GM Approves Beat for Production



GM has given the official “go” to one of the three Korean-made minicar prototypes it unveiled earlier this year.

The Beat — along with similar Groove and Trax concepts — were initially unveiled at last spring’s New York Auto Show, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz asking potential buyers to vote online for their favorite. By mid-week, Lutz said, during an appearance at the L.A. Auto Show, more than 1.9 million votes had been tallied, with the sporty Beat overwhelming its competition, with 875,000 digital ballots in its favor.


“Chevy Beat gets our vote, too, because that was the one we intended to do in the first place,” said Lutz, grinning from ear-to-ear. “We will be building a car based on the Beat in the very near future.”


Of the three concepts, the Beat is the only “runner,” with a fully functioning powertrain and interior — the latter definitely not what you’d expect from a traditional econobox. The dash is hand-stitched, multi-color cloth, the seats using an Aeron-like mesh to permit more knee room for backseat passengers.


Aimed at the subcompact segment, the pint-sized Beat would be the smallest car in the GM lineup, notably smaller than even the current Aveo minicar. But while a production version will be rolled out in most of GM’s global markets, Lutz was cautious about the minicar’s potential in theU.S.


“It’s to early to tell” if it will come to the States, the septuagenarian executive cautioned. But he added that there is a good possibility some sort of vehicle “with all those design cues will come to the U.S. at some point. It might be somewhat larger.”


There are a number of challenges with products as small as Beat, Lutz explained, including the tough U.S. safety standards. But there are also a number of strong advocates pushing to bring the Korean-designed car to America , including Chevy General Manager Ed Peper.


“The decision has still to be made,” he stressed, but Peper added that, “I think there’s going to be a great opportunity for something of that size.”


A final decision on a U.S. Beat, he hinted, will likely be made “within the next six months.”

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