By on September 2, 2008

GM Style reaches an evolutionary dead end. Again.GM Inside News reports that The General has spiked the successor to the Kappa-platform cars: Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Sky, Opel GT and Daewoo G2X. GM's financial perils are well known, and the market demand for impractical rear wheel-drive roadsters in the current economic climate is not so hot (as in ice cold). A dedicated Kappa factory (without flex assembly), the lack of the Kappa platform's adaptability, the current cars' cost (labor-intensive production, and expensive hydroformed frame rails and major body parts) all contributed to last week's decision to let the cars die on the vine. And why not? GMI reports a $10k loss on each vehicle built, which puts the real cost of a Kappa between $30 – $40k. By coincidence, that's the same price range of yet another car Bob Lutz is championing. Hopefully GM's learned a lesson about low-volume production here: it's best to build on a shared platform on a shared assembly line. You know; in case that whole Li-ion battery pack thing doesn't pan out.

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59 Comments on “GM Ices Kappa; Losing $10k Per Car on Solstice and Sky...”


  • avatar

    “it’s best to build on a shared platform on a shared assembly line”
    So long as that same platform and shared assembly doesn’t make cars for all 15 divisions your company attempts to sell right? Still i think its a shame these cars are getting axed.. they were pretty (too small for me to sit in comfy)

  • avatar
    ppellico

    These cars came at a time when I cannot help!!!

    While at a Pontiac dealer last week (for which I have to return today), I saw the most beautiful orange (like) Soltice!
    The rounded 1950ish fenders.
    I gotta get one…BUT I have to wait until I can get the rest of my needs met.
    This is/would be a real “For Me ’cause I am Special” gift.
    I don’t see many cars that can stand along side this beauty.

    So Detroit sees once again…just because you build it doesn’t mean they will come.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Could the $10K loss be because they are not procuding the volume they planned for the Kappa platform or is it just becauset hey are so entirely inefficient. Not sure what kind of high production numbers they thought they were going to get out of a little roadster, this isn’t a Miata.

    So they can only make money when they let the bean counters loose on a product otherwise they lose shit tons of money. Am I the only one who thinks their business model is beyond fixing. Looks like our tax dollars are going to go to great use being thrown into this abyss.

    I never liked the Solstice, it looked ugly to me, they Sky is kinda cool looking. I always thought they would come out with a small practical 2+2 coupe off the Kappa platform, but it doesn’t look like they thought that far ahead while designing it.

  • avatar
    rm

    Just because RWD roadsters are a small market doesn’t mean that it can’t be done…. Mazda has been at it for close to 20yrs with the MX-5 Miata. My suspicion is that they’re probably making money at it too, as their size makes it difficult to absorb losses like $10k/vehicle no matter how few they sell.

    GM would do well to learn from this first generation vehicle and develop a second generation that a) can be built on a flexible line and b) costs less to build. It can be done, they just need the will to do it.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    When the Solstice came out, I gave it 18 months until sales cratered in a comment on GM’s FastLane blog. With a fussy top, virtually no trunk space, and heavy, the Solstice was a car show wonder on the street. Once the fanboys bought them, buyers would be lined up none-deep.

    I rarely see new ones these days. The car is simply impractical.

    This was one of Bob Lutz’s personal cars, one he championed from the get-go. And now we find out GM’s been losing $10K per car.

    Big Shock.

    We all love sports cars, but the Solstice was an unnecessary distraction for GM, and the funds used in development could have gone to making other cars more competitive. Impala? STS? Malibu?

    Now they’ll have to write off even more to scrap the tooling and development costs. More brilliance from GM.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    The Mazda Miata is a practical roadster. If GM had thought the process through and had at least made the trunk somewhat more usable and the top a little easier to fold, the car would sell more IMHO.

    Ah well….another product bites the dust.

  • avatar
    50merc

    So how much did they lose on every Allante? Reata?

    It seems the Solstice is yet another billion-dollar bungle. GM has attention deficit disorder.

    Zarba is quite right: “We all love sports cars, but the Solstice was an unnecessary distraction for GM, and the funds used in development could have gone to making other cars more competitive. Impala? STS? Malibu?”

    Yep, the resources should have gone into making other cars–the bread-and-butter cars–that could have kept buyers from deserting to the transplants.

  • avatar
    DPerkins

    The parallels to this and the upcoming Volt are a bit chilling…

    1) both Kappa and Volt were rushed into production thanks to rave reviews the concept versions received at the Detroit Auto Show

    2) both are/were designed to be “halo” cars for GM, to show what GM could do when it puts it’s mind to a project

    3) both are niche vehicles (there are only so many folks who can live with a 2-seat roadster and so many celebs who can afford a very expensive electric experiment)

    4) both are built on dedicated platforms that required very expensive platform engineering (hope that doesnt remain true for Volt)

    5) both will likely make zero profit for GM

    As mentioned earlier – the Allante, Reata, SSR could also be added to the list of niche products destined to do ZERO for GM except divert precious resources away from mainstream products

  • avatar
    KixStart

    The Solstice/Sky have a dedicated factory for 2 to 3K cars/month? That alone is nuts.

    I have to wonder what sort of volume they were projecting. It’s a two-seater, which have never sold in significant quantities for anybody. Did they have a dream that this would be not just a sports car but the commuter vehicle the Fiero was intended to be?

    Added later:

    I pulled up behind a Honda Ridgeline this morning and my thoughts went back a few days to an acrimonious lively discussion on TTAC about “import mistakes.” The “imports” do a lot of flexible manufacturing and, as I looked at the Ridgeline’s rear bumper, I figured it was probably also built on a flex line with the Accord. Getting into trucks might be a mistake for Honda, but I figured they’d hedged their bets.

    This conversation recalled this morning’s thoughts, so I just now looked up Ridgeline production. Honda is so flexible in this regard that a Civic can be built on the same line as a Ridgeline. And GM dedicated a factory to a 2 to 3K unit/month specialty vehicle?

    Even a $50 billion loan can not save GM from itself.

  • avatar
    limmin

    Maybe they’re losing money because the Solstice/Sky isn’t built for anyone over 5’8″ or 170lbs. People were shaking their heads over it at the auto show last yr.

    What was GM thinking?

  • avatar
    sean362880

    There comes a point where GM should ask themselves WWTD? What Would Toyota Do? They sure as hell wouldn’t cut and run, saying “Oh well, the Miata’s better so what’s the point?”

    They should have kept the Kappa. Reinvest, make it better, build on the existing customer base. How many Toyota products sucked at first, but turned out better in the 2nd (and later) generations? Tundra, the minivan, Matrix, RAV-4 for a few.

    They got the look and the engines right with the Kappas. They should have gone back and improved everything else.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    There comes a point where GM should ask themselves WWTD? What Would Toyota Do? They sure as hell wouldn’t cut and run, saying “Oh well, the Miata’s better so what’s the point?”

    Except, that’s exactly what Toyota did when they killed off the MR2 spyder.

  • avatar
    John The Accountant

    @ Zarba and Others:

    I own a 2007 Solstice GXP 5-Speed. Bought it in early August this year.

    The trunk spack isn’t much, but I can do a decent grocery run with the top up. The top isn’t “Finnicky” from what others are saying. You just have to quit being a lazy ass and move it yourself. I come from doing this on a Jeep Wrangler. So I don’t complain at all.

    As for it being “heavy.” I will smoke any 2007 Miata / Mx-5 / whatever it is being called now, S2000, Z4 3.0, Boxster (Non S model), etc. on a track.

    Guys who are modding these cars are easily seeing nearly 300 RWHP to the wheels from exhaust and a tune alone. Honda can’t put those kind of numbers down and the MX-5 definitely will never see that. Also, MazdaSpeed does not have a GXP competitor.

    My heavy car also gets 30 ACTUAL MPG per fillup as well.

    Also, for the height comment. I am 6’0 at 195 lbs and I have NO problems driving the car. We have 6’3 people driving this car on the Solstice forums.

    As for GM killing the platform. I think they should sheve the name and platform, but keep it for the future. They have a lot of other problems to fix right now. I drove a 2008 Impala LT the other day and I realized why GM is needing a government bailout now.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    This is par for the course for GM.

    Another ‘almost there’ product that promised much but didn’t deliver. In it’s arrogance GM thought it had laid the golden egg, but they piled up on the lots. Bad landing at the wrong airport…again! So instead of learning from it and bringing out the 2nd generation with all of the design flaws of the original fixed and in a manner which would have allowed them to profit, they kill it outright. The Kappa joins a long list of billion dollar mis-steps brought to you by the company formally known as the world’s largest automaker. And to think that GM may be allowed to swagger up to the public feeding through to gorge itself on public money. I say shoot this pig!

  • avatar
    mel23

    From what I understand, this is Lutz’s baby. A ‘gotta have’ if ever there was one. To me, it’s just another example of the adolescent mind set of Wagoner/Lutz. Products should be green-lighted based on expected profit, not whether they’re fun to do. Expected profit should of course factor in rebates, etc., so I’m not pushing cheap, but rather should realistically consider all factors. This will only strengthen the hand of the bean counters.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    This powerfully illustrates the limits to Lutz’s “magic” hand at GM. Sure the cars generated some positive buzz for a while. But this is an awfully expensive way to do so when you don’t have a viable production strategy.

    The real tragedy is that the Kappa platform wasn’t designed to adapt to a higher-volume car like the Camaro. That would have significantly increased the economies of scale for the platform and would have allowed the Camaro to offer a four cylinder engine on its base models.

    So now GM has boxed itself into a corner. It looks incompetent for once again abandoning the two-seater market. It is introducing a Camaro whose sales will be needlessly limited by its mediocre gas mileage. And it will have wasted years and millions of dollars on an ultimately counter-productive p.r. stunt.

    Lutz must go.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Reminds me of the Fiero; the last MY (1987?), GM made several needed improvements to the design, then axed it the next year.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Another fine GM mess. Instead of using the money spend on Kappa (and all the various concepts that never made it to market), this money could have been used for development and marketing of core products vital to the sustainability of the business. Or a better G6. Or something.

    The Miata works because 1) its more practical, and its sold world wide providing better overall sales and economy of scale.

    The Kappa plant in Delaware was converted from making the pre-epsilon Malibu one or two generations ago.

    With all the product cancellations and delays, its clear the wheels are coming off at GM.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    OK, so a Soltice GXP can smoke a Miata!! Wow big feakin deal!

    Now that we have that fact nailed down what else good can we say about a the Soltice in regard to the current MX-5?

    As long as GM is willing to dump unfinished designs into showrooms it will always end up with failure on its hands.

    The Soltice/ Sky would not have made the production cut at any other “competiting” automaker today expect GM. Honda, Nissan, Toyota, Mazda, Hyundai, VW, etc would never sell an “unfinished” product like this.

    Only at GM could a designer sit in a MX-5, work the top in that car and than believe the top in the Soltice is OK. Hell for that matter GM could have tried to copy the top fromt he original Miata and done much better. YOu should NOT need to exit the car on a 2500lb two seater to raise of lower the top, PERIOD!

    Now, how much money did GM waste on this boondoogle? And why do some of you guys feel we should give them OUR money?

  • avatar
    red5

    John, I have owned 3 Miatas, the lastest one being a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata. While your car is decidedly faster and good looking, I paid much less and I have never had to choose between getting groceries and driving with the top down. I’ve taken weekend trips with the wife AND driven top down with the luggage in the trunk. While the Skystice is a nice looking set of cars, I’ll bet between those and the Miata, only one will be around in another 10 years (which will Make the Miata almost 30).

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    Except, that’s exactly what Toyota did when they killed off the MR2 spyder.

    Toyota makes a nice little mid-engined 2 seat roadster and forgot to include a usable trunk. Needless to say it did not sell very well. Once you realize you can pack for two in the equally enjoyable Miata the MR2 became a WTF novelty appealling to those that just had to have a mid-engine.

    Behind Toyota comes GM to make the same mistake about building a little 2 seater roadster without a usaable trunk. If that wasn’t bad enough lets also include the cheapest POS top they could find and some interior plastics that were lifted from a Colbolt.

    Once the GM execs convinced themselves that it looked better than an MX-5 they just knew that it would sell because “looks” are all that matters in the shallow USA market, RIGHT?

  • avatar
    NickR

    Surely this platform can be adapted to someething else? Automakers of all stripes have produced disparate vehicles off of the same platforms for years. Why not this one?

  • avatar
    pete

    A telling point about sales is that last week on business I was given a Solstice by Avis as my rental. That cannot be good for its image.

    I almost liked the car – nice looks, steering ok at the speeds I could try it at, but the basic engine is too underpowered. The oomph only came at high revs but by then the engine sound was not pretty. Los Angeles streets are bumpy and pitted and the Solstice unfortunately transfers that to the human body only too well.

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    DPerkins-
    Good list.
    I would add this.
    6. The conventional Solstice (rushed into production) is at the bottom of the CR reliability survey. Any estimates on how the Volt, with new technology and systems will fare? Look for a new record low…if it ever arrives.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    CaliCarGuy

    are they serious? yet another example of gm giving up on a product that could b made better. and then they want government money to pay for wat? the volt? a big ass gamble if there ever was one. i have a 07 solstice and iam happy wit it. those of u complaning about trunck space should b looking else where. u dont buy this car for trunk space. u buy it cuz its a convertible and it looks good. i get looks in it all the time. and living in southern california only makes it better. hearing that they wanna axe this saddens me and makes me angry. the solstice could b a step down car from the camaro for someone who wants decent mpg in a quick little car. and has any of u thought about the coupe they hasnt even come out yet?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    There comes a point where GM should ask themselves WWTD? What Would Toyota Do? They sure as hell wouldn’t cut and run, saying “Oh well, the Miata’s better so what’s the point?”

    Toyota sort of did that.

    Well, no, they didn’t; what they did was smarter: “Hey, we don’t need a to build a sports care purely for the sake of public-relations Viagra, let’s just make better Camries instead”. It’s not that Mazda makes better sports cars, it’s that Toyota doesn’t need to make sports cars at all.

    Mazda needs to make the Miata as it’s intrinsic to the brand. Toyota needs to make the Corolla and Camry. Big, big difference in branding.

    GM, well, they’re up a creek without a paddle in this respect; heir mundane cars don’t carry them, and the one non-mundane that does (the Corvette) cannot be making them any money.

    Someone make the point that the Kappas were a mistake, and a very Lutzian one at that. The Kappas are a shining example of what happens when you let car guys (well, a certain type of cary guy) run amok in a company. You get these cool cars that really only appeal to that guy. The Kappas were a waste of time, money and effort that should have gone into the Corvette or the Cobalt instead.

    GM needs to realize that it’s not Ferrari, let alone Mazda. It’s a huge company, not a boutique coachbuilder, and it needs large volumes to meet it’s costs. Though the way marketshare numbers are trending, perhaps GM will end up as a coachbuilder of Corvettes and a chassis/engine supplier to other makes. An American version of Lotus, as it were.

  • avatar
    Buick61

    DPerkins Says:
    September 2nd, 2008 at 9:35 am
    The parallels to this and the upcoming Volt are a bit chilling…

    4) both are built on dedicated platforms that required very expensive platform engineering (hope that doesnt remain true for Volt)

    Except that that’s not true. The Volt will be on the Delta II platform that will be used for the extremely high volume global small cars (Cruze, et. al.)

  • avatar
    seanx37

    $10000 per vehicle. Explain that to me. Who in the GM management said ” hmmmm….let’s lose make a vehicle we have no chance of making money on”? And wasn’t immediately thrown out of the building after being soundly beaten.

    For god’s sake-I live in Warren-but these people are just too damn stupid to deserve to stay in business.

  • avatar
    DPerkins

    Buick61

    I hope that you are correct about the platform, but everything I have read indicates that it is going to be built on an “E-Flex” electric vehicle platform that MAY be shared with other electric vehicles if and when the Volt makes it to the big showww.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    u dont buy this car for trunk space. u buy it cuz its a convertible and it looks good.

    That line sound like some B.S. the salesman is feeding those few potential costumers that have not been in a MX-5, S2000, Z4, TT, Boxster, Crossfire, or even GMs own Corvette. A convertible top, and a trunk are NOT mutually exclusive! Only on a poorly design, rush job, of a crude car are they.

    That is GM problem in a nutshell, they expect their customers to make excuses for their piss-poor products.

    If it is fast, it must be crude!
    If it is inexpensive it must look and feel cheap!
    If it is durable it must be obsolete!
    If is looks good it must be uncomfortable!

    I guess for the solstice because it looks good it is OK for it compromised by crappy execution!

    Is that the American way?

  • avatar
    Napper

    I think the Soltice is an awesome design.

    but its a weekend car. i breifly wned a 2001 Miata SE…Burgandy spoiler kit chromes from the factory.

    It was ana amazingly fun car.( i drive a zo6 and 2 GTO’s now).

    I’d think the Soltice would have stolen the market…as it looks like a mini vette.

    I got out of the Miata due to its affiliation with effeminate men. I’d love to get rid of a GTO and get into a turbo Soltice…perhaps now is the time.
    It will be collector statis….since its performance in Turbo form rivaled the porshe Boxter of the same genre.

    I do feel bad for GM..thaey could do such wonderful things.

    bring back all the retro styling of tere best seller over the past 30 years and you’d be on top again…just with modern brakes, tires suspension, engines and electronics.

    THATS how they could get back. 55 chevy anyone?
    with a Variable displacement 5.3 vortec LS motor??

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    I hope that you are correct about the platform, but everything I have read indicates that it is going to be built on an “E-Flex” electric vehicle platform that MAY be shared with other electric vehicles if and when the Volt makes it to the big showww.

    The Volt is on the Delta 2 platform along with the Cobalt/Cruze although I would assume it is going to be be modified from the standard platform for the batteries and electrical drive system, might be a little modification might be a lot. E-Flex is the name of the propulsion system not the platform, and they have siad they plan to share it with multiple platforms for cars/trucks. That is all dependent on GM surviving that long and it not being scrapped like the Solstice after they figure out how much money they are losing on the project.

  • avatar
    DPerkins

    redbarchetta

    Again, I hope that you and Buick61 are correct and not this site:

    General Motors E-Flex Platform

    This “platform” is referred to far and wide, has GM made a decision to move to Delta II since the original Volt info was circulated?

  • avatar
    Seth L

    Fiero 2.0!

    I wonder if they still planning a full run of the Targa model?

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Mazda needs to make the Miata as it’s intrinsic to the brand. Toyota needs to make the Corolla and Camry. Big, big difference in branding.

    And what would we call the Celica and it’s spinoff, the Supra? A 30-year exercise in futility?

    The fact that the Corolla and Camry are the breadwinners for Toyota means there’s no reason why it couldn’t cater to its sports car fans. They certainly had no problem catering to SUV enthusiasts with the FJ Cruiser, and that doesn’t seem to be a hot seller in today’s SUV-phobic market. It’s interesting that Honda has no problem catering to both practical and performance enthusiast alike his without taking a hit in branding.

    That alone tells me that all this crap about branding is exactly that…crap.

  • avatar
    Nicholas Weaver

    The problem with the Solstice & Sky is they are ALMOST cars. When an Elise is more practical, you have a problem.

    As for the Ridgeline, its on a line common with the Civic. It used to be on a line common to the oddysey and pilot.

  • avatar
    Blunozer

    @CaliCarGuy: u dont buy this car for trunk space. u buy it cuz its a convertible and it looks good.

    I didn’t buy my 06 Miata for its trunk space either. But that 5 cubic feet was enough for the wife and I to roadtrip to Florida… From Nova Scotia!

    The Solstice, however, didn’t even warrant a test drive from me thanks to its lack of trunk space, clumsy top, and predatory dealers asking for $5k over sticker at the time.

    That being said, I’m still disappointed in GM for killing the Kappa. Its what the new Camaro should have been built on. The targa Solstice actually shows promise if GM prices it right (ie, cheaper than the ragtop). The world needs more cheap, small RWD cars.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    GM could have had an amazing compact rear-wheel drive car, but they had to release it with GM style execution:

    A horribly designed top with no trunk space.

    A crap 5-speed manual from the Colorado pickup.

    A god-awful interior in the Solstice.

    A four year delay for a hardtop (Targa) – and even that is so poorly executed that the hard Targa top won’t fit in the trunk and a second soft Targa top is required (forgivable in an Elise or Viper, not in a mass market car).

    I’m very tempted to get a Solstice Targa Turbo, but at the end of the day I’m pretty sure I’m better off with a pre-owned current generation MX-5 (way better interior, significantly less weight, side impact airbags and an amazing 6-speed manual) along with ~ $14K in cash.

    If my MX-5 leaves me longing for an Achilles heel plagued GM attempt at greatness I’ll try to find a cherry ’88 Fiero.

    Here’s to hopping that GM sends the Kappa platform out with a bang and builds the Kappa Chevy Nomad concept.

  • avatar
    Petra

    IIRC, there was originally supposed to be a whole lineup of vehicles on the Kappa platform. One was going to be the Chevrolet Nomad concept:

    http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z7772/Chevrolet_Nomad.aspx

    GM decided not to produce the Nomad for some reason; probably because people were waiting 6 months for a Solstice back then. I suppose time makes fools of us all, but they really should have figured out how this product lifespan notion works by now. As others have said, the choice to kill Kappa is typical of GM’s apparent philosophy over the years:

    – Launch an all-new platform at considerable expense

    – Wait for sales to drop off as the model ages. Then, rather than methodically improving the design, either,

    A: kill it off and move on to the next big thing, or,

    B: keep it alive but make hardly any improvements, thus making the car a perennial bottom feeder (e.g: the W-Body).

    So long, Solstice. Just like the Fiero before you, you coulda been a contender.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Once upon a time, style oriented buyers bought two door coupes in various sizes. Today, almost nobody in the US buys two door coupes. That is why the vast majority of them from the Eldorado down through the MR2 all went into extinction. A very few niche holdouts sell enough vehicles to keep the lights on, but the vast majority of two door “personal” cars have gone away. The Celica, Camaro and a host of other vehicles all went into the scrap bins as fashion oriented buyers flocked to SUVs of all things.

    Rationally an SUV and a Camaro have nothing in common, but the circa 1969 Camaro buyer morphed into the 2005 Tahoe buyer. Ditto for the 1969 Eldorado vs. a 2005 Escalade. Weird, eh?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    And what would we call the Celica and it’s spinoff, the Supra? A 30-year exercise in futility?

    Sometimes, yes. I’d certainly say the sixth-gen Celica was a waste of metal.

    When they were good, though, I’d call them side projects. Toyota had fun with them, and they filled a niche, but they didn’t need to make them in order to be taken seriously. Maybe they mattered back when Toyota was a niche player looking for recognition, but not now.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Once upon a time, style oriented buyers bought two door coupes in various sizes.

    Hopefully, it’s because people realized that they’re really quite impractical and unpleasant to live with if the car has a nominal back seat. If the door is long enough for people to exit the vehicle without pain, said door is too long for use in an average parking space.

    I’m quite happy to see a number of attractive, sporty four-doors. There’s a few holdouts (Honda, GM) that sequester their sporty offerings to two-door models, but they’re the exception, not the rule.

    I think the WRX deserves full credit for bringing the niche to light, and I’m glad of it. People are willing to accept a little practicality with their fun.

  • avatar
    briandfromo.p.

    Maybe they’re losing money because the Solstice/Sky isn’t built for anyone over 5′8″ or 170lbs. People were shaking their heads over it at the auto show last yr.

    What was GM thinking?

    What was the demographic – single women in their early 20’s, blah, blah, blah? With a name like “Sky” it’s hard to believe it was marketed to anyone but women.

    This car, in black and in Red Line trim looks wicked. I hear it’s prety quick in Red Line trim too. I don’t know how well it handles, though.

  • avatar
    kovachian

    These cars outsold the Miata at one point, what the hell happened?

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    When they were good, though, I’d call them side projects. Toyota had fun with them, and they filled a niche, but they didn’t need to make them in order to be taken seriously. Maybe they mattered back when Toyota was a niche player looking for recognition, but not now.

    That seems to be Toyota’s M.O. these days. Make a car that’s not in the mainstream, and if it doesn’t sell within the five-digit range annually, pull the plug, no matter how popular it was within its niche.

    Once can only imagine then how long the Prius would’ve lasted if gas didn’t go above $2/gal.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    These cars outsold the Miata at one point, what the hell happened?

    The Miata has deep roots: loyal customers, lots of mindshare and a well-established rep. It’s also got the benefit of a refined design. It’s like the Corvette, in a way: a self-contained brand that practically sells itself.

    The Kappas had styling and power, enough to get “flash in the pan” buyers who buy the latest and geatest, but not enough to sway more than a few Miata intenders and certainly not enough to steal actual owners. Especially the Solstice: the love-it-or-hate-it styling pretty much guaranteed a weak long-term run. Maybe–maybe!–if GM stuck with them for fifteen years they’d stand a chance.

    Expect the Challenger and Camaro to do the same thing. Once the magpie contingent has their fill, those two will just rot on dealer lots.

  • avatar
    Strippo

    The Miata has deep roots: loyal customers, lots of mindshare and a well-established rep. It’s also got the benefit of a refined design. It’s like the Corvette, in a way: a self-contained brand that practically sells itself.

    I would disagree with you except for the fact that you are entirely correct.

    I think pretty much all Miata owners knew from the beginning that GM wouldn’t find it profitable to come forward with a second act on the Solstice/Sky. What outsiders don’t get is that no Miata owner is happy to be right about that. Build a better Miata and Miata owners will beat a path to your door.

  • avatar
    kjc117

    The twins are decent for the current price but add addition $10K and they will be a tough sell.

    I think GM would have kept them if they were not in such dire financial situation.

  • avatar
    Theodore

    It’s too bad that these cars had those two glaring flaws – the top and the un-trunk – because they could have been great: fast, affordable, and drop-dead gorgeous. An American take on the roadster, or a Corvette for the masses. And if GM took the time to evolve and improve the cars, they could still be great cars. But GM’s ADD will once again kill a promising product before it ever really gets going. Sad.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    “It’s too bad that these cars had those two glaring flaws – the top and the un-trunk”

    And that begs for some questions. I refuse to believe that the engineers at GM are incompetent idiots, so how could these flaws actually happen? An open top car has by definition a top that is somehow transformable, and if it’s a two door two-seaer, it usually has a smaller trunk than bigger cars. How could anybody f**k that up? Explain it to me. If everybody else can make it, why can’t GM?

  • avatar
    Runfromcheney

    a friend of mine got a Solstice brand new last Christmas. Now I know how she managed to get it so cheap.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Funny – my cousin (who works at a Pontiac dealer) bought a black (base) Solstice last November. I got to ride shotgun with him this April (in PA, with the top down — brrrr).
    The low COG makes it a fun car to be in, but the excess weight, Ecotractor motor and crappy transmission ratios actually make it a chore to drive (by my observation).
    One good thing; the trunk will hold a case of beer…
    If you break it into 4 six-packs.

  • avatar
    Morea

    psarhjinian: The Miata has deep roots: loyal customers, lots of mindshare and a well-established rep.

    People race Miatas in the Spec Miata series, plus they are known as a solid car for those interested in taking high-performance driver education classes. Thus, Mazda has built a loyal following of driving enthusiasts. Even if you don’t race or go to DEs the car has credibility. The Sky and Solstice do not have this racing background (I have never seen one on the track, stock or modded). They are to be seen in by those you wish to impress (neighbors, ex-wife, subordinates at work).

    Also, why the fixation on the top and the trunk? Its a sports car, better to focus on the engine, transmission, brakes, chassis rigidity, you know, those things that make it a sports car (not just a ‘sporty’ car.) A Miata owner told me he was incensed because the top on the latest generation Miata won’t fit over a true roll bar (not the pop-up bars that are stock). That’s a sports car owner talking!

  • avatar
    NetGenHoon

    I have to make the Double Lutz argument. Could it be that while Lutz suggested the Sky/Solstice, may his orginal idea have been mangled in the production? Could this vehicle be a result of bean counters or infighting?

    A well-executed Sky/Solstice could have been a good exercise for GM. Done right, the roadster would be lightweight, have a quality base engine and shifter, along with be delicately tuned. This experience, and the drivetrain components, could be used on other, more mundane projects. Who won’t argue that the 5-speed Cobalt could use a better enigine and shifter? Done right, the Kappa projects would provide those parts.

    Maybe just maybe that was Lutz’ vision. This could be a sign that more than just the people at the top need to change at GM, maybe the entire strategic leadership, across departments, needs to go.

  • avatar
    Dr Lemming

    NetGenHoon: Sure, the GM bureaucracy very well could have mangled Lutz’s brilliant vision. However, he was brought in to bang heads together and make things happen. This was one of his most prized projects, and it was started back when GM still had some spare change. Yet the Solstice/Sky failed. That says a great deal about GM’s recent “reform” efforts.

    Whatever Lutz is doing isn’t enough. That’s the bottom line. If Lutz had a shred of humility he would admit his failure and step aside.

  • avatar
    Theodore

    I gripe about the top and trunk because they make the cars unlivable on a day-to-day basis. It’s all well and good to talk about the purity of the sports car, but at the end of the day you have to live with the thing. The top and trunk make the Kappa twins unlivable, at least to me – which is part of the reason I’m buying a Miata.

  • avatar
    Morea

    I guess I have always assumed that cars like Miatas were “weekend cars” sort of like having a boat or a chopper. If you want to go get groceries just take the Camry…

  • avatar
    Adub

    It’s official. My source at GM just informed me that the Kappas are definitely done after this model.

  • avatar
    Brettsky69

    The Sky would have done alot more sales if they had actually advertised the car. Or if GM explained to the public how Saturn was no longer a bastard child with it’s own personality. It was changed to take over from Oldsmobile and the 2008 Saturn lineup was a very attractive collection of SUV’s and cars. The styling throughout the lineup was similar to the beautiful Sky design (as the Buicks are now) I bought a used Sky Redline and I’ve never seen a car get so much attention. It’s absolutely insane. But back to my main point. Before I bought the Sky I asked everyone I knew if they knew what a Saturn Sky was. in the 3 months between deciding on the Sky and bringing one home ONLY ONE PERSON I ASKED OUT OF HUNDREDS, knew what a Saturn Sky was. ONE FREAKING PERSON. So what else could have possibly happened. You can sell a Ferrari for $20.00 but if you don’t tell anyone about it, how many do you think you’ll sell.


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