BUPYEONG, South Korea – Michael Grimaldi admits there is lots of stress in his job but says, “It’s the kind that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and launch into a new day’s work with great excitement.”
Grimaldi, now in his second year as president of GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co., has a great deal to be charged up about.
“We’re replacing every vehicle in our portfolio with new product over the next three years beginning with the Aveo this fall,” he says, adding they represent “a new, upscale trend for Chevrolet styling and performance.”
In total, Grimaldi is talking about nine models that will hit dealer showrooms in the 2008-2011 timeframe.
They include replacements for six existing Chevrolet vehicles produced by GMDAT, the Chevrolet Spark minicar, Aveo small car, compact Optra, midsize Epica and Captiva cross/utility vehicle, plus two brand-new vehicles for the brand’s portfolio.
GMDAT gives a handful of U.S. and European reporters a look at clay prototypes for the new lineup at its design center here under the proviso details are not to be disclosed until the vehicles are closer to sales launch.
GMDAT’s designers worked with colleagues in China, Australia and the U.S. on the new models.
The new designs give the small and intermediate Chevrolets a family resemblance that is both fresh and attractive. No matter the size, they all say Chevrolet in a bold new way, Grimaldi notes.
The styling is functional and far from conservative – sassy but not overstated.
Interiors are upscale and highly detailed compared with existing models under the Chevrolet brand.
“We feel these exciting new interiors will serve well in both Europe and the U.S. markets,” Grimaldi says. “The details, the finishes, deliver on our theme of ‘more than expected.’
“The splash of color, the added refinement, the right amount of chrome finish, the styling cues, dual cockpit design, the cloth quality and treatment all offer the customer much more than he expected.”
The first new model out the gate will be the next-generation Aveo.
The Aveo is GMDAT’s most successful product worldwide, accounting for 459,000 of the 1.88 million vehicles sold by the auto maker in 2007.
The revamped Aveo is far removed in looks from the existing model both inside and out. It will debut at the Paris auto show later this year, alongside an all-new vehicle that will move GMDAT and Chevrolet into a new product sector.
Now headed by Managing Director Kim Tae-wan, the GMDAT design studio has doubled in size during the past three years, with a complement of 190 designers, modelers and engineers.
The studio is contained in its own newly built freestanding facility that’s loaded to the nines with the latest high-tech equipment, including a large virtual-reality studio.
Kim served with the former Daewoo Motor Co. Ltd. from 1995 as chief exterior designer and led the design of the Magnus, Lacetti, Kalos and Matiz models.
He moved toAutomobile SpA in 2000 when Daewoo got into financial trouble and was on the auction block.
At, he worked on a number of designs, including the Cinquecento, Punto and Ducato.
Although he can’t disclose details of the new Chevrolet lineup, Grimaldi says he sorely wants consumers worldwide to know the brand is about to enter a whole new product era.