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GM plans to make Chevrolet a global brand like Toyota, VW

From FREE PRESS AUTO| March 09,2007

If General Motors' ambitious plan pays off, it's only a matter of time before Chevrolet sells more vehicles outside the United States than at home, said John Middlebrook, GM vice president for global sales, marketing and service.

The strategy aims to make Chevy a truly global brand like Toyota or Volkswagen, selling stylish and affordable vehicles around the world, GM vice chairman Bob Lutz said. Assuming Chevrolet’s North American sales do not continue to fall, reaching the goal of more than 50% in other regions would make the brand a global powerhouse with annual sales of six million or more.

Chevrolet sold 4.3 million vehicles worldwide in 2006, 2.8 million in the United States. Middlebrook would not predict when the brand's overseas business will outstrip domestic sales.

"It won't be too long," he said.

Middlebrook, in Switzerland for the Geneva auto show, made the remarks in Lausanne, a lakeside city just miles from the birthplace of Louis and Gaston Chevrolet, the Swiss brothers who founded the brand that has called itself "the Heartbeat of America."

Chevrolet has built and sold vehicles outside the United States since the early 20th Century, but today GM's best-selling brand is aiming for explosive growth like nothing in its history.

If General Motors manages to hold off Toyota and remain the world's top-selling automaker, it will be largely because of Chevrolet's global success.

Chevy's product line isn't quite up to the task of offering a multi-continent family of vehicles with a consistent family look in every market niche from minicars to big SUVs, but new vehicles coming over the next several years will make that vision a reality, GM executives say.

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