DETROIT – Chevrolet expects a 2-month trend of passenger cars outselling light trucks to continue in the coming months, especially if U.S. fuel prices remain elevated, the bow-tie brand’s top marketer says.

“Where fuel prices go is anybody’s guess,” Chevy Marketing Vice President Rick Scheidt tells Ward’s at GM World Headquarters here.

“But what’s good for Chevrolet is that by having a strong portfolio, from cars to (cross/utility vehicles) to trucks, we’re better-positioned to handle the volatile fuel-price situation much more so than we did in 2008.”

Three years ago, GM’s reliance on trucks for the lion’s share of its sales helped spin the company’s business upside down when fuel prices spiked and the auto maker did not have a solid car lineup.

Today, Chevrolet serves a microcosm of the shift at GM in placing more emphasis on a diversified portfolio.

Cars accounted for 52.1% of the brand’s deliveries in April and marked the first time since February 2010 that they outsold trucks, Ward’s data shows. Last month, cars led Chevy sales with a 50.1% share, the first time they beat trucks in consecutive months since February/March 1992.

In April and May of 2007, the last full sales year before the financial collapse, cars made up 46.7% and 44.3% of GM deliveries, respectively.

Last month, the Chevy Cruze gave GM the industry’s No.1 seller in the compact segment for the first time since 2005. The slightly larger Malibu midsize sedan was the best-selling car in the month.

The shift at Chevrolet reflects a broader move by consumers. In April and May, car sales represented a 51.9% and 50.6% share, respectively, of the total light-vehicle market.

Scheidt expects that trend to continue, but not just because of high gas prices that are inching up again over $4 per gallon in some markets after backing off at the end of April.

He says enhancements to the new-for-’11 Cruze will keep it hot as a ’12 model. Expect better fuel economy, for example, and packaging combinations more in line with customer demand for the ’12 model launching later this summer.

The 2-year-old Camaro, mothballed for most of the last decade, now has a convertible in addition to the coupe and a super high-performance ZL1 model on the way.

Later this summer, Chevrolet launches the Sonic, another small car with greater content and sharper styling than its Aveo predecessor. A new Malibu comes in 2012.

Across the brand, expect GM to continue to market the value Chevrolet represents, as well as its new emphasis on styling and technology. “And you’re just generally seeing fuel economy get better,” Scheidt says of the brand’s portfolio.

While Chevrolet shined, GM’s May sales on a volume basis declined to 221,192 units from prior-year’s 223,430.

Two fewer selling days played a role, but the auto maker still gained six-tenths of a percentage point of overall market share. In comparison, rivals Toyota and Honda backed off marketing spending due to inventories pinched by supply-chain problems from the Japan earthquake and tsunami in March.

Some analysts say an opportunity to catch competitors off balance may have passed, but Scheidt thinks otherwise.

“We’ve had nine months of month-over-month sales increases (and) a share increase last month, so we feel like we’re on track in terms of the product programs,” he says. “(Chevy’s) Super Bowl advertising continues to gain traction. So as far as the things in our plan, we are on track.”

Looking ahead for the Cruze, Scheidt says the market will determine whether GM chooses to seek share in the segment with discounts or hold to booking as much profit as can be made per unit.

“We’ll price competitively,” he says of Cruze, which accounted for 22,711 deliveries in May and 98,076 through the first five months. “We’re selling more and more every month. So far so good.”

Scheidt speaks with Ward’s here after announcing Chevrolet’s 3-year deal to sponsor the Woodward Dream Cruise, a wildly popular car-enthusiast event in Detroit drawing 1.5 million participants annually.

The event suffered financial hardship along with the Detroit’s Big Three in recent years, and there was some question whether it was viable enough to continue. Chevrolet says its sponsorship solves that.

The Dream Cruise also serves as the first of several localized marketing efforts by Chevrolet designed to celebrate the brand’s 100th anniversary later this year.