Chevrolet Cruze Named 2014 Fleet Car of the Year

  1. 2015-chevrolet-cruze-front-three-quartersDETROIT – The 2015 Chevrolet Cruze was named the 2014 Fleet Car of the Year by Automotive Fleetand Business Fleet magazines. Fleet managers from both large and small fleets and covering every fleet segment selected the Cruze as the winner, besting 48 other cars.

“Mary Kay selected the Chevrolet Cruze for its independent sales force members because it’s affordable, stylish, and offers impressive fuel economy, safety and technology,” said Laura Beitler, vice president, recognition and events, Mary Kay Inc. “Cruze serves as a symbol for the hard work and success many of our sales force members earn from their Mary Kay business.”

Total fleet sales of Cruze are up 41 percent in 2014 through October. Overall, Cruze is Chevrolet’s best-selling car around the world, with more than 3 million sold globally since its launch in 2009.

“With the most standard safety features in its class, low cost of ownership, and the space and connectivity the market demands, sales show that the Chevrolet Cruze is being purchased for a mix of fleet applications,” said Ed Peper, U.S. vice president, GM Fleet and Commercial Sales. “It means a great deal to us to have fleet managers put us at the top of their list.”

The 2015 Chevrolet Cruze in North America receives revised exterior styling. In addition, the vehicle will have greater connectivity, including OnStar 4G LTE with a standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, a key feature for fleet customers on the road.

More information about the 2015 Cruze may be found here.

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Upgrades are part of $300 million of GM investments in Michigan

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General Motors will invest $200 million in two Oakland County plants to prepare for production of a yet-to-be-named new model.

The Orion assembly plant will received $160 million for tooling and equipment, while GM will spend $40 million at the Pontiac Metal Center for new dies.

The projects are part of nearly $300 million in Michigan investments that GM CEO Mary Barra mentioned last month in a speech at the Detroit Economic Club.

“Today’s announcement is a shot in the arm for these two terrific plants,” Cathy Clegg, GM North America manufacturing vice president, said in a statement Friday. “We’re committed to growing our brands and producing the highest-quality and safest vehicles for our customers.”

The investments will not create new jobs, but they come almost five years after GM invested $575 million to upgrade the two factories to prepare them to launch the Buick Verano and Chevrolet Sonic.

“I’m confident that our members represented by UAW Locals 5960 and 653 will bring the same hard work and quality as they always do to the new vehicle program,” said Cindy Estrada, UAW vice president of the GM Department. “UAW members are proud to be an integral part of an industry turnaround that makes investments such as this possible.”

Earlier this month GM said it will begin laying off up to 160 workers at the Orion assembly plant in January to balance production more closely with expected sales. The plant currently has about 1,900 hourly and salaried employees.

GM declined to say what new model will be built in Orion or when production will start.

Bi-Fuel Chevrolet Impala Tested with Bullets and Bonfires

DETROIT – Being able to take a bullet and withstand fires from multiple directions sets apart the compressed natural gas (CNG) tank in the 2015 Bi-fuel Chevrolet Impala from less-strenuous testing of other natural gas-powered vehicles.

A large piece of cast aluminum helps protect the tank valve and connection from certain side impacts. Sheet metal plates on either side of the tank help protect it from loose objects in the trunk or rear seat.

“We designed this system for those ‘what if’ situations,” said Nichole Kraatz, Impala chief engineer. ”The customer shouldn’t even know it’s there. They shouldn’t even think about it. CNG should just be another fuel they use to power their vehicle.”

Durability and safety testing at the tank’s normal operating pressure of 3,600 PSI and higher subjected it to normal and extreme situations, exceeding federal requirements and CNG industry guidelines. For example:

  • The industry-standard Bonfire Test confirms the CNG tank’s pressure relief valves are operational and help prevent the tank from rupturing in a fire. In addition to placing the tank about four inches above a steady 800-degree Fahrenheit fire, General Motors’ engineers added trunk, back seat and underbody fires to test the pressure relief valves’ ability to sense heat on all sides of the tank. And the tests were done at two different fuel levels.
  • In the Penetration Test, the tank is filled to its service pressure and is shot with a 7.62 mm armor piercing bullet. In order to pass the test, the bullet has to pass completely through one side of the tank without exiting out the other side. The goal is to have the tank maintain the bullet hole only as the weak structural point, without rupturing.
  • Front barrier, side impact and rear impact crash tests were conducted on the Bi-Fuel Impala. Some aftermarket CNG-conversion kit manufacturers conduct only a barrier test.

The tank also undergoes long-term structural integrity tests equivalent to 15,000 pressure cycles and hydrostatic bursting tests of up to 8,100 PSI.

The Bi-fuel Impala – a 2015 “Green Car of the Year®” finalist – is the auto-industry’s only manufacturer-produced full-size sedan in North America that runs on both CNG and gasoline. It is available to order now through all Chevrolet dealerships in the US and Canada with delivery expected at the end of this year.

The all-steel trunk-mounted CNG tank holds approximately 7.8 gallons, sufficient for about 150 miles of driving after which the Impala seamlessly switches to gasoline power.

The complete CNG system is covered by Chevrolet’s five-year, 100,000-mile – whichever comes first – limited powertrain warranty and can be serviced at Chevrolet dealerships throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Chevy to revamp key cars in 2015

Once the Colorado and Canyon mid-sized pickups hit showrooms this fall, Chevrolet and GMC will have churned out new generations of every pickup and SUV in their lineups in about 15 months.

Now Chevrolet’s focus turns to cars.

Chevy is planning launches next year for three key car redesigns: the Cruze compact, General Motors’ top-selling car globally; the Volt plug-in hybrid, a high-profile launch as GM tries to fend off growing competition in electrified powertrains; and the next-generation Camaro sports car, which should arrive about one year after the launch of the redesigned Ford Mustang.

GM also likely will do a face-lift next year, for the ’16 model year, on the Chevy Equinox and GMC Terrain. But the popular mid-sized crossovers aren’t scheduled for a redesign until 2017, making it nearly eight years between major makeovers in what has become a cutthroat segment.

Here are Chevrolet and GMC highlights for the 2015-17 model years.

Spark: Because the current version of the global minicar was a late arrival in the United States, in mid-2012, it’ll get a speedy redesign by late 2015 as a ’16 model. GM is expected to equip the hatchback with a new 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine and possibly a continuously variable transmission.

Sonic: The subcompact should get a freshening in late 2015 for the ’16 model year, followed two years later by a redesign for the ’18 model year.

Cruze: Following a minor freshening of the ’15 model to be released this fall, production of the next generation of Chevy’s top-selling car should begin by the end of 2015 as a ’16 model. It will be the first car built on a new, lighter global compact platform, code-named D2XX, which also will underpin the Buick Verano, Opel Astra, Chevy Equinox and other vehicles.

The U.S. Cruze’s powertrain lineup should include engine choices that will be available on the Chinese version, which is due out in late 2014: a 1.5-liter, four-cylinder base engine, along with a 1.4-liter turbo. The Chinese version, unveiled by GM in April, gives a good preview of the Cruze’s general shape: an evolutionary design change, with a more-rounded front end with a deeper grille, steeply raked windshield and fastback roofline.

GM’s decision to sell the Trax small crossover in the United States makes it unlikely that Chevy will offer a hatchback version of the Cruze. A coupe is a longer-term possibility.

Malibu: After a fast-tracked re-engineering for the ’14 model year, the mid-sized sedan is in line for a redesign in mid-2016 as a ’17 model.

SS: No major revisions are planned for the performance sedan, which was launched in late 2013. The Australia-built car’s final model year probably will be 2017, after GM ends production on the continent. The void could be filled by an SS version of the Impala.

Impala: A freshening of the current large sedan, introduced in spring 2013, won’t be ready until at least 2016. GM is considering an SS performance model to replace the SS

nameplate by 2017. The fleet-only Impala Limited — the previous-generation car — will remain in production until 2016.

Starting in the fourth quarter, GM plans to offer a ’15 model of the large sedan that runs on gasoline and compressed natural gas.

Volt: Production of the redesigned plug-in hybrid is scheduled for the second half of 2015 as a ’16 model. GM will add a fifth seat and downsize to a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine, from a 1.4-liter. That should help increase the estimated 380-mile total range, but the 38-mile electric range is expected to increase only modestly. Design changes are expected to be subtle.

Reuters reported in April that GM also is developing a lower-priced version of the Volt that would have a smaller battery pack and shorter driving range.

Camaro: Production of the next generation of the sports car is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2015 as a ’16 model. It moves to GM’s Alpha platform, joining the Cadillac CTS and ATS, and will be slightly longer.

Because the car could shed several hundred pounds on the new architecture, GM could offer a wide menu of engine choices, from the 272-hp 2.0-liter turbo used in the Cadillac ATS and CTS to the 6.2-liter V-8 used in the ’14 Corvette. The existing 3.6-liter V-6 could remain the base engine.

Corvette: The racetrack-oriented Z06 goes on sale in early 2015.

Trax: The small crossover will go on sale in early 2015. It will be due for a freshening by late 2016 as a ’17 model, along with the Asian and Latin American versions that have been on sale longer.

Equinox/Terrain: GM will freshen the popular mid-sized crossovers with mid-2015 face-lifts and interior improvements for the ’16 model year. But a redesign will wait until spring of 2017, probably for the ’18 model year, which is later than many industry insiders had expected.

The next generation will move to the compact D2XX platform, which means the vehicles will shrink slightly and lose weight. GM’s 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine, which debuted in 2013 and is used in the Chevy Malibu, is a candidate for the base engine. A hybrid is likely at some point during the next generation.

Traverse/Acadia: The large crossovers, freshened for the 2013 model year, will get long-awaited redesigns, but on staggered schedules. Production of the next-gen Acadia is scheduled to start in spring of 2016 as a ’17 model. The Traverse redesign will wait until early ’17.

Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon/Yukon XL: Executives have vowed to make continuous improvements to GM’s recently launched SUVs. The changes are likely to come in the powertrain, where the addition of a 10-speed transmission on at least some models is likely by 2017. In the interim, for the ’16 model year, GM will add to higher-trim, 6.2-liter engine models its homegrown eight-speed automatic transmission, which will first be used in ’15 Corvette models.

Colorado/Canyon: The mid-sized pickups will roll out in late fall as ’15 models, followed a year later by the addition of a 2.8-liter, four-cylinder turbodiesel. A ZR2 off-road variant, which would serve as a Ford F-150 SVT Raptor fighter, could emerge as early as the ’16 model year.

Silverado/Sierra 1500: GM next year will add its eight-speed gearbox to some 6.2-liter engine models, such as the Sierra Denali. A 10-speed, now under development, should begin to roll across the pickup lineup starting in 2017.

Other powertrain enhancements are expected through the life cycle of the current truck, including the strong possibility of a diesel engine, and possibly a turbocharged offering.

GM is likely by 2016 to refresh the front-end styling of the Silverado, which has been derided as too conservative. But a next-gen truck platform isn’t expected until the second half of 2018, which gives GM some time to decide whether to match Ford with an aluminum-intensive redesign, or to make less extensive use of the lightweight material.

Silverado/Sierra 2500/3500: The redesigned heavy-duty pickups were rolled out in early 2014.

Express/Savana: GM quietly dropped the light-duty 1500 models of its full-sized vans for the 2015 model year, citing the need for more capacity at its Wentzville, Mo., plant for the next-generation Colorado and Canyon. That leaves the heavy-duty 2500 and 3500, along with the City Express small van, a rebadged Nissan NV200.