Detroit motor show 2011 - Chevrolet Sonic

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Chevrolet got its centenary year off to a flying start by picking up the North American Car of the Year Award for the Volt, the range-extender electric twin of the Vauxhall Ampera. Both cars will go on sale in the UK in 12 months.

Chevrolet is the leading light in the General Motors (GM) empire, responsible for 53% of its global business, and GM chief executive Dan Akerman described the Volt as 'merely a glimpse of what is possible'.

The official 100th anniversary of Chevrolet falls on November 3 this year, and Akerman rolled out some fascinating statistics about the company's story so far. It has sold more than 200 million cars, including 4.2 million last year – which means that somewhere in the world, someone buys a Chevrolet every seven-and-a-half seconds. Although regarded as an all-American blue-collar brand, a third of its customers live in the so-called BRIC nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China.

The only new metal on show at the Detroit motor show was the four-door Sonic, America's equivalent of the new five-door Aveo, which was unveiled at the Paris show last autumn. America will sell both bodystyles under the Sonic name, but it's unlikely that the four-door will come to the UK because buyers here don't have much stomach for supermini-size saloons.

Chevrolet also wheeled out a Z-spec five-door Sonic in a gaudy black-and-orange paint scheme to showcase the personalisation options it intends to offer when the car goes on sale in the autumn.

In a dig at Ford's Fiesta, and an appeal to the patriotism of Americans, GM North America president Mark Reuss pointed out that the Sonic is the only small car that is built in the USA.

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