GM aims to sell 20,000 Cruzes a year

TOKYO — General Motors and Suzuki Motor Corp. will launch sales of the Japanese-made Chevrolet Cruze next month in Japan. It is the the first GM car built in Japan since the 1930s.

The two partners plan to sell 20,000 Cruzes a year. Sales will be split: 5,000 of the 1.5-liter version through GM Japan's GM AutoWorld sales channel, and 15,000 of the 1.3-liter model mainly through Suzuki's Arena dealers. Those dealers generally handle Suzuki's larger models, not its minivehicles that have engines smaller than 660cc.

GM aims to boost the number of the GM AutoWorld outlets to 50 by the end of this year from the current 43, while Suzuki hopes to expand its Arena outlets to 1,000 by early next year from the current 900.

Designed by GM's Holden Ltd. unit in Australia, the Cruze retains Chevrolet cues such as a distinctive gold bow tie, a flared blister fender, round four-valve taillights integrated into the rear bumper, and five-spoke wheels.

The 1.3-liter model starts at 1.248 million yen, or $10,400 at current exchange rates, while the 1.5-liter version sells for $12,483 and up. GM also plans to export the Cruze to Australia as early as next year.

The Cruze is built at Suzuki's Kosai plant, and is based on the Suzuki Swift platform. GM owns 20 percent of Suzuki.

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