By on July 2, 2010

Auto Express reports that GM is going to sell the Chevy Chevrolet Camaro in the United Kingdom by May 2011, with a convertible version later that year. It will only be available in the top level Gestapo SS trim, and will have the 6.2 litre, 426bhp V8 engine. Unfortunately, GM couldn’t be bothered to respect local driving customs and will sell the car in left-hand drive only. That’s right. Pricing is yet to be confirmed as exchange rates are sensitive at the moment, but GM is aiming to keep the pricing in line (I thought it was a V8?) with the Nissan 370Z, which starts at £28,345. Now while there are many American-philes (probably located in the North of England) who are doing a “dosey-doe” around their living rooms at this news, there are a few of problems (and here comes the pessimistic part).

Problem number 1: The UK is under pressure to meet Kyoto protocols and environment standards, which means higher taxes on more polluting cars will be brought in. Hence, the rationale behind the £5K subsidy for electric cars. A car which is 6.2 litres and enough power to fell a bull elephant, will probably fall afoul of these taxes.

Problem number 2: As I mentioned before, the UK, over the next 5 years is going to experience a severe economic storm, possibly culminating in 600,000 jobs being lost. Which means a lot of belt-tightening. Justifying purchasing a car like this will be that much trickier. Though to GM’s credit, they are only planning to sell 100 car per year as a “test the water” venture.

Problem 3: This is the biggest problem in my eyes. Whilst in the United States you get cars like the Chevrolet Malibu, Equinox and Impala, in the UK, Chevrolet’s line up is nothing more than a bunch of re-badged Daewoos and other Korean engineered econo-boxes. The Spark, the Matiz, the Aveo, the Lacetti, etc. Now Chevrolet wants to stick the Camaro into a line which hosts these paragons of mediocrity?


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38 Comments on “Alaman Left: The Camaro Comes To The UK....”

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    In the United Kingdom, if you drive a large vehicle, your Wallet is hit hard, as Petrol(Gasoline) really expensive as compared to North America also with the drive on the other side, somehow I think something has to change!

    • 0 avatar

      somehow I think something has to change!

      Yes, Americans need to start paying realistic prices for their petrol! ;) Seriously though it’s a limited resource, getting a free gallon of gas with your morning corn flakes has been fun for you guys all these years but it’s time for a change.

    • 0 avatar

      …somehow I think something has to change!

      I couldn’t agree more. With the implosion of the British economy just around the corner you guys need to tell your politicians to stop heaping taxes that are twice the amount of what a gallon of gas is worth on top of the free market gallon price. We are not running out of gas, folks. When we finally do then the price of gas will reflect that fact.

      Taxing the shit out of gasoline penalizes individuals and business alike. It benefits governments. Given the current state of our financial systems, this would be a really good time to let a gallon of gas sell for what the end users deem it’s worth. Tax something else. Or here’s an idea; Don’t tax something else.

    • 0 avatar

      While I’m all for (and own) fuel efficient cars, saying Europe has the “proper price” for gasoline is a bit disingenuous considering their price is made up largely of taxes. If anything, the proper price of fuel or anything should be determined by supply and demand and the free market. Anything else is a wish to rework society or enrich state treasuries.

    • 0 avatar

      I see where you’re coming from there mikedt but I’m not being disingenuous: it all depends if you buy into the theories behind free market economics or not, and (personally) I don’t.

      Taxing a scarce and problematic resource like petroleum heavily seems entirely appropriate to me. What the taxation is then spent on is another (thorny) issue, so lets leave that to one side. Supply and demand doesn’t take into account the long term impacts, or the associated costs (like the maintenance of our largely free European road network for example) that come with petrol use.

    • 0 avatar

      It seems to me that the most sensible thing to spend those gas taxes on wouyld be the roads that the cars use. If only that were the case. I know that the roads in California are hardly a good example of how to maintain a transportation infrastructure, but a big part of that, IMO, is that the gas taxes which are supposed to be for the maintenance of the roads are nto spent on the maintenance of the roads. If California spent the $1B to $2B each year that is illegally (a judge ruled it was illegal) siphoned out of the transportation fund each year on road repair and improvement, we would have some really nice state and interstate highways anyway. This is in a state that pays approximately $.37 per gallon in transportation taxes to the federal and state government, quite a bit less than in the UK.

    • 0 avatar

      “It seems to me that the most sensible thing to spend those gas taxes on wouyld be the roads that the cars use. If only that were the case.”

      +100 If the money was actually spent on road improvement I would pay more in gas taxes. In New Mexico we have recently spent quite a bit on road improvement. Some from “ork barrel” lobbying by congressmen and some from TARP funds. Honestly we need that level of spending for the next decade or so to get our roads up to the point where we’re not embarrassed by them.

    • 0 avatar

      splateagle: Taxing a scarce and problematic resource like petroleum heavily seems entirely appropriate to me.

      Gasoline and oil are not scarce.

      splateagle: What the taxation is then spent on is another (thorny) issue, so lets leave that to one side.

      No, it’s central to the discussion, as we will see below.

      splateagle: Supply and demand doesn’t take into account the long term impacts, or the associated costs…

      Which, of course, also ignores the long-term benefits and higher standard of living brought about by the use of easily transportable and relatively efficient oil as a source of energy.

      Not to mention the environmental benefits of switching from dirtier sources of fuel, such as coal or wood (common in the earlier 20th century), or dirtier forms of transportation, such as horse-drawn vehicles (which produce their own emissions, which attract flies and spread disease).

      splateagle: or the associated costs (like the maintenance of our largely free European road network for example) that come with petrol use.

      The road network is not free – someone paid to build it and then paid more to have it maintained. Just because a toll isn’t charged when you use the road does not mean that it is “free,” anymore than health care provided by the government is “free.”

      Ideally, motor fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees should be used to maintain roads and bridges. If the revenue raised by the high fuel taxes imposed by European countries is being used to support other programs or initiatives, that suggests a need to rethink how those revenues are being used. It does not suggest that drivers are not paying their “fair share.”

    • 0 avatar

      That depends on your definition of scarce but i would call it scarce with even the most optimistic prediction saying that we have less than 100 years of current consumption.

      Taxation can be done for particular purpose like road maintenance or transportation but they can also be done for the general fund.
      If the purpose of the tax isn’t to offsetting a particular cost put to decrease the use of a good than it is natural to expect the money to flow to the general fund. The UK has a high gas tax to incite people to use less gas and looking at consumption numbers of the average UK car it is succeeding.

      Coal and wood are not competitors of gasoline. Heating oil is but its taxes are much lower than gasoline and a horse isn’t competitive with a ICE engine unless food is free as horses are really inefficient.

    • 0 avatar

      @ geeber

      Interesting points all, but I think you’ve misunderstood me on a couple of points.

      I wholeheartedly agree that it *is* important what the taxes are actually spent on, but my point was that arguments against fuel taxation often get bogged down in detail of the actual expenditure, skipping over the underlying principle. I think we agree that the true costs of motoring would not met by fuel costs set on “free market” supply and demand terms? That was my point.

      Similarly I realise that the road isn’t free, that again was kind of my point. Expressed with sloppy language perhaps? Let me try again: Roads are (by and large) free at the point of use in Europe – this needs to be paid for somehow. Road taxes and fuel tax are supposed to meet this cost (among other contingent costs) and are therefore a necessary and just part of the true cost of fuel.

      As for scarcity… a limited and non-renewable resource is a more accurate (if less concise) way of putting it if you prefer. Point stands as far as I see it.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Talking about the United Kingdom the London Newspaper the “Telegraph” is reporting that Ford in the UK has just reduced prices by 15% in the UK!

  • avatar

    Yup. The UK actually pays the proper price for petrol. The big problem is that the taxes on cars are ridiculous. And they’ll get even more ridiculous when compounded with the new CO2 taxes (on top of the old ones).

    And yes… who really wants a Daewoo Camaro?

    • 0 avatar

      “proper price for petrol”? Determined by whom? In the UK, something like 75% of the price at the pump is taxes. Why is that any more “proper” than 10%, 25%, or 99.99%?

      On a somewhat related note, how prevalent have the protests been about the fact that UK fuel taxes are rising much faster than in the rest of the EU?

      As far as the Camaro goes, this is obviously a lame attempt to bring a bit of prestige to the lowly Chevy brand in the UK. Do they offer the Corvette there at all? If so, I’d imagine it’s another low-volume halo car.

  • avatar

    GM’s in the early stages of repositioning and expanding the Chevrolet brand in Europe — they talked about this at some length in the analyst thing on Tuesday. Fewer Daewoos, more Camaros etc. Offhand I’d say the long-term future for Opel/Vauxhall isn’t looking real bright.

  • avatar

    “Realistic price for petrol?”
    Who decides what is realistic?

    GM clearly hasn’t learned much from their bankruptcy, but when Daddy O bails you out there is no need to grow up.

    Outside of a few unrealistically rich rock stars I can’t see anyone paying huge amounts of money for a car that gets bad mileage in a country with 10 dollar a gallon gas.

    Now that’s realistic for you.

  • avatar

    Just to note, those 600,000 jobs lost are only in the public sector, if fears of a ‘double-dip’ recession are realised, there could be more in the private sector too.

  • avatar

    The Aussies import them (and Mustangs too) through private firms that sell them converted for driving in the wrong side of the road, the car, etc… Prices are bit, how to say, steep.

  • avatar

    I’ve been to the UK numerous times and I’m sorry but “All business up front and party in the back” was the tagline for a stripclub.

    Sorry GM, no mullets on the streets, no 80’s glam-metal bands in the bars and there was no Shlitz beer on tap. Doubt very much there will be much market for an ugly, brash, oversized and overweight, gas guzzling 60’s throwback.

    • 0 avatar

      I live in the UK and trust me – 60s throwback or not – there really is a substantial niche market for this car here. I think Cammy’s a bit off base with the idea that most will wind up in the North though, judging by the last Tory slaughter-fest we had for a government nobody north of Birmingham will have money for food within a year or so… my guess is these will be mostly popping up in Essex.

      Importing it under the Chevrolet badge is bewildering, but perhaps not if (as seems likely) it’s part of a move to reposition the golden bowtie away from “bargain basement” and into “mainstream” displacing Vauxhall/Opel in the process, and neatly side stepping GM’s inability to wring subsidies out of the Germans… a short sighted strategy seeing as Opel design some of the company’s most saleable products right now but then again it wouldn’t be the first foreheadslap from the General would it?

    • 0 avatar

      Camaro is Americano. Yankees don’t have a good name with cars build after 1962 so how does this help Daewoo get upmarket.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    Camaro are built here in Canada, They are not built by GM-Daewoo, when I was over in the UK this past Winter, there was some talk that the UK would change to driving on the same side as Europe as this is what the EU wants, I suppose now that the R word is coming back and the state of the economy is such that any change will not take place?

    • 0 avatar

      Was this “talk” you heard among people on crack by any chance?

      There are no moves to switch sides of the road here in the UK, nor any pressure from the EU for such a change. It would be a hugely expensive, dangerous and utterly pointless waste of time money and effort.

      Also I think Cammy’s point was that the Camero will be the first non-GMDaewoo product marketed as a Chevrolet in the UK

    • 0 avatar
      Tricky Dicky

      Monsieur Levecque – I think somebody has been pulling your leg. A politician would not last half a day in power if they tried to propose changing the side of the road to drive on in the UK. In my living memory, it has never been suggested.

      BTW, The Daily Telegraph is a national newspaper, not just a London paper.

      The Camaro is certainly a wanabee car for a very certain (and limited) demographic. I would suggest the kind of people who live in Norfolk who are married to their cousins and think that painting a Confederate Flag on top of their vehicle is really cool. If the Camaro is a Halo car, what the heck are the brand values being purported?! It’s all a bit FUBAR IMO.

  • avatar

    I wonder how the true Chevy’s (other than niche Corvette’s/Camaro’s) would do in the UK. A car like the Malibu may present an interesting value proposition. I know it’s always hard to match car pricing between Europe/UK and the US, but even accounting for a 20% VAT, the Malibu basically starts at $20k here, which if converted to pounds and then the VAT added still equates to under £16k. That would probably still represent a great value for a relatively boring, yet competent, good-looking and reliable vehicle. Of course the Europeans expect much higher levels of interior quality, and handling than average American buyers, who are more concerned with value, but in rougher economic times such concerns may translate well.

    Nevermind that the Malibu would take away sales from the Vauxhall Insignia–which it might not since the Insignia has gone upmarket–it might be a worthy effort (in right hand drive, of course) if GM really wants to improve Chevy’s image from the Daewoo rebadges, which is an atrocity by the way.

  • avatar

    The marketing will be interesting. Here in Blighty, Chevrolet are re-badged Daewoos – seen as cheap, bargin motoring, without the reputation of the Kias and Hyundais – and GM want to market a muscle-car under this brand…. left-head drive as well….. bound to be a winner.

  • avatar

    Did not Sweden make a wholesale overnight switch from left lane to right lane sometime in the 1960s? So it can be done. But the Swedes are a pretty disiplined bunch versus the Brits. The probability of the UK doing this is about the same as the US adopting the metric system.

    • 0 avatar

      Yup. Sweden’s example (Dagen H if you want to look it up) is sometimes cited as a good demonstration of why this *won’t* happen in the UK: the road network of the 1960s was a far simpler beast than it is today, add to that that Sweden’s population is roughly equivalent to London’s and you start to get the picture.

  • avatar

    @Geo. Levecque: Doesn’t matter who builds it. It will still be marketed in the same showroom, alongside a bunch of aging, uncompetitive vehicles designed by Korea’s biggest automotive failure.

    In essence, it’s as bad as rebranding it a Daewoo… which, to Europeans, are what Chevrolets are.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    The first two words in the headline should be: Allemande Left.

  • avatar

    Ironic that the Camaro was derived from the right-hand-drive Holden Commodore, yet will be sold exclusively with left-hand-drive in the UK. I guess that makes it more “exotic.”

  • avatar

    I am of the opinion that most of the other commenters didn’t catch the part of Cammy’s piece in which she mentioned a sales volume of one hundred cars. Well, I think it is obvious that one hundred examples of any car can be sold in any country, and that these sales will be so minimal as to have no effect whatsoever on the car market in said country.

    Will this be a good use of taxpayer money? That is the question when we evaluate any of GM’s doings. Well, here it’s a wash as I said; at least they’re not going to spend a lot of money to convert the cars to RHD.

  • avatar

    Why on earth doesn’t GM make a RHD variant of its vehicles? According to wikipedia, over 1/3 of the world’s people live in left-hand-traffic countries. How many cars would Toyota sell in the U.S. if they only sold them with RHD?

    And why only the V8? According to reviews, the V6 is quite good and should attract more buyers in a country with expensive gas.

  • avatar

    Geeber’s post is nearly perfect, and I would only add that the proper response to advocates of the Kyoto Treaty and CO2 taxes is a bucket of tar and a bushel of feathers. Jeez, after all the revelations of the fraud at the core of the IPCC, the UK’s political class is still selling economic hair shirts? Talk about job losses! And those would be in the productive (i.e., wealth-generating) sector!

    • 0 avatar

      The political and chattering classes of the United Kingdom (or anywhere else in the West) have no intention of bearing the brunt of those job losses or reduced productivity.

      It’s therefore easy for them to talk about the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and make sacrifices – they expect everybody else to bend over and take one for the team.

      Just like the celebrities and activists who get worked up over a middle-class person driving an Accord to work and living in a three-bedroom suburban house while they live in mansions and jet around the globe to global warming conferences.

    • 0 avatar

      Point of information: those 600,000 jobs Cammy mentions being cut are to be from the public sector, and will likely affect the individuals being dismissed as “chattering classes” just as much as any other segment of society, if not more.

      The same 600,000 are also likely to be the tip of the iceberg as it doesn’t include any estimates for the private sector.

  • avatar

    For everyone wondering about the Camaro being parked next to rebadged Dawoos, if memory serves, the Corvette is sold in Cadillac dealerships in the old country, with no mention of “Chevrolet” or the bowtie anywhere on the car except for the crossed flags insignia. Perhaps this is how they would do the Camaro, too?

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