The Chevrolet Aveo, a compact car produced by General Motors (GM), has played a significant role in the automotive landscape, particularly in third-world and emerging markets. Introduced in 2002, the Aveo, available in both sedan and hatchback forms, quickly gained popularity for its affordability, fuel efficiency, and practical design.
One of the key reasons for the success of the Chevrolet Aveo in third-world and emerging markets is its affordability. In regions where financial constraints often limit the purchasing power of consumers, the Aveo presented a cost-effective option for those seeking reliable transportation. The car’s relatively low purchase price and maintenance costs made it an attractive choice for individuals and families looking to improve their mobility.
Many might not remember that the Chevrolet Aveo was introduced in Pakistan as well. It was launched in 2007 as CBU by Nexus Automotive, Chevrolet’s local partner which used idle capacity at Gandhara’s plant to locally assemble the 1000cc Joy hatchback (which was a rebadged Daewoo Matiz). The company also sold another Daewoo-based model which was the Optra sedan, originally a Daewoo Lacetti. This was because Chevrolet acquired the financially troubled South Korean automaker Daewoo and rebadged its lineup to be sold in the region.
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Like the aforementioned Daewoo-based models, the Aveo too came into existence as a rebadged Daewoo Kalos. However, the one introduced in Pakistan was the heavily facelifted first-generation model, which utilized the same underpinnings of its predecessor but was massively restyled inside & out with great assistance from PATAC (Pan Asian Technical Automotive Center), a joint venture between General Motors and SAIC Motor of China.
Chevrolet Aveo in Pakistan had a 1500cc engine under its hood and was priced at PKR 8.99 lac for the manual and PKR 9.99 lac for the automatic variant. The price might look tempting today but being a CBU, it was higher than most sedans already available in the market. For example, back then the base Suzuki Liana RXi was priced at PKR 7.94 lac, the Honda City iSDI was available for PKR 8.39 lac, the Mitsubishi Lancer 1.3 GL from PKR 8.39 lac, the Proton Gen2 for PKR 8.49 lac and the Toyota Corolla XLi was available for PKR 8.79 lac.
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Still, the Aveo was attractive due to its supreme built quality, and impressive list of features & equipment which include dual SRS airbags, ABS with EBD, engine immobilizer, and smart keyless entry, power steering/ windows, powered/ remote side mirrors, in-dash MP3/ CD changer, audio controls on steering wheel, multi-reflector halogen headlamps and alloy wheels.
However, Aveo’s tenure in Pakistan was pretty short-lived. Allegedly, Nexus became a victim of the controversial policies of the government, engineered by those in power to protect the ‘Big Three’. According to sources, there was no incentive granted by the government despite Nexus being a new entrant. Furthermore, unrealistic localization requirements along with restrictions on the import of MKDs (Medium Knock Down Kits) and SKDs (Semi Knock Down Kits) were enforced to favor the Big 3 assemblers.
And when PKR started to depreciate against the US Dollar in 2008, due to the exchange rate impact the Aveo alongside other Chevrolet cars became even more unrealistic in terms of price. Eventually, the sales dropped to the point where local assembly became non-viable and customers stopped buying the (expensive) imported Chevrolet cars.
To pay off the Nissan assembly dues, the Chevy Joy assembly jigs and fixtures were given to Ghandhara Nissan. Soon Nexus had to completely cease its operations and the brief chapter of another new automaker in Pakistan abruptly came to an end. But Chevrolet wasn’t able to perform well in this region as after a few years, it had to pack up its operations in India as well.
While the Chevrolet Aveo made significant strides in third-world and emerging markets, it also faced challenges. Changing consumer preferences, increased competition, and the need for compliance with evolving safety and emission standards necessitated continuous innovation. Thankfully, Aveo still survives and continues to be a better performer in markets, mostly in China, Russia, and the South American region.
The latest third-generation model developed and produced by SAIC-GM-Wuling, debuted earlier this year. The new Aveo is exclusively available with a naturally aspirated 1.5L four-cylinder engine that produces 99 hp of power and 143 Nm of torque. The drive is transmitted to the front axle through either a 6-speed manual or a CVT automatic gearbox with 6 simulated gears.
Pakistan’s car buying options particularly after 1990 have remained very scarce. But Chevrolet alongside other automakers in the Musharraf era provided a much-needed variety, and more importantly, those newcomers used to tap every possible mass-market segment from hatchbacks to subcompact and compact sedans. Unlike today when every automaker is only interested in launching overly expensive SUVs without anything for the regular car buyers.
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The Aveo is a fairly uncommon sight these days, although I still occasionally see one in a gun metallic color. Seeing this car always brings a smile to my face recalling the wonderful times we enjoyed with loads of new car buying options as well as a flurry of quality used imports. A time that will never come back!
A computer animation professional with over 23 years of industry experience having served in leading organizations, TV channels & production facilities in Pakistan. An avid car enthusiast and petrolhead with an affection to deliver quality content to help shape opinions. Formerly written for PakWheels as well as major publications including Dawn. Founder of CarSpiritPK.com