Ask Patty Bites the Big Apple, Day Two
General Motors opened the New York Auto Show on Wednesday morning with the first vehicle reveal, hosted by GM Chairman Bob Lutz and Vice President of GM Global Design Ed Welburn. A high-energy hip-hop dance troupe presented a trio of brightly colored mini cars meant to highlight Chevy's new focus on design. Introduced as "the Triplets" we were told the creative little Beat, Groove, and Trax concepts are supposed to drive the energy, diversity, and excitement of urban life into cars that will also deliver good-looking fun, fuel economy, and value. (Yep, that's a lot of adjectives to digest.) Then we were told to choose from a trio of matching foam balls and throw one onto the stage to indicate our favorite. (Did I do what I was told? Heck no! I'm bringing those balls home for my kids!)
Taking an approach meant to increase the post-show buzz about these cars, Chevy is also allowing consumers to pick their favorite of the three by visiting www.vote4chevrolet.com and casting their vote for the Beat, Groove, or Trax. In the typical veiled language we expect at autoshows, Chevy said the results will help them determine which of the three cars they should build.
Of course, no auto show press conference would be complete without the mandatory announcement of manufacturer statistics, and in this case we were informed that Chevrolet is one of the fastest-growing brands in the world, showing a sales increase of 158 percent outside North America since 2001. Chevrolet says it sold 4.3 million vehicles worldwide in 2006, 2.8 million - or 65 percent of them - in the United States. This information is relevant to these cars because, according to Chevrolet General Manager Ed Peper, "The Chevrolet Beat, Groove, and Trax concepts have the potential to expand the reach of Chevrolet - already a beloved brand around the world - even further, connecting with young buyers on multiple continents who desire fun-yet-efficient transportation."
Here's a quick summary of the three minicar concepts, which could potentially be modified off the existing Matisse and Spark vehicles that are already on sale in Europe.
Designed to evoke the mood of a speedy micro import tuner, the eye-popping-green Beat is a front-wheel-drive, three-door hatchback meant to be personalized, and would be powered by a 1.2-liter turbocharged gasoline engine mated to an automatic transmission. If brought to market, it would be loaded with technology, including a navigation system and premium stereo.
A "funkastalgia"-themed vehicle that Chevy says is too tough-looking to be "cute," the Groove concept is a retro-inspired vehicle with bodacious fender flares and an upright windshield, like a new-gen HHR. The front-drive Groove would be powered by a small, efficient 1-liter diesel engine. Its Lunar Quartz matte paint is ideal for application of vinyl decals for additional personalization by owners.
An urban crossover concept that's equally at home on the trails or in traffic, the Blaze Orange suv-let gets a low-cost all-wheel-drive system and looks the part of a rugged SUV many times its size, thanks to a voluminous one-piece bumper and fender system in the front and back, a rear-mounted spare tire and a roof rack. Trax would be powered by a 1-liter gas engine.
You might want to take a good look and try to figure out which one of them your teenager could be parking in your driveway in about three years. Don't forget to vote!
By Brandy Schaffels