This week at the Detroit Auto Show, Chevrolet introduced a pair of proverbial question marks: two compact, 40-mpg, low-$20,000-range cars that GM thinks could be winners, but will yet be gauging interest in for the time being.

The silver Tru 140S with 1.4-liter turbo has stop-start technology, and is based on the front-wheel-drive Cruze/Volt platform. The eAssisted 1.4-liter turbo Code 130R is based on the new rear-wheel drive Cadillac ATS platform.

Green car advocates and Volt fans in particular often express the desire for more plug-in models. GM says it’s working on it, but cites a massive market for “millenials,” or generation Y buyers who want inexpensive and fun cars.



Code 130 (left), and Tru 140S.

“Chevrolet has always stood for making the aspirational attainable for all generations” said General Motors North America President Mark Reuss. “These two concepts interpret that vision for a new generation. We’re seeking out our newest customers’ opinions, listening to their advice, and engaging them in new ways.”



 

The Tru 140S is positioned as an “affordable exotic,” GM says, if that isn't too much a contradiction of terms. The three-door hatchback was painted in a new matte white with Chevy performance chrome wheels featuring crossflag emblems.

“Tru 140S is designed to look confident, exotic, expensive and fast,” GM says.

It uses a direct-injected engine, stop-start technology, regenerative braking – distinguishing it slightly from the Code 130R which is showcased in red-metallic matte paint and gold wheels.



 

“Code 130R features heritage performance-inspired styling,” GM says. “With an aggressive front fascia, Chevrolet fender flares, straight body side and Chevy crossflag emblem, Code 130R makes a link to Chevrolet’s performance heritage.”

Both vehicles share in common:

• Sedan-sized functionality in performance coupe form that seats four passengers
• Interior connectivity and convenience featuring innovative storage, WiFi, smart phone integration with Chevrolet MyLink and heads-up display
• 40 mpg (highway) with a 1.4L Turbo Ecotec engine with approximately 150 horsepower, 148 pound-feet torque
• Possible production price range in the low $20,000s



 

GM says the cars were designed to nail preferences for 80 million American drivers up to age 30 as counted by the U.S. Census Bureau. It adds these younger folk represent 40 percent of today’s potential car-buying public.

We’ve already seen the company catering to this market with the Chevy Sonic – which GM advertisements show is now an accomplished bungee jumper, parachute diver, and likes to hang out in places where pseudo urban graffiti has been carefully applied.

According to GMInside News, GM took a unique approach to designing the Tru 140S and Code 130. Instead of the usual focus groups, GM went to college campuses and showed students various vehicle silhouettes and asked them to select the ones they liked best.



 

GM got a “sizable amount of feedback” and determined that young would-be customers gravitated strongly to two four-passenger coupe shapes. Those two final silhouettes ended up being the shapes you see in these featured concepts.

“Young customers tell us they want functionality with coupe-like aesthetics. Both the Code and Tru body styles resonated with this audience,” said Frank Saucedo, director of the GM North America Advanced Design studio in Los Angeles, where the two concepts were developed.

Inside the cars, GM says connectivity and personalization enable individualization – which this generation says is essential.

“This buyer prizes connectivity. Allowing them to stay connected by integrating their personal devices through MyLink and WiFi enabling the vehicle to be their own docking station,” said Saucedo. “The interiors currently exist in 2D only. This allows us the flexibility to continue the discussion and encourage more dialogue as we continue to develop these concepts.”

Given that the cars are nearly ready for production based on the Volt/Cruze Delta platform and Cadillac ATS Alpha platform, you might ask what is GM waiting for? The answer: More feedback from this lucrative but elusive audience , and final design decisions too.

Nick David, lead designer for the Tru 140S, told GMInside News its design is very feasible for production. He disclosed that the rear bumper and fender flares are more expressive for the concept vehicle, but the design's main theme is something GM can produce.



Likewise, the Code 130R – which GMI noted was reminiscent of a BMW 1-Series – is at least as close to production-ready.

GM's next step is it will tour with the cars to auto shows and other venues to “gauge reaction” from "next-gen" buyers. If GM determines the feedback is strong enough, the cars might see production in a few years.

“For the car company that can successfully engage this generation, there is a tremendous opportunity,” said John McFarland, senior manager for Chevrolet Global Marketing, who heads youth research for the brand. “At Chevrolet, we want to build authentic and meaningful relationships with these customers on their terms. We want to hear what they have to say, engage them in our design process, and give them what they want – not what we think they want.”

For more info and specs: GM Media

Source: GMI

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