PARIS – General Motors Corp. is moving forward with plans to make Chevrolet its biggest worldwide brand, unveiling several new models here at the Mondial de l’Automobile 2004.

They include two concepts and two products derived from South Korea-based GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. architectures. GM announced earlier this month it will phase out use of the Daewoo nameplate in Europe and replace it with Chevy. (See related story: GM Daewoo Confirms Cars in Europe to Sell Under Chevy Badge)

“Our efforts with Chevrolet in Eastern and Central Europe are, of course, well under way,” says GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. “Now we believe we have the opportunity to expand the market by selling our Korean-produced products as Chevrolets in Western Europe as well.

Why the switch from Daewoo to Chevrolet in Western Europe?

“First, Chevrolet is the foundation of General Motors’ brand spectrum,” Wagoner says. “Chevrolet is a versatile brand. It is sold in about 70 countries, with sales last year of more than 3.6 million cars and trucks.”

Another consideration is that GM has exclusive ownership of the Chevrolet name, but not the Daewoo name. GM only purchased certain assets of bankrupt Daewoo Motor Co. Ltd. with several partners in 2002.

The 3-door Kalos subcompact will be available with a choice of three 4-cyl. engines: a 72-hp 1.2L,, 83-hp 1.4L and 16-valve 94-hp 1.4L engine. Currently accounting for about 42% of GM import sales in Europe, the Kalos was first introduced two years ago.

Chevrolet S3X

The Chevrolet S3X cross/utility vehicle concept, which was designed, engineered and built in South Korea, will go into production in 2006. It loosely is based on GM’s Theta architecture, which is used for the Saturn Vue and Chevy Equinox in North America.

Featuring a hybrid powertrain, the S3X will be the first diesel-powered Chevrolet in Europe. It also will be the first vehicle in the Chevy lineup to be developed entirely by GMDAT.

The S3X’s exterior design features powerfully flared wheel arches filled by 20-in. wheels, striking metal inserts in the front and rear bumpers, horizontal vents in the wings and jewel-like front headlamps. “It is a preview of Chevy’s future design direction here in Europe,” Wagoner says.

There are three rows of seats with 7-passenger seating capacity. The infotainment system includes a DVD-based navigation system.

Chevrolet's M3X show car offers a glimpse at the next generation of the popular Matiz minicar, which will be on the market in Europe in spring 2005.

The M3X features short body overhangs, a steeply rising shoulder line and converging lines on the hood. There also is a roof spoiler, centrally positioned exhaust pipes and 16-in. alloy wheels.

The glass panorama roof can be pushed back half way, providing a wide opening to the interior, which is infused with blue fabric and metal applications on the gear lever, steering wheel and air vents.

The M3X is powered by a 1.0L 4-cyl. engine that generates 64 hp.

“I continue to be impressed, every time I go to Daewoo, with the quality of the engineering and manufacturing precision that we have in our South Korean operations,” says Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman-product development.

GM also debuts here three Astras by Adam Opel AG – the Astra GTC, the GTC with a panorama windshield and the Astra High Performance Concept.

The new 3-door Astra will launch in early 2005 and come with a choice of five gasoline and three common-rail diesel engines, with power outputs from 90-200 hp.

The GTC has a panorama windshield made of Solar-Protect glass that seamlessly extends from the hood up into the roof as far as the B-pillar.

An adjustable shading system protects passengers from excessive sunlight.

Opel’s third world premiere in Paris is the Astra High Performance Concept. It features 240 hp.

bcorbett@primediabusiness.com