Chevy Boss Insists New Camaro will have 'Legs'By Bill Visnic July 22, 2008
By Bill Visnic
WARREN, Michigan - Nobody, and we mean nobody, is arguing the all-new 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, unveiled in production form for the first time here - isn't a great-looking modern interpretation of the brand's iconic pony car.
But everybody knows the shelf-life for even the best-looking coupes is slightly less enduring than a Hannah Montana tune. Sure the Camaro looks magnificent now, half a year before it even begins production. But it'll be languishing on dealer lots by the time the calendar catches up with the car's model-year designation, as is the case with all coupes.
Think again, said Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager. He's so ecstatic about how well the production car's sheetmetal has translated from the universally acclaimed concept car that he is insistent the new-age Camaro's visual appeal will far exceed the 18 to 24 months coupes historically remain popular with their nefariously trendy clientele.
"I really don't think it's a 12- or 18-month design," Peper told Auto Observer. Peper is convinced the Camaro's "21st-Century sports car" look will cut across all demographic lines, appealing to young and old, male and female. He says the real indicator of the Camaro's potential will be if it appeals beyond enthusiasts. And Peper is insistent the smooth, taut Camaro can stand the test on looks alone.
Chevrolet proudly points to the 600,000 "hand-raisers" who've indicated they're more than casually interested in the 2010 Camaro, which begins production in Oshawa, Ontario next February. But we've heard the hand-raiser claim before, only to see markedly less chutzpah when it comes to actual sales figures. Peper says it goes beyond hand-raisers - the design just plain works.
The enthusiasts will buy the car without hesitation, he says, but he believes the Camaro's sleek lines will draw more female customers than is typical for the musclecar/ponycar segment. And Peper believes the Camaro will transcend the expected nostalgia buyers, too, luring younger buyers thanks to the contemporary patina that seems to slightly push past the heritage cues.
And there will be plenty of marketing money, too.
"We're going to market it very, very cool," said Peper, saying the overall Camaro template will be similar to Chevy's broad, big-media launch of the Malibu that also incorporated elements of viral and new-age marketing.
And where the Malibu had an overall theme essentially underscoring it is a $25,000 car looks and drives like it costs $40,000, Peper said the Camaro's theme will be its blend of performance and reasonable economy - a "21st Century sports car."
Peper said despite the Camaro's obvious musclecar heritage, the 21st Century sports car marketing will focus on the V6-powered car's 26 mpg highway fuel economy, a respectable figure in light of its 300 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of barely six seconds.
So despite the daily pressure of the nation's fuel-economy concerns, Peper isn't worried about launching Chevy's reincarnated musclecar in this environment. He said the Camaro's sophisticated looks and blend of economy and performance mean it can sell regardless.
"Frankly, I don't think we'll have any problem selling this vehicle for the first year-and-a-half. I think it will be super hot," regardless of the price of gasoline, Peper says.
Nonetheless, Chevy is being circumspect about sales projections. There aren't any. And Peper and other Chevrolet personnel do agree stressing the Camaro's economy quality is a bit of stretch, but it's an adaptation that's unavoidable right now.
"I think we're going to have a big V6 mix, and that's fine," said Peper. He is adamant the Camaro's success won't be due to its performance qualities - although there will be plenty of that. He says the Camaro will sell - and continue to sell - for one primary reason: it looks great.
"This is going to be cool - I feel it," Peper said.
1. New-age Camaro begins production next February. A convertible will follow about a year later.
2. Interior for 2010 Camaro mixes heritage cues with contemporary touches, although the retro ingredient is more heavy-handed than for the exterior.