GM Unveils Chevy SS to Leverage Nascar Series Involement

General Motors Co., aiming to boost U.S. market share from an 88-year low last year, revealed Chevrolet’s first V-8, rear-wheel sedan in 17 years intended to energize the brand by appealing to performance drivers.

The 2014 Chevrolet SS, which will arrive in U.S. showrooms in the fourth quarter, is joining a redesigned Corvette sports car. It’s among 13 new Chevys GM is introducing in the U.S. this year.

The automaker, based in Detroit, gave journalists a preview of the car last night at an airplane hangar next to the Daytona International Speedway. The company unveiled the car formally at the Florida track today as it tries to build on its involvement with Nascar ahead of the Daytona 500 race on Feb. 24.

Racer Jeff Gordon drove the production-version SS out at a news conference at Daytona.

“This thing looks so fast I think I need to be in my uniform,” he told a crowd gathered to watch today. “It’s a four-door sedan but it’s got a heart of a Corvette.”

Nascar race cars are based off of GM, Ford Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. production models.

“Chevrolet hasn’t been known for cars, really good cars, in a long time,” Mark Reuss, GM president of North America, told reporters. “We haven’t been in this segment in 17 years, so I think this punctuates the lineup in terms of a halo car.”

Halo Cars

So-called halo cars are lower-volume models that attract to dealerships buyers who may, in turn, purchase other cars and light trucks. GM expects to sell about 5,000 of the SS annually, Reuss said.

GM’s U.S. sales of cars and light trucks rose 3.7 percent last year, less than the industrywide gain of 13 percent. As a result, GM’s share of the U.S. market slid to 17.9 percent, the lowest since 1924.

The SS, which is based upon a platform from GM’s Holden unit, will be built in Australia and is expected to have 415 horsepower and get 415 pound-feet of torque, accelerating from zero to 60 miles (97 kilometers) per hour in about 5 seconds, the company said.

The production car’s exterior design is “almost line for line” with the actual Nascar car version, Reuss said.

Along with performance features and styling, the car comes with leather seats standard, an infotainment system that includes Bose speakers and advanced safety features such as forward collision alert and lane-departure warnings, GM said. For the first time in a Chevy, GM will offer automatic parking assist, which uses an ultrasonic sensing system to help parallel park the vehicle.

“This is not just a race car, this is a very high-end car,” Reuss said. “There’s a lot of premium technology in this car.”

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