A. Louis Chevrolet and the Legend of Beaune Like many inventors and pioneers, Louis Chevrolet (1878-1941), the racing driver and automobile designer, represents a challenge for any historian or biographer. Myths and legends surround him and his life. Numerous anecdotes have been told about his career. Today, it has become very difficult to differentiate between fact and fiction.
Chevrolet's childhood and youth are well documented. In 1878, he was born on Christmas day in the town of La Chaux-de-Fonds in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. He spent his early childhood nearby in the sleepy little village of Bonfol. Even today, Bonfol remains a small town where the only reminder of its famous son is a memorial plaque on Place Louis Chevrolet.
hen Louis was nine years old his family moved to Beaune in France. There, Louis' father owned a watch store, but the venture was not successful. As a result, Louis started working at the age of eleven to support his family. He found employment in the Robin bicycle workshop, where he learned the fundamentals of mechanics. He repaired coaches and bicycles, until one day he was sent to the "Hôtel de la Poste" to repair a steam-driven tricycle belonging to an American.
This must have been the moment when Chevrolet fell in love twice. He fell in love with automobiles, and also with the idea of emigrating to America. The American, whose tricycle Chevrolet had skillfully repaired was none other than the multimillionaire Vanderbilt. Taken with the talent demonstrated by the young mechanic, Vanderbilt encouraged Louis to come to America: "We have work for you there!"
The truth in this rumor cannot be confirmed. However, the young Swiss did follow the call from across the Atlantic to fulfill his very own "American dream".
B. The American Dream Initially, Chevrolet went to Paris – then the European center of automobile production. In the workshop of Darracq, Louis learnt the basics of the internal combustion engine. Subsequently, he may have also worked for Hotchkiss and Mors. His earnings paid for his trip to Canada where he found employment as a chauffeur and mechanic for a few months. From there, he moved to New York and was employed as a mechanic by a fellow Swiss migrant, William Walter. A short time later, Chevrolet joined the American subsidiary of the famous automobile company, De Dion-Bouton.
I n 1902, the De Dion-Bouton subsidiary was shut down and Chevrolet was out of a job. What was clearly a setback in his career proved to be a bonus on a personal level: as a chauffeur for the Treyvoux family he met his future wife, Suzanne. Wedding bells rang in New York in July 1905, and the couple was to be blessed with two sons, Charles born in 1906 and Alfred in 1912.
In 1905, Chevrolet started work with Fiat, but again he did not stay long. A year later he moved to Philadelphia to work for Walter Christie.
In the meantime, Louis' fascination with engines had reached yet another dimension – carried away with the notion of speed, he became a racing driver.
In the Christie factory he was appointed first assistant in the development of a new race car based on a completely new concept: front-wheel drive.
C. "The Dare-Devil Frenchman"
As early as July 16, 1895, the "Journal de Beaune" reported a cycling race whose winner was the fearless Louis Chevrolet. Some ten years later Chevrolet participated in his first motorized race, the "Three Miles" in New York, during which he reached a top speed of 109.7 km/h – a world record.
In the same year, Louis Chevrolet built his first race car in which he was clocked at 191.5 km/h – yet another world record. Subsequently, his successes as a race car driver grew and grew. While his brothers Arthur and Gaston also competed, Louis generally came in first.
Despite all of the spectacular successes, Chevrolet paid a price for his race career. Celebrated in the American press as "the dare-devil Frenchman", he spent nearly three years in hospital beds as the result of various accidents. When his youngest brother, Gaston, died after a racing accident, Louis never again set foot in a race car.
D. Establishing the Company
Chevrolet's successes as a race car driver influenced his career. The booming automobile market and its cunning investors began to notice the daring and innovative Swiss, and among them was William Durant (1861-1947), the financier from Boston. The two met while Chevrolet drove race cars for Buick.
Only a short while later, in 1911, Durant and Chevrolet founded the "Chevrolet Motor Car Company" in Detroit.
Durant who previously had founded General Motors in 1908 was an enigmatic character. His biographers portrayed him as a charismatic industrialist in the spirit of the early 20th century, both charming and smart, an enthusiast and an adventurer - not just in terms of finance. Walter Chrysler once said of him that he could charm a bird off a tree.
Durant's interest focused not only on Chevrolet's performance as a race car driver. It was much more his fine French- sounding family name that rang in the financier's ears. Just as in 1904, when Durant bought up David Dunbar's ailing automobile manufacturing company "Buick", it was the name that clinched the deal.
One year after establishing the "Chevrolet Motor Car Company", the first "Classic Six" rolled off the factory floor in Detroit. The four-cylinder "Baby Grand" and the two-seater "Royal Mail" and the "L Light Six" followed.
In the meantime, Louis Chevrolet proved to be a gifted designer. All four automobiles displayed the distinctive Chevrolet signature, and if it hadn't been for the legendary "cigar fight" between Chevrolet and Durant in 1914, the Swiss would have probably helped design numerous other automobiles for the company. But sadly the motor cars produced between 1911 and 1914 were to be the only ones personally inspired by Chevrolet.
E. The Decision to Build Mass-Produced Vehicles
When the two headstrong founders of the company, Durant and Chevrolet, aimed at positioning their company in 1914, an argument developed. During a vacation taken by Chevrolet, Durant had restructured the company to focus on more affordable cars which would compete with those manufactured by Ford. Chevrolet considered this an insult, as he himself had always been interested in building "high-powered speed cars" and other exclusive models.
If we are to believe the declarations made by Durant's widow and Chevrolet's sister decades after the argument, it was a laconic comment made by Durant which caused the break-up of the partnership. Durant had suggested that Chevrolet, now an executive in the automotive industry, should change from smoking his cheap "blue collar" cigarettes to more exclusive cigars.
Catherine Durant later said that her husband did not so much dislike the brand of the cigarettes, but the way in which Chevrolet stuck them in the corner of his mouth. In any case, this suggestion must have hurt Louis Chevrolet so much that he countered: "I sold you my automobile, I sold you my name, but I shall not sell my personality to you." He then packed up his cigarettes and left the company.
Durant had made a fundamental decision which has influenced the Chevrolet brand to this day. He institutionalized the brand as a synonym for good quality yet affordable automobiles.
While the Chevrolet brand developed quickly along the lines established by Durant, Louis Chevrolet returned to his passion.
His motto was to design modern automobiles and participate in races. In fulfillment of this goal he founded the "Frontenac Motor Corporation" in 1914. In a difficult economic environment he manufactured the first serially produced Frontenac - the showpiece of the American automobile industry in the 1920s. In 1926, he and his brother Arthur established a new company, "Chevrolair 333", and began developing a light aircraft engine. The company was liquidated after a fight between the two brothers.
Without further ado, Louis then founded the "Chevrolet Air Car Company" in Indianapolis, which had to close shortly thereafter as a result of the ensuing economic crisis. His last major engineering coup took place in 1932 when he developed a 10-cylinder star engine. Chevrolet applied for a patent for the engine, but by the time the patent registration came through in 1935, Louis Chevrolet no longer had the strength to build up another company. Instead, he again worked as a mechanic, just as he did at the beginning of his career, in the Chevrolet production plant in Detroit.
He died on June 6, 1941, at the age of 63 at his home in Lakewood, east of Detroit – years after he had fallen seriously ill with a brain hemorrhage.
F. The Bowtie Logo After parting with Louis Chevrolet, William Durant worked on his various companies. Following the loss of control over General Motors, he registered the "Chevrolet Motor Company of Delaware". The new company incorporated the old Chevrolet Motor Company and functioned as a holding company for his various automobile interests.
In 1916, he pulled off a coup: he announced that Chevrolet owned a 54.5% shareholding in GM, and he took over the chairmanship of the company from Charles W. Nash, who had served at the helm of GM since 1912.
In May 1918, Durant bought up the assets of the Chevrolet Motor Company and integrated the brand into the General Motors Corporation.
The name Chevrolet had become inseparable from its bowtie logo, even if the origin of the bowtie has never been clear. In one version of the story, Chevrolet had been inspired by the pattern of the wallpaper in a Paris hotel room. His own family has always disputed this. Durant's wife apparently saw how her husband in 1911 discovered the sign in a newspaper advertisement for a coal company. His daughter wrote in the Durant biography that her father had drawn up the logo during dinner one evening. However, it is confirmed that the bowtie logo – one of the best known logos in the USA and around the world – appeared for the first time on a vehicle in 1914.
G. Early Innovations (1914-1940)
Following the acquisition by General Motors in 1918 and under the wing of the parent company Chevrolet developed into one of the most popular companies in the US. In 1922, the one-millionth vehicle was produced. In 1927, Chevrolet sold one million automobiles per year in the United States alone. Chevrolet had become the market leader. The key to this fast upsurge was seen not only in the booming market for automobiles or in the "value for money" philosophy embedded by Durant in the company's guiding principles. A large share of the company's success in this period was due to the engineers and designers who provided Chevrolet with a series of breakthroughs and sweeping innovations and who had the courage to introduce these innovations in moderately priced automobiles.
Chevrolet was one of the first automobile manufacturers to replace the awkward and dangerous hand crank with a self-starter. Chevrolet was also the first company to standardize electric headlamps for "low-priced" vehicles.
In addition, Chevrolet offered numerous popular options, such as a built-in car radio (1924), or a brake shoe (1930) connected with a joint to improve the insufficient braking power common in automobiles of the time. In 1929, Chevrolet introduced a six-cylinder engine in commercial vehicles which soon became known as the "cast-iron wonder" due to its performance and durability. In 1934, Chevrolet introduced yet another automotive innovation – the independent front-wheel suspension – which made driving infinitely more comfortable. The real breakthrough for Chevrolet came as a result of a few models that remained uncontested bestsellers for several years, due to the fact that certain ultra-modern concepts in chassis construction had been introduced and implemented consistently. The prime example of this was the development and marketing of the "Suburban".
H. A Dane and the Discovery of the SUV Billy Durant had lost control over Chevrolet and General Motors in the course of the 1920's depression. His company and personal finances were ruined. He used to say: "Money? What is money? It's only a passing pleasure. Human beings are born with nothing, and they leave this world with nothing." Thanks to this attitude he regained courage and reactivated his business acumen and founded "Durant Motors".
After a turbulent period at the helm of General Motors, William S. Knudsen was able to establish himself as the head of the company. Knudsen had formerly worked for Henry Ford, a cause for concern among GM's workforce. He had to make assurances not to employ any Ford workers in the Flint plant, and at the same time his task was to vie with his former employer for supremacy in the domestic automobile market.
Despite the rough times the down-to-earth Dane was successful. In 1924, he started production of the "Super Series K Pick-Up", and the small van immediately hit a market niche. The "K" stands for Knudsen. Knudsen cultivated a very jovial relationship with his staff in contrast to the rigid hierarchy known in American organizations at the time. He used to say: "If you want to see me, come to my office and take a seat". He signed documents with a simple "K".
Larry Fisher, Alfred P. Sloan Jr, William S. Knudsen
In May 1926, Knudsen announced a 10-million dollar expansion program, which was impressively reflected in that year's sales figures. In 1926, Chevrolet sold 692,000 vehicles, some 200,000 more than in the previous year. In the same year, Ford had sold 1,550,000 vehicles, down some 500,000 from the year before. Chevrolet had already become a leader in the low-priced segment of the American market.
Chevrolet introduced in 1936 the "Suburban", a vehicle that fundamentally changed the automobile market. With a focus on functionality, the credo of the new concept was "to carry all". At long last, the whole family was to find sufficient space in one car – and preferably the fishing equipment too. To build this automobile, Knudsen's engineers used a conventional truck chassis, but instead of installing a loading floor, as in the case of pick-ups, they had designed a generous passenger compartment in which up to 8 persons found sufficient seating space on three rows of seats. A sound 90 horse-power engine provided the necessary power, and the world's first station wagon was born. The "Suburban" had changed only very little by the time production was stopped in World War II. After the war, the "Suburban" underwent continuous improvements.
In 1955, the basic model was delivered with a 100 horse-power engine, and in 1956 a V8 became the standard. In 1957, the "Suburban" was available for the first time with 4-wheel drive, which made it a truly practical vehicle. It was no longer defined a station wagon, but a car, and as such the prototype of the SUVs seen on our roads today.
I. A Permanent Link to Europe
The two Europeans, Louis Chevrolet and William S. Knudsen, were decisive figures in the development of the Chevrolet brand. It is not surprising that the company cultivated close contacts with the "old continent". Although the largest share of the production was sold in booming America, nearly a quarter million cars were assembled between 1924 and the late 1960s from completely knocked-down (CKD) assembly kits for local markets in Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The first "European" Chevrolet, a truck model, was assembled in Copenhagen on January 7, 1924. By 1951, the Danish subsidiary established in 1923 as General Motors International A/S had assembled a total of 122,737 Chevrolet models - about half of which (58,894) were passenger cars. These Chevrolets were sold in the Scandinavian and Baltic countries as well as in Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary and Russia. At the beginning, the Copenhagen plant received the CKD parts from a Chevrolet plant in Tarrytown near New York City and as from 1925 from the Bloomfield plant in New Jersey.
Chevrolet's second overseas assembly plant was named "General Motors Continental" and was established in Belgium. The company was set up in an old abbey in Antwerp. The first Chevrolet to be assembled there left the plant on April 2, 1925. Soon, demand grew faster than the daily production of 25 vehicles could supply. In July 1926, the assembly was relocated to the Antwerp cycle stadium. It is unsure how many of the 178,072 vehicles assembled in Antwerp between 1925 and 1940 actually carried the bowtie logo. However, the exact number of Chevrolets produced there after the war was recorded at 78,162 vehicles.
In the fall of 1934, the establishment of the General Motors assembly plant in Switzerland started with a scene fit for the stage: with a handful of mud and the words "Here I bring to you the earth on which we shall build our factory", Alfred P. Sloan (1875-1966), GM's chairman at the time, signaled to Swiss President Guido Müller his agreement to establishing a plant in Biel. Between 1936 and 1968, a total of 26,858 vehicles were assembled in Switzerland for sale in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, adorned with a logo depicting Switzerland's three most famous mountains, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, and the slogan "Montage Suisse".
In Poland, General Motors manufactured Chevrolet models at two locations: from the fall of 1929 in a plant at 103 Wolska Street in Warsaw and from 1937 in a second plant in the Wola district of Warsaw. In 1936, General Motors signed an agreement with a local company, Lilop Rau & Loewenstein S.A., concerning the production of Cadillac, La Salle, Buick, Oakland, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Chevrolet, GMC, Opel and Vauxhall brand automobiles. Before start of production, the local employees were trained at General Motors International A/S in Copenhagen. The Chevrolet models produced in Wola included the four-door Master Sedan, Master De Luxe, Master Touring Sedan and the Imperial limousine.
Increasingly, parts were no longer imported but rather manufactured locally. The start was made with paint colors from Wloclawek, batteries from the "Tudor" plant in Piastów and Stomil brand tires from Poznán. At the same time, the company cooperated with other Polish manufacturers such as headlamp manufacturers "A. Marciniak" and the transmission specialist "John" from Lódz. The Lublin engine plant which opened in 1938 supplied six-cylinder engines for the Chevrolet production. In 1939, a total of 159 parts of Polish origin were used in production. With the start of World War II, production in Poland was stopped.
In Germany, Chevrolets were manufactured in plants in Berlin-Wittenau and in Berlin-Borsigwalde. In September 1927, the 5,000th Chevrolet assembled in Germany left the plant. Capacity was increased to some 2,000 vehicles per month in 1929. Unfortunately, the demand for Chevrolet models 11/30 and 6 was unstable. With the onset of the Depression, sales declined and the plant was closed effective October 31, 1931.
In the United Kingdom, General Motors cooperated with Vauxhall Motors Ltd. from 1925 onward. GM considered the deal (£650,000) to be a favorable overseas investment to avoid high import duties which in the UK depended on the weight of the vehicles. At the beginning, the 10cwt and 1-ton vehicles were manufactured in Hendon. When demand rose in 1928 and Chevrolet had already become a serious competitor for Ford, production was transferred to a factory in Luton. When the truck boom collapsed, Chevrolet largely withdrew from the UK. Only a small number of vehicles made in the USA were sold via specialists.
J. The Birth of a Wildcat (Chevrolet in the post-war years)
Until the start of World War II, Chevrolet reported good sales and in this sense it was on a par with Ford, the "perpetual" and strongest competitor. The shock of the war and the social and economic vacuum it created set the market clock back to zero.
When the economy finally took an upswing at the beginning of the 1950s, the first post-war trends became apparent: the new generation of consumers demanded a fresh look, freedom and more driving pleasure. Chevrolet's general manager, Thomas Keating, reacted with the introduction of the power-glide transmission (1950), the first fully automatic transmission as an option in the low-priced segment. Chevrolet launched the Corvette in 1953 in response to the demand for more speed. It was the first mass-produced sports car ever!
While engineers captured the mood of the time with the launch of the Corvette, they had not yet updated the popular models. Keating sensed that a style revolution would hit Ford hardest. He convinced GM's board that Chevrolet was too focused on the V6, and he instructed former Cadillac engineer Edward N. Cole to develop a new V8 engine. At the same time he had the body completely redesigned. The new car was to look entirely different, but still be identifiable as a Chevrolet.
In 1955, Chevrolet presented the "pièce de resistance" of its designers and engineers – and the success was unbelievable. "Mechanix Illustrated" compared the V8 with a wildcat: "A wildcat – truly sensational". In an acceleration test, the vehicle reached a top speed of 181 km/h, and critic Tom McCahill considered it "one of the biggest sensations of the year".
Chevrolet's post-war masterpiece was then introduced with a gigantic marketing blitz. When the 1955 Chevrolet models came into the showrooms, dealers distributed 2,131,000 balloons, 1,016,920 perfume bottles and innumerable ballpoint pens and key rings.
For Chevrolet, 1955 was the best year the company had experienced to date. The number of vehicles sold rose to 1,646,681 and beat Ford's sales of 1,573,276 automobiles, and in the NASCAR race the Chevrolet Race Team won 13 out of 25 short-track races.
Until the early 1970s the company experienced a wave of success which brought to market such innovations as the gasoline injected engine (1957) and the four-wheel independent suspension (1959). In 1958, Chevrolet combined the functions of a pick-up with the comfort of a large passenger car in the El Camino model. In 1962, Chevrolet introduced a new line of smaller vehicles, the Chevy II models. The Malibu and Camaro models, considered classic cars today, were launched in 1963 and 1966 respectively.
K. The Crisis of the 1970s
Towards the end of the 1960s, the sales figures of American automobile manufacturers began to stagnate. The reason for this was the growing number of imported vehicles from Japan – Japanese imports had doubled between 1967 and 1968 and Chevrolet was struggling with responding to the new competition. In addition, Chevrolet slid ever deeper into a legal dispute concerning the technical quality of earlier models, mainly the "Corvair".
Moreover, Ralph Nader, a lawyer and consumer advocate in the USA, published a book in which he claimed that many US-American automobiles (and especially those manufactured by General Motors) had structural weaknesses. The book, "Unsafe at Any Speed", resulted in Congressional hearings and in new legislation to ensure improved motor vehicle safety.
When Nader claimed that there was a risk of a gas leak and a sudden engine collapse of some Chevrolet models, Chevrolet had to announce the largest recall in automobile history. On December 5, 1971, 6.7 million Chevrolet Nova, Camaro and V-8 trucks built between 1965 and 1969 were recalled.
John de Lorean, GM's new Chief Executive Officer, was to revitalize Chevrolet and bring it back on course with the Monte Carlo and Vega models. "We need to sell more cars," was the core message from his first speech as GM's CEO, and he set a target of 30% market share in the USA, which in 1968 had fallen to 24.7%.
The Monte Carlo was considered somewhat of a transition model, a forerunner of the Chevrolet Vega.
But watchdog Ralph Nader criticized the Vega spark plug adjustment, and Chevy manager Anderson got into a clinch with the unions which resulted in a strike.
In spite of tests executed by the EPA (Environment Protection Authority), which had assessed the Vega in an overall rating as the best American automobile, ultimately, Chevrolet withdrew some of its Vega series.
By means of a spectacular vehicle test carried out in Death Valley, Chevrolet delivered a further argument in favor of the car. However, the Vega's image had been severely tarnished, and in 1977 the model was withdrawn from the market.
L. A Turnaround: Success with the Chevette (1980s) In the late 70s and early 80s, the political situation intensified, and everybody was discussing the "energy problem". While Japanese manufacturers so far had covered only a small segment with their affordable and energy-saving compact cars, they became attractive to the whole nation.
Chevrolet was one of the first American manufacturers to react. In the 1960s, the Chevy II line was a success, now the Chevette was to follow. When GM announced a downsize strategy for the whole company, the Chevette had already been built. The smaller family car was a winner. "Car and Driver" magazine called it "the most trouble-free machine we've ever encountered". Managers considered it "the vanguard of the future American automobile". The Chevette was small, light, fuel efficient, and it sold well.
Sales figures declined in the 1980s, a trend that was not limited to Chevrolet and GM, but rather prevalent throughout the US automobile industry. The trend toward smaller vehicles made the design of American cars similar to that of non-US brands. The home market became more competitive. The company had great success in the 1980s with its SUV line (Blazer), such models as the Malibu, Impala/Caprice, Cavalier and the super-seller Citation (180,000 vehicles in the first 6 months alone). Chevrolet again focused on its international roots and prepared to finally launch the label as an international brand.
M. Chevrolet's Engineering & Manufacturing Base
With strategic partnerships with Isuzu, Suzuki and Fuji Heavy Industries and a joint venture with Toyota signed in 1983, GM consistently developed its position in the Asian market. Right-hand-drive Cavaliers were sold in Japan, and the foothold in Asia was further strengthened. In 2001, Chevrolet introduced its "Cruze" in Japan, which was developed in cooperation with GM's partner Suzuki. The Cruze, therefore, became the first GM vehicle since the 1930s to be manufactured in Japan.
After months of negotiations, General Motors in the fall of 2002 finally purchased key assets of the ailing Korean group, Daewoo Motors. Originally, Daewoo was established as a textile company and over decades developed into one of the largest industrial corporations. Its "Auto and Technology" unit was founded in 1937, first as National Motor, then renamed Saenara Motor (1962) followed by Shinjin Motor (1965), manufacturing vehicles mainly based on GM automobiles. In 2002, GM and partners set up a new company with the name of GM Daewoo Auto & Technology (GM DAT), renamed to GM Korea in March 2011, which includes production plants in Korea and Vietnam as well as the technical development and design center in Bupyeong. It serves Chevrolet as an engineering and manufacturing base for a range of mini, small and mid-size cars designed for customers in international markets. The Chevrolet cars sold in Europe today are being developed at international GM Design and Engineering Centers in the North America, Europe and Asia and built in the U.S., Canada, Korea, Russia and Poland.
N. Chevrolet – A Popular Brand Around the World Since the beginning of its success story, Chevrolet had an international DNA, and despite the success in its home markets, it never lost sight of territories far outside the U.S. Next to its past firm establishment in European production plants, various Chevrolet models reached cult status in countries like Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. In South Africa, Chevrolet was GM's main brand until 1982. And the brand also had a presence in Thailand and the Middle East.
Today, Chevrolet is General Motors' best-selling global brand, accounting for almost 50 percent of the company's global sales of about 4.27 million vehicles in more than 130 countries annually. It is the fourth biggest global car brand in terms of sales and also one of the fastest growing brands in the world. It is growing particularly fast in the world's emerging markets of China, Brazil, India and Russia.
Chevrolet is continuously expanding its production footprint: Manufacturing and assembly plants in the U.S.A., Mexico, in Korea, China and other Asian countries have been followed by a new assembly facility in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Chevrolet Europe delivers attractive, distinctive design, practical, economical cars and outstanding value for money. After re-launching the brand in Europe in 2005, Chevrolet more than doubled its sales to over 500,000 in 2008. In 2010, Chevrolet achieved its highest ever market share in Total Europe to 2.5 percent, selling 477,194 cars. Chevrolet has a network of 2,700 dealers and service points in Europe.
The Chevrolet line-up includes the Spark city car, the small Aveo, the compact Cruze sedan, the Captiva SUV and the legendary Corvette sports car. In 2011, Chevrolet is launching seven new cars: the all-new Orlando family van, the new Captiva SUV, the Corvette Grand Sport coupé, the new Aveo hatch and notchback, the Cruze hatchback, the Camaro coupé and convertible and the ground-breaking Chevrolet Volt electric car with extended range capability. Chevrolet's current range of small and medium-sized cars meets the needs of today's customers, well beyond its traditional North American market. Chevrolet's biggest markets in Europe are Russia, Italy, Germany, Spain, France and the U.K. Established in Turkey. Established by Swiss émigré Louis Chevrolet in 1911, the brand is celebrating its centenary in 2011.
Chevrolet Europe's most popular models:
Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Aveo, Chevrolet Captiva, Chevrolet Cruze (clockwise from top left)
New cars in 2011: Chevrolet Volt (top) and Chevrolet Orlando (bottom)
O. The Wheel Turns Full Circle: Chevrolet's WTCC Race Team
While the latest models in Chevrolet's product range, the all-new Spark city car, the Cruze sedan and the Captiva SUV, take their cue from classic Chevrolet designs, the company picked up on another of its traditions: exactly 100 years after the first race successes by the company's founder, Chevrolet again entered its own race team in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC).
Chevrolet's manager of motor sports, Eric Nève, formed a team that successfully established itself in its first season and reached the podium already in November 2005. The second season saw the newcomer winning two races and finishing 3 times on the podium. Today's international team of drivers includes Alain Menu from Switzerland, Yvan Muller from France and Rob Huff from the United Kingdom. In 2010, Chevrolet became world champions by winning the drivers' and manufacturers' title in WTCC. Chevrolet won 7 victories and 33 podiums in WTCC in 2010.
P: Corvette: Born to Race
When the Chevrolet Corvette was launched in 1953, racing was already a part of its DNA. Road racing and most popular endurance races, such as "24 Heures du Mans", are still Corvette's natural environment today. In 2011, the Corvette racing team will return to France. Since 2001, the Corvette racing team clocked-up six victories in the GTS/GT1 class in Le Mans. The current C6 R race cars are based off the Corvette ZR1 supercar, which is part of the Corvette line-up.
More information on Chevrolet can be found at http://www.chevroleteurope.com or http://media.chevroleteurope.com.