Vote for Your Future Chevrolet: 2007 New York Auto Show1
Will One of These Concepts Be Part of Chevy’s U.S. Future?
The flux of fuel prices and concerns about the environment are keeping fuel-efficient vehicles in the news. With General Motors‘ access to global small-car platforms; the use of the Chevrolet brand worldwide for affordable, reliable mainstream cars; and GM’s efforts to more effectively use their global resources, the potential exists for Chevrolet to add a small car for the States that would slot below the Aveo, though traditionally small cars are not profitable. Chevrolet would like to know if U.S. buyers are ready for the idea, and if they are, what type of vehicle might make the most impact. Check out more pictures and news and vote for your favorite at www.vote4chevrolet.com.
In studying this future, Chevrolet showed three dramatically different small-car concepts at the 2007 New York International Auto Show. The idea, as a side benefit, also creates buzz around the Chevrolet brand and can help position them as forward thinkers amongst the youngest demographics. These concepts, Beat, Groove, and Trax, are designed to appeal to younger buyers and each fills a different theme and lifestyle. Each was designed by different designers at GM’s South Korean design studio on the same global mini architecture; the Beat was built in India, but the Groove and Trax built at GM’s Warren, Michigan, Tech Center.
Are You Ready for the Beat?
The Beat was the only one described as a running prototype. The Beat, with its three-door hatchback body, sharp and angular lines, and very bright Vertigo Green paint, is going for micro import tuners. With a tricked-out, six-speaker Alpine stereo system and pop-up navigation system, the Beat looks to inspire technologically savvy kids. The front-drive Beat sported a 1.2L turbocharged gasoline engine and automatic transmission, though output was not specified.
Despite such a small body, the Beat wore seventeen-inch wheels and tires, which surrounded Vertigo Green-painted brake calipers. Oddly, the body is so aggressive and bottom-heavy that these seventeens actually look small, and the gold Chevy bow tie is difficult to spot in either front or rear fascias. The badge is small and its gold tone is overwhelmed by the green paint. Headlights and taillights are LED units, with pure show-car camera units in place of standard side-view mirrors. The Vertigo Green carried into the interior, as it accented the wraparound dash and found in contrast stitching on fabric and mesh seats.
Or Have You Found Your Groove?
At least as of April 10, the survey results (which you can see at www.vote4chevrolet.com) had the Groove garnering significantly more votes than the Beat. Groove, designed in South Korea but built in Warren, Michigan, like the Trax, had 138,528 votes and the Beat only 114,129 when I last checked. I wonder if much of it is the bright-to-the-point-of-searing Vertigo Green, because the Beat has a more aggressive, go-forward, gotta-move look than the urban-tough-look Groove. But Groove’s “bodacious” fenders and retro look is the one catching reviewer’s eyes so far.
Groove looks larger than it is and a stronger, all-business presence versus the Beat’s highly styled approach. Groove, Chevy claims, “evokes classic Chevrolet heritage design cues like an upright windshield and prominent fender flares” reminiscent of a retro hot rod. Not sure I’m buying that, but it does look tough and purposeful. I like the vents on the hood, though not as much the highly sculpted taillights. And, on the Groove, it is very easy to spot the large Chevy bowtie, unfortunately lost on the Beat. The Groove’s shape is more likely to resonate with Chevy enthusiasts and U.S. sensibilities. After all, Chevy is home to the Suburban and HHR.
Groove’s theoretical (because this concept is not a runner) engine was a nonspecific one-liter diesel. It also got seventeen-inch wheels and tires, but these five-spoke units, pushed far to the corners, are not overwhelmed by the vehicle they carry. Groove used LED lighting, too, with very sharp LED foglights. Like the Beat, the Groove’s brake calipers are painted Vertigo Green, though the Groove’s exterior is a very matte finish (in person it looks as flat as primer) called Lunar Quartz. We like red brake calipers better than violent green.
Trax: Last in Alphabet, Last in Votes
Probably unrelated to its name, Trax was looking at fewer than 50,000 votes. This entry went for total cuteness, in a shape suggestive of SUVs. Is the lack of response to Trax an indication that people are getting bored with baby SUV looks, or is it just Trax itself? Trax’s very round headlights and taillights and baby door handles, skid plates, and roof rack combine to make it look just too cute. It even gets small vents on the front quarter panels, just like big, bad Range Rovers and Cadillac Escalades!
Trax sports two-tone paint, with orange and brown (Blaze Orange and Burnt Orange, specifically), very earthy tones. Supporting its SUV looks, it was the only concept offering an all-wheel-drive system. The low-cost AWD system used an electric limited-slip differential with an independent battery pack and electric motor to move the rear wheels. Though we didn’t get inside, Chevy says the Trax had a fold-flat rear seat. Trax got sixteen instead of seventeen-inch wheels, with thick, rugged, outdoor-capable look tires; a rear-mounted spare tire; and a roof rack. Instead of green brake calipers, Chevy wisely used Flame Yellow. Its theoretical motive power is a one-liter gasoline engine.
How Small is Small?
Though Chevrolet did not release specifications for these concepts, global minicars typically range from 134 to 138 inches long; to put this in perspective, well more than 30 inches shorter than Chevy’s current Aveo sedan and hatchback
and about ten inches shorter than even the 2008 MINI Cooper. Wheelbases of small cars like these concepts, which sell very well in Japan and other global markets for fuel efficiency, size, and tax structure reasons, are generally about 92 inches, or that of a Mazda MX-5 Miata and five inches shorter than the Aveo.