More stories related to New York Auto ShowNEW YORK – Chevrolet remains confident in prospects for its new Cobalt small car, even though the model is off to a sluggish start.

About 90% of dealer stock currently is in sedans, but the Lordstown, OH, plant now is shipping 25% coupes, which Jim Campbell, director-Chevrolet car marketing, believes should help spur demand.

“In the next three weeks we’ll be up over 40% coupes,” he says at the auto show here. “Chevy dealers have historically done very well with coupes in this segment.”

Campbell says the Aveo, imported from GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. in South Korea, complements the Cobalt. Chevy says the Aveo is No.1 in its segment in less than one year.

Chevrolet is driving for industry sales leadership, Campbell says.

Cobalt will outsell Cavalier, Chevy says.

“We have the opportunity to grow our car business with fresh product,” he says. “The entire car line is brand new at Chevy.”

Sales of the Malibu are off to a strong start through the first two months of the year, coming off an already strong 2004, Campbell says.

Malibu sales, which rose 54.7% in volume last year, are running 31.9% ahead of like-2004’s pace through February. The extended Maxx hatchback accounts for about one-third of overall sales, he says.

A hybrid-electric version of the car is “12-18 months away,” Campbell says.

Campbell also says Chevy will offer a 5.3L V-8 in the ’06 Impala and use Displacement on Demand to improve fuel economy a projected 12%.

“Longer term, we’re looking at alternate fuels,” he says. But he doesn’t predict availability of diesels in the near future.

Chevrolet is trying out various promotions to grow volume without incentives, Campbell says. For instance, Detroit-area buyers receive an Apple iPod portable music player with the purchase of a Chevrolet.

“We also have promotions on customizing the Cobalt using GM design accessories,” he says. Dealers will merchandise the accessories on the showroom floor.

In addition, Cobalt buyers will get a coupon to get them started on purchasing accessories. Campbell says the Cobalt is gaining traction and the coupons will help, predicting Chevrolet will sell more Cobalts than Cavaliers.

“Our model of the small-car market is prompting Toyota (Motor Corp.), Honda (Motor Co. Ltd.) and Ford (Motor Co.) to bring in smaller cars,” he says.