GM'S CONCEPT QUARTET: General Motors unveiled four fresh concepts geared toward new market segments and younger buyers, areas that will be emphasized in GM’s investment strategy, according to CEO Rick Wagoner (for more on the GM concepts, click here ):
Buick BengalEnlarge Photo
BUICK BENGAL: The Buick Bengal roadster concept boasts a "wheels forward" architecture, foldable seats with a flexible cargo area, and technology convenience items like voice-activated controls and a heads-up display. The swoopy Bengal is about two inches shorter than a Buick LeSabre, and has a 250-hp 3.4-liter V-6 with a six-speed automatic transmission.
Cadillac VizonEnlarge Photo
CADILLAC VIZÓN: The sleek Vizón luxury sport wagon has a tall, wide stance that resembles an SUV package. The concept has 4.2-liter V-8 Northstar power and high-tech goodies like a height-adjustable suspension, night vision, a rear-view video system, and smart cruise control. Vizón's flexible interior has a center console that extends the entire length of the cabin, for ski storage.
GMC TerracrossEnlarge Photo
GMC TERRACROSS: Judging by the mixed responses heard from members of the press, GMC's Terracross seems to be another love-it-or-hate-it design. It's certainly innovative and original, with a low, curved roofline, sliding rear doors, a retractable roof, and nearly no wheel overhang. Sliding roof segments combined with a flat cargo floor can create a pickup-style open cargo box if desired. Terracross has a 3.4-liter V-6 engine and automatic transmission.
Oldsmobile 04 Concept
Oldsmobile 04 ConceptEnlarge Photo
OLDSMOBILE O4: Penned with input from Bertone, the Oldsmobile O4 offers the fun of a small roadster with real four-passenger seating. The "O" is for oxygen or open, and the "4" is for four-place, says GM. The small roadster has a turbocharged, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine borrowed from Opel.
Chevrolet Sabia Concept
Chevrolet Sabia ConceptEnlarge Photo
EL NINO CAMINO? This surprise concept hails from the General Motors of Brazil Design Center. Sabiá is described by GM as a "four-door utility coupe," with a small pickup bed in the rear. The Sabiá, based on the Brazilian Corsa and only 174 inches long, was designed with active Brazilian youths in mind, although we see no reason why active American youths wouldn’t love it. A supercharged 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine powers the front wheels. Rear doors are "suicide style," hinged at the rear for easier entry and exit. A gap bahind the front fenders allows rear-facing cameras to replace traditional rear-view mirrors. With Subaru bringing a model based on the similar ST-X sedan/pickup concept, and others on the way, this could be the start of a hot new segment and the resurgence of the "pickup car."
Michigan Bibendum ChallengeEnlarge Photo
THE CHARGE OF THE GREEN MACHINES. Michelin will stage a long-distance race of environmentally friendly vehicles next October. Modeled after an event held in Europe in 1999 and 2000, the three-day Bibendum Challenge will take an assortment of hybrids, solar cars, fuel cell vehicles and other green machines on a 270-mile course from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. The sponsors hope to attract a range of technology “from cars that are already sold to technology that may not be on the road until eight to ten years from now,” said the tiremaker’s CEO Edouard Michelin. The Bibendum Challenge will begin on October 26th.
LOYAL BUYERS. It’s hard to keep buyers these days, what with all the new products on the market—and the incentive money manufacturers are throwing around. But there are still some products that keep customers coming back, year after year. And those with the highest loyalty rates were honored Sunday by the R.L. Polk company, which based its findings on five million new vehicle registrations. Loyalty means more than just bragging rights, emphasized Polk CEO Steve Polk. “Loyalty improves revenues and profits.” The winners? General Motors took top honors in four of 12 product categories, and was named the manufacturer with the overall highest loyalty. Ford took honors in four more categories, while its flagship Ford division won the best divisional title. Other winners included the Mercedes S-Class, in the Prestige Luxury segment, the Porsche Boxster in the Sports Car segment, and the Subaru Forester in the Compact SUV class.