The Automotive Amanojaku

This is where you'll find news, random car-related thoughts and personal views from a rabid car nut. "Amanojaku" is Japanese slang that means "person who is deliberately contradictory". I've always found myself drawn to the less appreciated car makes - the "underdogs" if you will. Suzuki, Pontiac, GM Daewoo and Holden, are among my favorite brands to watch and comment on. Let me hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Minicar Wet Blanket: Lutz says "unlikely" that any of trio of ultra-fuel efficient cars will come to the U.S., the public’s whims will be “considered”


This article (below) conflicts with a source I have that says that there will be a Chevy minicar coming to the U.S. in 2010. And "consider"? Why offer Americans the chance to vote on a minicar (http://www.gmsurveys2.com/se.ashx?s=7C7FD94F5CE5A6E8) that is not coming to the market? Why hype a trio of concept cars in New York and set up a website for the public to vote? Either its all clever marketing spin ("Look, we do minicars, too! Really!") or something is not right. Then again this is Bob Lutz, the guy who told us just a while back that Americans still basically want big pickup trucks and SUVs, regardless of gas prices. Wonder if he missed the sales results last month that had the Aveo up 50%. - Ming

Lutz: U.S. not a frontrunner to get a new Chevy minicar
The Daily Auto Insider - Car and Driver
Wednesday, April 4, 2007
BY ALISA PRIDDLE
www.caranddriver.com

Unless something drastic changes, like gas prices going through the roof for more than a month, or a sudden fashion shift to tiny cars, General Motors likely won’t sell its newest Chevy minicar in the U.S.
GM used the New York auto show to unveil the triplets: the Chevrolet Trax, Beat, and Groove concepts.
Using a North American show for the unwrap shows Chevy’s global breadth and scope, said Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman-product development, but the U.S. is not likely to get one, based on current conditions.
The public is being asked to vote on which of the three hatches they prefer: the Trax is a five-door urban SUV; the Groove is a boxy five-door with a West Coast hot-rod attitude and boxy Scion xB shape, and the Beat is a three-door with micro-tuner design language.
The engines are 1.2 liters or less, with three or four cylinders, and the possibility of a small diesel, Lutz said.
The public’s whims will be “considered” as part of GM’s decision as to which one goes into production, something Lutz said will happen in the “relatively near future,” which he defines as within normal development time.
Judging by needs and the capital budget, probably only one will get the green light, but styling cues from the also-rans may make it into future small cars, Lutz said.
The triplets were designed and engineered in the South Korea global design studio. They are not engineered to meet U.S. safety requirements, but Lutz said if GM does think North American needs a Chevy minicar, the chosen one can be homologated relatively quickly.


Source: http://www.caranddriver.com/autoshows/12781/lutz-us-not-a-frontrunner-to-get-a-new-chevy-minicar.html

One of my conspiracy theories is that GM and Ford in particular would prefer that people not come to them and buy inexpensive fuel efficient wagons and minicars. If you want a hatch, get a crossover or an SUV. The Maxx is going away, the HHR looks like a retro Suburban, the Aveo still has no updated 5-door model, and from all signs they would rather sell us heavier, profit-laden crossovers, pickups and large SUVs.
Toyohondassan of course want the same, but their home country values small vehicles and minicars. So the mindset is different.
They (Ford/GM) also think that if a loyal GM/Ford customer comes in and buys an HHR then they have just lost the potential to sell them an Equinox, or Uplander, or Trailblazer even. Not people who would never consider anything larger than an HHR. People that got into a Trailblazer because they thought mid-size truck-based SUVs were trendy. And now realize they really only "need" an HHR.
But the car business is not about selling people what they need. Its about creating a want for something they don't need, and making them pay more for that emotion-based buying decision.
And that's why I think we don't have much of a wagon market here in the U.S. Advertising works. Its a proven fact. But when was the last time you saw an ad for the Malibu Maxx, if ever? Can't count the number of times I saw one for a GM truck.
So when I hear people in business say that the public wants big trucks, then turn around and incentivize and advertise the heck out of large pickups and SUVs? Truck ads on TV day and night and not a single small car ad? I call BS. Fighting the competition (Tundra, etc.) is only half of the story.
Its my possibly misguided opinion that GM is intentionally pushing people towards expensive vehicle options (and not offering truly economical ones) - pushing to feed and grow the demand they claim already exists - while small, less profitable vehicles are considered a necessary evil, not something to intentionally try to excel in or sell in large quantities. "Only if gas prices skyrocket".
Bigger and improved Aveo sales don't register with them. All they care about is a drop in Silverado or Tahoe sales. Its still a drop in the bucket of their overall sales picture. And trucks are king in that picture still, despite the Volt and minicar concepts that are on again off again.
But some of us GM fans would like a fuel efficient smaller car just because we want to save money on our commutes and our monthly payments. And we'd rather not buy a Toyota or Honda. And we're tired of the way Detroit deals with the Aveo as something it has to sell, as opposed to something it wants to sell.
We don't feel the urge to go out every 2 years and buy a new Silveradoburbanhoe to prop up GM's bottom line. At least I don't. Maybe I'm not the ideal GM fan.
Maybe Detroit doesn't want to sell me a value packed inexpensive vehicle like the Forenza wagon. Or one of these minicars. Maybe I'll just get one at a Suzuki dealer instead. Come back and ask me in June...

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