CHEVROLET SALES ARE DOWN BUT OPTIMISM STAYS HIGH; SEVERAL MODELS WILL DEBUT IN THE NEXT FEW YEARS, INCLUDING A FULL-SIZE PICKUP TRUCK AND A NEW IMPALA AND MONTE CARLO (The Orlando Sentinel, 9/25/97)




   Despite lower sales this year, you will not see any moss

growing under the wheels of Chevrolet, says General Manager John

Middlebrook.



   "You can expect to see an all-new Chevrolet at an average of

less than every six months well into the next century," he says.



   The most important new vehicle will be the full-size pickup

truck scheduled to go on sale next fall as a 1999 model.



   Other vehicles that dealers eagerly await are redesigns of the

small Tracker sport-utility vehicle and the mid-sized Monte

Carlo, and a new car (with an old name), the Impala.



   The Tracker is due for the 1999 model year. The Monte Carlo

and Impala are due in 2000.



   Although some suppliers debate whether the full-size truck

will meet the fall 1998 deadline, mostly because of a three-month

strike this year at a truck plant in Pontiac, Mich., Chevrolet

officials insist the truck is on schedule.



   Ron Miller, president of the local representing Pontiac

workers, agrees.



   "I think they'll make it," Miller said in July."I believe the

truck will be on time."



   Chevrolet and Ford Division used to run neck-and-neck as the

sales champs in the United States, but Ford began to pull away in

1992. Last year Ford beat Chevrolet by 719,922 trucks, compared

with a Ford lead of 82,823 lead in 1991.



   Most of Ford's strength is with trucks. Not only did Ford

expand capacity for truck production; it beat Chevrolet to the

market with a redesigned full-size truck last year.



   With revenues of about $50 billion, Chevrolet represents more

than half of GM's total deliveries in North America, Middlebrook

says. Twenty-seven of GM's 33 plants build Chevrolets.



   Nonetheless, total Chevrolet sales were down 6.1 percent for

the eight months of this year ending Aug. 31, the biggest sales

decrease of the top five sellers.



   On the car side, the Cavalier is leading the charge, and is

the fourth-best-selling vehicle in the United States this year.

Chevrolet also is counting on the new Malibu to cut into import

sales.



   Sales are down on all other Chevrolet cars.



   On the truck side, sales almost have doubled for the new

Venture minivan compared to the discontinued Lumina van. But

through the end of August, Ford dealers had sold nearly as many

trucks as Chevrolet dealers had sold for all of 1996.



   Still, Chevrolet dealers appear to be patient.



   Says Jim Brown, chairman of the Chevrolet National Dealer

Council and owner of Classic Chevrolet in Mentor, Ohio: "We've

got some great product coming, and I think you'll see Chevrolet

make some strong statements in the future."