Chevrolet to get a new compact car for sale early next year
DETROIT -- General Motors will unveil a Chevrolet compact car at an auto
show this fall, with production slated to begin early next year, say
sources familiar with GM's product program.
The vehicle will be built on the Delta compact car architecture at GM's
plant in Lordstown, Ohio.
The car will use a new 1.4-liter global engine that GM developed and
recently announced in Europe. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine will
be used in several GM vehicles worldwide.
The Chevrolet compact will not be called the Cobalt, says one source
familiar with the plans. GM will produce the current-generation Cobalt
through June 2010 as a 2009 model. It was unclear from sources whether
GM will continue to build the Cobalt after that.
Shared among five nameplates
The car's engine will be capable of developing between 120 and 140 hp.
Sources say mileage could easily exceed 40 mpg.
"It's a pretty incredible engine; it's direct-injected with great
power," the source says. "The small-displacement turbos make it possible
to get great power so that GM might put it in the mid-sized products,
too. It's an extremely important engine and a very capable powertrain."
The new engine will be shared among five nameplates: Chevrolet, Pontiac,
Saturn, Opel and Daewoo, sources say. That means the Lordstown plant
could build cars for export.
The engine continues the trend that GM started with such cars as the
Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn Sky Red Line. Those cars use smaller
engines and high-technology devices such as direct fuel injection and
turbochargers to boost fuel economy and performance.
Lordstown plant retooling
GM is retooling its plant in Lordstown for a new vehicle, sources say.
Lordstown union officials have heard that GM plans to add a shift.
GM now is building between 1,400 and 1,500 cars a day at Lordstown;
adding a shift would increase that output to 2,100 cars a day. GM builds
the Chevrolet Cobalt as well as the Pontiac G5 and its Canadian
counterpart, the Pontiac Pursuit, at the Lordstown plant. All these
vehicles also are built on the Delta architecture.
Meanwhile, GM is reconsidering bringing the Chevrolet minicar, the Beat,
to the United States.
"The Beat for the U.S. is getting a pretty thorough examination now that
you see what's going on with fuel prices," says a source close to GM's
product development. "It isn't definitively on there as a go product,
but there is a lot of inside chatter and it's on the consideration list."