10-12-2009, 01:27 PM
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Chevrolet brand chief: Bowtie to account for up to 70% of sales
DETROIT (Reuters) -- General Motors Co.'s flagship Chevrolet brand expects to boost sales driven by new launches such as the Cruze small car and may represent 70 percent of the automaker's North American sales, the brand's chief said.
Chevrolet is “going to take on a larger role as we go from eight brands to four," Brent Dewar, who was named vice president of Chevrolet in July, said in an interview Friday. "Here in North America we are going to be responsible for 70 percent of volumes."
Chevrolet will carry the burden of driving GM's sales and market share after it eliminates four of its eight U.S. brands following bankruptcy. It plans to sell its Hummer and Saab brands and close Saturn and Pontiac.
"As Pontiac goes away, Saturn goes away, Chevrolet has to step up. That's clear," Dewar said. "The 70 percent target is the right kind of number we need to work on."
Chevrolet has represented more than 60 percent of GM's sales so far in 2009, compared with 54 percent in 2002. Globally, it accounts for more than half of the automaker's sales.
GM's U.S. sales plunged 45 percent in September from a year earlier. Its U.S. market share including brands being scrapped was 19.7 percent, down from 22.4 percent a year earlier.
Chevrolet, down 32 percent this year, has suffered less than any other GM brand. Hummer and Saturn are down more than 60 percent.
Despite the reduced number of brands, Dewar said GM aims to boost its U.S. market share in coming years with new products such as the Cruze small car and Chevrolet Volt electric car. Both are slated to hit showrooms next year.
"Maintaining the status quo would not be acceptable to (CEO) Fritz Henderson and our board," Dewar said.
He said October industry-wide U.S. auto sales are trending better than September, when the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate fell to 9.5 million units, the weakest sales rate since April.
U.S. auto industry sales are expected to come in at 10.2 million to 10.5 million vehicles in 2009 and to increase by at least 10 percent from there next year, Dewar said.
GM is under enormous pressure to reverse a long-running slide in sales as it aims to steer itself toward recovery and pay back taxpayers after emerging from bankruptcy in July with some $50 billion in U.S. government funding.
Globally, Chevrolet has the challenge of picking up sales from GM's European Opel brand, which is being sold to Magna International Inc., and increasing its presence in emerging markets such as China, India and Eastern Europe