Ford, GM, Chrysler rush to cater SUV-crazy consumers in China

Article by Christian A., on April 30, 2014

China is definitely going crazy over sports utility vehicles and crossover, and Detroit 3 is moving to capture the surging demand for those units. He Sei, a dealer for Chevrolet, Buick and Cadillac in Fushun, China, told Automotive News that Chinese consumer view SUVs as sportier, more fashionable and more youthful.

He even said that he was flooded with customer calls before the first Chevrolet Trax compact crossover arrived at his dealership last week. General Motors, Ford and Chrysler would not waste effort to ride on the SUV boom in China, which also occurred in North America in the early 2000s.

GM launched the Trax at the Beijing auto show last week and vowed to introduce 10 SUVs to its seven-nameplate lineup in the next five years. On the other hand, Ford showcased a Ford Everest Concept body-on-frame 4x4 and a Lincoln MKX Concept crossover, which production versions would greatly boost its current SUV lineup comprised of four vehicles.

Chrysler announced on the eve of the Beijing auto show that it will resume Jeep production in China along with local partner Guangzhou Automobile Group Co. Chrysler plans to build three models in Chine by the end of 2015.

The current trend favoring SUVs, however, is creeping into the demand for mid-sized sedans, which are currently regarded as the status symbol in China.

According to data from Auto Foresight, SUVs accounted for just 4 percent of the Chinese auto market, in contrast to D-segment sedans that accounted for 47 percent of total sales in the country by that year.

Around 13 years later, SUVs grew to account for 19 percent of total China sales in 2013, while D-segment sedans saw their share drop to 15 percent. GM expects SUVs to account for 7 million units in China auto sales by 2020.

The engine range being offered with the Chevrolet Trax includes the turbocharged 1.4-liter engine and 1.6-liter engine, both of which are gas powered. There is also a diesel-powered version which is the 1.7-liter engine. When the 1.4-liter engine is paired to the manual six-speed transmission, it can deliver 103 kW (140 hp) with peak torque measured at 200 Nm.

For the 1.7-liter engine, with the same transmission, power delivered is 96 kW (130 hp) having top torque at 300 Nm. Both engines will also be offered with the automatic six-speed gearbox. When mated to a manual transmission, the 1.4-liter engine has fuel consumption at 6.5 L/100 km, having CO2 emissions of 149 g/km. For the 1.7-liter engine, the manual transmission allows for fuel consumption of 4.5L/100 km with CO2 emissions at 120 g/km.

Models fitted with the manual transmission will also offer the Start/Stop functionality. In terms of dimensions, the brand’s newest small SUV has an overall length of 4,248mm, total width of 1,776 mm, and a height at 1,674 mm. No matter where it is viewed from, the Trax showcases both movement and athletic agility. The front grille is more pronounced and the upper and lower port is divided with a golden bowtie.

This ensures that the Trax can easily be recognized as part of the Chevrolet family. Then there is that subtle centerline curve on the surface of the hood. When combined with the detailed halogen headlamps, it helps add to the already dynamic look.

While the exterior of the Trax is characterized by having a planted stance and strong body lines, both the engineering team and design team made sure that this model would be aerodynamically refined. Helping with the aerodynamic efficiency of this SUV are the integrated roof spoiler, fascia-mounted air dam, and rearward swept roofline. The wheels are offered in a 16-inch diameter version or an 18-inch one.

The Trax offers enough space to fit a total of five persons, all of whom can enjoy that high seating and comfortable position. Its handling is similar to what one experiences driving a car but when needed, its genuine off-road capability can be activated easily. With the responsive and athletic ride characteristics, inspired styling, and a choice between three fuel-efficient engines, there is no doubt that the new Chevrolet Trax is sure to energize the class.

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Topics: ford, gm, chrysler, china

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