Saleswise, the Cruze is one of Chevrolet's most important vehicles.
So why not give U.S. Chevy dealers two flavors?
The Cruze is Chevy's new compact sedan, a model that replaces the Cobalt. So far, the car has received a long list of accolades from the press, something uncommon with previous GM compacts. The car has the potential to be a big hit for GM and its dealers.
While U.S. sales began this week, the car has been sold globally for over a year.
Next month, at the Paris motor show, Chevrolet will expand the one-model Cruze line to two with the introduction of a sleek, five-door hatchback. Frankly, the photos show a more attractive offering than the sedan.
Sales begin next year, but GM has no plans to sell the five-door here.
The reason: Buyers in Europe prefer a hatchback to a sedan by over a 3-1 majority. Hatchbacks don't appeal to U.S. buyers, I'm told. But I have a difficult time accepting that reasoning. I guess I'm in the minority -- I would pick a five-door compact over a four-door every time. I believe Chevy would be surprised by the sales response.
In conversations with the folks at Chevy, their main competition here is the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. A Civic coupe is offered, but this buyer base overwhelmingly prefers a sedan.
No one talks about Ford, though. And Ford's upcoming 2012 Focus line includes a very attractive group of models -- a four-door sedan and five-door hatchback and, later, a compact minivan that seats seven.
The five-door Cruze would make Chevy dealers more competitive with Ford, plus give dealers a potential advantage over its primary target, Civic and Corolla offerings.
So Chevy dealers, is one Cruze flavor enough, or do you need two?