Should Models be Brands?

 

The subject of should models become brands has been relevant and important lately. I have had conversations with family and friends about the subject since some have texted me wondering why certain car manufacturers are doing certain business decisions. So, here is my take on should car models become brands.

In 2009, Dodge/Chrysler/Daimler/FCA split off the Ram pickup truck from Dodge and created their own brand from that model. That has been a very successful decision. Hyundai has split Genesis off into its own luxury brand, copying a page from Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti recipe, but also making a brand from a model. Chevrolet has rumored that they might consider making the Corvette a brand in itself. Manufacturers have split models into brands in the past, some have success and some were a failure.

Now, Ford wants to make a Mustang a brand, starting with the all-electric SUV, the Mach E. There is also a rumor that they want to make the Bronco a brand as well. Although, what doesn’t make sense is how they use the Raptor nameplate. They utilize that name for the F-150 Raptor, and Ranger Raptor, but apparently that name will not be utilized to distinguish a more powerful Bronco. A beefy Bronco is rumored to be called a Warthog. Confusing, but whatever.

What Ford should learn though, is they have almost been in this situation before. They had Mercury, that they closed because they couldn’t seem to explain to buyers why they should pay more for a car that is identical to the Ford equivalent. Lincoln almost had the same fate. Hopefully, they have learned from those experiences and don’t mess up a new Mustang or Bronco brand. Toyota and Subaru are also the same boat. They had the Toyota 86, the Subaru BRZ, and the Scion FRS all on the market at one time. And now they are almost doing the same thing, but instead of the Scion available, the Supra has taken that slot. We will have to see how this goes. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Nissan does this with their Z car. Especially with the launch of the new 400Z. The Z name is known by people both with and without automotive knowledge so that would be a good start for them.

What do you think? Should auto manufacturers start making separate brands from their successful models?

The End of the C8 Wait

The New C8 Corvette
I attended a pre-sale party for the C8 at a local dealership and was able to get photos of it as well as sit in it.

For years now I have been hoping, wishing, and supporting that the Corvette would become a mid-engine vehicle. I have wanted that as far back as around 2008, with hopes the C7 would be a mid-engine and properly pay tribute to the C2 “Stingray” name plate. The original Sting ray attributes were polarizing compared to the C1 design.  I thought having a split window should have only been applied to a “Stingray” Corvette, that should have been mid-engine. I was disappointed that Stingray name was re-introduced for the C7 and that the C7 wasn’t mid-engine.

So here we are. The C8 has finally been released and we have a mid-engine Corvette. What do I think?

Well, I think the styling is AMAZING. The proportions are a bit large, but it works and the car seems to have a lot of practicality to it. Since GM doesn’t have to put a massive 10 or 12 cylinder engine in the back, there is a lot of space for cargo. But don’t let all that practicality fool you. This thing can scoot. From all the videos I have seen, this car, even in stock form, is a true track monster.

I was able to attend an event at a local dealership for the C8 where I got to sit in it. It was nice to get up close and personal with it. The interior is stunning, but both my wife and I were not thrilled about the seating position. I was too tall and she was not tall enough to make all the driving ergonomics comfortable. Although, I am 6’4″ just like Doug DeMuro, and when he reviewed the C8, he had no problem driving it. He actually commented on how large the cabin was compared to other mid-engine vehicles. So, I should give it second chance if I am ever given the opportunity.

There were delays upon delays for this car, some of them were chassis related. While that is believed to have been sorted upon now finally launching the car, there still might be some issues that arise, as with any new vehicle. One of the issues is a wavy dashboard where the material/fabric is starting to wrinkle on the passenger side dash. Another issue that might come about is a noise that comes from the passenger front end. I don’t know much about this, but it is heard on a C8 in a video done by one of my favorite YouTubers, The Stradman.

While this blog shows I have little personal experience with the car and is slightly picky to some both personal and production flaws, I want to convey how much I truly like this car. It has been a long time coming, it looks amazing, performs well, and I believe that it has not only met, but exceed the hype that has surrounded it. It is a true American icon and it has now started a new chapter. I am just surprised that Hot Wheels has not come out with a C8 Corvette yet. Whenever they do, I will be adding that to my collection. Chances are it will be the only one I will ever own.

Hard to tell about the Chevelle

I have been reading a lot about this whole subject of Chevrolet working on trademarking the “Chevelle” name. There have been so many speculations, comments, critics, praises, hopes, dreams, spite, and just about any other feeling that can be evoked or thought that could be conceived about this subject; which is exactly why I want to weigh in.

Before I begin, I want to state that Barrett-Jackson is currently on while I am typing this and I just watched an original 1970 Challenger Hemi cross the block. One of the commentators mentioned how he prefers the Challenger over the Cuda. That thought provoked me even further to share my thoughts on this whole “Chevelle” topic.

Having stated that, back in 1970, there was so much sibling rivalry and same model competition in the automotive world that they probably had no idea how much that would influence the car world today when it comes to rarity and events like Barrett-Jackson. If you look at 1970 General Motors, you had the Chevelle, the GTO, the 442, and the GSX. Talk about sibling competition?! Not to mention all the options and trims for each model in their own right, there was seriously a plethora of choices for consumers.

In the present day competition is bleak and options are very limited compared to years past. Case in point, where is a CTS Coupe Convertible? Every vehicle I mentioned earlier from 1970 had a convertible option. I do realize much of that has to do with the ending and consolidation of many car brands. But in today’s age, I find the issue of sibling competition a sad excuse to not produce, or limit any other aspect of the vehicle. GM has already governed the power of the Camaro in order not to stifle with the pedigree of the Corvette. But why does it really matter? Even amongst their own models do the cars get limited! For example the Corvette Z06 and the Corvette ZR1; the Z06 is kept restrained below the ZR1 just for nostalgia sake. That is ridiculous in my opinion and that is part of what makes this “Chevelle” issue so difficult.

Autoblog has an article that states two speculations. The first is that the new “Chevelle” could become the Code 130R Concept and fill a slot in the stable below the Camaro. I think there might be something to that happening simply because there is another rumor swirling that there soon could be a baby Corvette the “Corvette Coupe” coming. I would think it will be like a Saturn Sky Redline (which pretty much was a baby Corvette) before it chopped.  It would make sense for GM to start making smaller models of their bigger siblings. I am all about more options and more models. The second speculation is that the recently introduced Chevrolet SS could become the Chevelle and go the way Dodge did with the Charger by making it a four door. I am not quite sure why Chevrolet made the SS, but I think it is meant to be used as a practical, in use concept. From there, I don’t really know. I do not agree with the speculation that the SS will become the Chevelle.

In my opinion Chevrolet currently has everything they need for a Chevelle. To put it simply, CTS Coupe = Chevelle. I apologize for taking so long to get to such a simple point. Do a little retro-mod designing, give it all the motor options the Camaro has, and you have a Chevelle. That would hold more true to what many people already know that a Chevelle is, and instill that image in a newer generation who has yet to know it.

I wrote a blog in 2009 about an issue very similar to this regarding the Pontiac G8, Chevrolet Caprice, and Monte Carlo.

So, I think GM should bring back the Chevelle in a retro-mod style on a CTS Coupe chassis with all the Camaro motor options. That would be a worthy Chevelle, and if I had any money, I’d buy it. From there, Chevrolet could possibly resurrect the Monte Carlo name plate and place it on the SS. Bring back some friendly competition between the siblings of the brands and their own models. Give the buyers options and pride in owning something. It is evident that the wide variety brings longevity to the car hobby, because as I write this last sentence, a 1970 Buick GSX goes across the block on Barrett-Jackson.

Up the game

I wonder why companies now days are taking their lower brands/models and tweaking them to almost out do their upper brands/models? Take for example the Corvette ZO6 and the ZR1. This article will explain my point. http://www.autoblog.com/2011/06/23/2012-chevrolet-corvette-z06-laps-the-ring-in-7-22-68-shaves-20/

One of the other companies I can think of off hand is BMW. Why they seem to neglect the M3 is beyond me. They come up with all these innovations, these new models, concepts, and the incredibly impressive 2012 M5, and yet the M3 is left to sulk in what little reputation it has left. Car companies, you really need to cherish what you have. Up your game with your models that are known for it.

A Corvette Conceptualized

 

So I came across this article on Autoblog about how GM is looking to European design studios to design the next generation Corvette. The article talks about how statistically the average age of Corvette buyers has gone up to 54 years of age. It also emphasizes that people think the Corvette is a “big” car compared to its target competitor, the Porsche 911. They say that the design needs to display the power that is under the hood, and currently, it just isn’t doing that.

Well…here is what I think.  The average age of the buyer is rising because those who can truly afford a Corvette, would be those people who are 54 and above. Seriously, it’s a $48,930 base price car! And who really gets the base model? Not to mention, it’s not a practical family vehicle, so there would be no actual need for a younger buyer to purchase a Corvette. Although I would if I could. I’m single and 21, but I’m a poor college kid who is a car freak.

In regards to the size…the wheel base is the only thing larger on the Corvette than the Porsche. (unless, the Corvette is counting mirrors into the overall width, which Porsche is not. See what I mean by clicking on these links. Porsche 911Corvette) In either case, this is no excuse. Why people think the Corvette is bigger than a Porsche is beyond me.

Finally, I think that if they want to display in design what is under the hood, than they need to do something radical to the Corvette. Similar to what was done in 1963 when they came out with the “Stingray.” Now, what I am about to purpose to you however might shock you, but hear me out.

They need to make the Corvette mid engine.

No, I am not anti American, and please don’t call me a Corvette hater, or some radical against American car ingenuity. Seriously. If GM is going to European design studios to come up with a fresh new design to capture the true performance of the car, then why not just take a simple European hint, leave, and tweak it the way we Americans would like it? Do what we do best…and innovate!

The Audi R8, Ferrari 458 Italia, and Lamborghini Murcielago, are all iconic European mid engine cars. For goodness sake, the Porsche 911 is a rear engine car! And that’s their target competitor? Take that and run with it.

As far as design, yeah, they need to go with a radical new look…and a mid engine design would be perfect to resurrect a new style of “Stingray.” The use of a back window on a mid engine Vette would be little to none, which would provide perfect styling elements to create a “split window” as they did in 1963. That was a bold and radical design which no one saw the Corvette going and it produced some of the most iconic Corvettes that are still highly regarded to this day. I just wish GM would think outside the box and go for it today.