2010 Chevrolet Sail

Chevrolet wants to take advantage of the booming demand for small cars in emerging markets and to help with that goal, General Motors Co. is banking on a new four-door sedan developed by its Chinese joint venture.

Unveiled last Jan. 11, the Chevy New Sail is the first car developed start to finish by Shanghai GM Corp. and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center, GM’s China-based tech center. Both are joint ventures between GM and SAIC Motor Corp. In a statement, GM China Group President Kevin Wale said that the carmaker aims to offer a low-priced car for China that also can be exported to other emerging markets.

China is being hailed as a rare bright spot in GM’s global operations. Sales in China had increased by 67% in 2009 compared to the prior year. With 1.83 million units sold, GM was able to boost its market share to 13.4 percent from 12.1 percent in 2008.

The New Sail, which is priced from $8,400 in China, is envisioned to break into a fast-growing small-car segment in which domestic players have traditionally been dominant. GM China spokesman Louis Ma said that the New Sail rides on a new vehicle architecture called SII, which entails its own dedicated chassis, suspension, powertrain and braking system.

The New Sail will come with either a 1.2-liter S-TEC II or a 1.4-liter S-TEC III engine. The car also has a center-placed fuel tank. GM China has yet to announce when it will begin exports however, shipments to the US are not being considered. The annual sales target for the New Sail has not been disclosed yet.

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