Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Fiesta cars become more popular thanks to weak dollar

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 19, 2011

In the U.S. market, imported automobiles are selling at the greatest price premium compared to domestic autos in nearly 12 years as a weak dollar restricts imports of lower-priced models. This scenario permitted Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. to acquire more market share. The regular price tag for a new imported vehicle rose to a record high of $31,536 in August, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis has revealed.

That has been $7,614 greater than the typical domestic-made vehicle, the largest gap since December 1999. With Honda Civics and Toyota Corollas in scarcity, more Americans have opted for the Ford Fiesta and Chevrolet Cruze autos.

The weak dollar discourages car manufacturers like Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. from importing lower-priced vehicles, which have smaller profit margins.

While the March disaster in Japan cut off automobile exports, ongoing deliveries of premium-brand vehicles like Volkswagen AG's Audi brought high-end units to a greater chunk of imported-car sales, said chief economist Paul Ballew of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. in Columbus, Ohio. He stated that it is currently "very hard" to import small cars, specifically from Asia, due to the value of the dollar.

He added that if one looks at the sales of premium vehicles in the last few months, "they're up double-digits from a year ago while small cars are down more than 20 percent."

The dollar decreased to a post-World War II minimum of 75.95 yen on August 19. It declined to a 17-month low versus the euro on May 4, when it hit $1.4940 the first time since December 2009. The euro went up 0.1 percent to 1.3769 per dollar at 4:35 p.m., New York time yesterday. The yen increased less than 0.1 percent to 76.84.

Compared to its competitors, the Chevrolet Cruze is both longer and wider. Since the bodywork is tightly drawn and taut, it is able to express solidity. Since some restraint was undertaken on how the exterior trim was utilized, it managed to improve the high-quality feel of the vehicle. Overall, the appearance is one that exhibits purposeful precision.

Indeed, the build quality of the Cruze shows precision. To ensure that manufacturing the solid body structure was optimized, the body shop of the Lordstown assembly plant was retooled using state-of-the-art welding and body-framing equipment. By having a strong structure, it made it possible for majority of the exterior panels to have minimal production variance or even repeatable gap tolerances at most 3 mm.

This brings with it two advantages. The customer gets a car that looks better and a car that has a solid feel even for years. On the exterior, the design of the Cruze is characterized by a bold face, which is the brand’s trademarked appearance customers have long known.

This includes the two-tier grille that contains the Bowtie logo. Its curving roofline links the fast-sloping rear pillars and the steeply raked windshield resulting in the Cruze having a sporty look and proportion similar to a coupe.

That it has a sporty appearance is obvious especially with the headlamp housing that is more noticeable and wrapping around its corners while sweeping upwards towards the sculpted hood and fenders. It even has a short rear deck like those seen on sports coupes. Even the wheels have been placed at its corners and there are minimal overhangs on the front and rear.

All of these different elements manage to work well together, giving the Cruze that aggressive appearance which is matched by the confident and wide stance. Attention to detail and bold design cues are apparent on both the exterior and its interior. The twin-cockpit motif, clearly inspired by the Corvette, is complemented by the use of high-quality materials and the excellent assembly tolerances.

The use of soft-touch and grained components plus the low-gloss trim panels give a quality that is unique for its class. A good example of how the Cruze is able to go beyond what any expects from a compact car is its instrument panel.

It utilizes elaborately detailed instruments which use light-emitting diode technology as backlight. Through these LED lights, the analog instruments utilize an ice-blue and crisp light. This is also the same light on the other interior controls. Customers also get the chance to have access to a large amount of data, made possible with the driver information center, considered as rare for this segment.

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