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Thread: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    GM must not like the Camaro very much - or maybe never intended to sell many of them, at any rate.

    This week, the automaker revealed pricing details about its soon-to-be resurrected Mustang-fighting pony coupe that indicate Mustang may not have to do very much fighting at all to hold onto its crown. The 2010 Camaro's base price will be $22,995 - which isn't so bad. But the one that everyone wants - the V-8 powered SS - will start at $30,995.

    Those numbers (and a few more, which I'll discuss shortly) spell an early knockout for Camaro - which I doubt will last two years on the market, if that.

    For openers, times are about as bad as they possibly can be for any car like Camaro - not merely Camaro. Useless back seats and tiny trunk; terrible in snow (being rear-wheel-drive), fairly expensive - and hungry for gas. Not a winning sell when gas threatens to needle up to $4 per gallon at any time and, more significantly, most people simply don't have either the disposable income or the confidence in the economy that's necessary to support the market for what are, at the core of it, frivolous cars purchased because they are fun.

    When people are worried about the mortgage, holding onto their jobs, decimated stock portfolios and finding a way to fund their kids' college tuition, buying a car - any car - is low on the list of things to do. Buying a high-performance/sporty two-plus-two doesn't even register.

    So, Camaro starts out with one foot in the grave before the first one even reaches a dealership.

    GM's insane pricing structure merely slams the coffin lid shut.

    The V-8 SS starts at nearly $31k - before adding a single option, before the inevitable dealer gouging. Expectthe "out the door" cost of a new Camaro SS to be closer to $35k - if not $40k.

    Meanwhile, Ford is selling new Mustang GTs for $26,775 - and that's very negotiable.

    Now, it's true the SS Camaro will have a larger engine that makes considerably more horsepower than the Mustang GT's V-8. But GM has a short memory - and forgets the same was true from the mid-late 1980s all the way through 2002 - when the previous Camaro (and its now-defunct corporate cousin, the Pontiac Firebird) were cancelled. The much less powerful Mustang GT outsold the Camaro and Firebird combined by a margin of 3-1.

    History is about to repeat itself.

    GM continues to obsess about the Camaro's cojones - but history and current market facts prove that horsepower isn't everything. It's the total package thatsells the car, not just what's under the hood - and Ford continues to bitch slap GM on this point, even if the Mustang loses to Camaro on the drag strip.

    For one, $31k is way too much money. By pricing the SS almost $4,500 higher than Mustang - its obvious and primary competitor - GM has assured Mustang will continue to not merely outsell Camaro, but to outlast it as well.

    Again.

    It's possible for large numbers of under-35s to buy a new Mustang GT. They can - and they do. But a $35k Camaro is a car for the over-40s and those guys (if they have the money) tend to want something more age-appropriate. A BMW 3-Series or Infiniti G, for instance.

    Or they have kids - and have to have four doors.

    The base Camaro, meanwhile, is almost as badly gimped from the get-go as its SS big brother. GM chubbs up about the fact that the base V-6 Camaro will have as much rated hp (300) as the V-8 powered Mustang. That is indeed impressive. But GM forgets that high-horsepower is not a priority for people who buy the base versions of cars like Camaro - and Mustang.

    What they want is an affordable sporty coupe - emphasis on affordable.

    But the Camaro V-6 starts at nearly $23k - which is more than three thousand dollars higher than the base V-6 Mustang's MSRP of $19,995. Three grand is no small change at this price point. Bet your bippie it will be factor - a huge one - when it gets down to making a buying decision.

    GM thinks the extra power justifies the extra cost - but let me say it again: The people who buy the standard version of cars like Camaro and Mustang are not looking for sizzling 0-60 times and rumbly exhaust notes. Frankly, they don't care what's under the hood (so long as there's adequate power to move the car comfortably).

    What they care about is on the window sticker.

    Think I'm wrong? Then check how many base Mustangs Ford sells each year. The base car is the volume car - not the GT. And it is the volume car because - say it again, Sam - it is inexpensive. That is what people who buy the base car care about.Few of them seem to mind at all that the base car has "only" 210 hp. It seems to be plenty.

    And they also care about, you know, fuel economy.

    A 300 hp V-6 is going to cost a lot more to feed than a 200-something hp V-6. The figures aren't yet available, but the same basic 3.6 liter V-6 engine GM will use in the 2010 Camaro is currently in service in some other GM models - where it gets about 16 mpg in city driving and 25 on the highway.

    That's not awful - but in a word of $4 gas, it's not acceptable, either. Not when there are literally a dozen other sporty two-doors available that are equally cute and fun to drive but which also deliver closer to 30 mpg. (Speaking of which: Ford reportedly will offer a high-efficiency V-6 as the base powerplant of the next-generation Mustang, scheduled to appear in 2010.)

    Add a much more expensive sticker price with a higher cost to feed and what do you get?

    Lots of Camaros sitting on dealers lots.

    Ford's genius is to have made the Mustang appealing to everyone - not just young, single guys with a need for speed. That's what make the Mustang's popularity broad and enduring - vs. Camaro's sharply focused ... and fleeting.

    If GM had been smart, it would have offered the V-8 SS as it was meant to be: a down n' dirty - and affordable - street fighter with a base price lower than the Mustang GT's. Skip the cost-padding frou-frou. No GPS, traction/stability control, heads-up displays, multi-zone climate control or high-end electronics/stereos. Etc.

    Guys interested in a car like the SS don't want those things nearly as much as they want power and the style - and it should not cost them $31k to get it.

    The base car,meanwhile, should have offered one of GM's high-efficiency small V-6s (or even a turbo four) making around 220 hp and capable of 30 mpg in combined city/highway driving - with a sticker price very close to the current price of a base Mustang.

    Now that would have been a horse race. Instead, it's off to the glue factory for the GM pony car.

    Wait and see... .


  2. #2
    DonTom
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    "Or they have kids - and have to have four doors."

    I've noticed that two door cars are getting somewhat scarce these days, at least around here. Even most pick-up trucks seem to be either four door or quad cab (like ours). And I don't think it's because of kids.

    -Don- (San Francisco)



  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom
    "Or they have kids - and have to have four doors."

    I've noticed that two door cars are getting somewhat scarce these days, at least around here. Even most pick-up trucks seem to be either four door or quad cab (like ours). And I don't think it's because of kids.

    -Don- (San Francisco)


    It's "general utility" - kids or whatever - that prompts people to go with a sedan or wagon over a coupe.

    Coupes are inherently limited market cars; mostly singles - or second cars. Relatively few people can have a coupe as their only/primary car.

    I didn't get into it in the article, but one of the other factors that Camaro (and any sporty coupe) has to cope with is that today, unlike during the '60s and '70s (the heyday for cars like Camaro) there are many performance sedans/wagons to choose from that offer as much or better performance with vastly superior day-to-day practicality....

    Back "in the day," if you wanted a performance car, you really had no choice but to buy a coupe. That's no longer the case today.

  4. #4
    TC
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    GM must not like the Camaro very much - or maybe never intended to sell many of them, at any rate.

    This week, the automaker revealed pricing details about its soon-to-be resurrected Mustang-fighting pony coupe that indicate Mustang may not have to do very much fighting at all to hold onto its crown. The 2010 Camaro's base price will be $22,995 - which isn't so bad. But the one that everyone wants - the V-8 powered SS - will start at $30,995.

    Now that would have been a horse race. Instead, it's off to the glue factory for the GM pony car.

    Wait and see... .

    Maybe that is one of the reasons why GM is in its position today.
    Using money on low volume products that will make little or no contribution to the bottom line.

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by TC
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    GM must not like the Camaro very much - or maybe never intended to sell many of them, at any rate.

    This week, the automaker revealed pricing details about its soon-to-be resurrected Mustang-fighting pony coupe that indicate Mustang may not have to do very much fighting at all to hold onto its crown. The 2010 Camaro's base price will be $22,995 - which isn't so bad. But the one that everyone wants - the V-8 powered SS - will start at $30,995.

    Now that would have been a horse race. Instead, it's off to the glue factory for the GM pony car.

    Wait and see... .

    Maybe that is one of the reasons why GM is in its position today.
    Using money on low volume products that will make little or no contribution to the bottom line.
    I think that says it all - or a lot!

    None of this is rocket science, either - yet the same mistakes are repeated over and over.

    Next up: The $45,000 Volt electric car. Just the ticket for rich people - who just happen to be the people who are affected the least by high fuel costs. If you can afford the Volt, you don't have to worry about $4 per gallon fuel!

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by DonTom
    "Or they have kids - and have to have four doors."

    I've noticed that two door cars are getting somewhat scarce these days, at least around here. Even most pick-up trucks seem to be either four door or quad cab (like ours). And I don't think it's because of kids.

    -Don- (San Francisco)


    I think this was the year Nissan introduced the Altima coupe. 1st and only 2-door Nissan car except the Z in years....
    A man's greatest mistake is to think he is working for somebody else.

  7. #7
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    This article has been posted on the main site with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...6&Itemid=10927


  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    It's a nice car, but like all coupes, inherently limited in reach by its layout. It's thus a lot harder to make a business case for a coupe - and coupes tend to be the first cars to kick it when times get tough and people turn away from "frivolous" cars.

    But in this case, Nissan is less exposed because the Altima coupe was spun off the Altima sedan - which safely eats up a lot of the R&D costs.

    That's another cushion the Camaro doesn't have.

    I predict a debacle - even worse than the GTO.

    The comes the Volt....

    I think this was the year Nissan introduced the Altima coupe. 1st and only 2-door Nissan car except the Z in years....

  9. #9
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    It's a nice car, but like all coupes, inherently limited in reach by its layout. It's thus a lot harder to make a business case for a coupe - and coupes tend to be the first cars to kick it when times get tough and people turn away from "frivolous" cars.

    But in this case, Nissan is less exposed because the Altima coupe was spun off the Altima sedan - which safely eats up a lot of the R&D costs.

    That's another cushion the Camaro doesn't have.

    I predict a debacle - even worse than the GTO.

    You forget one thing, the new Camaro is a great looking vehicle unlike the 2004-2006 GTO which looked as bland as stale oatmeal. I remember at the DC autoshow when the concept 2005 Mustang made it's debut, it was the most crowded display I had ever seen. The display for the 2004 GTO had almost nobody looking at it. Two years ago the Camaro concept car had the same hords of people looking at it, that the concept 2005 Mustang I mentioned had. The Camaro will sell well and make a profit for GM, however I don't think it will trump Mustang sales since it's more expensive. However Chevy is expecting this. They want a steady market niche car like the Corvette not a large market car like the Impala.

    BTW the Nissan Altima coupe is an ugly car.

  10. #10
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    It's a nice car, but like all coupes, inherently limited in reach by its layout. It's thus a lot harder to make a business case for a coupe - and coupes tend to be the first cars to kick it when times get tough and people turn away from "frivolous" cars.

    But in this case, Nissan is less exposed because the Altima coupe was spun off the Altima sedan - which safely eats up a lot of the R&D costs.

    That's another cushion the Camaro doesn't have.

    I predict a debacle - even worse than the GTO.

    You forget one thing, the new Camaro is a great looking vehicle. I remember at the DC autoshow when the concept 2005 Mustang made it's debut, it was the most crowded display I had ever seen. The display for the 2004 GTO had almost nobody looking at it. Two years ago the Camaro concept car had the same hords of people looking at it, that the concept 2005 Mustang I mentioned. The Camaro will sell well and make a profit for GM, however I don't think it will trump Mustang sales since it's more expensive. However Chevy is expecting this they want a steady market niche car like the Corvette not a large market car like the Impala.

    BTW the Nissan Altima coupe is an ugly car.
    We'll see -

    I'd be willing to bet the combination of a too-high price and terrible economic times will doom this car, good looks or not.

    Remember: Most of the '60s and early '70s muscle cars were great looking cars; on an emotional level, people loved them. But once practical obstacles cropped up - similar problems to those we're looking at today - they stopped selling.

    One thing GM seems to have completely forgotten is that the early Camaros were working and middle class cars; a $31k-plus SS is way over budget when you stop to consider that the average middle class family has an annual income of less than $45k.... this car is an affluent person's car. And an older person's car.

    I doubt there are enough such buyers to make building Camaro a profitable business venture. And GM can't afford another money-loser, "halo" or not...

  11. #11
    Gareebee
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Hi, Eric:

    I'm guessing that GM is targeting the aging, muscle-car loving, cash-rich baby-boomer set and probably does not think that going after the younger set would get far because of the huge popularity of the 'stang, the preponderance of performance sedans and the concerns re: the economy. I'm betting they are thinking of a few years of energetic sales to this very large "boomer" generation, looking to have "one last fling" and then, that will be pretty much it. I'm betting the price creeps up into the 40k range for this very reason. The fact that they are coming out with the V6 suggests I may be wrong, but, then, that would be GM "brilliant marketing" for you.

    I just saw my first Challenger hemi a few weeks back and, not to my surprise, it was being driven by a guy whose gnarly knuckles on the top rim of the steering wheel where higher than his white-haired noggin.

  12. #12
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by Gareebee
    Hi, Eric:

    I'm guessing that GM is targeting the aging, muscle-car loving, cash-rich baby-boomer set and probably does not think that going after the younger set would get far because of the huge popularity of the 'stang, the preponderance of performance sedans and the concerns re: the economy. I'm betting they are thinking of a few years of energetic sales to this very large "boomer" generation, looking to have "one last fling" and then, that will be pretty much it. I'm betting the price creeps up into the 40k range for this very reason. The fact that they are coming out with the V6 suggests I may be wrong, but, then, that would be GM "brilliant marketing" for you.

    I just saw my first Challenger hemi a few weeks back and, not to my surprise, it was being driven by a guy whose gnarly knuckles on the top rim of the steering wheel where higher than his white-haired noggin.
    Garabee - where ya been? ;D

    I think you're right about GM's plan; I just question how many such aging Boomers there are out there who will be willing to buy the car given what's going on with the economy/gas prices.

    Three years ago, ok. I could see it. GM likely did, too. That's when the car was being planned. But, times have changed - dramatically - and my sense of it is that only the very affluent are in any mood to blow $40k on a toy. And I am betting most of those who do, want something a bit less "Joe the plumber"!

  13. #13
    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric


    Back "in the day," if you wanted a performance car, you really had no choice but to buy a coupe. That's no longer the case today.
    Couldn't you have, say, line-item optioned out a Tempest sedan to have all the same gear as a GTO???

  14. #14
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric


    Back "in the day," if you wanted a performance car, you really had no choice but to buy a coupe. That's no longer the case today.
    Couldn't you have, say, line-item optioned out a Tempest sedan to have all the same gear as a GTO???

    While there are a few oddballs out there, for the most part, it was not possible to order the high-performance engine - and especially, the manual transmission - with the sedan.

    I don't think any Pontiac sedan, for example, ever came from the factory with an SD-455, 455 HO, Ram Air II III, IV (or V) 400.

    Etc.

  15. #15
    MikeHalloran
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    While there are a few oddballs out there, for the most part, it was not possible to order the high-performance engine - and especially, the manual transmission - with the sedan.
    Maybe not for Pontiacs.
    I remember window shopping for GTOs and alternatives when they were new, but I don't remember much of the details.

    I do remember hearing that any dealer's Fleet Manager could put together nearly anything you cared to imagine, even for very small fleets.. which accounts for the oddballs.

    Maybe you still can.
    Not so very long ago, when LT1s were new, I met a salesman who had one... in a Buick wagon. Really nice car.

    ;---

    Back to another point made above: That GM has no intention of selling Camaros to young people.

    Maybe that's been their strategy all along.

    Back when I _was_ a young person, and making enough money so I _could_ afford a Camaro, _and_ the insurance, I encountered more than one dealer who kept them all 'on the back lot', and refused to even show me one without a signed sales order.

    I didn't buy a Camaro, or any other GM product, until I was twice as old as I was that year.

    I didn't say it was a _good_ strategy...


  16. #16
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: Off to the glue factory for GM's pony car?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHalloran
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    While there are a few oddballs out there, for the most part, it was not possible to order the high-performance engine - and especially, the manual transmission - with the sedan.
    Maybe not for Pontiacs.
    I remember window shopping for GTOs and alternatives when they were new, but I don't remember much of the details.

    I do remember hearing that any dealer's Fleet Manager could put together nearly anything you cared to imagine, even for very small fleets.. which accounts for the oddballs.

    Maybe you still can.
    Not so very long ago, when LT1s were new, I met a salesman who had one... in a Buick wagon. Really nice car.

    ;---

    Back to another point made above: That GM has no intention of selling Camaros to young people.

    Maybe that's been their strategy all along.

    Back when I _was_ a young person, and making enough money so I _could_ afford a Camaro, _and_ the insurance, I encountered more than one dealer who kept them all 'on the back lot', and refused to even show me one without a signed sales order.

    I didn't buy a Camaro, or any other GM product, until I was twice as old as I was that year.

    I didn't say it was a _good_ strategy...

    Apparently, that's their thinking...

    But older guys who buy $40k cars typically buy things that are more prestigious/sophisticated. That kind of coin will buy you a BMW 3, Caddy CTS, Audi TT, Lexus IS350, GS, ... etc.

    Camaro has always been a bit of a redneck car (as have virtually all muscle cars). GM is now (apparently) trying to "upsell" it... but strikes me as a not-so-smart plan.

    Corvette gets away with being an expensive Chevy because it has always been seen as a very special car that just happens to be sold through Chevy dealers.

    But Camaro is, well, just a Camaro....

    And I say this as a guy who has owned three of them, so I dinna wanna hear any cries about how I'm a Ford snuggler or too "elite" to appreciate the things!

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