GM seeks to build excitement for Chevy brand with SS sedan

Thu Nov 29, 2012 4:36pm EST
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DETROIT (Reuters) - For the first time in nearly two decades, GM's Chevrolet brand will be back in the business of selling rear-wheel-drive sedans in the United States.

General Motors Co (GM.N: Quote) expects the production version of the Chevrolet SS rear-wheel-drive sedan to act as a low-volume car meant to build excitement around the brand, the head of the automaker's North American operations said on Thursday.

The car gives GM its first rear-wheel-drive sedan since it stopped selling the Pontiac G8 in 2009. When the SS makes it debut, it will be the first time in 17 years Chevy sells a rear-wheel-drive sedan in the United States excluding the police car it currently offers.

GM unveiled the NASCAR racing version of the Chevy SS in Las Vegas on Thursday and plans to show the production model during the Daytona 500 race in Florida in February. The Australian-built car will go on sale in the third or fourth quarter of 2013 as a 2014 model.

"This is going to be a pull on demand from our dealers and customers," Mark Reuss, head of GM's North American operations, said in a telephone interview.

"This is quite different than a big, high-volume production program with target volumes," he added. "It doesn't have to do anything. We're using it to race. You have to think of it almost like a marketing halo program for Chevrolet."

Reuss said he expects GM, which sells the rear-wheel-drive Camaro and Corvette coupes, to sell fewer than 10,000 SS performance sedans annually. The SS will be built on the same vehicle platform as the Camaro and Holden VE Commodore.

Rear-wheel-drive cars offer better performance attributes than front-wheel-drive models, including acceleration, braking and handling.

The starting price for the SS will be determined closer to vehicle launch, but Reuss said it will be higher than the front-wheel-drive Chevy Impala's base price of $27,535. Reuss said he does not see the SS detracting from sales of other Chevy vehicles because it is so different.   Continued...

The Chevrolet car logo is seen on a car at the General Motors plant in Asaka August 30, 2012. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov