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Shanghai GM Wheels out Chevrolet Epica
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Shanghai General Motors Co Ltd introduced its latest generation Chevrolet Epica, a model designed to improve the brand as well as the firm's competitiveness in the mid-class car segment.


The revamped Epica, equipped with a two-liter D-Tec engine, will be priced from 137,800 yuan (US$17,794) to 162,800 yuan in four configurations, according to the company's statement over the weekend.


The model was redesigned and has new parts to compete in China with other middle-class sedans such as Ford's Focus.


"The new Chevrolet Epica will play an important role in continuously lifting the Chevrolet brand," said Ding Lei, general manger of Shanghai GM. "It will replace the old generation and became a new flagship model."


Shanghai GM, a joint venture between General Motors Corp and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp, launched the Chevrolet in 2005. It also produces Buick, Cadillac and Saab models. The car maker has moved to build up the Chevrolet brand by adding new products. It's in response to the increase in young auto buyers with awareness of lower-priced economic cars for family use.


Sales of the Epica, which was developed on a Daewoo model after GM bought the South Korean auto maker, were flat at more than 25,000 units last year due to a relatively high price and overlapping positioning strategy with its Buick models.


The new Chevrolet Epica will cost about 10,000 yuan less than the previous generation based on luxury specifications. The carmaker expects the competitive price will help boost sales 50 percent annually and improve total sales of Chevrolet models 20 percent this year.


"GM is quick in discovering various niche markets with models to win the market in a very short time," said Rao Da, secretary from the National Union of Passenger Car Market and Information.


Shanghai GM said it sold more than 200,000 units of Chevrolet models as of the end of last year. In addition to the Epica, the car maker also plans to accelerate the development of other Chevrolet brands.


Shanghai GM sold 413,367 units last year, a rise of 23 percent from 2005, to rank No. 1 among all auto makers in China.


(Shanghai Daily March 12, 2007)


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