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Should Chevy Corvette have 2 versions?

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Should Chevy Corvette have 2 versions?

BY MARK PHELAN

FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

As sure as the sun rises and God makes little green apples, there will always be a Chevrolet Corvette.

Exactly what the next generation of America's most revered sports car will bring is the topic of intense study within General Motors, however.

The Corvette is arguably the world's best sports car. It has looks that would make Ferrari proud, performance to match Porsche, and a price that undercuts both by tens of thousands of dollars.

It also has countless fanatical admirers and a devoted owner base built up over decades.

This is not a formula an automaker messes with lightly.

However, there's a school of thought within GM that the next Corvette -- which probably won't hit the road for at least three to four years -- must break the mold.

Chevrolet finds itself on the horns of a dilemma. Should the new Corvette embrace higher technology and the higher price that would go with it? Or should the mid-2010s car reach out to buyers enraptured by the 'Vette mythos but unable to afford today's car?

It may do both.

Prices for the 2010 Corvette start at $48,930. It's a bargain compared with other beautiful high-performance sports cars like the $114,200 Audi R8, $192,000 Ferrari California and $76,300 Porsche 911.

However, the Corvette is out of reach for many buyers. At the same time, its relative affordability keeps Chevrolet from equipping it with higher-tech drivetrains, expensive lightweight materials and the most advanced electronic systems the world's other supercars offer.

One school of thought within GM says Chevrolet should split the Corvette into two models -- a high-end vehicle that offers everything Audi, Ferrari and Porsche do and a separate, more affordable model.

"To compete fully with Porsche, prices would have to go well over $100,000. That's not a volume car, so it makes sense to have another model that appeals to buyers who are a little younger," said Bill Perkins, president of Perkins Automotive Group, which includes Merollis Chevrolet in Eastpointe and Taylor Chevrolet in Taylor.

second page at link:

http://www.freep.com/article/20100221/COL14/2210510/1332/BUSINESS01/Should-Chevy-Corvette-have-2-versions?

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Should Chevy Corvette have 2 versions?

BY MARK PHELAN

FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

(...)

Prices for the 2010 Corvette start at $48,930. It's a bargain compared with other beautiful high-performance sports cars like the $114,200 Audi R8, $192,000 Ferrari California and $76,300 Porsche 911.

However, the Corvette is out of reach for many buyers. At the same time, its relative affordability keeps Chevrolet from equipping it with higher-tech drivetrains, expensive lightweight materials and the most advanced electronic systems the world's other supercars offer.

(...)

Not necessarily. You can have the same formula as you have today, with the ZR1 on top of the lineup making extensive use of those high tech and expensive materials.

Edited by ZL-1
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To all these commentators who have zero knowledge about Corvettes, why f@#k something which is not broken?

My wishlist for better Corvette is:

  1. Make it lighter
  2. Add Gen V small block with DI - which it will
  3. Make interior better and more livable
  4. Get it a DSG along with the manual tranny
  5. For all those pussies out there - give AWD an option
  6. Make it cheaper like the previous models - i.e. start in the low 40's

No radical approach is required for something which has been working for 57 years.

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Make it cheaper like the previous models - i.e. start in the low 40's

dollar has to get much stronger to do that or it has to be de-contented or not have a good profit margin for it. I don't see any of these happening anytime soon.

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Is there still a mullet requirement for Corvette owners? If so, I would probably get rid of that requirement for the next gen if I was GM. Mullets are making a resurgence but still account for a fairly small market share of hair styles. GM could open up the Corvette to a much larger market if they did not require owners to have mullets.

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if they want to create an uber corvette they may have to break the corvette brand away from chevrolet exclusive, and allow it to be sold in other GM outlets (i.e. cadillac). outside the US especially that would help move the expensive ones.

so, if they do like dodge did with the trucks, RAM....maybe corvette becomes a brand and that allows them to branch out and do more variable models.

the premise of the current car is fine for me. it needs a more quality interior and seats.

I am not sure if they are talking mid engine here. i'd rather see the cien be the mid engine GM race car.

on the all wheel drive issue, i would love for myself to have vettes available with AWD but at the same time i wouldn't want my vette out in winter. i think i would be fine with the pedestrian corvettes being rwd only.

the exotic vettes might by necessity need to go awd just to keep the high power levels bridled. Then they could really take advantage of the new wave controls to help apportion power at the wheels in turns etc. and help the vette be a better track car. although there would be a weight penalty which is kind of against trying to take weight out.

the vette would be a great car to amortize R&D on a performance awd system. they could make a business case for it.

i am thinking DSG should only be for the exotic vettes. i didn't like the VW DSG i drove, although i know like the super exotics that use them they are probably better. pedestrian vettes could still get by with the 6sp.

chevy or GM still needs to remember the vette even in its cheap form is an aspirational car within chevy for their (not as wealthy) customer base. A base 50k vette is still a pipe dream for most of us.. chevy shouldn't abandon the corvette's position in that market by trying to go too far upstream. but yet they need the exotics to subsidize the development on the whole corvette program.

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The problem with the Corvette models (not just the Corvette in general -- i.e. interior) is there's really no difference in appearance between the base model and the ZR1 to the average onlooker. The Corvette must look gorgeous in base form, mean as a Z06, and down right frightening as a ZR1. It has the first down, almost the Z06, and not even close on the ZR1. People in the market paying $105k for a Corvette, Porsche, Viper, or R8 don't want a car that looks almost the same as one that costs $60k less (base Corvette).

I wouldn't be against the idea that's been passed many times of having a stand-alone Corvette brand comprised of all roadsters. It'd have a few different models...

  • Corvette Stingray -- Kappa 2 -- Powered by an LNF and turbo 3.6 depending on trim level ($25-35k)
  • Corvette Coupe / Targa / Convertible -- moves to Alpha -- exactly what we know the Corvette as today but on Alpha w/ Gen V LS engine ($50-60k)
  • Corvette Z06 -- meaner looking version of coupe with more power, better suspension/brakes (~$90k, doesn't touch $100k)
  • Corvette ZR1 -- hardcore Corvette that competes with world's finest. Looks quite a bit different than Coupe, although based on the same bodystyle. Obviously has very powerful engine, very lightweight materials, much better suspension/brakes. If GM ever wanted a mid-engine Corvette, it'd be ZR1 exclusive. (~$150k)

Oh, and I wouldn't be opposed to the Coupe bodystyle going back to retracting headlights while the Z06 and ZR1 kept exposed headlights due to aerodynamics and weight purposes.

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Is there still a mullet requirement for Corvette owners? If so, I would probably get rid of that requirement for the next gen if I was GM. Mullets are making a resurgence but still account for a fairly small market share of hair styles. GM could open up the Corvette to a much larger market if they did not require owners to have mullets.

I thought the comb-over was more the hairstyle of choice for the 50-something men that buy a lot of Corvettes.. :)

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The problem with the Corvette models (not just the Corvette in general -- i.e. interior) is there's really no difference in appearance between the base model and the ZR1 to the average onlooker. The Corvette must look gorgeous in base form, mean as a Z06, and down right frightening as a ZR1. It has the first down, almost the Z06, and not even close on the ZR1. People in the market paying $105k for a Corvette, Porsche, Viper, or R8 don't want a car that looks almost the same as one that costs $60k less (base Corvette).

Partially agree there. Corvette does need an interior makeover but it would not make economical sense to have three different interiors if that is what you mean. The analogy of paying $105k for almost the same interior of the $60k can be extended to all the German tuner editions that share same interiors with their base siblings. Corvette needs one great interior period. It is the performance that sets the bar for the price. Same with Porsche. Lesser 911 have the same interior as the 911 GT2, which costs almost double of the base Carrera.

I wouldn't be against the idea that's been passed many times of having a stand-alone Corvette brand comprised of all roadsters. It'd have a few different models...

  • Corvette Stingray -- Kappa 2 -- Powered by an LNF and turbo 3.6 depending on trim level ($25-35k)
  • Corvette Coupe / Targa / Convertible -- moves to Alpha -- exactly what we know the Corvette as today but on Alpha w/ Gen V LS engine ($50-60k)
  • Corvette Z06 -- meaner looking version of coupe with more power, better suspension/brakes (~$90k, doesn't touch $100k)
  • Corvette ZR1 -- hardcore Corvette that competes with world's finest. Looks quite a bit different than Coupe, although based on the same bodystyle. Obviously has very powerful engine, very lightweight materials, much better suspension/brakes. If GM ever wanted a mid-engine Corvette, it'd be ZR1 exclusive. (~$150k)

Oh, and I wouldn't be opposed to the Coupe bodystyle going back to retracting headlights while the Z06 and ZR1 kept exposed headlights due to aerodynamics and weight purposes.

Moving the Corvette to Alpha will make it bigger and heavier. Remember Y body is smaller from Alpha car based on the specification rumors that have been circulating. As seen from the F5 it would be difficult to downsize a platform and save weight. Moreover, it would not make economical sense to have two different platforms for the Corvettes. One solid C7 platform can do wonders. If Alpha is modular and is already designed with Corvette on mind of being the smallest or second smallest vehicle, then you are absolutely correct, it would make sense to build all Corvettes on Alpha.

V8 should not be taken out of the Corvette. If you want to go outside the box and bring other crowds then Corvette should have a Diesel V8. There I said it. Put the small Du-di churning close to 400hp and Corvette will be a oil burning performance car rivaling the Audi R8 Diesel. Bring a credo of performance with a difference and fuel miserliness. I can see a race oriented model ala Porsche 911GT-RS to bring more buck and further spread Corvette Racing development. It can even have a twin turbo with an ultra light car weighing 2,700 lb (similar to the C6R). Rich people love those kind of vehicles and spare a lot of dough for them.

Making retracting headlights for lesser Corvettes does not make economical sense. You will be doing two different front setups which will require different wind tunnel testing and aerodynamic improvements. Besides it sits against the Corvette mantra which is stepped high performance regardless of the model you buy. Corvette ditched the retracting lamps for improved aerodynamic performance, going back to retracting headlights is a step backwards. As an ex Corvette owner who is far from mid-life to go through crisis, I do not want that.

I personally think Kappa sized car should be on a Y-body to further reduce development cost for Corvette. Make one for Chevy in coupe and convertible format to fight against the Miata, and make one for Caddy in a retractable hardtop and coupe format to compete against the Porsche Cayman/Boxter. Let the Chevy get four cylinders only and let Caddy have 2.0 LNF, 3.0 SIDI TT and a 5.5 DI. And if you even further want to reduce the development cost of the Y body - Caddy should get a better Corvette, not an wussied up XLR. Make it eco friendly with electric technology, which will definitely command a high price.

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Corvette is already expensive enough. It may start at $48,000 but the ones I saw at the auto show were in the $60k range, and the interior is horrible. Corvette is a sports car, not a super car, so I don't think Audi, Ferrari, and Porsche are really their target.

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Partially agree there. Corvette does need an interior makeover but it would not make economical sense to have three different interiors if that is what you mean. The analogy of paying $105k for almost the same interior of the $60k can be extended to all the German tuner editions that share same interiors with their base siblings. Corvette needs one great interior period. It is the performance that sets the bar for the price. Same with Porsche. Lesser 911 have the same interior as the 911 GT2, which costs almost double of the base Carrera.

Moving the Corvette to Alpha will make it bigger and heavier. Remember Y body is smaller from Alpha car based on the specification rumors that have been circulating. As seen from the F5 it would be difficult to downsize a platform and save weight. Moreover, it would not make economical sense to have two different platforms for the Corvettes. One solid C7 platform can do wonders. If Alpha is modular and is already designed with Corvette on mind of being the smallest or second smallest vehicle, then you are absolutely correct, it would make sense to build all Corvettes on Alpha.

V8 should not be taken out of the Corvette. If you want to go outside the box and bring other crowds then Corvette should have a Diesel V8. There I said it. Put the small Du-di churning close to 400hp and Corvette will be a oil burning performance car rivaling the Audi R8 Diesel. Bring a credo of performance with a difference and fuel miserliness. I can see a race oriented model ala Porsche 911GT-RS to bring more buck and further spread Corvette Racing development. It can even have a twin turbo with an ultra light car weighing 2,700 lb (similar to the C6R). Rich people love those kind of vehicles and spare a lot of dough for them.

Making retracting headlights for lesser Corvettes does not make economical sense. You will be doing two different front setups which will require different wind tunnel testing and aerodynamic improvements. Besides it sits against the Corvette mantra which is stepped high performance regardless of the model you buy. Corvette ditched the retracting lamps for improved aerodynamic performance, going back to retracting headlights is a step backwards. As an ex Corvette owner who is far from mid-life to go through crisis, I do not want that.

I personally think Kappa sized car should be on a Y-body to further reduce development cost for Corvette. Make one for Chevy in coupe and convertible format to fight against the Miata, and make one for Caddy in a retractable hardtop and coupe format to compete against the Porsche Cayman/Boxter. Let the Chevy get four cylinders only and let Caddy have 2.0 LNF, 3.0 SIDI TT and a 5.5 DI. And if you even further want to reduce the development cost of the Y body - Caddy should get a better Corvette, not an wussied up XLR. Make it eco friendly with electric technology, which will definitely command a high price.

Man Z 06 I don't think anyone else has thought that far out of the box and it's been right in front of our noses this could be the small chassie that GM could use for other models. Who says that it can't be streached longer wider with a few cars built on Y body or GMX??? it could recover R&D much faster. 'vettes were first built on modded full sized frames at first. Man I'm seeing my new Nomad allover again, you all know that 3rd times the charm and if the post of the RUMORED Sting Ray are true this might work for a small RWD chassie :scratchchin:

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the basic premise of the corvette structure with its frame rear tranny etc. is quite unique and advanced.

and to be honest for the basic corvette, its form could survive another 10 years. reskin it, give it a new interior etc. the suspension systems maybe would not live as long as the car and be credible.

i somehow see GM might want to test the waters and put a HF v6 in the base vette. i think that while intriguing, would be a mistake. at least still right now.

problem is primarily i get the sense GM has done all it practically can to pare the weight of the current vette down at its current size and with its basic chassis design.

i could see a next gen design very similar to this one that is current, just physically smaller. i am talking like by even 5%. remember, a 5% weight reduction on a 3200 pound car is actually 160 pounds. for them to achieve this is a big deal and i think its not that easy without committing to mass production using some new and exotic materials in great quantity.

which would drive the price up.

the vette is a tish big for my tastes actually but the car is so damn good i can excuse the size and the cheesy interior. actually the current gen interior is very good compared to the last one. but still...... why can't GM simply offer some good recaros as an option? a new steering wheel too, and a new center stack.. even just those three things would help SOOO much........

even if GM loses 5% in weight in the total car, its gonna be like 10% because the powertrain i do not see getting lighter (engine and tranny and wheels and brakes cant really get smaller!).

Edited by regfootball
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Is there still a mullet requirement for Corvette owners? If so, I would probably get rid of that requirement for the next gen if I was GM. Mullets are making a resurgence but still account for a fairly small market share of hair styles. GM could open up the Corvette to a much larger market if they did not require owners to have mullets.

New corvettes actually are not very mullet-compatible. They're mostly gray hair compatible. Used Corvettes are generally mullet compliant, though.

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Partially agree there. Corvette does need an interior makeover but it would not make economical sense to have three different interiors if that is what you mean. The analogy of paying $105k for almost the same interior of the $60k can be extended to all the German tuner editions that share same interiors with their base siblings. Corvette needs one great interior period. It is the performance that sets the bar for the price. Same with Porsche. Lesser 911 have the same interior as the 911 GT2, which costs almost double of the base Carrera.

Yes, I was stating that the exterior should be quite different, not the interior. If anything, the interior should be superb in all models in both design and material while the exterior changes from model to model.

Moving the Corvette to Alpha will make it bigger and heavier. Remember Y body is smaller from Alpha car based on the specification rumors that have been circulating. As seen from the F5 it would be difficult to downsize a platform and save weight. Moreover, it would not make economical sense to have two different platforms for the Corvettes. One solid C7 platform can do wonders. If Alpha is modular and is already designed with Corvette on mind of being the smallest or second smallest vehicle, then you are absolutely correct, it would make sense to build all Corvettes on Alpha.

Not really sure where my head was when I wrote that. I haven't looked at the platforms in awhile, and you're right. I really don't know why I was thinking Alpha when my true thought is that it should be on something more like a stretched, strengthened, lightened Kappa platform (similar to the Y-Body chassis, but smaller and lighter).

V8 should not be taken out of the Corvette. If you want to go outside the box and bring other crowds then Corvette should have a Diesel V8. There I said it. Put the small Du-di churning close to 400hp and Corvette will be a oil burning performance car rivaling the Audi R8 Diesel. Bring a credo of performance with a difference and fuel miserliness. I can see a race oriented model ala Porsche 911GT-RS to bring more buck and further spread Corvette Racing development. It can even have a twin turbo with an ultra light car weighing 2,700 lb (similar to the C6R). Rich people love those kind of vehicles and spare a lot of dough for them.

Making retracting headlights for lesser Corvettes does not make economical sense. You will be doing two different front setups which will require different wind tunnel testing and aerodynamic improvements. Besides it sits against the Corvette mantra which is stepped high performance regardless of the model you buy. Corvette ditched the retracting lamps for improved aerodynamic performance, going back to retracting headlights is a step backwards. As an ex Corvette owner who is far from mid-life to go through crisis, I do not want that.

I think you may have misunderstood me. As a separate brand from Chevrolet completely, the Corvette brand would have completely different vehicles. A small Sky-sized Corvette would have the LNF and turbo V6 (2.8 or 3.0; 3.6 would probably be a bit large) to compete with expensive roadsters, perhaps even Lotus. Then we'd have the normal-sized Corvette models (which would be slightly smaller than C6). These models (Coupe, Z06, ZR1) would be based on the same chassis, have a pretty similar interior, but would have unique bodies (though they can be loosely based on each other) and different drivetrains/brakes/suspension.

I personally think Kappa sized car should be on a Y-body to further reduce development cost for Corvette. Make one for Chevy in coupe and convertible format to fight against the Miata, and make one for Caddy in a retractable hardtop and coupe format to compete against the Porsche Cayman/Boxter. Let the Chevy get four cylinders only and let Caddy have 2.0 LNF, 3.0 SIDI TT and a 5.5 DI. And if you even further want to reduce the development cost of the Y body - Caddy should get a better Corvette, not an wussied up XLR. Make it eco friendly with electric technology, which will definitely command a high price.

I would agree with that.

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the basic premise of the corvette structure with its frame rear tranny etc. is quite unique and advanced.

and to be honest for the basic corvette, its form could survive another 10 years. reskin it, give it a new interior etc. the suspension systems maybe would not live as long as the car and be credible.

No, the C6 definitely could not last 10 years as is if that's what you're saying.

i somehow see GM might want to test the waters and put a HF v6 in the base vette. i think that while intriguing, would be a mistake. at least still right now.

I definitely don't see that.

problem is primarily i get the sense GM has done all it practically can to pare the weight of the current vette down at its current size and with its basic chassis design.

To keep it at the price point it's at, yes. GM can't keep it affordable and make it lighter while it's at its current size.

i could see a next gen design very similar to this one that is current, just physically smaller. i am talking like by even 5%. remember, a 5% weight reduction on a 3200 pound car is actually 160 pounds. for them to achieve this is a big deal and i think its not that easy without committing to mass production using some new and exotic materials in great quantity.

even if GM loses 5% in weight in the total car, its gonna be like 10% because the powertrain i do not see getting lighter (engine and tranny and wheels and brakes cant really get smaller!).

95% chance that the Corvette will get smaller, nimbler, and lighter. And since it's lighter, it won't need as big an engine or brakes. Therefore, it would shed weight by having a smaller engine (5.5 vs 6.2L in this case) with similar power and smaller, lighter brakes with just as much bite since the car will be lighter. Win win.

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I think you may have misunderstood me. As a separate brand from Chevrolet completely, the Corvette brand would have completely different vehicles. A small Sky-sized Corvette would have the LNF and turbo V6 (2.8 or 3.0; 3.6 would probably be a bit large) to compete with expensive roadsters, perhaps even Lotus. Then we'd have the normal-sized Corvette models (which would be slightly smaller than C6). These models (Coupe, Z06, ZR1) would be based on the same chassis, have a pretty similar interior, but would have unique bodies (though they can be loosely based on each other) and different drivetrains/brakes/suspension.

Got it. I think I am against the idea of a separate brand in the US. Corvette to me is synonymous to Chevrolet. It has history with Chevrolet and has always been part of Chevrolet Racing. Yeah with the advent of GM's stride in ALMS and heist at Lemans it has more become Corvette Racing. I can see your point it being a separate brand from Chevy in Europe where Corvette is a name of its own.

How will you brand the Corvette? Will it have separate dealerships? Will it share dealerships with other GM brands? Will it have its own management? What about money going into the platform and development?

Creating autonomous Corvette will be both emotional and economical challenge to GM at this point. As for creation of nomad and other smaller siblings, I personally think being niche vehicles they will fit just fine in Chevy or Caddy. I personally do not think Buick needs sport oriented sports cars of any size. It does need sporty vehicles.

One thing GM misses which it had in plethora in the 60's is the niche vehicles which diversified its portfolio so much that it was difficult for other automakers to make any one GM vehicle as a target. And GM could answer any salvo fired by others and could neuter the lead. GM was huge and yet highly flexible. GM became more rigid later and that is what it is now. With global design, development and production capability GM should do soul searching and bring that mojo back. Creating Nomad, Chevy Sky/Solstice, XLR, baby XLR on one platform along with the Corvette will be able to meet that goal. They do not have to worry about the RWD Toy is bringing in. Yes brands have diminished but GM should strive for the flexibility again.

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How will you brand the Corvette? Will it have separate dealerships? Will it share dealerships with other GM brands? Will it have its own management? What about money going into the platform and development?

I think GM should have two dealerships: Buick / Cadillac / GMC and Chevrolet / Corvette. That's it. Nothing standalone, no hybrid of these, just that. Chevrolet and Corvette cover the entire spectrum, and Buick / Cadillac / GMC cover the higher-end spectrum. That would work IMO.

Creating autonomous Corvette will be both emotional and economical challenge to GM at this point. As for creation of nomad and other smaller siblings, I personally think being niche vehicles they will fit just fine in Chevy or Caddy. I personally do not think Buick needs sport oriented sports cars of any size. It does need sporty vehicles.

I agree with your comments on Buick. I don't know if GM could financially do the Corvette "split" right now, but I'd like to see it the way I imagine it.

One thing GM misses which it had in plethora in the 60's is the niche vehicles which diversified its portfolio so much that it was difficult for other automakers to make any one GM vehicle as a target. And GM could answer any salvo fired by others and could neuter the lead. GM was huge and yet highly flexible. GM became more rigid later and that is what it is now. With global design, development and production capability GM should do soul searching and bring that mojo back. Creating Nomad, Chevy Sky/Solstice, XLR, baby XLR on one platform along with the Corvette will be able to meet that goal. They do not have to worry about the RWD Toy is bringing in. Yes brands have diminished but GM should strive for the flexibility again.

I agree, but it would be hard, if not impossible, to have the flexibility they had in the '60s. The competition then was slim and domestic. Now we've got more countries competing in the market than we had brands competing in those days. But I agree in limiting the number of platforms and giving each platform a great amount of flexibility.

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