Should Chevrolet build a sports car?

Chevrolet has a slight problem in the UK market. The GM-owned brand has a range of new, more modern and higher quality cars than ever, but the issue lies with its sister brand, Vauxhall.

Both build a range of small cars with the odd SUV and people carrier thrown into the mix – typical volume manufacturer fare.

However, Vauxhall is the second best-selling UK manufacturer and the Vauxhall Corsa, Vauxhall Astra and even Vauxhall Insignia are regulars in the top ten most popular models.

So where does this leave Chevrolet? Moving away from a perceived ‘budget’ offering, Chevrolet has ramped up the quality of its cars with the launch of the Orlando MPV, Cruze hatchback and Spark city car.

This has a knock-on effect with prices, and while still undercutting many of its rivals and offering an excellent five-year warranty, Chevrolet is dangerously close to treading on Vauxhall’s toes in the market, essentially competing for the same customers.

For example, the Chevrolet Volt, North American Car of the Year 2011, is almost identical to the Vauxhall Ampera in the UK, but the Ampera boasts a few extras such as the ability to choose when to use the 50 mile electric range instead of just at the start of the journey.

However, a concept car set to be introduced to Europe at the Frankfurt Motor Show could highlight exactly where Chevrolet can position itself to become a success in the UK market.

The Chevrolet Miray – fittingly translated as ‘future’ – is a stylish, angular two-seat sports car powered by two front-mounted electric motors.

While it is unlikely to enter production, Chevrolet has described the Miray as linking its sporty past with the future of its powertrain development.

It comes as no surprise the concept has been designed, because Chevrolet is soon to launch the new Chevrolet Camaro muscle car in the UK before the end of 2011.

The powerful, iconic car represents Chevrolet of the US, and alongside the reinvigoration of the Corvette brand, is tapping into the sporting and performance potential of the brand.

Chevrolet only has to look at Kia to see how a range of small, stylish cars and modern, attractive crossovers and SUVs can raise the profile of the brand and ensure sales success.

Now Kia is expected to announce a more upmarket coupe-like model – a halo car to take on more prestigious and sporty car makers in the UK market, trading on the back of a growing perception Kia cars are stylish and desirable like never before.

Chevrolet could follow a similar path. An updated Chevrolet Aveo and new Chevrolet Cruze hatchback will improve volume sales and perceptions of the brand, but a sporty two-seat sports car will elevate it to a brand people want to be seen in – but more importantly will distinguish it from Vauxhall, creating success for both car makers.

The Chevrolet Miray may be design study, a look at electric technology more than a serious dry-run of a sports car, but personally, I think it bears considering at Chevrolet HQ as a production model in some form.

If not, and the Miray remains a concept car never destined for the roads, it can only be hoped some of the design flair seen in it influences future Chevrolet models in keeping with the brand’s illustrious past.