General Motors Corp.'s Chevrolet brand expects a roll-out of new cars and pickup trucks to make it the top-selling U.S. brand as early as next year, surpassing Ford for the first time in 17 years, according to a Reuters report. Chevrolet, which will sell about 2.6 million vehicles in the United States in 2003, will likely pass Ford Motor Co.'s Ford brand next year and hit an annual rate of 3 million vehicles sometime in 2005, Chevrolet General Manager Brent Dewar told Reuters following a new vehicle preview. The Ford brand, which will lose U.S. market share for the eighth consecutive year in 2003, led Chevrolet in U.S. sales by 625,000 vehicles in 2001. But that lead was cut to 350,000 vehicles last year and through the first 11 months this year, Ford only outsold Chevrolet by about 250,000 vehicles, Reuters reported.Chevrolet outsold its cross-town rival on a monthly basis in July, but Dewar said the GM brand will do that more consistently next year, taking the annual sales lead, according to Reuters.Ford could also fall behind Toyota Motor Corp. next year, losing its place as the world's second-largest automaker behind GM, Reuters said."Our goal is leadership, pure and simple," Dewar told the news agency. "We firmly believe we have the momentum." Ford spokesman John Harmon told Reuters that Ford's new vehicles will help its sales next year, although it could fall behind Chevrolet some months when it curtails production to launch the new Ford Five Hundred sedan, the Freestyle sport utility vehicle and the Mustang sports car. "I can certainly envision where there would be a given month where they could surpass us. But the important thing is what you do over a given year," Harmon said, according to Reuters. GM, to boost its market share in recent years as industry sales cooled, has led the industry with ever-higher incentives, Reuters noted."If they choose to go blindly chase after share with incentives, they can do that," Harmon told Reuters.Higher Market Share
Dewar told Reuters that the launch of 10 new vehicles over the next two years, including a new Corvette sports car, the Cobalt small car, the redesigned Uplander minivan and the Equinox compact sport utility vehicle, will help boost sales. Chevrolet aims to raise its U.S. market share to 18 percent in 2004 or 2005 from about 16 percent currently, Dewar added, according to Reuters.Gary Cowger, president of GM North America, said the new vehicles could help lower incentives. GM spends more than $4,000 in incentives on each vehicle it sells, according to Autodata. Reuters said that GM will launch an advertising campaign beginning on New Year's Eve with Chevrolet's new tag line "An American Revolution." It will spend more than $100 million in the campaign, said Kim Kosak, Chevrolet general director for advertising and sales promotion, according to Reuters.