Volt or Blue Devil: Which One’s the Halo?

May 2, 2007

It strikes me, as we post a cluster of stories on gas prices, and what people pay now and what they’ll be willing to pay in the future, that GM has struck the right notes in the fuel economy debate. Instead of settling for one halo project that tells you everything you need to know about the company and its goals, they have two: the plug-in Chevrolt Volt concept, and the much-photographed “Blue Devil” Corvette SS.

On the one hand, GM is not backing down from its performance image. For evidence, consider the 700-horsepower ‘Vette SS. In any enthusiast circle, the SS is a Holy Grail that induces spontaneous incontinence, spur-of-the-moment cash-outs of home equity lines, and much palavering. And GM has played out the “supposed” existence of the “Blue Devil” Corvette brilliantly. How many sets of spy shots have you seen? This week’s photos are news because they’re red. And still, people want to know everything they can about the most powerful, most expensive Corvette to ever be sold to the public.

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And at the other end of the four-wheeled spectrum, we have the Chevrolet Volt. No, it’s not anywhere near production, and the batteries that will enable the Volt to progress to the market as GM’s plug-in alternative are years, if not decades, away. But the staging has been flawless: show it in Detroit, grab some of Toyota’s hybrid stardust, recast the company’s image as forward thinkers, and leave the black holes of technology conveniently hidden under the cover of suppliers. I’m not suggesting GM isn’t working hard on making the Volt a reality – what I’m acknowledging, and admiring, is their savvy in pulling ahead a decade’s worth of PR spin to today, when gas prices and global warming require every automaker to have a feel-good environmental story to tell.

It’s solid strategy and good media play. Keep the enthusiasts in your corner with extremely limited-run projects like the SS—and get the rest of the carbon-counting globe in your corner with an inviting vision for the future.

What’s your take? Ultimately, which car is more important to GM’s future?

Caught: 2009 Chevrolet Corvette SS!—TheCarConnection.com

2007 Chevrolet Volt Concept—TheCarConnection.com

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