Early success of Cruze in Australia is promising sign for upcoming Chevrolet version

(September 17, 2009) Early success of the new Holden Cruze in Australia could be a promising sign for how Chevrolet's version of the small car will do in U.S. showrooms next year, the Detroit Free Press reported Thursday.

During its first full selling month in July, the Cruze compact car rose to the eighth best-selling car, according to General Motors numbers.

"The Cruze has been a real success in its rollout," Tim Armstrong, an industry analyst with IHS Global Insight, said. He said the vehicle's price and overall content have found the sweet spot in the market, competing against such rivals as the Mazda 3 and Toyota Corolla.

The U.S. and Australian car markets have some fundamental similarities — both are mature, wealthy markets with relatively cheap fuel, wide open spaces and consumers who have preferred full-size cars and SUVs.

Both markets are also beginning to see fuel price increases and growing demand for more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Australia could be considered "a precursor to the U.S.," Armstrong said, noting similarities between the countries.

The Cruze was designed to be sold globally and improve GM's small-car sales lineup.

The Chevrolet Cruze will replace the Chevrolet Cobalt in the United States in mid-2010. So far this year, GM has sold 78,504 Cobalt small cars in the U.S. market, down 46.2 percent from 2008.