Known for its rugged and raw pick-up trucks and huge SUVs, Chevrolet is now aiming to attract families.
On Wednesday, the automobile division of American manufacturer General Motors hosted a presentation highlighting safety features, including the unique “central airbag”, on two of its most recent models, the Tahoe SUV and the Traverse crossover.
“Chevrolet has the most five-stars in 2015 for safety from NHTSA ,” Ahmed Soudodi, Chevrolet’s regional brand manager, told AMEInfo on the sidelines of the presentation.
Soudodi and Anna Walewska, a professional racecar driver from the UK, presented the cars’ structural security and 360-degrees safety features.
The pair highlighted the front central airbag feature, positioned on the side, between the driver’s and passenger’s seats, claiming it to be an industry first; in the case of a crash, the central airbag is released between the two front seats, to ensure the safety of both the driver and passenger and avoid collisions between them during the accident.
“The front central airbag was first introduced on the Traverse – it was the first car to ever have a central airbag globally… And when the Tahoe and the Suburban got it, they were the first in their segment,” Soudodi explained.
Being a race driver with a vivid understanding of the importance of car safety, Walewska said she found the safety measures to be high across the car industry, with Chevrolet leading the way.
Recalling an accident she had on the race track in 2007, Walewska told AMEInfo, “I rolled the car and got out without a bruise on my body – what that instilled in me is that the safety level in motorsports is high and I thought, why is not so high in road cars?”
After conducting her research, she discovered that the security and safety levels imposed by car manufacturers were getting higher and higher over the years: “it is being improved over time…but it needs to be ongoing and improve every time,” she said.
“My link with Chevrolet is that they are trying to promote more safety in the Middle East – I think this is important because the roads are so busy, the driving on roads is interesting at times; so, it is it is really good for everyone to know that the level of safety is really high in these cars.”
According to Soudodi, 70 per cent of the new Tahoe’s customers in the UAE are males. He explained, “We see more men driving it maybe because of its design… with the Traverse it is about a 50/50 split.
“The Traverse is designed for what we call an ‘evolved’ type of customer, someone who wants the safety and security of a vehicle, the fuel economy and all the nice features, but he wants to look good driving it as well.”
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the leading markets for Chevrolet in the region. “Saudi Arabia is about 60 per cent of the industry today,” Soudodi added.
A different road
As Chevrolet markets its enhanced and new product lines to families, stressing the safety and stability of all passengers in the car, GMC, its sister brand, is going down a different road, marking a shift across many of the leading General Motors brands.
GMC launched a new campaign with American fashion designer Michael Bastian, titled “precision”. From the commercial, it is evident that the brand was looking to highlight its attention to detail, style and appeal to up-market customers.
The reactions to the first commercial are still coming in, but we are yet to see how these shifts will impact the repositioning of these brands in a highly competitive automotive market.