Reprint from the GM Employee Blog Comment section…
First of all a great big thanks to Mary Ann Brown for organizing the Product and Technology Event for the volunteers that want to become employee journalists. What a great opportunity to be able to see what our Board saw and to get a glimpse into what’s in the works for our future products. Also thanks to the Designers and leaders that took the time to listen and answer all of our questions.
The Spark. Wow, is this little car cool looking! Not like anything else out there. Because it’s in production in Korea, there are production pictures of it on the Internet: http://www.gmautoblog.com/2009/04/29/gm-gives-chevy-spark-a-go-signal-while-orlando-goes-to-production/
The best part is that they are working on a way to accessorize your Spark right from the dealer. If you are not aware, the Mini Cooper allows you to do this now. You simply go to their website and pick your stripes, mirror covers, roof graphic (I love the British Flag), fog lights, etc. Then Mini ships a plain vehicle to a re-processing center that adds all of your personal touches. This is a great idea to help bring in the Tuner crowd. I also saw a graphic illustration behind the Spark that showed how they want to make it into a “track” car for road racing. They are really going after the Mini and in some respects, the Mazda Miata (both great race cars). Order mine with the big carbon fiber wing, hood, and diffuser with the ZR1 wheels!
The new Aveo is also aiming at the Tuner crowd as well. The Honda Civic has done this so well for so long. Not everyone wants to soup up their Civic with carbon fiber, stripes and a big squirrel catcher exhaust, but when they do, the parts are available.
The Hot Rodder in me loves the new Camaro, although, somewhat like the designers, I have been working on this program for a couple of years and it’s not as exciting as it was. Now a Z28 or a Yenko version, that’s exciting! Hopefully the accessory guys will get a chance to customize the Camaro above and beyond just the Black version.
Our interiors are leaps and bounds ahead of where we were 10 years ago and, more importantly, way better than any other brand out there. Being in Supplier Quality I get the privilege of being in lots of rental cars and although I specify “prefers GM vehicle” sometimes I end up in the competition and I can say with confidence that our interiors are World Class! Fit and Finish and styling on our current lineup and especially our future products is second to none. Although we didn’t get see it in person (see below) the Cruze interior is as good as the current Malibu.
Our hosts mentioned that the Orlando design was not 100% complete. I hope that some of the “plainness“ of this vehicle (especially the headlights) upgraded (think new Equinox).
The new Malibu is fabulous! It almost seems unfair that this car is competing against the style challenged Toyota Camry and Honda Accord. Although the new Taurus is much better than the previous, it is not in same league as the Malibu. Between the BMW 5 series style trunk/rear fender area to the stretched out headlights like the Buick Lacrosse, this is going to be competing against the best the competition has to offer. One neat thing to point out in the interior is the pocket on the door panel for a full liter water bottle. Great idea!
The Chevy Cruze is currently in production in Asia Pacific, Europe and Australia and the only vehicle we get to show the Board is a foam model? Being a current Cobalt SS and Cavalier Z24 owner, that’s one vehicle I really wanted to sit in and see the gorgeous (at least in pictures) interior. Similar situation with the Volt. There are several IVER vehicles on the road. We can’t take one out of service to show the Board/Media for a couple days? All we get is a foam model.
Fritz has said on several occasions that he is not in favor of re-badging, however, other than the Lacrosse and the Enclave, all of the other Buick models were re-badges: Worst of them all – the Buick “Vue” that shares all of the same sheet metal as the current Saturn VUE but just has a Buick grille and some other upscale features [UPDATE: This vehicle was cancelled due to a lot of feedback like mine]. A Buick version of the Opel Insignia – Although I LOVE the Opel Insignia design, making it into a Buick still seems like re-badging. Last but not least is the Buick on the Cruze platform. I understand the attempt to lure in younger buyers to the Buick brand and hope this will work, but why not concentrate on a high end version of the Chevy instead of brand sharing?
I, for one, am very excited about our future line up. Styling is what gets people excited and gives them the desire to want our vehicles. We need to make sure that the performance and reliability are up to the same level and in the case when you do have to take the vehicle to the dealer, it should be a pleasant experience, not an ordeal.