2006 Detroit Auto Show Index by TCC Team (1/7/2006)
GM Planning Major Price Cuts
Desperately hoping to slash profit-gobbling incentives by bringing sticker prices in line with what customers actually pay, General Motors will announce a virtually across-the-board price cut on Tuesday morning, company officials confirmed for TheCarConnection.com.
Company sources declined to provide specific details, though on the whole, the cuts are expected to amount to about $1000 or so on a typical GM product, or in the range of four to five percent. The precise figure will vary depending on individual models. Hot products, like the Chevrolet Corvette, should see little if any reduction, but prices will tumble more sharply on slow-selling models, like the Pontiac Grand Prix.
The automaker has been trimming back on the price of new and redesigned models, such as the Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and, on Monday, the updated Chevy Tahoe. This so-called Value Pricing is meant to reflect the reality of the market, GM marketing director Mark LaNeve told TheCarConnection.com during an interview last week. It reflects the gap between what GM puts on its window stickers and what customers actually pay. The gap is filled in by incentives and dealing at the showroom. That not only costs a lot but also damages the GM brand’s image, LaNeve admits.
The announcement on Tuesday could be seen as “Value Pricing II,” suggested Dr. David Cole, director of the Center for Automotive Research, in Ann Arbor, Mich.The “$64 billion question,” Cole cautioned, is whether the strategy will work. The real danger is that even after cutting prices, customers will continue to demand hefty rebates and other incentives. If that happens, it could make it even harder for the troubled auto giant to regain its footing.
Aston Plans for Rapide Deployment
Officially, the new Rapide is just a concept vehicle, but get Aston Martin CEO Ulrich Bez going and you realize the gracefully elegant sports sedan is just waiting for the go-ahead. Another entry in the emerging four-door coupe segment, the Rapide would become the flagship of the British marque’s lineup, priced around $250,000, Bez hinted. For that, a buyer would likely get Aston’s massive, 6.0-liter V-12, which makes 480 horsepower, and an elegant interior that belies the traditional spartan nature of a sports car. The Rapide concept featured an interior outfitted in wood, chrome and leather, with an unusual “Isoclima” glass roof that can be dialed anywhere from clear to opaque. Under the rear cargo floor, Aston outfitted the concept vehicle with a champagne cooler, glasses, and even a chessboard for leisurely picnics. Such features “might be a step too far,” admitted Aston design chief Marek Reichman, though the electronic roof – similar to one used by Maybach – is under study. Bez told TheCarConnection.com he is waiting to see the reaction to Rapide when the Detroit
show opens its doors to the public. “If there is enough positive feedback, we will go ahead and built it.” Considering the warm response during the sports car’s debut, it could reach showrooms, “within 36 months or so.”
Volvo Sets Sights Low with C30
Notching in under the current Volvo “entry-level” model will be the new C30. Officially a “design concept,” don’t be surprised when a production version rolls out at the Paris
show this fall. Based on the unusual three-seat 3CC concept that debuted in 2004, the new C30 is nine inches shorter than the S40 but a bit wider, making for plenty of usable space in both the front and rear seats. The concept model is powered by a 260-hp five-cylinder engine. It will launch from 0-60 in just six seconds, and hits a speed-limited 156 mph. In keeping with Volvo’s safety focus, the C30 is also designed to stop fast, thanks to oversized Brembo brakes behind its 19-inch wheels. Four adults can ride in comfort, Volvo officials claim, and they’ll be entertained by a 650-watt, five-channel Alpine audio system driving 10 speakers.