AM Online

Chevrolet = value

Chevrolet aims to be Britain’s leading value brand by 2010 and, despite the late appearance of the new Captiva in the UK market, new managing director Rory Harvey believes that the brand is on track to succeed.

Sales this year will go backwards though, partly because the Korean cars have been withdrawn from fleet and rental markets to preserve margin.

Captiva – a soft-roader – should have been on sale within the next few weeks as part of the pan-European launch. But the factory has hit major problems on crash test requirement while trying to package diesel engine with right hand drive.

Initially, says Chuck Russell, the vehicle line director in Korea, there was no plan to have diesel in the UK line-up and there has been a late rush to provide it. Nick Riley, the former Vauxhall managing director, is the senior GM man in the Far East charged with sorting out a solution.

Harvey told AM that sales would drop from 18,000 last year to 15,000 in 2006. With Captiva from the first quarter, 20,000 plus should be possible next year for a market share a shade over 1%.

Harvey wants 4,000 Captiva sales in year one, which could take Captiva to the best selling car in the range ahead of the tiny Matiz.

The aggressive growth plan is predicated on 125 dealers by 2008. Today the total stands at 86. A new marketing director has been selected but not yet named. Harvey is to combine his old title of sales director with his new role.

Daewoo – Chevrolet’s Korean car-builder – has been in the UK market for 12 years but was rebranded Chevrolet only in 2002. In the boom year of 2004, registrations grew 37% – the third fastest in the UK.

Harvey says that fleet and rental has not been abandoned – just shelved while he gets the Chevy message clear with the private buyers. “We need to ramp up awareness and the pace of change.

Ninety per cent of people are aware of the Chevy brand; 57% are aware they sell Daewoo in the UK but only 27% equate Chevy with small value cars – the majority still think of American gas guzzlers. The target for accurate awareness of the brand is the 45% of key competitors.”

A 10% awareness change probably costs around £15m in media buying. That spending is restrained while Captiva is delayed.

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