January 14, 2006
I see Detroit went muscle car-mad during its Auto Show last week. Chevrolet says it could bring back the Camaro, possibly on a Holden Commodore platform (my guess), and Dodge will bring back the Challenger on an old Mercedes E-class platform. Ford released the fastest production Shelby Mustang.
I love these cars, but they highlight two deﬁciencies: Detroit is recycling ideas again, and they are never as good the second time around; and does the world need another gas guzzler? Plus, I am not sure if they can get the pricing right for young buyers.
Yes, it’s a familiar cry at Beyond Branding, and how we’re using the world’s resources. And I don’t mean to turn this into a peak oil discussion. I also know that the ﬁrst time Detroit tried to address the muscle car issue, it gave us a Chevy Nova-based Pontiac GTO (1974), the Ford Mustang II (also 1974), and the Dodge Omni 024 Charger (1982).
These cars failed not just because they lacked a V8, but because there wasn’t that much driving pleasure to be had. I still say produce a compact coupé for enthusiasts and see a new generation of buyers ﬂock to that. Won’t work? Look at the CDW27-based Mercury Cougar, you say? Let me counter that: did anyone say Miata?
Americans were once good at creating new segments like the pony car and the minivan. Both sparked off revolutions around the world. Most crossovers, to me, are a joke—the “craze” only got folks buying trucks, and introduced the SUV acronym into the vernacular (what is sporty about a sport utility vehicle, Nissan Murano aside?).
I say look at trends today, what the hottest segment today wants, and deliver. If Detroit doesn’t, the Japanese will: post-Scion, Honda has announced that the Fit will be sold in the United States, and that could pave the way for all manner of superminis (Mitsubishi Colt, Nissan March, or even the Renault Clio).
An attractive compact coupé for 2008–9 isn’t that far-fetched if earlier consumer cycles are anything to go by. Just don’t muck it up this time. permalink
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