In America, certain European cars ostensibly set their drivers apart as willfully unique characters. Cars like the Volvo C30, or just about any Saab indicate that the driver’s desire to be seen as quirky iconoclasts outweighs any of the more rational metrics that might guide the car-buying process. And while in the US, compact size and European pedigree are the keys to stepping out of the automotive mainstream, making an automotive statement in Europe requires the opposite approach. Pickup trucks, muscle cars and American SUVs are the signifiers of choice for the Europeans who find themselves marching out of step with their efficient hatchback-driving fellow citizens. As a result, European advertisements for motorized guilty pleasures, like the one above, play on the perception that big V8s are downright antisocial. By refined European standards, no one should drive a brutish Camaro… but what’s more fun than blowing a supercharged raspberry at social niceties? And though the marketing for American muscle cars in Europe practically writes itself, global brands like Chevrolet don’t necessarily want the Ameri-barbarian associations… which might explain why Chevrolet has canceled plans to build a right hand drive Camaro.
Speaking to Motor Trend, GM’s Bob Lutz explains that swimming against the European mainstream can’t take priority for Chevrolet anymore.
No matter which car company you work for, there’s never enough engineering money, talent and capital to do everything you want to do. So when we looked at the hybrids that we have to do, and the plug-ins that we have to do, we just had to priority rank it and I couldn’t argue with the priorities.
In addition to engineering priorities and image issues, Lutz explains that the RHD markets also don’t have that many power-obsessed individualists. And sales estimates weren’t just low in the UK, but in Australia as well, where (RHD aside) the market taste resembles America’s more than anywhere else.
The UK was low, and…frankly I think Australia could have stepped up to the plate with some more. But when we finally looked at it there weren’t enough units to justify after all what is a fairly large investment. I am always personally sad when we create an exciting car and there’s demand for it in an interesting country like Australia, and we can’t afford it. It seems particularly ironic since all of the chassis development and the engineering was done there.
Meanwhile, will the parts of Europe that drive on the correct side of the road get Camaros as GM pushes its Chevrolet brand into greater importance there? Chevrolet.de offers no clues to the affirmative, listing Camaro as a “vehicle study.” And frankly, with Corvette and Cadillac also fighting (likely in vain) for Euro-acceptance, it makes far more sense for GM to limit V8s to their (theoretically) more profitable Caddys and ‘vettes. Besides, real European Amerophile cads buy their muscle cars from grey-market importers… because it’s just that little bit more delightfully antisocial.