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           21 January, 2021


    
Category:  Press » Automotive

 

The Chromin’ Empire is Conquering Fashionable Vehicle Owners Everywhere

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2006-10-01 01:15:42     
General Motors Corp.

Just as a gleaming piece of jewelry can transform an outfit from drab to fab, an increasing number of vehicle owners are using chrome to personalize their cars and trucks and make a rolling fashion statement.

That statement can be as subtle as the simple, elegant addition of a few polished chrome door handles; or as bold as a bumper-to-bumper, heavy-metal extravaganza of sparkling, 22-inch plus-sized wheels; grille inserts; tubular assist steps; brush grille guards; fuel filler door covers; exhaust tips and more.

"The beauty of chrome is that you can dress up your vehicle to fit your taste, your style and your budget, whether you drive an economy sedan, a family SUV or a high-performance roadster," said Nancy Phillippart, executive director, GM Accessories, which sells a complete range of accessories through the Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, HUMMER, Pontiac, Saab and Saturn brands. "Chrome can be a great, cost-effective way to personalize a vehicle."

Sales of chrome accessories are in overdrive. According to Phillippart, GM’s chrome accessories business jumped 73 percent from 2004 to 2005.

"The advantage of GM’s chrome wheels and accessories," said Phillippart, "is that an accessory design integration process unique to GM ensures the most accurate fit and finish and most tailored appearance, attributes customers want when personalizing a vehicle.

After years of being relegated to the automotive has-been junkyard, the resurgence in chrome is due, in part, to style influencers such as athletes, celebrity tuners and rap artists who began using chrome to add "bling" - slang terminology for jewelry - to their production vehicles, said Kip Wasenko, GM director of specialty vehicle design.

Wasenko said the use of gleaming metal finishes to lend exclusivity to a vehicle dates to the early 1900s, when high-end coach builders used brass and, later, nickel brightwork embellishments.

In 1929, one of those high-end coach builders, Cadillac, which later became a GM brand, was the first to adopt chrome plating - a technique that goes back to the ancient Romans - as standard on its cars. The 1931 Cadillac V-16, still regarded as one of the finest luxury cars ever built, featured a distinctive chrome wire mesh grille that has influenced countless other grilles since, including those on the current Cadillac V-series performance lineup.

"Chrome may come and go, but it will always be part of our brand heritage," said Wasenko, who expects to see tons of chrome at the upcoming Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas. "It will never really go out of style."

Chrome finishes are achieved by applying a ’plate,’ or coat, of metal to a base surface: Louis-Nicholas Vauquelin is credited with discovering chromium oxide in 1797 and preparing the metal itself the following year. But according to historians, the ancient Romans had a head start on Vauquelin, soldering silver plates to articles made of base metals to protect themselves in battle.

The heyday of chrome is considered to be from postwar 1946 through most of the Baby Boom to 1960. After a decade and a half of glorious chrome bumpers; wheel covers; mirror caps; and interior and exterior trim and tail fins, chrome took a back seat in the 1970s when fuel economy regulations forced designers to take weight out of cars and tastes gravitated toward European-inspired body-color and blacked-out trim. Chrome’s reputation for being a fussy finish that pitted and peeled didn’t help.

Thanks to improvements in the plating and polishing technology, chrome from quality sources can keep a showroom gleam for years if maintained properly.

"When customers purchase chrome wheels and other chrome accessories developed by GM, they can be assured that what they buy is subjected to the same rigorous quality standards as our original equipment parts," said Phillippart.

In fact, because they meet GM’s rigorous standards for safety and durability, all accessories offered by GM brands are backed by the promise of a General Motors warranty. Accessories permanently installed on a new GM vehicle at the time of delivery are covered under the GM New Vehicle Limited Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty, and can be included in the financing of the vehicle, making them both convenient and affordable. GM accessories permanently installed by a GM dealer after vehicle purchase are covered for the balance of the new vehicle warranty, and no less than 12 months or 12,000 miles.

GM Accessories’ chrome portfolio

Regular and plus-size accessory wheels constitute GM’s biggest entry in the chrome market. By the end of 2006, GM will have more than 50 accessory wheel and TPC tire systems for more than 35 GM vehicles. Among GM’s accessory wheel customers, chrome wheels are preferred across all segments by a wide margin.

"If you want to make the biggest impact with chrome, it’s with big, plus-sized wheels," said Wasenko. "I saw a great-looking Cadillac Escalade the other day with a set of 22-inch chrome wheels - that would have been unheard of five years ago."

GM is a recognized leader in tire and wheel system engineering and development, creating the industry’s first and only Tire Performance Criteria (TPC) rating, which helps vehicle owners choose tires designed to function with the vehicle’s architecture to provide optimum ride, handling and safety.

GM Accessories wheels follow the same validation guidelines as original equipment wheels. Plus-size wheel and TPC tire systems meet or exceed federal requirements as well as GM’s safety objectives. In fact, GM will not sell plus-size wheels if these requirements cannot be met. This provides customers peace of mind in knowing that their vehicle will not only look good, but perform the way it should.

Other GM accessory chrome touches include grille inserts; brush grille guards; fuel doors; mirror caps, door handles; tubular assist steps; molded hood protectors; exhaust tips; interior and exterior trim molding packages and taillamp guards. Availability varies by brand.

Chrome continues to evolve with the latest technology trend being "colored" chrome. Using various development methods, chrome can now be "dyed" or "tinted" with color, to add a distinctive look. Chevrolet’s HHR will offer black chrome pieces, including 17-inch wheels, door handles, rear view mirror caps, and a rear beauty bar. These pieces will be available as part of a vehicle option package, or separately as Chevy Accessories.

Specialized in: Gm Motor - Gm Car - General Motors Customer Service - General Motors Corporation - General Motor
URL: http://www.gm.com
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