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GM Struggling To Make The Cruze Relevant

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On: Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 10:26AM | By: Chris Weiss

GM Struggling To Make The Cruze Relevant

Considering buying a Chevy Cruze this holiday shopping season? How about next year? Yeah, neither is anyone else. Chevy is struggling to spark interest in its new compact and, according to the Detroit Free Press, the car is on the list of no more than 5 percent of current compact car shoppers. With competitors stomping the Cruze, and more competition on the way in the first half of next year, GM is redoubling efforts to make its struggling compact a market player.

According to Detroit Free Press' report, the Cruze was fifth for sales in the compact car segment for the month of November with 8,000 units sold. Meanwhile, segment leaders like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic sold double that amount. And the competition will only get more fierce with a new Ford Focus scheduled to launch early next year and a new Civic on the way in the spring.

That's not good news for a car that was the subject of a lot of hype preceding its launch. In fact, I'd often read about the Cruze in the same releases and news stories as the Chevy Volt, so it's not for lack of publicity that the car is lagging behind the competition.

Nor is it for lack of a solid package. The 2011 Chevy Cruze, which hit the market in September, bases at $16,995 and includes a variety of standard equipment like OnStar with six-month subscription, air conditioning, power door locks with remote keyless entry, driver information center, and XM radio with three-month trial subscription. Chevy has also claimed the standard safety features on the car are the most generous in the segment. These include 10 air bags, StabiliTrak, electronic stability control with rollover sensing, and traction control.

Meanwhile, with its base 1.8-liter Ecotec engine, the Chevy Cruze delivers an EPA-tested 35 mpg highway. With the 1.4-liter Ecotec turbo four, the Cruze gets an additional mpg on the highway. For reference, the class leaders get 43 mpg.

Chevy's banking on the fact that part of the problem is that people just aren't familiar enough with the Cruze. The Cruze, which replaced the Chevy Cobalt, is a new name in the American market. Next year, GM plans to funnel more money into a publicity campaign in which the company will lend the car to bloggers to try to help increase its public profile. This effort will be joined by a traditional advertising campaign, and by GM's Main Street in Motion program—a traveling test drive that lets people around the country get behind the wheel. The automaker hopes to create a solid public profile exemplifying a safety-heavy, features-rich, value-oriented compact.

GM aims to get these efforts fully underway before Ford and Honda start advertising their new compacts.

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imwithcoco | 5:23PM (Tue, Dec 14, 2010)

I think everyone is waiting on the new Ford Focus.

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