Chevrolet Resolves its Camaro Convertible Problem
Posted March 23 2009 03:14 PM by Mike Connor
Filed under: Car News, Chevrolet, Convertibles, Chevrolet Camaro
My turn to weigh in on the new Camaro. Back in the January Motor Trend, I reported that while Chrysler killed plans for a Dodge Challenger convertible, the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro drop-top that General Motors had planned for midyear was on hold. Blame thin operating capital at both GM and Chrysler, I said. Last week, The Detroit Bureau reported that the Camaro convertible, more recently on line for a mid-2010 release as an '11 model, was put on indefinite hold. The latest is this: Camaro ragtop is back on. It won't be ready until the first quarter of 2011, which is probably a 2012 model.
Gene Stefanyshyn told The Detroit Bureau's Paul Eisenstein (who is a contributor to motortrend.com) that the collapse of the German convertible top supplier caused GM to put the car on hold. I've learned this week that the supplier is still in business, and that it has come to an agreement with GM. Clearly, this is related to GM's cashflow problems and its effect on suppliers. GM's relationship with its Tier 1, 2 and 3 suppliers has changed for the worse in the past half-year.
The official GM line is that Chevrolet had always planned to introduce the Camaro convertible about a year after the coupe's introduction. Of course, we originally expected the coupe to come out late last year or early this year, so that ragtop schedule slid to the first quarter of '10 as the coupe's intro slid to ... just now. A 2011 Camaro convertible launching about April '10 will be able to take advantage of the summer ragtop-buying season in the afterglow of the Camaro coupe's first year of production. And if the Ford Mustang convertible is any guide, the Camaro convertible should be more popular as a fairly CAFE-friendly V-6.
The bad news is that the Z/28's prospects (our April cover car) haven't changed. That car, with a version of the Corvette ZR1/Cadillac CTS-v supercharged 6.2L V-8, is necessary to compete with the Challenger SRT8 and various Mustang Shelbys. That's all image, not a great business argument these days. It remains on indefinite hold. It's a costly ($50-million to develop, according to Eisenstein's interview with Stefanyshyn) muscle car that sends out the wrong signal lately. Unless the new interim Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard due April 1 is more benign than I expect, the Z/28 is going to remain a tough sell on GM management.