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Saturday, February 04, 2006

Two Not So Good Ideas

This:













And this:



Are not the best ideas for their respective marques. Why? In the first case, the newest XK for the Jaguar brand is simply ugly. In the history of Jaguar, I am at pains to find an example in that brand's esteemed history as to when they have produced an ugly vehicle. This might be their first. But the XK is not the answer to Jaguar's unending woes. Jaguar has never succeeded in making a decent small executive class car. What I mean is that they have never made a decent competitor to the BMW 3-series.

In order for a luxury marque to be profitable, they have to have a bread and butter car. The XK, even if done well, would never be such a thing. It would always serve to be a fringe car of a fringe brand. At most 20 thousand of these per annum will be sold. This is not enough to make up for the minimal numbers of X-types and XJs sold. This leads me to my second point. The Camaro.

The Camaro is an American icon. I think this new concept is decent looking, though it is a bit overwrought and looks like a composite drawing of several different designs. The design though has got people talking, mostly positively, and I think the car will be a success. However, there is another notable car company that produces a wildly successful muscle car, and this company is teetering on the road to insolvency. This company is Ford and the car is the Mustang.

A new Camaro will not save GM. A new Camaro will barely help a far flung empire like GM. It will generate some good press. It will not make up for the fact that GM does not produce a single decent FWD sedan for the American market, compact, midsize or full size. It will not make up for the fact that in the face of an enormous oil crisis the company has decided to invest mostly in large SUVs. A Camaro is one aspect of the solution, but it is not the answer to the bottom line issue. Where is the Chevrolet competitor to the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, and Honda Civic?

Right now GM believes that a jumbled crew of the Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Impala, Pontiac G6, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Buick Lucerne, will be able to fight one stable competitor. It won't work.

The Camaro is a car not for the average person. It is a car for the collector, and for people who have extra money to spare. These people do not make up the bulk of car buyers.

At a bare minimum GM should merge the Malibu and Impala into one vehicle. A combination of both car's budgets would allow GM to have the muscle to make a decent competitor to the Camry. Armed with a hybrid version, and some other neat options Toyota hasn't thought of yet with over the top American styling and you have a competitor. Taking the safe route that the bean counters want, and having the only exciting cars in your line up be sports cars like the Corvette and the Camaro is a sure fire way to bankruptcy. Ask Jaguar.

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