Online edition of India's National Newspaper
Thursday, Mar 07, 2002

About Us
Contact Us
Business Published on Thursdays

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education | Book Review | Business | SciTech | Entertainment | Young World | Quest | Folio |

Business

GM, Suzuki unveil Chevrolet Cruze


General Motors Asia Pacific President, Rudolph A Schlais Jr (right), and Suzuki Motor Corp Vice President, Akira Tsutsui, unveil the Chevrolet Cruze in Tokyo recently.

POST WORLD War II started the golden era be it music, fashion or automobiles till the 1970s. One would notice that the most contemporary and nerve soothing stuff was produced during this period so much so that even the automobiles produced during the period had an identity and could be associated with the personality of the owner.

The word Chevrolet was associated with big humungous automobiles. So big and heavy were they that if one would press the car down and leave it, it would oscillate at least five times. This only shows how big and powerful the cars of that period used to be.

Till the oil crisis hit the world in 1973-74, the guys at Chevrolet never in their wildest dream had thought that they would make a car that would have less than six cylinders. In fact, if they could afford it at that time they would have cars with only eight cylinders or more. But time is a great teacher and Chevrolet was forced to alter its strategy to introduce the more frugal four cylinder Chevys when the oil crisis hit the world. Since then Chevrolet has constantly been doing a great job in producing small engine cars and have become very popular as well. One of its latest creations has been the hybrid sport utility vehicle (SUV), the Cruze, which was introduced at the recently concluded Tokyo Motor Show. And just to let you into the automotive circle buzzword — that day may not be far away when this machine will find its way on the Indian roads with either a Suzuki or a GM (read that as Chevrolet) badge.

GM and its alliance partners are working hard to increase their presence and market share in the Asia-Pacific region with, specially with the new products created specifically for the Asia Pacific market, not to mention taking full advantage of the Chevrolet brand and design cues as they are most suitable for this region's markets. Chevrolet's beginnings in Japan can be traced to production of knock-down kits in Osaka in 1938. Since then, Chevrolet has continued to import a variety of dynamic, active, youth-oriented models such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Camaro, Trail Blazer and Astro from North America to the Japanese market. The recently unveiled Chevrolet Cruze was jointly developed by GM and Suzuki. This cute hybrid SUV combines Chevrolet styling elements with Suzuki's mastery of small car design and development. Cruze is the first Chevrolet compact passenger car designed in and for Asia.

The Cruze will be manufactured at the Suzuki's Kosai plant near Hamamatsu in Shizuoka Prefecture. GM Auto World and Suzuki's ARENA will sell the 1.5-litre and 1.3-litre models respectively, in different trim options. Consumers will be able to select from an array of exterior colours and interior trim options.

To offer a sporty, comfortable performance that can accommodate a wide range of driving styles, the Cruze has 15-inch wheels, 195 mm of ground clearance and a special GM-tuned suspension. Smooth acceleration, quietness and superb handling combined with a spacious interior create a complete package.

The salient features of the car are:

— A bold crossbar runs horizontally through the middle of the front grille. At its centre is Chevrolet's distinctive golden bow tie.

— It features horizontally split, large-size multi reflector jewel headlamps.

— A distinctive flared blister fender offers a sense of stability and gives a macho image to the front end.

— The distinct American design with large rear bumper emphasises boldness and stability.

— Round four-valve taillights integrated into the rear bumper and five-spoke wheels.

— A neatly executed wrap-around rear window with a surface smoked lens, and highly visible and safe high-mount turn signals and reverse light further enhance the conspicuousness of this vehicle.

— Six exterior colours (two of which are exclusive) have been designated for sale through GM AutoWorld outlets. Five exterior colors (one of which is exclusive) have been assigned for Suzuki's ARENA models.

Designers created the interior of the Cruze that gets the Chevrolet's distinctive American feel.

— The instrument panel incorporates a black and silver two-tonne arrangement and is finished with gilt paint, offering a sporty appearance.

— The interior trim is also available in two tonnes. Buyers can choose from either the black-and-red or black-and-gray combination. Both offer the Cruze a sophisticated yet sporty character.

The premium variants of the Cruze offer the driver and his passengers navigation support, e-mail access, television, radio, movies, Internet access, video conferencing, and much more, all with safe, hands-free operation. Packaged under General Motors' OnStar brand, the "e" capabilities were created for today's highly mobile, on-the-go generation that is progressively looking forward not only to do more but also to do it faster. The e-Cruze's in-vehicle system uses three identical, yet independent, information and entertainment systems.

The screens located in the front console, the driver's headrest and the front passenger's headrest, offer access to all the e-functions. For example, in the e-Cruze, the driver is able to access his e-mail while on the road, take and make calls using the in-built microphone and get directions to his destination. For safety reasons, the driver can receive these directions verbally. When the car is stationary, however, the driver is free to do much more such as download directions onto his personal digital assistant. The screens for the rear seat passengers are fully functional when the car is moving so that the passengers can surf the Internet, watch movies or television and play video games among other things. And because the systems are independent, each passenger can do his own thing!

The e-Cruze has the engine, transmission, suspension, braking and steering systems similar to the standard Cruze. However, the e-Cruze has a number of exterior and interior modifications to reflect the futuristic lifestyle concept it demonstrates. It has wider tires, taller rims and an``e''center cap.

A roof antenna contains all smaller antennas for ease in receiving data. A Holden-style body kit enhances the profile of the e-Cruze with ground effects around the entire vehicle. With yellow and black ground effects, the e-Cruze makes a bold visual statement.

The Cruze is a symbol of amalgamation of design and processes of a world leader in auto production and the genius of a "small car" manufacturer.

A symbol, in fact of the west and east coming together, a post World War II symbol of the global union of nationalities and corporations — The Americans and the Japanese joining hands to surge ahead in this free world. It is now for us to in fact look forward to this product of the``Chevy''brand, a cult in itself, to make a come-back to India!

Tutu Dhawan

Send this article to Friends by E-Mail

Business

Features: Magazine | Literary Review | Life | Metro Plus | Open Page | Education | Book Review | Business | SciTech | Entertainment | Young World | Quest | Folio |



The Hindu Group: Home | About Us | Copyright | Archives | Contacts | Subscription
Group Sites: The Hindu | Business Line | The Sportstar | Frontline | Home |

Comments to : thehindu@vsnl.com   Copyright 2002, The Hindu
Republication or redissemination of the contents of this screen are expressly prohibited without the written consent of The Hindu