The good old days of late summer 2009.
It was a great time to buy a new car. Monthly new car sales in North America had plummeted to under 10 million units. Access to financing seemed to be near impossible for a lot of consumers. Brands were orphaned. Leasing collapsed. Banks were picky. The future was uncertain and… raw materials were cheap.
It was a good time to buy new at a deep, deep discount. Has that time passed?
Back in April, Sajeev and Steve found some time to reply to my letter where I posed the impossible question. As gearheads, we all want something fun, fast, efficient, and cheap (well, most of us want cheap). Much like a traction circle, all these needs are in competition and in order to make good on one you need to sacrifice another. The ultimate gearhead car, unfortunately, does not exist and it never will.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t good, affordable vehicles out there which are fun to drive while ticking most of the boxes. And, this time, I actually followed the advice of someone else and couldn’t be happier.
Let’s face it; we Americans have rarely created a small car worth considering, we have also rarely built a small car in our own backyard. Case in point: the former Chevy Aveo. While I wouldn’t say the Aveo was abjectly horrible, there was nothing to excite a shopper and it wasn’t cheap enough to compensate. While the Aveo was born out of old-GM’s need to buy every ailing car company around the world (in this case Daewoo), it’s replacement, the new Chevy Sonic, is the only subcompact car currently sold in the United States that’s actually assembled here as well. The platform used by the Sonic is far better traveled than most Americans. GM’s “Gamma II” architecture was designed by GM Korea with considerable input from Opel (as the Opel Corsa will share the platform soon) and re-skinned by Chevrolet. To make the Sonic LTZ Turbo from this multi-national compact car, Chevy dropped a 1.4L turbocharged engine and six-speed manual tranny under the hood. Unlike the Hertz-ready Sonic hatchback Michael Karesh has last year, the Sonic LTZ Turbo is the top-of-the-line Sonic attempting to please those who want a hair more shove and, paradoxically, better fuel economy. Sound like a good start? Let’s see if GM got it right this time.
Remember Oleg Deripaska? The Russian oligarch that had been under suspicion of money laundering and organized crime activities? The very same Deripaska GM did not want to have close to Opel for fear of losing their precious intellectual property ? Yes, him. GM just handed him the blueprints and the tooling for the Chevy Aveo. (Read More…)
When we asked TTAC’s Best And Brightest whether Chevy should stick with the “Aveo” nameplate for its new subcompact offering or move in a new direction, only a few seemed to believe that “Aveo” carries much equity at this point. But then, it’s not like Chevy has a lot of small-car “heritage” to draw on… Sprint, Vega, Monza and Citation all have their obvious limitations. The B&B’s debate was typically dynamic, but it seems that this discussion has gone back and forth at the RenCen as well. GMI reports:
GM has struggled with the Aveo’s name for the last two years. According to sources former U.S. marketing chief Mark LaNeve originally wanted to rename the Aveo to “Viva.” Then–following GM’s bankruptcy filing last year–Bob Lutz ordered the Aveo name to stay put…
The lackluster image of the current Aveo has left GM’s new marketing chief, Joel Ewanick, to conclude that the car needs to be renamed. Although GM has not formally announced the new name, GMI sources are stating that GM has signed off on the name “Chevrolet Sonic.”
According to U.S. Trademark records General Motors LLC filed for a trademark on the name “Chevrolet Sonic” on October 5th.
A longtime critique of General Motors here at TTAC is that it needs to pick enduringly appealing names for its products and stick to them, instead of shuffling through some eighty nameplates for midsize and smaller cars since Toyota introduced the Corolla. Still, this approach doesn’t advocate simply freezing time, and calling every compact Chevy a Cruze from here to eternity. If you’re going to stick with a name, it has to be good, and it has to mean something.
Enter the Aveo, which is about to be replaced by another Daewoo-developed hatchback (made in the US this time), but should (if GM can be believed) represent an improvement over the unlovable outgoing model.GM’s North American supremo Mark Reuss is still wavering on the name, refusing to commit to Aveo, but unwilling to suggest an alternative nameplate. Which brings us to today’s question: is it nobler for the car to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageously poor associations with the name Aveo? Or should GM put the name to sleep, perchance to dream up a better, more enduring one? Is consistency good even if it means keeping one of the most maligned nameplates this side of “Sebring”? Aye, there’s the rub.
This is reportedly the new Aveo RS concept coming to the Detroit Auto Show, and apparently a near-production look at the next-generation Aveo. Well, you weren’t expecting it to look worse than the current model, were you?