General Motors and Suzuki Motor Co. Ltd. have agreed to develop and produce a new small car that will be sold initially in Europe.
The car will take GM into a new segment, competing with small cars such as the Ford Ka and Renault Twingo. The Ka and Twingo are small, entry-level city cars in Europe.
GM's smallest car in Europe is the Opel Corsa, which is 4.7 inches longer than the 145-inch Ka. The Chevrolet Cavalier is 180.7 inches long.
The new car will be built starting in 2000 at GM's Gliwice, Poland, plant and at Suzuki's plant in Esztergom, Hungary. Each company will badge the car as its own.
'Our principal target is Europe,' said GM spokesman Kenneth Levy. 'But the car could be sold in places such as Latin America in the future.'
Production of the previous-generation Opel Astra, now called the Astra Classic, begins this fall at the Polish plant. The redesigned Astra debuted in Europe in March.
GM will invest $212 million to expand Gliwice's capacity for the new car. The plant's capacity will rise to 150,000 units from the current 70,000. GM will hire an additional 1,000 workers there.
The new car will be equipped with GM's new small ECOTEC engines in two configurations: a 1.0-liter three-cylinder and a 1.2-liter four-cylinder.