What's Wrong With This Picture: Global Brands, Global Values Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
what s wrong with this picture global brands global values edition

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.

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3 of 21 comments
  • Pacificpom2 Pacificpom2 on Mar 28, 2010

    Probaly goes with economies of scales as well. I don't know how many Commodores (G8's) were sold in the US but against the whole production run of possible 80,000 RHD cars 10,000 LHD probaly made sense to re-engineer, where as a total sales deal of 1000 rhd Camaro's against 80,000 Lhd Camaro's didn't make sense.

  • Geggamoya Geggamoya on Mar 28, 2010

    I would definately consider a Mustang for example, if it wasnt' so damn expensive. A new grey-import is around 80.000€ for crying out loud.. The price is high mainly because of taxes, but also because the glass and lights have to be changed for e-approved parts. As it is now, the 300C is the only "muscle car" available, and the only model still being imported is the 3-liter diesel, starting at 49.000€.

    • Uncle Mellow Uncle Mellow on Mar 29, 2010

      the latest 300C starts at around 25,000 Sterling in England , which is similar money to a 320d BMW.

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂