LAS VEGAS (Nov. 8, 2010) — General Motors Co. is studying whether to revive brands for performance vehicles to improve its image among go-fast car shoppers.
At the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show last week in Las Vegas, GM unveiled the Z-Spec Chevrolet Cruze, Volt and Spark cars, and two SS-badged Chevrolet Camaros.
The debuts signal that the car maker's new performance vehicles and motorsports division—launched eight weeks ago—is looking harder at performance brands, said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet marketing.
Last year GM put development of performance-branded vehicles on hold and reassigned about 60 engineers. It's still possible to buy a Camaro SS or Cadillac CTS V-Spec developed by the disbanded group.
“Right now we don't have a performance sub-brand in us,” Mr. Perry said in an interview. “For now it might not be a sub-brand. It might be initiatives around parts and accessories.”
Despite all the hoopla at GM's SEMA Show booth, the Chevrolet Z-Spec and SS vehicles were big on badging and body kits but light on actual performance modifications.
Mr. Perry noted that GM traditionally has left performance modifications—which typically void the manufacturer's warranty—to aftermarket suppliers. He prefers to look at the Z-Spec trio of vehicles as “canvases for personalization.”
“There's a lot of passion around the Chevrolet brand. A woman here had a Chevy bowtie tattoo on her neck,” Mr. Perry said. “There is a latent fondness we have to ignite. Is building a performance parts business the way to do that? Maybe.”
This report appeared in Automotive News, a Detroit-based sister publication of Tire Business.