Chevrolet is set to become General Motors’ lead brand in western Europe in the wake of the Vauxhall/Opel sell-off.
The Korean-based value brand is set for serious expansion as GM turns its attentions from loss-making Vauxhall/Opel. With the loss of those marques, GM is committed to building its global brand in the highly competitive western European market.
Chevrolet, which is the largest-volume GM brand by some margin, sold more than 507,000 cars in Europe and Russia in 2008, despite the credit crunch, a figure up 11 per cent on 2007 and good enough for a 2.3 per cent market share.
However, 235,000 of those sales were in Russia, which has embraced Chevrolet to the extent that it is now the number one import brand.
GM sources say Chevrolet will remain a value brand while Magna, the new owner of Vauxhall/Opel, will continue to try to push those brands further upmarket.
The Chevrolet Cruze saloon, which is based on the same Delta II platform as the new Astra, is already selling well in China, India and South America. However, European sales of the Cruze are expected to take off in 2011 when a five-door hatchback version arrives.
Before then, Chevrolet is placing great hopes on the new Spark city car, which goes on sale next February. Engineered by GM-DAT in Korea, it is based on an all-new platform that would have also underpinned the next-generation Corsa.
Also due next year is the seven-seat Orlando crossover, which is based on a stretched version of the Delta II platform.
In 2012 the all-new Aveo supermini will be launched in Europe. In the same year sources expect a Chevrolet rival to the Insignia, based on the same Epsilon platform.
By 2012, say insiders, Chevrolet could have increased western European sales from 265,000 units a year to well over 500,000.