Chris Perry, vice president at the Chevrolet, conveyed a deep sense of pride during the 100th anniversary year of the best-selling General Motors brand. It was a combination of serendipity and quality craftsmanship that enabled Chevy to brake record sales during last year and is on pace to sell even more of their Chevy cars — powered by the popularity of the electric hybrid, the Volt — and last year, the hotrod muscle car Camaro outsold the Ford Mustang which had been king in that auto classification for nearly two decades.
At the L.A. Auto Show, Perry spoke to reporters about why the African American demographic is vital to the Chevy brand, the Cherolet contribution to the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington D.C. and their cross-country Table of Brotherhood tour that discussed the importance of inclusion in American society, and Chevy’s/GM’s role in revitalizing Detroit and other cities.
Do you plan any special advertising campaigns for the diverse demographics?
Absolutely, that’s an important segment for us, particularly the African American community. Our market share is better in the African American community than in the general market. And we’re proud of that and want to maintain that. And our investments in the marketing and advertising is there as well. We’re really, really proud of our involvement in the Martin Luther King Memorial this past fall and the Table of Brotherhood event that we did. That was fantastic. That was one of my professional highlights to be honest with you.
What’s your market approach for hybrid vehicles in diverse segments?
It’s a lot about the fuel economy. If they want the technology we believe the best vehicle you can get is the Volt. Our owners are so passionate about that vehicle. There’s a survey that’s done for the entire industry of all vehicles sold in the U.S. they did a an owner’s satisfaction survey for about 300 different vehicles. The Porsche 911 is No. 1 and the Chevy Volt is No. 2 in owner satisfaction. People love that car. We had an event last night with the Chevy Volt and of the owners is Jay Leno. He has driven the car 10,000 miles and he has the same tank of gas that he had when he picked up the car from the dealership in December. He can plug it up at home; he plugs it up at work. The benefit is, if you want to drive gas-free you can. But if you drive outside the range, the gas engine kicks in. There’s no anxiety about that.
What is your take on the decline of Detroit and what your role is in its revitalization?
I want to clarify the word ‘decline.’ Because I think it’s gone through some struggles and it’s on it’s way back. There are companies that are coming in and hiring hundreds of employees. Our company’s headquarters are located downtown. Through the GM Foundation, we contributed over $27 million to help the Detroit school systems. We believe that education is the key to rebuilding the community. We’ve adopted seven high schools that were, at the time, considered drop-out factors. We’ve gone in with United Way and some other outside entities to rebuild and put some confidence in the students and invest in the infrastructure and schools to turn things around and provide education for these kids.
What is Chevy’s target for vehicles like the Spark and the Cruz?
We have core values that we see in our consumers regardless of what segments they come to us from. We refer to them as everyday heroes. They work hard, they participate in their communities. They don’t see themselves as heroes. But they do everyday heroic acts that need to be done to help people throughout their everyday lives. We’re here to help them through their everyday journeys. That’s the core values. When we think of the Chevy buyer, we think of the everyday hero.