that the Beat will be a decade old in 2019, production will likely begin to be wound down, the newer Spark being its replacement.

Subcompact

The Aveo/Sonic is a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback range. In the US, Canada, Brazil, South Africa, Thailand and some markets in the Middle East, the car's model name is Sonic, while 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.

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. 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.

The Sonic and Chevrolet Bolt are built on the same line at Orion Township and the plant still operates on one shift. Rumours suggest that GM might not replace the car, at least North America's car, once the current model reaches the end of its life cycle. The 1.8-litre engine has just been dropped in North America as part of changes for the 2019 model year. If GM Korea is planning a replacement, that should appear in 2019.

The Sail 3 is the third generation of a small car which is built and marketed mainly in China. It made its world premiere at the Guangzhou motor show in November 2014, entering dealerships during the following month. It is manufactured by the Shanghai GM joint venture.

The Sail 4, due in 2019, is expected to be one of the models for GEM, a GM-SAIC architecture. This platform, although unnamed, was announced by General Motors in July 2015.

This new range of models will be built and sold in China, Brazil and Mexico and exported to what GM terms 'growth' markets. GM believes it will eventually be building up to two million vehicles a year based on this new architecture.

The Onix, a small five-door hatchback, is mainly for South America. Now six years old, it has the same basic architecture as the Sonic/Aveo. The Chevrolet Prisma is a sedan version of the Onix. Both had a facelift in July 2016.

The replacement model series is expected to be based upon GM-SAIC's GEM architecture. These cars are due to go into production in Brazil in 2020.

Compact

The Cobalt is a 4.5m long sedan for South America. One segment up and one year older than the Onix and Prisma, it should be replaced in 2019 by a GEM platform model. The Chevrolet Spin, an MPV (see below) is closely related to the Cobalt: the two models share a platform and wheelbase and in Brazil, they are built in the same plant.

The Cruze is GM's main global C segment model, its two largest markets being the USA and China. However, the Cruze for these countries is not one model but two.

The car built in China dates to 2014. North America's Cruze was revealed in June 2015 but this is a different car.

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.

Chevrolet announced the facelifted, 2019 model year Cruze in April. A few days later, workers at the Lordstown plant which builds it in the USA were told that the production line would switch to one shift from 18 June. GM had axed the third shift in 2017. The Ohio factory builds only this model. Lordstown moved to one shift on 25 June.

Both Cruze models should continue in production until 2022, at which time they should be replaced by the one car. Further complicating things, GM might follow Ford's astonishing decision to give up on the Compact segment of the US market, a class where American Honda, Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia and others sell a vast number of cars year in, year out. Even if that happens, GM China would surely go ahead with its own Cruze. That car or both cars should be part of the GM project to switch all of its front-wheel drive/AWD models to one architecture, which is called VSS-F.

Midsize & Large

The ninth generation Malibu was a world premiere at the New York auto show in April 2015. Fairfax Assembly in Kansas City was the first plant to build this sedan, a competitor for the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. The car is also built in China, production having started in February 2016. There, it is sold as the Malibu XL alongside the cheaper eighth generation Malibu. GM also makes the Malibu 9 car in Korea.

Chevrolet announced the 2019 model year Malibu in April. The main news was a facelift, the addition of an RS model grade and a new CVT for the 1.5-litre engine. GM Korea will add a diesel engine to the domestic market Malibu line-up, prototypes having been seen testing in South Korea in July.

GM offers a petrol-electric Malibu in both China and North America. Both the Hybrid and other Malibus are due to be replaced in 2021. The tenth generation Malibu should be on the VSS-F platform.

One size up from the Malibu is the tenth generation Impala. New for the 2014 model year, this large sedan is made at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck plant on the same line as the Volt and Malibu. Production commenced in April 2013. It is mainly sold in the US and Canada.

Some sources believe that, due to the contraction of the car's segment in the USA, there may not be an eleventh generation Impala. The current model might even be discontinued before the end of what had originally been planned to be a seven-year life cycle. GM is yet to announce a 2019 model year Impala and it is odd that there has not been a facelift even after more than five years of production has elapsed.

MPVs/Minivans

The Move is a special low-cost minivan for a few countries. The light commercial (van) version is the N300. In November 2011, GM stated that the Chevrolet Move would be the first Chinese vehicle assembled by GM in Egypt and the first SGMW vehicle assembled outside China. The Move is another name for the Wuling Rong Guang, a micro-minivan built in China by the SAIC GM Wuling (SGMW) joint venture.

CKD assembly of the Move by GM Egypt got underway in July 2012. GM's Egyptian plant geared up for annual assembly of some 5,000 Moves.

The Move (codename: N300) was the second small Wuling micro-minivan to be sold in Egypt: the N200 was launched there in 2009. The Rong Guang itself went on sale in China in 2008.

The Spin was announced by GM do Brasil in June 2012. It is sold in many countries but none of these is in North America. In South America, the Spin replaced the locally-built Meriva and Zafira. It shares much with the Chevrolet Cobalt sedan.

The Spin Activ was revealed by GM do Brasil in December 2014. Until the release of a facelifted model in July, it had its spare wheel hung on the tailgate. The slightly higher ride height, wheel arch and door sill trims and full length roof bars remain.

The next Spin and Spin Activ are expected in 2022. They should be based upon GEM, the GM-SAIC architecture which was announced in July 2015.

Twinned with the GMC Savana, the Express is a large van and passenger van which dates to 2002. One of the oldest vehicles sold in North America, it comes with either three or four doors and can seat up to 15 passengers.

The Express had been due to be replaced as long ago as 2009 by GMT620, the twin of the next GMC Savana. However, GM's financial woes and eventual bankruptcy meant that the programme hit substantial delays.

There were several mechanical changes for the 2018 model year. This included a new base engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission and applied also to the GMC Savana. For many years, the base powertrain of these twins was a 285hp version of GM's L20 Vortec V8 in combination with a Hydra-Matic six-speed heavy-duty automatic transmission. Now, this has changed to a 265hp version of GM's 4.3-litre LV1 V6. It has the same 400Nm of torque. Direct injection and variable valve timing also feature, which wasn't the case with the L20. Now linked to GM's 8L90 M5U eight-speed automatic gearbox, fuel economy was improved.

It is now said that since the Savana and Express continue to sell at a combined annual rate of around 100,000 units in the USA, GM has decided to continue building them until 2023. They are presumed to be extravagantly profitable.

The next Express may use GM's T1XX architecture. The other scenario had been for Nissan North America to adapt its slow-selling NV full sized van for General Motors. In that case the Express and near-identical GMC Savana would have been manufactured by Nissan at its Canton plant in Mississippi. These plans are now said to have been dropped.

Electrified cars

The 4,166mm long Bolt, a fully electric crossover, was revealed in January 2016 at CES (the Consumer Electronics Show) and 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. 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.

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.

General Motors expanded Bolt sales to all 50 states from 6 September 2017. US market sales for CY2017 amounted to 23,297 cars. The total for Canada was 2,122.

The Bolt's architecture is called BEV2. Although it started out being developed from Gamma, so extensive were the changes that it has its own internal GM code. It can also be refered to as BEV II. General Motors is developing two other crossovers using this architecture. It is not known which brands they will be for but GMC and Buick seem the most likely.

A facelift should debut for the 2020 model year and a Bolt replacement during CY2023 for model year 2024.

The second generation Volt was fully revealed at the Detroit auto show in January 2015, entering production seven months later for the 2016 model year. 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.

The Volt's petrol engine is a 1.5-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which powers two electric motors. A rebodied version, the Buick Velite, is exported to China.

GM will likely give the Volt a facelift this time next year. For the just-announced 2019 model year though, there are some other updates, the most important of which is a 7.2kW charging system. This is claimed to cut recharging times nearly in half, by adding close to twice the all-electric driving range per hour of charge (standard on Premier trim and available on LT trim).

The third generation Volt is expected to be on sale in North America for that region's 2022 model year. The first two generations have been hatchbacks but for the third edition, GM is expected to turn the Volt into a crossover.

It is also possible that the car might switch from being an extended range EV backed up by a gasoline engine to a fully electric vehicle. If that happens, then this could be the first model for General Motors' modular electric vehicle architecture. Mary Barra announced at a November 2017 industry event that such a platform was under development.

A fully electric Volt crossover would sit well in the Chevrolet line-up one size up from the Bolt.

Sports cars

General Motors began building the current, sixth generation Camaro 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 coupe reached US dealerships in November 2015, with the convertible following two months later.

The base variant is now powered by a four-cylinder engine, while V6 and V8 engines also feature. The 2.0-litre engine, new for the 2019 model year, is 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 range is also facelifted for MY2019.

Holden Special Vehicles stated in October 2017 that it would build RHD versions of the Camaro. The first of these came off the line in Melbourne in July.

The seventh generation Camaro is expected in 2023 for the 2024 model year. It will be based on GM's VSS-R. This architecture is for all global RWD-AWD models.

The C7 Corvette has been in production for five years now and yet there still hasn't been a facelift.

The most recent news was the announcement of an additional variant last November. New for the 2019 model year and on sale since May, this is the ZR1. The car's supercharged 6.2-litre V8 produces 755hp and 968Nm of torque. Transmission choice is between a seven-speed manual and an eight-speed automatic. The ZR1 Coupe premiered at the Dubai motor show, with the Convertible revealed a few weeks later in November 2017 at the LA show.

There will likely be a facelift for the 2020 model year, with production due to end in 2022 after nine years. At the moment it isn't clear if GM will directly replace this big, front-engined car.

Soon to be Chevrolet's fastest and most expensive model, the mid-engined Corvette draws ever closer to being officially announced. 

It was reported in the US media as long ago as June 2014 that General Motors had trademarked the name 'Zora'. This might be the name for the mid-engined model. Zora Arkus-Duntov, a GM engineer, was one of the key people involved in the first generation Corvette.

The Corvette Zora is expected to be revealed at the Detroit auto show in January. Production should commence in September 2019 for the 2020 model year. The additional model will be more expensive than the Corvette Stingray, which would continue alongside it for some years. The new model's basis should be a hydroformed aluminium space frame. Production should take place over eight years with a facelift due for the 2025 model year.

Recent reports for many other manufacturers' future models are grouped in the OEM product strategy summaries section of just-auto.com.

Future product program intelligence

More detail on the past, current and forthcoming models for General Motors brands can be found in PLDB, the future vehicles database which is part of QUBE.

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