General Motors South Africa has taken the opportunity presented by the Johannesburg International Motor Show to preview its third generation Chevrolet Utility prior to its public launch towards the end of 2011.
The imminent launch of the third generation Chevrolet Utility into the popular sub-1 ton market sector marks the completion of the first phase of a R1 billion investment programme aimed at modernising GM’s plant and facilities in the Eastern Cape to make them more efficient and globally quality compliant as integrated members of the General Motors international vehicle supply chain.
Evolved from the Corsa Utility that laid the foundations for what has become an icon in the sub-one ton pick-up market this latest generation Chevrolet Utility first broke cover in its native Brazil earlier this year where it is known as the Chevrolet Montana. There it immediately captured the imagination of buyers with record monthly sales, of almost 4 000 units, achieved from introduction.
This exciting new small pick-up captured the attention of the media as well, very quickly racking up awards from this critical audience. Leading media in Brazil: Top Car TV; Car Magazine; and Abiauto all declared the new small Chevrolet pick-up the best vehicle in its segment.
In South Africa the current Chevrolet Utility has been the benchmark vehicle and segment sales leader for 78 consecutive months with a market share as high as 46% in 2011. Behind this sustained sales success is a formula that provides for a spacious, feature rich small pick-up that is ideal for business use and also attracts a large following amongst private and recreational users.
The first generation small pick-up, based on the Combo van from GM, arrived in South Africa in 1997 and very quickly defined a new market segment for modern technology three-quarter ton pick-ups. The second generation model followed in 2004, within a year of its international launch and once again established a new market trend.
Popularity of the Chevrolet Utility saw GMSA achieve a marketing milestone with the delivery of the 100 000th locally produced unit in May 2009. Since then local production has grown to over 162 000 units as South America and Sub-Saharan Africa sales head north of 500 000 units with South Africa accounting for some 30% of that total.
A key factor in the success of the Chevrolet Utility is the fact that it set new benchmarks for the class in terms of interior space and comfort, style, features, and load carrying ability – payload capability for the latest generation model is targeted at between 666 kg and 768 kg depending on model (these figures to be confirmed at the time of the official launch).
The choice of fuel efficient petrol and diesel engines is a further plus for a package that has a high level of appeal for the serious business user while providing a comfortable second car option for the private buyer where it fills both utility and leisure vehicle roles.
The new model takes the process of evolution a step further with added refinement to the defined attributes of this superb small pick-up. The recipe is essentially the same however with the main ingredients of style, functionality, loadability, dependability, and economy in operation. To this proven formula can be added an element of fun.
As is the case with the two earlier generations, this latest small pick-up from Chevrolet will raise the bar in its segment by adding a number of features unique in the class.
At first glance this latest small pick-up from Chevrolet might seem not that different from its predecessor. It is however a fundamentally different vehicle, built on an all-new platform and with up-to-date styling in keeping with the proud 100-year heritage of the Chevrolet brand.
The styling team has arrived at an altogether sharper look for this latest generation model in keeping with current styling trends. At the same time they have reinforced the Chevrolet family image with the strong frontal view and its familiar dual-port grille split by a cross member that carries the iconic Chevrolet bow-tie emblem. Strong headlamp and front bumper styling treatments compliment the contemporary Chevrolet family identity.
Whilst specifications are still subject to change in the run-up to the launch of the new Chevrolet Utility towards year end, buyers can expect a range of ten model variants with a choice of petrol or diesel powertrains. Base, Club and Sport specification levels will be offered together with each of three engine options with a factory fitted aircon option on the base specification model.
This latest generation Chevrolet Utility is a hugely significant model for General Motors South Africa as it moves towards its goal of the local production of a minimum of 50 000 vehicles per annum across three platforms at its Port Elizabeth manufacturing facilities. This goal is in line with meeting the requirements of the government’s Automotive Production Development Programme which comes into effect in 2013.
The Chevrolet Utility has been the segment leader in terms of quality according to the local Synovate quality survey – achieving top spot in the three-quarter ton segment since 2005.
As it moves into full local production of the new Chevrolet Utility GMSA is fully aligned with GM’s international quality standards and audit procedures and fully up to the task of meeting the challenge of Best-in-Segment quality with this exciting new vehicle.