There is an apocryphal tale that auto pioneer Henry Ford was asked to make his early Model T sedans available to customers in a choice of colors.
Ford is said to have responded, “They can have any color they choose, so long as it’s black.”
The fact was that Model Ts were painted with fast-drying Japan Black enamel. Oven baking was still years down the road, the cars had wood and cloth content, and painting with colored enamels would greatly slow the production process.
But GM Korea seems to be turning history around. With the industry offering a plethora of dazzling, pleasing colors to appeal to everyone’s tastes, the automaker has decided to offer special editions of four of its top Chevrolet models in dazzling black topcoat, including the wheels.
Included in the just-launched Perfect Black Special Edition Series are GM Korea’s volume leader, the Chevrolet Aveo, equipped with a turbocharged 1.4L gasoline engine, the Cruze, also with 1.4L gasoline turbo, the Trax small SUV with a 1.6L diesel and the Orlando SUV powered by either a 2.0L liquid-propane-gas engine or 1.6L diesel.
More than just a merchandising exercise, the Perfect Black editions have been redesigned with upgraded black interiors with titanium inserts and perforated black leather seats, among other upscale interior changes.
The Perfect Black vehicles ride on specially developed 17-in. high-gloss, black-finish titanium wheels. All feature a gray and titanium racing-stripe decal on the hood and rear paneling – arguably the only ersatz-looking feature on the stylish new entries – but probably one that will appeal to youthful and youthful-minded customers in Korea.
Another Shot at 10% Share
GM Korea CEO Sergio Rocha says at the preview of the four models in Seoul’s upscale Gangnam district that the special series will strengthen Chevrolet’s brand image in Korea, especially with the volume flagship Aveo leading the charge. Repeating a claim frequently stated when new vehicles are launched, he says the special edition will help the company snare more than 10% of the domestic market – a perennial goal.
“The Perfect Black Special Edition has an eye-catching classy look,” GM Korea’s director of design Steve Kim says, and will have “strong identity as a brand within a brand.”
A member of the GM Korea team suggests the Perfect Black vehicles also will appeal to military procurement specialists as they exude class, yet squarely meet performance and color specifications.
On the sidelines of the Gangnam launch for the Perfect Black foursome, Rocha notes the better-than-expected sales of the imported Impala, which is not included in the Perfect Black Special Edition.
If the sales momentum holds up, he said, he will ask GM International Operations to let him build the fullsize sedan at GM Korea’s Bupyong complex.
In September GM Korea sold 1,644 Impalas. On a sustained basis this would meet the volume bogey needed to green-light domestic production.