FRANKFURT -- Set in the middle of the Chevrolet stand at the auto show here, the 1957 Bel Air convertible might have looked out of place if it weren't for two other classic Chevy models nearby.
Flanked by an early Corvette and a 1941 Master Deluxe, the iconic '57 Chevy was making a statement: Chevy is an American brand with a heritage that it is proud to display.
This wasn't just an exercise in bow-tie pride. Playing up Chevrolet's U.S. identity is a key component of a tricky marketing challenge for GM in Europe.
For decades, General Motors Co. had one mainstream, volume brand in Europe: Opel.
But GM is on track to sell about 500,000 Chevrolets in Europe including Russia this year, company officials say. Many of those cars are built on the same architectures as Opels and use many of the same components, giving GM the task of keeping the two brands separate in consumers' minds.
"We work hard to keep the brands apart, and we are so far, by research, very successful," Nick Reilly, president of GM Europe, said in an interview.