For pure "car lovers", the re-birth of the Chevy Camaro is like an early Christmas gift.
A modern day muscle car (base sticker $22,995) built for people who live for the thrill of the drive. Its return, like the return of the Dodge Challenger or the Bullitt Mustang, reminds us of the glory days for American cars. Too bad this Camaro come out when GM is gasping for air and Chevy showrooms are quiet.
It wasn't supposed to be like this.
When GM introduced the Camaro at the 2006 Detroit Auto Show, people drooled over the car. Critics called it the culmination of the GM design renaissance under Bob Lutz. At the time, GM was in the midst of a 5 year plan that would get the company back in the black for good. At least that was the plan.
Three years later, GM is avoiding bankruptcy only because of billions in government loans, Bob Lutz is about to retire, and the Camaro hits showrooms when sales are at 28 year lows.
Video: GM's newest version of the iconic muscle car, with Troy Clarke, GM North America.
How much can the Camaro muscle up sales? Not much. This is a niche vehicle coming at a time when consumer confidence is so low, little is driving enthusiasm for new cars. Here's how bad it is. When I told a friend of mine who is your typical "car guy" that I would be driving the new Camaro, his reaction was, "That's nice."
His reaction is not a commentary on the Camaro. It's more a reflection of just how much the consumer has been beaten down by this economy. There are really no new models coming out that have created a "must have" aura around them. And for those of you who think the trio of hybrids (Toyota Prius, Honda Insight and Ford Fusion) are generating buzz, I hate to disappoint you. They are fine cars, but they are not getting average people to sit up and say, "YES! I gotta buy that!"
GM would love for that to happen with the Camaro, but that's unlikely. Right now, new cars are not on the radar with buyers. And while that is completely understandable in this economy, it is also too bad. A lot of people are missing out on a hell of a ride in the new Camaro.
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