Chevrolet is reinventing its small-car strategy with the Cruze, Aveo and Spark.
"Everything you know about the small cars that we have done for the U.S. in the past does not apply anymore," says Margaret Brooks, product director for Chevrolet's small and compact cars.
The Cruze compact and Aveo subcompact will move away from economy-car status, with a long list of standard equipment, such as air conditioning and heated outside mirrors. The Spark minicar, though, will be targeted at budget buyers.
Chevrolet's strategy relies on engineering outside the United States. U.S. sales for the German-engineered Cruze begin in the third quarter, followed late in 2011 by the Korean-redesigned Aveo. The Spark goes on sale in 2012.
Today, Chevrolet's small-car lineup consists of the Aveo, Cobalt and HHR. Combined U.S. sales of the three models was 214,082 in 2009, down 37 percent from 2008. The Cruze will replace the Cobalt; the HHR will be dropped in 2011.
Brooks says Chevrolet revisited its standard-equipment strategy for the Cruze and Aveo to appeal to buyers "moving down from bigger cars."
"They are not looking to be in the lowest-priced vehicle in the lineup," she says. "They want a richly contented vehicle. We are going to market with really nicely equipped cars."
Brooks adds: "Cruze is clearly a core product for Chevy."
As for the Spark, which will be the lowest-priced Chevrolet, the standard-equipment level will not be as extensive. "Spark has a different role to play," she says.