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Monday, April 20, 2009
Prison Break star Wentworth Miller has been contracted by GM China as its ambassador for the new C-segment Chevy Cruze. Watch the TVC below.
The Cruze is expected to be launched in ASEAN markets by the second half of 2009, with Malaysia launch by July 2009. The Cruze will be up against C-segment dominating Civic and Corolla models. The Cruze's unique selling point is said to be its class leading 6-speed automatic transmission, one of the best interior layout and design and European handling. Pricing will be around RM1k less than an equivalent Civic 1.8. Early models are rumoured to be imported CBU from Korea but it is understood that domestic assembly is in the cards - either in Thailand or Malaysia.
Update : The Cruze (and Epica) was delayed due to conflicts between GM ASEAN and its local partner DRB-HICOM. However, GM-ASEAN has recently released a press statement, saying that plans will be resumed again this year.
Besides the Cruze, a D-segment Epica is also slated for launch later this year and is targetted at the Camry-Accord duoploy. But between the Cruze and Epica, the Cruze is expected to be a better commercial success. The Epica has not been very well received in most markets. In Australia, the Aussie Holden badged Epica is a Korean sourced replacement for the Holden Vectra, whose cost has creeped up over the years and can no longer be priced competitively. But Aussies resented the Epica, mainly due to its looks and a prejudice against its Korean origin.
It's easy to see why Aussies never warmed up to the Epica. Just look at the sharp looking Vectra that preceeded it!
The Cruze also has Korean origins but unlike earlier GM-DAT models, the Cruze is the first car to be completely developed under the supervision of GM. Previous Daewoo sourced GM models were either existing Daewoo models or are already well into advanced stages of their product development.
With the Cruze, GM was able to start on a clean sheet and leverage on its European arm's Opel resources. Which should be good news considering how good the new European market Insignia sedan and Corsa hatchback is. In fact, providing a European vehicle's handling feel is one of the key design brief given for the Cruze.
The Cruze is sold as a Daweoo Lacetti in South Korea while the Epica's equivalent is the Daewoo Tosca. The Chevy Captiva is also known Daewoo Winstorm. GM purchased Daewoo Auto Technology in the late 90s following the '97 Asian financial crisis.
It is a pity that some are put off by Korean origin in GM cars. But there is nothing particularly wrong with the cars. The problem is just branding.
To illustrate a point, how many people realise that the Asian Nissan Sentra / Sunny, Cefiro, Teana and Qashqai / Dualis were all Korean cars with a Japanese Nissan badge? That's right. All the cars above were developed by Samsung Motors, a subsidiary of the Renault-Nissan group.
Sentra = Samsung SM3
Cefiro = previous generation generation Samsung SM5
Teana = Samsung SM7
Qashqai / Dualis / Renault Koleos = Samsung QM5
Nissan never had much problems shifting these cars. The Asian Sentra was one of the market leaders in its segment, especially in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. So is the Cefiro, which at one time was giving the Accord and Camry a real good run for their money. Not many knew about the Korean origins of these cars and owners perceived them to be Japanese cars, which is not entirely untrue but it is not entirely true either. It's designed and engineered by Koreans with Japanese (and later French) money.
Owners of these cars, maybe it's time to stop sniggering at other people for driving Korean cars. You are driving one yourself. And this is not a case a Daewoo rebadging Japanese cars. No these cars were developed entirely using Samsung Motors resources, funded by Renault-Nissan money, because Korean engineering costs are lower and they do come out with really good stuff if given the right resources.
Posted by AutoIndustrie at 3:26 AM