Image: Chevy Beat
Paul Sancya  /  AP
GM said bringing the Chevrolet Beat, which is about the size of a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris mini car, to the U.S. is among the options the company is studying.
updated 7/3/2008 4:48:03 PM ET 2008-07-03T20:48:03

General Motors Corp. is considering a new Chevrolet mini car for the United States as it reworks its product lineup to cope with a dramatic shift from trucks to cars linked to high gas prices, a spokesman said Thursday.

GM spokesman Dee Allen said bringing the Chevrolet Beat, which is about the size of a Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris mini car, to the U.S. is among the options the company is studying.

"It is certainly one of the things that is being looked at from a portfolio perspective," Allen said.

The comments came as GM shares have been trading near their lowest levels in more than a half century, raising investor worries about the automaker's future and its ability to adjust quickly to demand for more fuel-efficient cars.

GM shares rose 14 cents to finish at $10.12 after trading as high as $11 in an abbreviated trading session Thursday ahead of the July Fourth holiday. On Wednesday, GM shares sank as low as $9.96, their lowest level since September 1954, according to the Center for Research in Security Prices at the University of Chicago.

The Beat, to be built in South Korea, will be rolled out in other global markets faster than it would be in the U.S., Allen said. He did not know when the car might be sold elsewhere or in the U.S.

The car still must be engineered to meet U.S. safety and emissions standards, he said.

GM unveiled the Beat with two other ultra-small cars as concepts at auto shows last year, saying the trio was designed to attract young buyers in urban markets around the globe.

GM currently produces the Chevrolet Aveo sedan and five-door subcompact to compete in the growing mini car market.

The Beat is a front-wheel-drive three-door hatchback powered by a 1.2-liter turbocharged gasoline engine.

The company has declined to says what the price would be for the Beat, but Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said last year that GM mini cars ideally would start about $10,000 in the U.S. market.

U.S. mini car sales are up nearly 31 percent for the first half of the year, even though the total U.S. auto market is down more than 18 percent, according to Autodata Corp.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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