Chevrolet vehicles are sold in the majority of worldwide automotive markets. In the North American market, Chevrolet produces a wide range of automobiles from their subcompact cars to medium-duty trucks. Because of the popularity of the Chevy name, it’s often used as another way to talk about GM and its products.
A Brief History Of Chevrolet
When Was Chevy Founded?
In 1911, Louis Chevrolet, an automotive engineer and Swiss race car driver, partnered with William C. Durant to build Chevrolet Motor Company. Their humble beginnings were in Detroit with the help of several investment partners. One of them was William Little who was the producer of the Little automobile. Another was James H. Whiting who was a former owner of Buick. The other two were Dr. Edwin R Campbell, who was the son-in-law to Durant and R.S. McLaughlin, the CEO at the time of GM in Canada.
William Durant founded the General Motors company in 1908 but was cast out from the company in 1910. Prior to starting Chevy, he also had taken over the Flint Wagon Works plus Buick located in Flint, Michigan. He’s also the person responsible for incorporating the Little and Mason companies. When Durant was the head of Buick, he hired Louis Chevrolet to promote the Buick during promotional races. His goal was to use the reputation of Chevrolet to found a new automobile company. Chevy’s first factory was located in Flint, Michigan.
The First Chevy Car
There were some differences between Chevrolet and Durant in 1914 regarding design. That’s when Durant sold off his share of the company. Just a couple of years later, in 1916, Chevrolet became profitable enough from the sales of the 490 for Durant to repurchase the controlling stake in General Motors. Once that deal was complete, Durant became the president of GM in 1917. This was when Chevy merged into the GM company, as its own division. At that time, factories for Chevrolet were located at the headquarters in Flint, Michigan as well as Norwood, Ohio, Tarrytown, NY, St. Louis, Missouri, Ft. Worth, Texas, Oshawa, Ontario, and Oakland, California.
In 1918, Chevy introduced the Series D, which was a V8 powered vehicle available as a five-passenger tourer model or four-passenger Roadster. The sales were so poor that the company stopped producing it in 1919. This is also the year that GMC rebranded their commercial trucks as Chevrolet. They were built with the same chassis as the company’s passenger cars and light-duty trucks. The trucks looked identical to GMC trucks.
Through the 1920s until the 1940s, Chevrolet worked hard to heavily compete with the Ford Company. Once Chrysler formed their Plymouth in 1928, the three companies were often referred to as the “Low-priced three.”
The Stovebolt was introduced in 1929. It was an overhead-valve inline six-cylinder engine that gave the company some advantage over Ford. They also released the Standard Six in 1933 as the cheapest six-cylinder vehicle on the market at the time.
Since 1955, the Chevy small-block V8 engine has remained in production, which is longer than any engine mass-produced in the world. There have been some advancements made to the original design, like an aluminum block, sequential port fuel injection, and electronic engine management. They’ve been built with displacements ranging from 4.3-liters to 9.4-liters. They’ve also ranged in horsepower from 111 through 994. This design has found its way into other brands such as Hummer, Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac as well.
A few years later, in 1960, they released the Corvair which featured a rear-mounted-air-cooled engine. By the time 1963 hit, one out of each ten cars sold in the country was a Chevrolet. Through the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s, the Chevrolet Impala series ranked as one of America’s best-selling automobiles in history.
In the Modern Age
Chevrolet has been popular in Europe since General Motors relaunched the company in 2005. They also supply rebadged versions of Daewoo vehicles in Korea.
Chevy recovered from the nation’s downturn during 2007 through 2010. To do so, they needed to improve their existing offerings and launch new vehicles. They focused heavily on creating trucks and cars that were more fuel efficient which helped them compete with the overseas automakers.
To date, the Chevrolet Volt, which is a plug-in hybrid, is the top-selling electric vehicle in America with sales surpassing 100,000 by 2016.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
Chevrolet Safety and Crash Ratings
As far as if a Chevrolet is safe or not, statistics seem to favor less than perfect reviews of the brand. Older models tend to be ranked higher than newer ones, with very few making the list of IIHS Top Safety Picks anymore. Out of all the Chevy models, only one made the 2018 list. It was for the Chevrolet Volt in the “small cars” category. When equipped with front crash protection, the Volt received “Good” rankings in everything but child seat anchors. In addition, the IIHS gave the Chevy Volt a “Superior” rating in front crash protection.
Chevy Safety Equipment
The company continues to work on technology that protects occupants in the case of a crash. The high-strength steel construction maximizes protection while remaining efficient, high-performing, and lightweight. Safety cages absorb and channel the impact away from the people inside the vehicle. They also offer 360° Airbags in some vehicles that come with the 10 airbags. This smart system optimizes deployment according to the severity of the collision.
Other safety measures available include the Automatic Crash Response, Emergency Service Deployment, Stolen Vehicle Assistance, Crisis Assist, Roadside Assistance, and Turn-by-Turn Navigation. All of these are offered through the OnStar Safety & Security Plan.
Chevrolet Safety Recalls
General Motors features a relatively low recall rate according to Forbes. Some of their recalls have tainted their reputation because of the severity and amount of vehicles affected, but only a few of them had to do with the Chevy brand in particular. In fairness, the amount of vehicles that they sell in relation to serious injuries as a result of recalls is low compared to many other brands.
One of the most well-known occurred in 2014. GM recalled about 800,000 small cars due to a faulty ignition switch. This shut off the engine while driving which also prevented airbag deployment. They had to pay out compensation for 124 deaths total. The recall involved Chevrolet Cobalts and Pontiac G5s.
Then, again in 2017, GM recalled hundreds of thousands of Chevy pickup trucks because of a steering issue. This related to a software issue that caused them to lose power steering for a second. When it would return, the driver could lose control and crash due to the unpredictability of steering power. The recall affected 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks.
Chevrolet Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
As with most car brands, you have a selection of consumers that are satisfied with the Chevy vehicles and others that feel they are the worst. That’s why it’s important to look at the studies that are done between the automakers. According to Consumer Reports, the Chevy Suburban won for most reliable vehicle in the large SUV category. Out of all the other segments, that’s all they won.
As far as SUVs, trucks, and vans, there were some other rankings for the company as well. The Chevrolet Trax made it to the small SUV category, the Chevy Equinox landed a top place in the small premium SUV category, and the Chevy Tahoe ranked in the large SUV category. Other winners included the Chevy Traverse and Chevrolet Silverado.
The list of Chevrolet Awards is immense, but some of the most prominent for 2018 included:
- Silverado HD earned Best Resale Value for Full-Size Pick-Up Truck from KBB
- Tahoe scored high in the 5-Year Cost to Own for Full-Size SUV and Crossover from KBB
- It also won the Best Resale Value in Full-Size SUV and Crossover from KBB
- In addition, the Tahoe was the winner of the 2018 Edmunds Buyers Most Wanted Large SUV Award
- Impala won the Best Buy Award from KBB.
- It also won the Five-Year Cost to Own for Full-Size Car from KBB.
- Spark won the Five-Year Cost to Own for Subcompact Car from KBB.
- Bolt EV won the Best Resale Value in Electric Vehicles from KBB.
- Camaro won the Five-Year Cost to Own for Sports Cars from KBB.
- It also was on the Car and Driver 10Best List.
Geo was a division of General Motors and Chevrolet from 1989 through 1997. They manufactured a line of smaller cars and SUVs during that time. The purpose behind starting the brand was to compete against the smaller import cars, but eventually interest in that faded and Geo stopped selling. Their final vehicle was the Geo Tracker, which they stopped producing in 2016.
The Geo brand also used part of the Chevy logo as their own. Theirs featured a small bowtie placed inside the O of their name.
Chevy is known for the engines, especially their small-block engine. It’s a series of V8 engines that were produced from 1955 through 2003. The “small block” terminology is in relation to the size when compared with Chevrolet’s big-block engines. Each engine has its own distinction from the Generation I, Generation II LT, Generation III/IV LS, plus the Generation V LT/EcoTec3. The engineer behind these designs was Ed Cole.
Production started in 1954 with the first release in 1955. It had a displacement measuring 265 cubic inches (4.3-liter). This grew little by little until it reached 400 cubic inches by 1970. Some of the popular displacements were 283 cubic inches (4.6-liter), the 327 cubic inch engine (5.4-liter), plus numerous types of the 350 cubic inches (5.7-liter).
Chevrolet’s partners (Cadillac, Pontiac, Buick, and Oldsmobile) designed their own V8s. Despite that, the Chevrolet 305 plus the 350 cubic inch small-block engine ended up being the GM standard. Through the years, each GM division other than the Geo and Saturn, ended up using these engines in their vehicles.
Even though the company stopped production in 2003, the engine continues to be made by a Mexican subsidiary for use as a crate engine. This is popular for those that need a replacement engine or for hot rodding. In total, there’ve been more than 100 million small-block engines built since 1955. The line was also honored as one of the 10 Best Engines of the 20th Century by Ward’s AutoWorld.
The Chevy Big-Block engines are large displacement V8s produced beginning in the 1950s through today. After World War II, the need for a bigger engine to fit the growing automobile was needed. This was created as the perfect option for heavier cars and medium-duty trucks.
Snapshot of the Company
In 2010, Chevrolet operated in more than 140 countries and set a global sales record in 2011 with 4.76 million vehicles sold. In 2017, Chevrolet sold 2,065,879 vehicles across the United States which was down slightly from the previous year. Their Equinox line skyrocketed up 20% from the prior year but both the Malibu and Impala took large hits. Chevy makes up 43% of GM’s global volume.
Their sales numbers place them second in terms of North American car brands, right behind Ford, which only heightens their ongoing rivalry. On top of that, they are listed as the 56th Most Valuable Brand by Forbes with a worth of $11.5 billion, while Ford is ranked 42nd.
In previous models, Chevy used three different colors for the bowtie logo. The gold was found on trucks, with the blue being used for passenger cars and red for performance vehicles. In 2004, Chevrolet moved toward the unification of using the gold emblem on all vehicles. It was done to differentiate from the competition because Ford’s logo was a blue oval and Dodge used red.
In 2011, Chevrolet created a Pandora Radio station to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary. They played the Top 100 songs that referenced the automaker. There was also a documentary, “Chevy 100, An American Story,” that premiered at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Aside from the anniversary efforts, Chevy is known for their numerous marketing tactics. Some of the initiatives included slogans such as:
- Enormous Buying Power from 1914
- Quality at Low Cost from 1923
- A Six for the Price of a Four from 1929
- See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet from the 1950s and 1960s
- Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie & Chevrolet in 1975 and 2006
- Now that’s more like it from the late 1970s
- Chevy makes good things happen from 1982
- The Heartbeat of America ran from 1987 until 1994
- Genuine Chevrolet ran from 1994 until 2001
- Live Better from 2012 through today
Chevrolet became the official automotive sponsor of Manchester United, an English football team, in 2012. They replaced Audi who had previously been the sponsor. In addition, beginning in 2014, they became the principal shirt sponsor. This contract runs for seven years and is estimated to be a record-breaking $560 million deal.
In 2012, the company joined into a four-year partnership with the English Premier League football team, Liverpool F.C. They became the official automatic partner for the club, but the deal ended early in 2014. When GM pulled the Chevy brand out of Europe, they turned over the sponsorship to Vauxhall Motors instead.
Chevrolet takes part in numerous sporting events from around the world. They are known best for their participation in IndyCar, the FIA World Touring Car Championship, and NASCAR. In whatever they do, they seem to succeed.
The Chevy brand has been the most successful automaker in NASCAR and boasts of 39 manufacturer’s titles plus the most wins by any manufacturer. At one point, both the Impala and Monte Carlo were used to run the Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Now the SS is used in the Cup Series with the Camaro for the Xfinity Series, and the Silverado as part of the Camping World Truck Series.
Chevy won the Indianapolis 500 six consecutive years from 1986 through 1993. They also claimed five CART World Series wins from 1986 through 1992. Notable drivers for the brand include Rick Mears, Michael Andretti, Arie Luyendyk, Al Unser Jr., Bobby Rahal, and Emerson Fittipaldi.
Chevrolet became the GM brand represented in the IndyCar Series from 2002 through 2005, replacing Oldsmobile. Then, they returned in 2012, after several years of Honda being the only engine manufacturer. Most notable teams include Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, CFH Racing, and KV Racing, all of who use Chevrolet engines. They’ve won several races of the Indianapolis 500 plus three additional driver’s championships.
Tudor United SportsCar Championship
In the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, the Chevy Corvette runs in the GT Le Mans class. It used to be the American Le Mans Series and the GT Class but was changed in 2014. The Corvette Racing began in 1999 with the Daytona 24-hour race and had gone on to win eight consecutive ALMS GT1 team championships and manufacturers’ championship. They’ve also won seven driver’s titles. Even today, the Corvette races during the French 24 Hours of Le Mans.
FIA World Touring Car Championship
When Chevy was relaunched in Europe during 2005, they also took part in the FIA World Touring Car Championship. They used a version of the Lacetti, which was developed by Ray Mallock Ltd from the UK. Then, in 2009, they replaced it with the Cruze which went on to win the Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championship from 2010 through 2012.
The Corvette Museum is located in Bowling Green, Kentucky and is a popular location. In 2014, a sinkhole opened that swallowed up eight of the vehicles, but they’ve since been restored. While their exhibits change on a regular basis, you can count on seeing plenty of historic Corvettes on site whenever you visit. One of their special exhibits includes the very rare 1983 Corvette.
Many people falsely believe that Chevrolet didn’t make any Corvettes for model year 1983. The truth, is that they didn’t sell any to the public. In fact, only a handful were actually built, and only one remains. It can only be seen at the Kentucky museum.
Another popular site is the Boarman’s Chevy Bel Air Museum located in Shelbyville, Illinois. This site opened in 2005 and showcases a private collection. Their showroom is decorated as a 1950s sock-hop which inspires nostalgia. The owner has been collecting Bel Airs and restoring them for over 25 years. On top of the 10 vehicles that are on display, there’s also a lot of memorabilia to reminisce over.
While not a dedicated Chevy museum, Muscle Car City in Punta Gorda, Florida houses some first-generation Camaros, early Chevelles, Big-block Impalas, 1960s El Camino SS models, and more. There’s also the California Auto Museum in Sacramento, California. They have a Camaro versus Mustang exhibit and numerous GM vehicles such as a 1953 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1954 Chevrolet Corvette, 1964 Chevrolet Impala SS, and more.
The company also offers numerous protection plans that provide comfort and convenience to drivers. Each brand of GM features its own line of protection. The Chevrolet warranty coverage includes the standard bumper-to-bumper protection, a limited powertrain warranty, and emissions control system limited warranty. In addition to those, customers can opt for the electric hybrid warranty, Chevrolet Silverado eAssist coverage, a maintenance plan, roadside assistance, and some additional protection plans.
Chevrolet offers customers with several incentive programs. The first is the Chevrolet Military Program. This is given to all active duty members, National Guard members, Reservists plus Veterans who’ve been discharged within the last three years or those who’ve retired. This program also covers the spouses of anyone in the Navy, U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, or Air Force.
The Chevrolet First Responder Program offers discounts to anyone working as a police officer, firefighter, paramedic, or 911 dispatcher. There’s also a Chevrolet Educator Program. This special pricing remains reserved for educators only. For eligible college students, there’s a Chevrolet College Program. This is also applicable to recent graduates as well.
On top of all these incentive plans, the company also gives special pricing to business clients and those who need a fleet of vehicles.
The company honors the best of the best with “The Dealer of the Year” program. This is only awarded to those who’ve maintained earning customers for life and receive the highest rankings in customer satisfaction. In 2014, there were 63 Chevy dealerships that obtained the honor.
J.D. Power also awards dealerships with a prestigious honor of being labeled a Dealer of Excellence. At this time, there are no Chevrolet dealers on that list.
Dealers also offer the My Chevrolet Rewards program. Through this program, customers earn points for their Connected Services, OnStar plan or Chevrolet vehicles. Then, they can redeem the points for Chevrolet parts, accessories, or services. They can also use them for OnStar plans and Connected Services or for the purchase of a new car. Just to open an account, users receive 1,000 free points. Then, when they complete their profile, they earn another 1,000 points. This is something unique offered by the company that not many other automakers participate in.
10 Interesting Facts about Chevrolet
1 – The Suburban Carryall debuted in 1935. This eight-passenger wagon featured an all-metal body. It was used for day-to-day life as well as for commercial transportation. It paved the way for bigger SUVs. The Chevrolet Suburban boasts of being the longest-running nameplate for the company.
2 – During World War II, Chevy mobilized for military use. All civilian production ceased in 1942 during the manufacturing of military vehicles and equipment.
3 – In 1950, the company released the Powerglide. This two-speed automatic transmission was the first offered in a budget automobile. It’s the same year that the Chevy Bel Air debuted with its pontoon type body style and hard top.
4 – The first Chevy vehicle sold for $2,152 which equals about $50,000 today. It was for the Series C Classic Six which featured a top speed of 65 mph.
5 – The Corvette is actually named after a small, nimble warship class. Actually, it is even smaller than a destroyer.
6 – The Chevy Camaro was first named the Panther. Later, the name changed to Camaro which resembles the French word for friend.
7 – When the Camaro launched, the rivalry with the Ford Mustang began. This rivalry still exists today and is the largest among American car manufacturers.
8 – As an anti-marketing ploy, Chevrolet’s competitors inquired about what Camaro actually meant, because nobody could find it in a French dictionary. At one point, they said it meant “shrimp like fish” or “loose bowels.” Certainly, today’s cars can make your bowels loose when you mash the go-fast pedal.
9 – The modern-day Chevrolet Corvette offers some unique features, but one of the most prevalent is the speed it travels while in reverse. This car can hit 50 mph while going backward, although we don’t recommend trying it out.
10 – There are five Corvette Grand Sport models, but they are part of private collections. Their value ranges somewhere between six and eight million dollars.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Chevrolets Reliable? There are varying results among the automotive world, but many of the popular publications reveal that Chevy is a reliable brand when compared with many others. They also have a fairly low recall rate which is amazing considering how many vehicles they produce.
Who Was The Chevrolet Founder? Chevrolet was actually founded by two people: Louis Chevrolet and William C. Durant, back in 1911.
Is Chevrolet GM? Yes. Chevrolet’s owner is GM. The company also owns several other automotive brands including Buick, Cadillac, and GMC among some others found strictly overseas.
Where are Chevys Made? The Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe production occurs in Arlington, Texas, while the Corvette assembly happens in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The company’s Equinox manufacturing occurs in Ontario, Canada, while the Impala, Malibu, and Volt have their home in Detroit. Chevy Silverado’s come from both Flint, Michigan and Roanoke, Illinois while the Traverse production occurs in Delta Township, Michigan. Lansing, Michigan is home to the Camaro and most of the parts or accessories for the brand are produced at various other locations throughout the country.
Is Chevy Better than Ford? When it comes to these two American automakers, there’s no rivalry as great as the choice between a Ford or Chevy. They don’t just battle over the Camaro and Mustang, but also between pickup trucks. Each company seems to fair slightly better when comparing each individual class of car. Of course, it doesn’t matter much about what the experts think, those who are loyal to a brand will always believe it’s the best.
Who Owns Chevy? General Motors is the parent company behind Chevrolet. They also control Buick, Cadillac, and GMC. In addition to these American companies, GM has controlling interest overseas as well. This includes Vauxhall and Opel in Europe as well as Holden, located in Australia.
Is Chevy American Made? According to the most recent Made in America Auto Index performed by the American University Kogod School of Business, Chevrolet scores incredibly high on the American Made list, with most models featuring a high percentage of American Made parts. In fact, the top 3 American Made models of the year included the Chevrolet Corvette and Chevrolet Volt, alongside the Ford F-150.