It’s time to ban the word, “competitive,” from the General Motors vocabulary, says CEO Fritz Henderson. That’s simply not good enough, he admits. But can GM really “meet or exceed” the best competitors like Honda, Toyota, BMW and Mercedes-Benz can throw at it?
There’s no question the humbled U.S. maker can turn out some compelling offerings. Its Chevrolet Malibu won the cherished North American Car of the Year honors, in 2008, for example, and its second-generation Cadillac CTS has won a bevy of awards, as well. But while the automaker’s recent brush with bankruptcy may have reduced its crushing debt and structural costs, it has only increased the pressure on GM to deliver a solid hit with each new entry it brings to market.
Recognizing the skepticism it faces from the public and media alike, GM officials took the unusual step of briefly lifting the covers on 33 upcoming models, from entry hatchbacks, like the Chevy Spark, to the new luxury flagship, the Cadillac XTS4.
Here’s a look at some of the most significant of those offerings, most of which will reach market by 2012.
As the biggest GM brand, Chevrolet will continue to be the rock upon which the company’s fortunes live or die. The division rolled out an assortment of 10 different products, from the compact, entry-level Spark, to the Corvette Grand Sport.
The display underscored GM CEO Fritz Henderson’s contention that fuel costs will continue to climb, despite the recent reprieve. Henderson’s business strategy is based on the assumption that gasoline will reach, if not exceed $4 a gallon in the relative near-term, and lead to a shift in the products consumers demand. That doesn’t necessarily mean a line-up of small cars alone, he cautioned. But whatever they buy, motorists will want better mileage.
There are, however, a fair share of downsized models coming, at Chevrolet, starting with the Spark. The goal, according to designer Dave Lyons, is to make it “an aspiration vehicle,” and not just sell it on price, like past Chevies. Spark will debut in 2011, about the same time as the slightly larger, redesigned Aveo. For the compact segment, Chevy is rolling out the Cruze, for 2010, which will deliver up to 40 mpg on the EPA’s Highway cycle.