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Chevrolet Gets a Jump as Bolt Production Begins

Sales set to begin before year-end.

by on Nov.07, 2016

A prototype Chevrolet Bolt rolls down the line at the GM plant in Orion Township, Michigan.

The line is moving at a snail’s pace, but production of the Chevrolet Bolt is finally ramping up at the General Motors assembly plant in the Detroit suburb of Orion Township, with the first of the new, long-range battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, set to go on sale before the end of the year.

Parent General Motors is hoping that it can steal a march on a variety of competitors, notably Tesla Motors, who hope to get their own long-range electric vehicles into showrooms over the next several years. With regulators in the U.S., Europe, Japan and China pushing the industry to expand sales of zero-emissions vehicles, the Bolt could provide the first real test of a vehicle designed to overcome so-called range anxiety.

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But whether motorists will take to the $37,495 Chevy Bolt – or any of the other, more mainstream BEVs to follow is far from certain. Fully electric models have accounted for just 0.4% of the U.S. market so far this year. Adding in plug-ins and conventional hybrids, battery-based vehicles still only make up a miniscule 2.5%.

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Chevy Hoping for Sonic Boom with 2017 Model

New version includes updated sporty RS.

by on Mar.18, 2016

The new 2017 Chevrolet Sonic made its debut today, including the hatchback version which comes exclusively in RS trim.

With gas prices creeping back up, Chevrolet may have picked an ideal time to introduce the new 2017 Chevrolet Sonic, including the new hatchback that comes only in RS trim.

The new model is not only a gas miser as expected, but like most automakers, Chevy knows that good mpgs alone will not be enough to draw in customers. For 2017, there are new features for the Sonic, including a heated steering wheel, a standard 7-inch color touch screen for the new MyLink System and rear park assist.

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“The new styling and features of the 2017 Sonic reinforce its position as a fun, efficient small car with leading technology – all at an affordable price,” said Steve Majoros, director of marketing, Chevrolet Cars and Crossovers. “This is an important segment for Chevrolet, as we really have an opportunity to introduce ourselves to new buyers and show them what we’re all about.” (more…)

Chevrolet Sonic Lineup Expands with RS and the Dusk

Maker continues working to lure young buyers to showrooms.

by on Nov.21, 2013

Sonic Dusk, left, and Sonic RS Sedan, right, join the Sonic RS Hatch, center, in 2014.

Chevrolet just stepped up the battle for young buyers with the introduction of two new Sonic models: the RS and Dusk at the L.A. Auto Show.

The RS is the lineup’s performance model, while the Dusk offers a stylish, more upscale look.

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“Keeping the Sonic lineup fresh and offering consumers more choice is a priority for Chevrolet,” said Cristi Landy, marketing director for Chevrolet small cars. “The Sonic RS and Dusk sedans offer all of the great attributes that have made the Sonic a popular choice in the subcompact segment and they add performance and design cues.” (more…)

GM Struggles to Change Perceptions

Getting out from under the shadow of “Government Motors.”

by on Oct.11, 2013

The Chevrolet Sonic has made quite a splash since its debut for 2012.

The quality of General Motors vehicles is getting better but consumers still tend to believe cars from Toyota and Honda are more reliable, according to independent research. And that’s a serious problem the Detroit maker is struggling to overcome, particularly along the East and West Coasts where GM lags well behind its import rivals.

The irony is that General Motors products have actually bested Toyota in a number of recent surveys, including the closely followed J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey. GM was the top maker in the 2013 IQS while Chevrolet landed in the Top Five, a rarified group normally limited to luxury brands. Meanwhile, the maker’s Chevy Sonic subcompact topped its segment for the second year running in Power’s APEAL, or Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout survey.

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That prompted a celebration at GM’s Orion Assembly plant in suburban Detroit this week, where Roman Lesnau, of J.D. Power Associates told employees that their work has been a critical part of improving the maker’s quality and customer satisfaction scores.

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Chevy Moving Up-Market with Sonic Dusk

Can a little car command a big price tag?

by on Oct.25, 2012

Chevrolet will soon put the Sonic Dusk into production - but will buyers pay the premium?

With the exception of a few exotic sports cars, Americans typically measure the worth of an automobile by the inch and pound. But Chevrolet is hoping to get U.S. buyers to rethink that attitude with the new Chevy Sonic Dusk.

The concept vehicle, set for a formal debut at the upcoming SEMA aftermarket show in Las Vegas, is “designed to bring a higher degree of sophistication and refinement to the subcompact segment,” the maker explains.

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The maker promises the Dusk model will soon reappear in production form.  Chevrolet isn’t the only maker to try moving small cars up-market.  Mini has done a good job at de-coupling the link between size and price and Fiat had a modest success when it issued the recent Gucci edition of its little 500 hatchback.

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GM Takes Aim at VW, Hyundai With New Opel Onix

5-door critical to Brazilian market effort.

by on Oct.22, 2012

The Opel Onix debuts at the Sao Paulo auto show.

While the spotlight may be focused on China, these days, automakers like General Motors know there’s another emerging market that is one of the industry’s prime battlegrounds.

And for General Motors, once the market leader in Brazil, increasing competition means some new products are desperately needed – like the Opel Onix making its debut at the Sao Paulo auto show.

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A close cousin to Chevrolet’s new Sonic subcompact, the 5-door Onix will target one of the fastest-growing segments in what is now the world’s third-largest national automotive market, after the U.S. and China.

“Onix is arriving at a unique moment for Chevrolet in Brazil, a country that is open for business and poised for growth,” said GM Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson during a preview of the new Opel Onix the night before the official opening of the annual auto show.

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Turbocharging Turbo Sales

Makers get a boost while downsizing engines.

by on Jun.01, 2012

Porsche focuses on performance, rather than fuel economy, with the Panamera Turbo.

With an engine of just 1.4 liters in displacement under the hood one might expect the Dodge Dart Limited to fall into the “stone pony category.”  But while the maker clearly wanted to downsize the new sedan’s powertrain in order to improve mileage it was clear there wouldn’t be much demand from consumers if that also meant a serious sacrifice in the performance column.

And there isn’t, the so-called Tigershark engine turning 0 to 60 times in the mid 7 second range, comparable to some compacts using much larger – and decidedly less fuel-efficient V-6s.  Chrysler engineers recognized early on that there was one cost-effective way to deliver great mileage under routine driving conditions yet still maintain performance when the demand was there: with a device known as a turbocharger.

And the smallest of the Detroit makers isn’t alone.  From some of the smallest models on the market, like the new Chevrolet Sonic, all the way up to ultimate performance machines like the Porsche Panamera Turbo S, turbochargers are coming into increasingly high demand across the auto industry.

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“With fuel prices being a significant concern for consumers and businesses, turbochargers are a smart choice for getting more miles to the gallon,” says Tony Schultz, Honeywell Turbo Technologies’ vice president for the Americas.

Tubochargers are expected to show up on an estimated 3.2 million commercial and passenger vehicles sold in North America this year, a 1 million unit jump from 2011, according to Honeywell.

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Chevy Says “Gogo” With Low-Cost App-Based Nav System

Spark and Sonic will be first to get smartphone-based navi.

by on Mar.29, 2012

Chevrolet's GogoLink is a new smartphone app-based nav system that GM says will provide full-featured navigation with traffic updates at less than the cost of traditional navigation.

The traditional – and expensive – in-car navigation system is about to move one step closer to extinction.

Chevrolet will introduce GogoLink, a navigation system that connects with the owner’s smartphone and displays maps and directions on a car’s touchscreens. It will first appear in the 2013 Chevrolet Spark and Sonic — but could eventually migrate to other models in the Chevrolet and broader General Motors line-up.

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The new system works through Chevrolet’s new MyLink infotainment system.  General Motors calls Gogolink an embedded smartphone app and claims it delivers “full-function navigation.” The automaker will formally reveal it next week at the New York Auto Show.

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Kia Rio Wins Subcompact Sedan Shoot-Out

But Consumer Reports slams Toyota Yaris.

by on Mar.22, 2012

Strong praise for the Kia Rio from Consumer Reports.

Don’t call the new Kia Rio sedan a “penalty box.”  There was a time when that might have applied to subcompact sedans in general – and Korean-made products in particular – but a shoot-out among domestic and import small cars suggests the best of the subcompact segment deliver more than just a cheap price tag.

The Rio EX, in particular, made a strong impression on the folks at Consumer Reports, the non-profit publication rating the Korean subcompact best in an otherwise impressive class of sedans.  The Rio hatchback didn’t score quite as well, but still landed in the top three among a field that also includes the Honda Fit and Nissan Versa.

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Notably, CR some harsh and unexpected pot shots at the Toyota entry into the growing – and increasingly competitive – subcompact segment , suggesting the Japanese giant’s Yaris hatchback  “continues to underwhelm.”  Once dominant in the small car market, Toyota has been losing ground of late, and many industry analysts believe its decline is only tangentially related to last year’s Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

The challenge is keeping up with a segment that has improved dramatically in recent years.

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Automakers Tout Green Efforts

All new Chevy models will show “EcoLogic” label.

by on Feb.02, 2012

Chevy's new EcoLogic label will first appear on the new Chevrolet Sonic small car then expand to the rest of the brand's line-up.

You’ve got to go green to earn some green, it seems.

Automakers are putting ever more emphasis on their environmental efforts, touting even the most subtle efforts to win over ever more Earth-conscious buyers.  That includes everything from adding new zero-emission products to their line-ups to the use of plant fibers to replace parts and components traditionally made from oil-based materials.

Manufacturers have come to realize that while it’s hard to get a premium for going green they can tarnish their image and lose sales if they don’t

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Chevrolet will make sure that consumers don’t miss its efforts, starting with the compact Sonic model.  It will next month introduce the maker’s EcoLogic label, designed to explain how the vehicle was made, how it can be recycled and how much fuel was saved using alternate materials.  General Motors’ largest division plans to roll the EcoLogic label out across its line-up in the coming year.

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