The Chevy Camaro isn't the only new car coming from General Motors in the next couple years.
Camaro reportedly will be joined by the Pontiac G8, a companion to the next-generation GTO due for 2009, as well as high-performance Chevy Impala and Buick sedans.
All will be derived from the same midsize, rear-wheel-drive platform.
Camaro and its companions will put a little more emphasis on the days of the high-performance, high-styled American muscle cars of the '60s and '70s and should attract Baby Boomers who didn't have the dough at the time to take part.
“It's exciting. All of these cars should rejuvenate the car business at GM,” according to John Wolkonowicz, senior analyst for Global Insight, who closely follows GM's product strategy. “This is exactly what Detroit should be doing.”
Camaro will be in showrooms early in the 2009 calendar year. It will mark the return of the sporty car from the '60s that got emasculated in the '80s, when federal fuel economy regulations shifted attention to mileage, not fun, and put the focus on Japanese machines.
“The domestics have lots of blue-collar fans who love Chevy, Ford and Dodge but have been left out in the cold for a long time. They want cars with an American flavor and American muscle–Charger, Challenger, Camaro, Mustang–a heritage the Japanese don't have,” Wolkonowicz said.
Bringing back performance when consumers want high mileage could be a tough sell, and GM has to bring out some high-mileage small cars, too, Wolkonowicz admits. “But this isn't about cars with large V-8s consuming lots of fuel. High performance doesn't have to mean bad fuel economy,” he said.
While consumers are captivated with how much fuel gas/electrics can save, the hybrid Toyota Highlander with a V-6 gets 27 m.p.g. on the highway. But, he said, the Chrysler 300C with a Hemi V-8 gets 27 m.p.g. and the Chevy Impala with a V-8 gets 28 m.p.g. highway.
And most Camaros, like Mustangs, will be built with V-6s for those who want the look and more than 30 m.p.g. on the highway.
“You want better mileage? Get out of an SUV that gets 18 m.p.g. highway and into a sports sedan that gets 28 m.p.g. and you've accomplished something–10 m.p.g. better fuel economy,” Wolkonowicz said.
Of course, you'd do even better getting into a 38 m.p.g. Toyota Corolla.
“But it's still a free country, and we can drive what we like and not what fuel-economy activists want us to drive,” he said.
If Impala makes the switch from front-wheel-drive, it may signal the departure of its companion Monte Carlo coupe. Stay tuned.
Crossover currents: Mark Fields, president of the Americas at Ford, said two derivatives of the Lincoln MKS will follow closely on the heels of the sedan coming out in the 2008 calendar year.
The two will be “people movers,” Lincoln and Ford crossovers. The Ford version is being developed off the Fairlane concept, but won't be called that when production starts in the 2008-09 time frame, according to Wolkonowicz, who also keeps tabs on future Ford products.
The crossovers would fill a void left by the departing Ford and Mercury mini-vans.
Where's the beef? Ford hopes to ease gripes that the Five Hundred sedan is underpowered by adding a 260-horsepower V-6 in late 2007 for the 2008 model year.
Now the sedan has only a 203-h.p. V-6.
Five Hundred gets a facelift at the same time, with the new look scheduled to debut at the Detroit Auto Show in January.
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