Posted by: David Welch on September 15, 2008
We’ve heard the domestic auto makers tell us that they’re taking square aim at Japanese cars before. Often to no avail. This time, General Motors’ Chevrolet division is trying to reestablish itself in the compact market with the new Chevrolet Cruze, which goes on sale in Europe in March of next year and in the U.S. in April 2010. The company showed the car to the media in Detroit at a media event marketing its 100th anniversary.
Styling is subjective. But the Cruze is tasteful enough and certainly looks more modern than the very ‘90s-looking Cobalt that it will replace. It bears a slight resemblance to the Honda Accord family sedan. GM showed photos of the interior, which has a high-tech look to it. Ed Welburn, the company’s vice president of design, says the car’s interior will use some rich new materials. He said that it will be first rate. Welburn is pictured above with the car.
The question is, can GM get the kind of pricing that it wants? Chevrolet general manager Ed Peper didn’t announce the new prices, but indicated that the car will move upscale from where the Chevrolet Cobalt sits. A well-equipped Cobalt starts around $17,000. Cheaper trim levels start at $15,000.
In this case, Chevy has a pretty good story. Peper said the car will be bigger than the current Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. With the car’s new 1.4-liter turbo engine, the fuel economy will be better than 40 miles per gallon. That’s also best in class, he says. Those are good bragging points. Bigger and more efficient.
That should help. It’s still a tall order to expect a domestic carmaker to get the kind of sales volume and pricing that Honda and Toyota can fetch. But then, GM has boosted prices of its new Malibu sedan pretty nicely. So the Cruze may have some momentum going in. The only complaint so far is that GM should be selling this in the U.S. next year when it hits showrooms in Europe. Chevy needs a quick follow-up to the Malibu’s success. And 2010 is too long to wait.