Houston We Have A Problem - An Open Letter to Chevrolet


#1

Gents:



Don’t look now, but you have a major problem in getting information about your cars into the hands of the car-buying public. How so ? Read on.



After noticing this good looking car in traffic over the past year - I finally pulled up behind one recently for a closer look - only to find its a Chevy. Now its been 30 YEARS since I’ve even looked at a Chevy, let alone saw one attractive enough to catch my attention, so naturally I wonder what model it was. I noticed just one word - CAPRICE - stamped on the rear bumper.



Ah - I says - its a CAPRICE.



So the first thing any sane person would do is go on the web and see what people have to say about this beautiful car. Here’s what I find.



1: MotorTrend.com shows nothing for CAPRICE. Not even an entry that says CAPRICE - REVIEW WILL BE PUBLISHED SHORTLY.



2: RoadandTrack.com switches me to CAR and DRIVER.



3: CARandDRIVER.com shows me nothing but 189 tiny non-descript pictures that - on a slow internet connection - would take half an hour to browse.



4: So I Google the web with key-words like 2006 CHEVY CAPRICE REVIEWS (or 2007 or 2008 !) and all I find are reviews starting at 1995 !



5: So then I try your own website CHEVROLET.COM. No mention whatsoever of a CAPRICE. Now remember - that car I saw in traffice had CAPRICE stamped all over the rear bumper. But your own website has no mention of that model !



So now I’m thinking back 30 years to the last time I ever considered a CHEVY, trying to remember if the CAPRICE was a rebadged IMPALA. Are these cars one and the same ?



I don’t remember - and at this point - I no longer care.



Now - I’m a 50 year old American and if I don’t understand why your FLAGSHIP model isn’t on MOTOR TREND, doesn’t show up on Google, and isn’t even mentioned on YOUR OWN WEBSITE - then I have to wonder if you are really interested in selling this car.



You owe it to your long-absent customers to explain what this car is being called TODAY, and to get that information onto your TOTALLY USELESS WEBSITE. You might even add a button that says “Click here if you haven’t considered our products in 30 years” and provide your current naming fiasco.



If this car is not being marketed as the CAPRICE - then why are you stamping that name all over its rear bumper ?



I was so totally annoyed with this nonsense - that I finally drove over to the CHRYSLER showroom and spent a wonderful afternoon looking at THEIR FINE PRODUCTS !





Unhappily Yours



Robert Lahey

Sr. Information Officer

Riyad Bank

Saudi Arabia

RWLahey@Hotmail.com

Robert.Lahey@Riyadbank.com.sa












#2

I think that the key to the OP’s question/statement lies in the differences in model names for US vehicles that are marketed overseas. The Caprice that he saw in Saudi Arabia might actually be the same as an Impala in the US, or it might even be something like a rebadged Opel. In either event, the models that are marketed overseas are not likely to show up on GM’s US-based website, for fear of confusing US-based consumers.


#3

The Saudi Caprice is a badge-engineered version of GM Australia’s Holden Statesman. It is not sold in North America. The closest we have is the Pontiac G8 (based on the Holden Commodore.) The last time Chevrolet sold a Caprice in North America was indeed 1996, and they also sold an SS version, called the Impala SS, with a Corvette-derived 5.7L V8.

Currently, the Impala is a FWD full size sedan sold in North America since 2000, and has nothing in common with the old Caprice or Impala SS (although Chevy offers an Impala SS now - FWD, and a 5.3L V8, and from 2004-2006 the Impala SS had a supercharged 3.8L V6.)


#4

Interesting! I was pretty sure that the Caprice in question had no relationship to anything sold in the US as a Chevy, but I would not have suspected GM’s Holden brand to be the basis for this rebadged car.

I think that it is obvious that the OP raised a tempest in a teapot with GM over this issue. Also, those “fine” products" by Chrysler may be orphaned in the near future, with poor product support as a result.


#5

I think GM used Holden for the Caprice because GM USA doesn’t have a competitive luxury RWD sedan. I think Holden also designed the Buick Park Avenue sold in China - full-size, RWD sedan. Given China and the Middle East’s tremendous growth, and number of extremely rich people, it makes sense for GM to compete in the luxury sedan market. Unfortunately, GM seems to have given up (if they were ever a player in NA) and letting Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and the like run the luxury RWD sedan market. I suppose GM doesn’t have the terrible reputation in emerging markets that they have in North America.


#6

Yup, GM has really discovered the internet yet, but they have almost perfected the opera window.


#7

Do GM management read the posts on this site ? Really ? Does that mean we get paid a retainer ? Or has the OP’s post just been delivered to the wrong web site instead of www.GM.Com or whatever…

~ sorry, couldn’t resist it.

But you’r right, Riyadh comes under GM Middle East, they pull and badge their own models from the US, GM Australia and GM Europe as they see fit for market - it’s the only place where Hummer’s are still a big seller !!!


#8

In the States, GM and Chevy’s biggest problem is their inability to produce the Chevy Volt, their imaginary electric car…

How much do you pay for gasoline in Saudi-Land Bob??


#9

I think their biggest problem is their imaginary profits.


#10

The problem with the Volt is battery reliability. It has not been fully tested and GM does not want to release the car without a risk reduction program concerning battery reliability in mass production quantities. I think that any car company using lithium ion battries would be in the same situation. Prius uses an older generation battery (nickel hydride) that has lower charge density. That means a heavier battery, which would not work in the electric car with a gas engine back-up. But the Prius battery is an excellent application where the battery is back-up power to an internal combustion engine.


#11

Robert,

The problem is not with GM. You looked in the wrong places. GM has a custom web site for just about all their markets. Here’s yours for the Caprice in Saudi Arabia:

http://www.gmarabia.com/content_data/LAAM/ME/en/GBPME/001/G1/1C/1C_home.html?cntryCd=SA


#12

Added to their inability to produce the Camaro. We’ll eventually see one, but not until the market has shifted and eveybody interested in retro and pony cars is already driving Mustangs, Chargers, Challengers, T-Birds, and such. GM likes to discuss new ideas in management committees until it’s too late.


#13

Hopefully, that little “retro-car” fad will pass quickly, I can’t believe those manufacturers abuse there own history like that (recycling classic names onto plastic cars). It’s painful to watch.


#14

I wouldn’t call the retro movement “Recycling classic names into plastic cars”. Now taking the name LeMans and putting into a car that smaller then then Chevette…now that’s painful. But the new Mustang is a beautiful car. The new design for the Camaro is nice too.


#15

I guess beauty is in they eye of the beholder. I’m not a real fan of the originals (they did have their charms), but to me all those new versions look chunky/bloated and very plastic (they could have at least put real chrome bumpers on them). They just look like cheap copies to me (like the PT cruiser). At a minimum, they could have given them new versions of the names. If I was a fan of domestic classics, I would be very annoyed.

It would be similar to porsche recycling the 356 designation for some version of the boxster, people wold be storming their headquarters with torches and pitchforks.


#16

Craig, you must be a young fella. Those old designs bring back sweet memories, especially the ones with back seats.

The good ones are great. I agree that slapping an old name on a piece of junk is appalling. GM, especially the Pontiac division, did that for years with a whole list of names, and Ford did it for years with the Mustang name. They’ve paid dearly for that joke.


#17

No, I like old cars/motorcycles; mine are over 25 years old. I just don’t like these modern copies using the old names, I find it a little “disrespectful” (probably not the correct term, but you know what I mean). There are plenty of new names left, and people can figure it out for themselves anyway. Don’t sports teams retire the numbers of their star players?

BTW, I never understood why the domestics used names instead of alpha/numeric designations for cars in the first place. I always though using a name to convey the desired image was a little heavy-handed, even for a marketing department.


#18

Actually, I think “disrespectful” is the perfect term.

I like names. Especially when combined with meaningful designations. Like my buddy’s 1968 SS396 Camaro. Or an Olds 4-2-4.

I do not like meaningless numbers. Or letters.


#19

Most manufacturer’s alpha/numeric schemes are meaningful, once you know the code (sorta like the 424).


#20

Isnt that 442 4-speed 4-barrel dual exaust? Or am I missing the joke?