Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Two New Models, Two Different Drivers in Mind


Two new models geared toward two very different buyers are the latest moves by Ford and GM.

Grille of the 2010 Ford Taurus
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Ford C-Max hybrid

The C-max is a 5 seat micro-van that has done well in Europe. Now, Ford is hoping the C-Max hybrid can win over buyers also considering the Toyota Prius V. Starting at $25,995, the C-Max will price $500 under the Prius V.

Ford hopes the fact the C-Max will be loaded with technology (parallel parking assist and a lift-gate activated by waving a foot under the rear bumper are two examples) will win over hybrid buyers looking for more than great fuel efficiency.

For Ford, cutting into Toyota’s lead in hybrids is a tall order. Toyota dominates the hybrid market accounting for more than half the sales of gas-electric cars in the U.S.

The C-Max hybrid will roll into showrooms later this year.

Chevy SS

For the first time in 17 years, there will be a rear wheel drive car in Chevy showrooms. The Chevy SS (Super Sport) is actually the V-8 Commodore built by GM’s Australian subsidiary Holden. The first SS will be raced on the NASCAR circuit next year, with limited editions rolling into showrooms late next year.

Is there a market for an 8 cylinder performance Chevy? Absolutely. Even with higher gas prices, there are people who are still passionate about driving a performance car.

That’s the key to understanding why GM is bringing the Chevy SS to the U.S. It will serve a niche market.

This is also the second time the Holden Commodore will be re-badged and sold in the U.S. GM used to sell it as the Pontiac G8 until that brand was phased out as part of the GM bankruptcy and restructuring.

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