Chevrolet celebrates 100 years and launches the Sonic in Japan

The first Chevrolet, a Series C Classic Six, was built in 1911 in a rented garage near downtown Detroit and it started Chevrolet on a journey that would take the brand to every corner of the planet.

A hundred years and more than 209 million cars and trucks later, Chevrolet is one of the world’s largest companies, doing business in more than 140 countries as one of the most successful automotive brands ever.

First Chevrolet Series C Classic Six

In Japan the famed American car brand has been attracting drivers since 1919 when the first Chevrolet arrived in the Land of the Rising Sun.

This month’s launch of the Chevrolet Sonic, a compact car that has already been celebrated in the U.S. and Europe, brings Chevrolet’s near-century relationship with Japan right up to date.

“We have great plans for Chevrolet’s next 100 years,” said Chris Perry, vice president, global marketing and strategy for Chevrolet.

Chevrolet Sonic

“Chevrolet starts its second century with its best product line up ever and strong growth in North America, Asia, Europe, and
South America.”

“Our goal is to build on the foundation laid in our first hundred years to make Chevrolet a hometown brand in home towns around the world,” said Perry.

Over the years, drivers and fans of Chevrolet have known the company for its classic American muscle cars, however, today’s Chevrolet drivers enjoy a wide range of vehicles in all shapes and sizes.

The new compact Chevrolet Sonic is perfectly suited to the streets of Japan and is as well built as any Japanese brand, but has a style all its own.

Chevrolet Captiva

The Chevrolet Captiva, Sonic’s larger all-wheel drive big brother, is positioned to directly take on the European luxury brands as well as the domestic SUV models, and has been hailed by critics for its performance and handling, especially in adverse weather conditions.

Drivers in Japan heading to the beaches of Shimoda or the mountains of Nagano will find the Chevrolet Sonic and Captiva to be cool and fun to drive vehicles which are priced competitively to boot.

Team Chevy: WTCC Champions

Many expats and Japanese drivers are familiar with the “bowtie” grill of cars such as the iconic Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro, and may have even cheered on the “Team Chevrolet” drivers on to victory at the recent Suzuka leg of the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC).

Indeed, the Chevy “bowtie” insignia is seen on vehicles in more than 140 countries, and in 2010 Chevrolet sold a record 4.26 million cars and trucks around the world while consistently delivering the brand’s trademark style, performance,
and value.

Chevrolet Corvette

From the very start, Chevrolet brought technology and features typically reserved for more expensive cars to its line up of affordable cars and trucks.

Even the very first Chevrolet, the Series C Classic Six, offered an electric starter and electric headlamps at a time when both were rarities among even luxury cars. In the decades that followed, innovations such as safety glass, fuel injection, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control systems were used on Chevrolet models at the same time as more expensive vehicles.

Classic Chevrolet

As one of the largest-selling automotive brands in history, Chevrolet’s early adoption of landmark technologies fundamentally changed the way they were applied to new vehicles.

Chevrolet today sells more than 60 percent of its vehicles outside the U.S. Last year, Chevrolet was the only top five global auto brands to grow its market share. This year, Chevrolet is on track to post its best sales in its 100-year history.

One of keys to the brand’s rebirth and record growth is a commitment to first class global design and engineering.

The Detroit based car maker has been able to stay one step ahead of the competition by sharing and coordinating the development of its vehicles among research and engineering centers around the globe to help deliver better performing, safer, and more fuel efficient vehicles.

So now, when you drive a Chevrolet Captiva in the mountains of Switzerland, a Sonic through the streets of Tokyo or a Camaro through downtown Detroit, you’ll experience the best the world’s engineers and designers have to offer.

Design has been a cornerstone of Chevrolet for a century and many of its models have become icons of American culture.

The soaring fins of the 1957 Chevy Bel Air epitomized the optimism of the Jet Age, while the sleek 1963 Corvette Stingray is regarded by many automotive historians as one of the best-looking cars ever designed. This tradition lives on in the bold grill design and unique styling of the Chevrolet Camaro, Captiva, and Sonic.

Chevrolet’s deep roots in American culture resonate with customers around the world who share the belief that getting behind the wheel is as much about the drive as it is about the destination.

Chevrolet's 1980's Logo

This emotional connection between Chevrolet and its customers has resulted in more than 700 popular songs and dozens of films which include Chevrolet in some way.

“In Japan, Chevrolet has always had a very loyal following of its iconic American performance vehicles, the Chevrolet Corvette and Camaro,” said Gregg Sedewitz, Director of Sales and Marketing, GM Japan, “and the Chevrolet Captiva and Sonic are now at the vanguard of a renewed focus on Japan and a drive to introduce the brand to a wider audience locally.”

Chevrolet is also at the cutting edge of the next generation of automotive technology, including the electrification of the automobile which has resulted in the development and successful release of the Chevrolet Volt, the world’s first production electric vehicle (EV) with extended range capability. Chevrolet has also been operating the world’s largest fleet of fuel cell electric vehicles in North America, Europe, and Asia.

“Chevrolet has been very successful around the world and has seen a resurgence in popularity in Japan since last year,” said Sumito Ishii, Managing Director of GM Japan. “The Chevrolet Sonic is an exciting step in Chevrolet’s commitment to this market and builds on a long and proud history of Chevrolet in Japan.”



• Chevrolet began life in Japan in 1919

• Chevrolet sold 4.26 million vehicles globally in 2010

• That averages to one Chevrolet sold every 7.4 seconds

• Chevrolet’s top five global markets in 2010 were, in order: the United States, Brazil, China, Canada and Uzbekistan.

• More than 60 percent of Chevrolet sales in 2010 were outside the Unites States

• Chevrolet has sold more than 209 million vehicles in the past 100 years

• 2011 is on track to be Chevrolet’s best sales year ever

The Chevrolet Sonic will be released in Japan on November 12, 2011.  The Chevrolet Captiva SUV is currently available at Chevrolet dealers around Japan.

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