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Greater LA Auto Show

General Motors Corp. will build a vehicle based on the Chevrolet Beat, one of three minicar concepts the auto maker unveiled at the New York International Auto Show earlier this year.

GM says the A-car initially will target markets outside of the U.S. and Canada, starting in mid-2009. The production version will retain the spirit of the Beat concept, such as its “city-friendly” dimensions and its fuel-efficient engine, the auto maker says. As a concept, the Beat features a 1.8L gasoline engine.

Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman-global product development, makes the announcement today at the Los Angeles International Auto Show. When GM first showed the three minicar concepts, which include the Groove and Trax, it started an online voting process that encouraged the general public to decide which one should go into production.

Lutz says the Beat currently enjoys a wide lead with more than 875,000 votes.

“Chevy Beat gets our vote, too, because that’s the one we’ve chosen to build anyway,” Lutz jokes on stage in Los Angeles. “I can’t tell you how relieved we are.”

The Groove received an equally impressive 713,000 votes, and Lutz hints that GM might choose to build both.

All three of the 1L models were designed by GM’s studio in Bupyeong, South Korea, and are based on the auto maker’s global mini architecture engineered by GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. The vehicles target younger buyers in urban settings.