Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chevrolet's Future Products Focus On Cars And Increased Fuel Economy For 2012-2014 Model Years

Chevrolet will focus on cars -- at least for the next 18 months -- as GM's biggest brand continues to gain market share and increase production.

The next-generation Chevrolet Malibu mid-sized sedan will launch in early 2012. The Spark minicar will hit the United States later next year from South Korea.

The redesigned Impala large sedan is slated for the first quarter of 2013. Truck launches will follow. Redesigned versions of Chevy's Tahoe and Suburban SUVs are expected in the first half of 2013 as 2014 models. The next-generation Silverado pickup is scheduled to arrive later in 2013.

Here are highlights for Chevrolet's 2012-14 models.

Spark: The minicar's U.S. launch is set for mid-2012 as a 2013 model. It probably will get a 1.4-liter, naturally aspirated four-cylinder engine. It will be exported from South Korea, where GM builds the Spark's sister car, the five-door Daewoo Matiz hatchback.

Sonic: In August, production begins on Chevy's new subcompact car, which replaces the Aveo. The Sonic, built at GM's Orion Township assembly plant in suburban Detroit, will come as a five-door hatchback and four-door sedan. Forecasters expect U.S. production of 75,000 to 87,000 units.

Cruze: GM is boosting the fuel economy of some models and making more features standard as the 2012 Cruze goes on sale this month. The four-door compact is GM's best-selling U.S. car, with sales of 122,972 through the first half of 2011. A refresh is expected for the 2014 model year, when GM also could decide to offer a Cruze hatchback. Some media reports also say a diesel Cruze could come in two years.

Volt: The plug-in hybrid, after an initial launch in seven markets, will roll out to all states during the second half of 2011. GM forecasts production of 16,000 for 2011 and 60,000 in 2012. Only cosmetic changes are expected before 2014.

Malibu: A re-engineered, restyled version of the mid-sized sedan goes on sale in the first quarter of 2012 as a 2013 model. Chevy will launch with the Malibu Eco, the first Chevrolet to get GM's new eAssist mild hybrid technology, which will be offered with a 2.4-liter Ecotec engine. A new 2.5-liter will follow later in 2012.

Impala: For 2012, the Impala gets a new grille and a new 3.6-liter engine to replace the current choices of a 3.5- or 3.9-liter. A six-speed transmission will replace the outdated four-speed. A redesigned Impala is due in the first quarter of 2013 as a 2014 model. It will move to the longer version of GM's front-wheel-drive Epsilon platform, which also will underpin the upcoming Cadillac XTS sedan. An all-wheel-drive option is likely, as is a hybrid version, such as eAssist or possibly a plug-in.

Corvette: The next-generation Corvette will debut in the fall of 2013 as a 2014 model. A turbocharged V-6 is likely to join the V-8. The current version will be offered for 2012 and possibly an abbreviated 2013 model year.

Camaro: A redesign of the current Camaro, which was launched as a 2010 model, is due in mid- to late 2014 as a 2015 model. It will be switched to the rear-wheel-drive Alpha platform that will underpin the upcoming Cadillac ATS.

Equinox: The popular crossover will get a reskin for the 2013 model year. The addition of eAssist is a possibility for the 2014 model year.

Traverse: A reskin is planned for the crossover in the 2013 or 2014 model year, which should include extensive interior improvements. It also will get GM's new 3.0-liter V-6 engine, replacing the current 3.6-liter version.

Tahoe, Suburban: The redesigned SUVs are due in the first half of 2013 as 2014 models. They will remain on GM's large-truck platform, rather than moving to the Lambda crossover platform, as the company had considered. Powertrain enhancements probably will include an eight-speed transmission and could include the addition of GM's four-mode hybrid system. That is an upgrade of its current two-mode system, which uses planetary gears and electric motors to conserve fuel.

Silverado 1500: A re-engineered, restyled pickup is expected in the second half of 2013 as a 2014 model. GM is expected to use a number of powertrain features to boost fuel efficiency, including a likely six-cylinder turbocharged version and eight-speed transmission. GM also will use lighter-weight materials in an effort to gain a fuel-economy edge over rival Ford Motor Co.'s F-150, which was redesigned for the 2009 model year.

Silverado 2500, 3500: Restyled versions of the heavy-duty pickups, which were re-engineered for the 2011 model year, are expected in the 2014 or 2015 model year

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