BERN, Switzerland -- Chevrolet wants the Epica to do more than just raise the division's profile in Europe's large-car segment.
The car will show the design direction for General Motors' global portfolio.
The Korea-built Epica -- the first car produced exclusively by GM Daewoo Auto & Technology's design team in Korea -- shows the new "face" of Chevrolet, said Epica's lead designer, Sung Paik.
The Epica's design cues -- a larger grille and emblem, more creases and increased interior sophistication -- will be carried over to more Chevrolet products, including North American vehicles, as GM tries to establish Chevrolet as the automaker's entry brand.
Paik's design team had a clear mission: Create a new global look for Chevrolet. "You will see the design cues of the Epica in all of our global products in the future," Paik said during a press event here. "The goal was to make sure Asian and European customers identify future products and know this is a Chevrolet."
Creating an identity for Chevrolet is important for GM in Europe.
Chevrolet is GM's budget brand in Europe. In January 2005, GM started selling cars built in Korea by subsidiary GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. as Chevrolets in Europe. By the end of next year, Chevrolet wants to sell 300,000 units a year in Europe.
In the first quarter, Chevrolet sold 103,214 cars, an increase of 8.9 percent over the same period last year.
Paik said there are no plans to ship the Epica to the United States. But within GM North America, "the vehicle is being well-received," he said. "We'll see how the business goes."
A Chevrolet Europe spokesman says the Epica's design will be carried over to the new Captiva medium SUV, which will be launched here this summer, as well as the replacement for the Aveo/Kalos small car when it arrives in 2008. Chevrolet Europe expects to sell 6,000 units of the Epica this year and 10,000 in 2007.
The starting price in Germany for the Epica, which goes on sale July 15, is 20,890 euros (or about $26,350 at current exchange rates) for the 2.0-liter, six-cylinder LS model.
The Epica also is Chevrolet Europe's first vehicle with a six-cylinder engine. In early 2007, a diesel variant will be offered.
You may e-mail Jason Stein at [email protected]