Chevy makes way for Michigan-built Sonic subcompact

By Jim Hagerty
Staff Writer

General Motors Co. announced last week it has a name for its latest line of subcompact cars.

The Chevy Sonic, to be built in Michigan, will replace the Korean-built Aveo, execs said Friday, Dec. 10. The car will compete with the Ford Fiesta and Hyundai Accent, both leaders in the U.S. subcompact market.

The European version of the Sonic was revealed at the 2010 Paris Auto Show and was known as Aveo. The U.S. version is slightly larger and features upgraded interior and exterior designs. The Sonic will be officially unveiled at the 2011 Detroit International Auto Show in January 2011. The line is expected to be in showrooms by the beginning of the 2012 model year.

According to G.M., the Sonic won’t be the most powerful car on the road. Boasting engines no larger than 115 horsepower, the line will consist of basic, entry-level vehicles with limited option packages.

Sonic, however, will be available in sedan and hatchback versions.

General Motors North America President Mark Ruess said the company has been considering redesigning the Aveo and changing its name since October. There was considerable market confusion with the name, Ruess said, mostly with how to pronounce “Aveo.”

General Motors filed for a trademark for the name “Chevrolet Sonic” Oct. 5.

“The Sonic represents a new beginning for Chevrolet in the small-car segment,” U.S. marketing chief for Chevrolet, Chris Perry, said. “So, we felt it was time to give it a new name. The new car is roomy, stylish and fun to drive, and Sonic is a youthful, energetic name that helps convey what this vehicle is all about.”

The Sonic name will not be associated with Sonic Automotive, Inc., a Chevy dealership based in North Carolina, which owns 100 stores.

The Sonic will be built in Orion Township, Mich., about 35 miles north of Detroit. General Motors was scheduled to close the plant until UAW concessions were worked out in the company’s 2009 bankruptcy reorganization. The Orion Township facility will also produce the Buick Verano, a compact sedan, also slated for a 2012 release. The company has agreed to invest more than $500 million to retool for both models.

From the Dec. 15-21, 2010 issue

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