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Ghost Dog

Detroit's Pony Car Dilemma

136 posts in this topic

Ghost Dog    1

http://www.forbes.com/2006/02/06/ford-must..._0207flint.html

Yes, there was wild applause for all three. Muscle cars are the darlings of the car magazine writers and the "boy racer" crowd,

That is fine, but it does not necessarily mean lots of business. Pontiac's new GTO, actually built in Australia, has been a disappointment--only 11,590 sales last year.

How practical are these cars from a business standpoint?

Would it be better to concentrate the money and manpower to develop stylish mass-market sedans and other practical vehicles to battle the challenge of Toyota (nyse: TM - news  - people ), Honda (nyse: HMC - news  - people ) and Hyundai? General Motors killed the Camaro with the 2002 model, shut the factory and let the workers go. Now they think they should bring it back.

These are all tough decisions. Detroit needs excitement to meet the foreign challenge. Toyota, for example, doesn't sell special muscle cars but put lots of muscle in its ordinary cars. That new Camry family sedan coming this spring, for example, will offer a 268 horsepower, six-cylinder engine.

That old muscle car era had its downside. When you put in bigger engines, other parts--such as radiators and frames--get bigger and heavier. The overall costs go up, and some of the lightness and simple fun can get lost.

I also wonder about the size of the market for such cars. Ford considers the new Mustang a success, but the original Mustang sold 400,000-plus cars in its first 12 months in 1964-65. If GM and Chrysler jump into this business, are there a quarter of a million buyers for such vehicles? Or will the three companies have to fight over a universe of 161,000 potential customers?

Going back to the future is not without risk.

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How about a nice hot cup of $hut the f#ck up!?

(just so there's no confusion I was talking to the Author of the article, NOT anyone on C&G)

Edited by Sixty8panther

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ehaase    18

I share Flint's concerns about more pony cars. The 2005 Mustang really does not sell much better than the Mustang did when it was restyled for 1994 and 1999. The Mustang did well for 2005, but sales will probably gradually drop over the next few years, as is normal for sports coupes. I don't think that there is a big market for a new Camaro and Challenger, even though I am the only person here who feels this way. I don't think that this is a growing market. At least the Challenger is about the same size and shares most of its components with the 300. For the Camaro to succeed, it must share many components with high volume sedans. Hopefully the Camaro could sell 150,000 per year, but it needs to be profitable if sales were only 60,000 per year.

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Croc    268

I can see where Flint is coming from. I think GM should compete in the segment, but it is the extent of which that I am cautious on...GM needs more models for economies-of-scale, but they can't all be ponycars too or else they will just cannibalize sales.

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turbo200    6

It is best the way GM is doing it. By concentrating on building a flexible platform that can build the exciting Camaro as well as others and even crossovers that that can help to build volume and ensure the future of certain brands.

It's equally important to build world-class, stylish sedans. Look how many times that line has been fed to GM, and only now will they be releasing something akin to it [Aura].

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Newbiewar    1

its not really the car itself, its the pricipal of the thing...

if one artist helps design a car that people around the world are excited about, what are they going to do when they get to design the mainstream vehicles?

what about the company as a whole... when some good press comes of a model that you help make, wouldnt you put more pride into future models...

so even if the camaro only sells 100k a year, will we have exciting impalas and malibus and cobalts to follow, i bet so...

look at how much attention the C6 got, now look we are getting a camaro? what will be next a rwd imapla? ... i must be hollucinating

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pow    106

its not really the car itself, its the pricipal of the thing...

if one artist helps design a car that people around the world are excited about, what are they going to do when they get to design the mainstream vehicles?

what about the company as a whole... when some good press comes of a model that you help make, wouldnt you put more pride into future models...

so even if the camaro only sells 100k a year, will we have exciting impalas and malibus and cobalts to follow, i bet so...

look at how much attention the C6 got, now look we are getting a camaro?  what will be next a rwd imapla? ... i must be hollucinating

Yep, the Camaro (and the Corvette, SSR, GTO, Solstice, SKY, XLR...) is more of an image-building thing. Obviously the public won't switch from the millions of practical cars they buy each year, but hopefully it will make buying a Cobalt or Impala a cooler thing to do.

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cmattson    0

I can see where Flint is coming from, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it.

First point of contention:

Toyota, for example, doesn't sell special muscle cars but put lots of muscle in its ordinary cars. That new Camry family sedan coming this spring, for example, will offer a 268 horsepower, six-cylinder engine.

Gee, it's not like GM hasn't had a 280hp Grand Prix gracing the showrooms for a number of years now, or a 303hp Impala this year. Apparently it's only newsworthy/noteworthy when a Asian make does it. See the Ridgeline's "innovative" dual-hinge tailgate for more details...

Now, back to Flint's main point. I don't think that GM's going to build/design an entire platform for just the Camaro. GM's too focused on cutting core costs to pull something that foolheartedly. I think GM can build an affordable series of RWD platformed vehicles - with the appropriate reduction in FWD vehicles. Take the LaCrosse (really, I mean it -> take it) and replace it with a RWD lux sedan. Now you've given Buick some segmentation between the LaCrosse and the Lucerne! The GTO could go to this new platform, but it would seem like (yet another) Pontiac-rebadge-of-a-Chevrolet.. so I'd be hesitant to do this..? The GTO served it's purpose: it held it's own as an affordable, RWD coupe until the Camaro got to market. Let it retire already; besides wouldn't it just directly compete against the Camaro? Why engineer/develop/build a competitor to your own entrant? Seems like a waste of money. If the RWD platform was flexible enough, you could move the Impala to it as a mid-size sedan RWD. That would make a total of 3 North American vehicles: a Buick sedan, a Chevrolet Camaro, a Chevrolet Impala sedan. That would seem adequate for cost-sharing. If you wanted to water it down one step further, you could make a G8 sedan for Pontiac, but I'd think you just be stealing sales from the Impala.. so why bother. Additionally, you could continue Saturn's conquest-sales strategy and then Saturn could get a coupe or sedan. The difference here is that Saturn's target audience is conquest (I'd never buy a domestic vehicle) crowd.. who are somewhat ignorant to the fact that GM owns Saturn. Those people would never bother looking on a Chevrolet/Buick/Pontiac sales lot -- so giving Saturn one wouldn't exactly cannibalize other brand sales.

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razoredge    0

So long as its a usefull platform they can build Buick a flagship from as well as something for Pontiac, then it does not matter how many Camaros sell, it matters how many total sales of that platform are made.

UNLIKE KAPPA

UNLIKE CADILLAC

I believe the concern is legitimate, we can only look back and remember how sales of 2dr cars fell and how sales of American "sports" cars fell. People are more into utility today than sports cars, unlike the glory days of the Camaro and Mustang. Thats why this platform must be versatile. Then let the divisions personalize and tune the cars according to the target.

So nice to here them tootin the Toyo horn for 268 ponys..........did they do that for the GP when it got 260 ponys two years ago ? How about now when its up to 300 ponys ? Ah..never mind

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pow    106

I can see where Flint is coming from, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it.

First point of contention:

Toyota, for example, doesn't sell special muscle cars but put lots of muscle in its ordinary cars. That new Camry family sedan coming this spring, for example, will offer a 268 horsepower, six-cylinder engine.

Gee, it's not like GM hasn't had a 280hp Grand Prix gracing the showrooms for a number of years now, or a 303hp Impala this year. Apparently it's only newsworthy/noteworthy when a Asian make does it. See the Ridgeline's "innovative" dual-hinge tailgate for more details...

Pontiac and Chevy do sell "special muscle cars", though. And the 303hp and 260hp engines are only found in special sporting versions of ordinary Impalas and Grand Prixs.

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turbo200    6

I would say SSR,GTO,and XLR did very little for GM

GTO and XLR seem to be building positive image. GTO is the only car worth considering to many over at Pontiac....I see one every couple of weeks here in LA, which compared to the ratio of normal Pontiacs I see is astonishing in light of its sales. XLR V will build up image as well, though XLR could use an update soon, like in two to three years.

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Jazzhead    0

Of course GM should compete in the segment. It's a unique segment, that the domestics own (practically) to themselves. The whole idea is to reflect classic Motown design and performance cues. The Mustang is a huge hit, and so is the 300. Toyota will play the game too, with the FJ Cruiser.

Yes, GM must compete in the broad and bland middle market, but it should press its advantages - its image cars should scream "American". The Corvette does. The GTO, unfortunately, doesn't. It is fine for what it is - a Holden - and sells about as many copies as, say, a comparable Saab would. But there's nothing unsound with placing a business bet on a new Camaro, or a larger sedan with distinctly American design cues. The CTS is American, but the Lucerne could, with a different grille, pass for a Nissan. The new Aura (which I like) is not that discernable from a top quality European sedan. I guess that's the point, and GM's big enough (hint - that's why it pays to keep all its brands) to sell different images to different customers. But I don't wanna drive rice, or a car that looks like I do. The CTS and Mustang and 300 and Charger are the kinds of rides I want - and I'll bet Jerry Flint would be surprised at how successful GM, or Ford, would be if they embraced their heritage without apology. Designed here. Built here. That's what I want.

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balthazar    1,875

>>"That old muscle car era had its downside. When you put in bigger engines, other parts--such as radiators and frames--get bigger and heavier. The overall costs go up, and some of the lightness and simple fun can get lost.

"<<

Yeah: that 175-HP I-6 Tempest sure had an S-load of 'lightness & simple fun' that was lost when the 425-HP GTO Judge came along. What a stupid move to give a car more power & flash! That'll never work...

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mustang84    12

These are all tough decisions. Detroit needs excitement to meet the foreign challenge. Toyota, for example, doesn't sell special muscle cars but put lots of muscle in its ordinary cars. That new Camry family sedan coming this spring, for example, will offer a 268 horsepower, six-cylinder engine.

It's just too bad that Toyota's "cars with muscle" are about as fun to look at as a still life painting of a bowl of fruit.

Posted Image

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Newbiewar    1

Toyota doesnt know muscle...

my parents toyota camary v6 with 194 hp seems as sluggish as a 142 hp HHR... or cobalt...

Toyota's transmissions suck all the power out of their engines... either that or thier engines are over rated.

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Mustang:

C'mon buddy that bowl of fruit is MUCH more exciting than any Toyota this side of the TT Supra.

With this pissy, negative anti-anything-non-bread-n-butter attitude Chrysler might not exist today. Look at that company before and after the Viper of the early 90s.

And this idiot suggests what?

Leave the market to the Challenger and Mustang?

With that kind of attitude GM might as well close the doors and pack it up. Any other crowded market segmants GM should not venture into? Perhaps Cadillac is crowding the luxury car segment. We should kill that division before they hurt Lexus and Acura sales.

"...GM needs more models for economies-of-scale, but they can't all be ponycars..."

Well let's take a look at this argument:

Bread-n-butter 4-door, FWD, 4/6 cyliner seadns/hatchbacks:

- Aveo

- Cobalt

- Malibu

- Impala

- Ion

- L200/L300

- Vibe

- G6

- Grand Prix

- Bonneville

- Lucerne

- Lacrosse

Did I miss any? Now let's take a look at this crowded Muscle car segment that GM is over-investing into:

- GTO (and even that's a stretch... the GTO is not a Ponycar)

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Satty    338

Lets see...

Competative GM bread-n-Butter 4/6cyl Sedans/hatchbacks

-

-

-

-*crickets chirping*

Yeah, without any real competition in this segment there is no GM to produce a pony car.

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Call me stupid but I could have sworn that I just saw a Chevrolet ad saying they're the No. 1 in car sales in the No. American market. WTF else do they need to do to be considered "competative"?

Next question.

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>>"That old muscle car era had its downside. When you put in bigger engines, other parts--such as radiators and frames--get bigger and heavier. The overall costs go up, and some of the lightness and simple fun can get lost.

"<<

Yeah: that 175-HP I-6 Tempest sure had an S-load of 'lightness & simple fun' that was lost when the 425-HP GTO Judge came along. What a stupid move to give a car more power & flash! That'll never work...

when did a GTO ever have 425 hp ?

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cmattson    0

Pontiac and Chevy do sell "special muscle cars", though. And the 303hp and 260hp engines are only found in special sporting versions of ordinary Impalas and Grand Prixs.

The '07 Camry will have a 2.4l, a 192-hp 3.0l, and the new 268hp engine.. so how is that different from an Impala/Grand Prix? If GM wants to provide their hot engine in a package that gives you a sportier suspension, bigger tires, etc (& presumably command a higher price accordingly), then who can fault them? Every car manufacturer packages their vehicles differently.

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