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Thread: The One-Year Wonder: 2010 Camaro

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    The One-Year Wonder: 2010 Camaro

    How many of you still believe GM will be selling a Camaro next year? Or more accurately, building them?

    GM is having extreme difficulty selling anything right now. Care to guess as to how well Camaro (a $30,000 two-door muscle car with 300 and 400-plus hp engines that get about 16-18 mpg in real-world driving) will do when it arrives in showrooms this spring?

    Maybe GM will want to try. It has invested hugely in the resurrection of its famous muscle car nameplate. It will be a major embarrassment if the thing doesn't last more than a year or two.

    You know, like the Pontiac GTO. And the Chevy SSR.

    The problem is, Congress may not have much patience. Not when the crippled automaker is asking for $30 billion to keep the respirator running another few months. It's one thing to hold up the taxpayers to help GM produce cars people might actually buy. Efficient family cars, commuter compacts, etc.

    It's quite another to subsidize a toy.

    Indeed, Camaro is the poster child for what's wrong with GM - and why it's lying on the floor with its teeth kicked out.

    First, consider the history of Camaro itself. GM killed it - not the market.

    Born in the '60s, by the late '70s it had become one of GM's most successful franchises ever. This continued through the '80s and into the early '90s. Then GM redesigned the car in 1994. The redesigned car was a disaster. It had many flaws - from being weirdly proportioned to being just too big to having a bizarre and ugly interior with a huge lump (for the catalytic converter) stamped into the passenger's side floorpan. Sales crashed.

    But instead of correcting the problems by redesigning the car, GM kept right on building it (with a few very minor cosmetic tweaks) all the way through to 2002, by which time it was on life support.

    GM then cancelled the car entirely.

    Meanwhile, gas was still cheap, the economy booming and Ford's Mustang was selling like dollar beers at a roadhouse ladies' night.

    And GM did... nothing.

    It finally occurred to someone inside the company that maybe Camaro should be given another shot. But it took seven years - from the time of the last Camaro's cancellation to the production of the new one - to get that notion up and running. Now it is 2009. GM must try to rebuild the franchise it abandoned - in the worst possible circumstances imaginable.

    Coupes like Camaro are a tough sell even in good times because they are inherently impractical. In bad times, they are among the first to be abandoned by the market. People always like and want such cars, but they do not need them.

    This is a critical point.

    Not only has the economy tanked, but cheap gas is probably gone forever - and even if it's not, most of us are having trouble spending a cent more than we have to on it.

    Thus, frivolous cars out. Even the affluent have throttled back on their discretionary spending. And what could possibly be more discretionary than a car like Camaro?

    It is a car that was conceived in different (and much better) times - carried along by inertia.

    Want to get a handle on how dire it looks? Take a gander at the sales figures of the very similar Dodge Challenger.

    As of July '08 (the most recent data available) Dodge has managed to sell fewer than 4,000 of them. And this was before the stock market collapse of September-October '08. Before sales of new cars went from sickly to catastrophically bad. (Chrysler LLC reported a staggering 55 percent drop last month.)

    Unsold Challengers are squatting like 4,000 pound objects d' art on dealer showrooms all across the country.

    Odds are, Camaros will, too.

    The really sad thing is that had GM built the pending Camaro even just five years ago it probably would have been a huge success. But now? Outside of the Easy Fit jeans crowd that can still remember the originals - and the handful of people left with $30k-plus to burn on a toy - the market for a car like this is weaker than an '82 Aries K-car.

    This time, it's not the product, per se, that sucks. It's the timing. But in the end, does it really matter?

    GM, itself, is tacitly conceding the obvious. The other day, when news of the latest $30 billion "request" (and the announcement of another 47,000 job cuts) was announced, the automaker said that "...all its major U.S. vehicle launches from 2009 to 2014 would be high-mileage cars and crossovers."

    See any wiggle room in there for a 15 mpg Camaro SS?

    Me either.
    Last edited by Eric; 02-19-2009 at 06:53 AM.

  2. #2
    where do you get 15mpg?
    all my official information puts the Camaro SS (with the big engine) at 27mpg highway
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  3. #3
    DonTom
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    "It's quite another to subsidize a toy"

    IMAO, "toys" of all types (not only cars) are very important to our economy.

    And don't forget, motorcycles are toys too! So is my RV and boats! So is this computer! Even a Jet at an air show is a toy.

    Imagine a world without any of our toys. And if there were no toys to buy, our economy would be even in a bigger mess than now!

    The toy companies may need a bailout as much as anybody else! And toys are important. God (uh, government) save our toys!

    -Don- San Francisco

  4. #4
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by damen View Post
    where do you get 15mpg?
    all my official information puts the Camaro SS (with the big engine) at 27mpg highway
    Right - but most of us drive in stop-and-go urban/suburban traffic, where a heavy and big-engined car like Camaro is least efficient. Will a six-speed Camaro deliver close to 30 mpg (maybe more) on the highway if driven with a very light foot? Sure. But that is not the kind of driving most people get to do.

    In real-world driving the thing is going to average low-20s or worse. (I drive new cars every week - all kinds of them - and have a pretty good feel for what the real-world mileage of the Camaro will be).

    But the gas mileage thing is only one problem.

    The larger issue is that coupes are a hard sell even in good times. Not an opinion; a fact. The market is inherently limited. Factor in the worst car market in decades and it's not hard to see where this is going....

  5. #5
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    "And don't forget, motorcycles are toys too! So is my RV and boats"

    And sales of all three are in freefall, too!

    "Imagine a world without any of our toys. And if there were no toys to buy, our economy would be even in a bigger mess than now!"

    I like toys, too - but that doesn't mean they are economically viable. Frugality is back in. I don't like it, but it's reality.

  6. #6
    I disagree eric, I think you DO like it
    you sure seem to be shouting from the rooftops about it
    '06 Lotus Elise, '07 Saturn Sky Redline

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by damen View Post
    I disagree eric, I think you DO like it
    you sure seem to be shouting from the rooftops about it
    Why do you infer that I like it simply because I am relating facts about the current situation?

    Would I like to see Camaro succeed? Yes, I would. Remember: I've owned five GM F-cars (including three Camaros). I am not happy about the situation.

    But my likes - and wishes - are irrelevant.

    What is relevant? Well, are people buying cars? Obviously, they're not. Is it reasonable to expect that they will buy an inherently impractical, expensive, fuel-thirsty sport coupe at a time when they're not buying much of anything? I don't see it. Do you? How? What is the evidence in support of your optimism? Sales of Challenger (and Mustang) have collapsed. Why would Camaro do well?

    I know it's easy to get excited about a neat car like this. I do, too. But I don't equate my personal affection for the car with the prospect of success in the marketplace.

    People can like (and ooh and ahh) all they want. What it comes down to is dollars and cents - will enough people lay out money to make the car viable?

    I see no reason to believe that will happen - and many hard and ugly facts that say the opposite.

    My job's not to cheerlead for GM or anybody else but to express opinions based on the facts. I call 'em as I see 'em - and I see no future for Camaro.
    Last edited by Eric; 02-18-2009 at 09:57 AM.

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    Mustang Sales Down 55% in January 2009

    The whole segment is getting hammered, Mustang sales are down 55% in January 2009:


    http://mustangs.about.com/b/2009/02/...nuary-2009.htm





    ...

  9. #9
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Disco Man View Post
    The whole segment is getting hammered, Mustang sales are down 55% in January 2009:


    http://mustangs.about.com/b/2009/02/...nuary-2009.htm





    ...
    Exactly.

    And Mustang is the most well-established car of this type, with a broad following that cuts across sex, income and age.

    Camaro has to build from nothing - and is much more a guy's car (and a young guy's car at that).

    It would be nothing short of miraculous if Camaro sells even half its projected first-year run at sticker MSRP. GM will end up discounting them heavily - and then canceling Camaro outright.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    ....
    It would be nothing short of miraculous if Camaro sells even half its projected first-year run at sticker MSRP. GM will end up discounting them heavily - and then canceling Camaro outright.
    I figure the dealers will tack on an extra 20 grand as a 'limited availability' fee, hoping they'll all end up in storage next to the Buick Grand Nationals.

    ... then wonder why they don't sell.

  11. #11
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeHalloran View Post
    I figure the dealers will tack on an extra 20 grand as a 'limited availability' fee, hoping they'll all end up in storage next to the Buick Grand Nationals.

    ... then wonder why they don't sell.
    This happened with Challenger; dealers were gouging people outrageously. Or trying to. But then, they didn't sell. And then, the bottom fell out of the stock market. Now they can't give the things away.

    I've looked at this every which way and I can see no reason to believe Camaro will be immune from the devastating collapse of new car sales, which is tied to the economic collapse and broke (or scared to death) consumers.

    Damen thinks otherwise - but I have yet to see him explain how Camaro will succeed where everything else like it is tanking.

  12. #12
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    The only reason I'd buy a Camaro over a Challenger is that I think GM has a slightly better chance of being around in 4 years when I'd start needing expensive parts.

    Chip H.

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