General Motors Co.’s said today it is focused on wooing younger buyers who will make up an increasingly important part of the auto buying public — introducing two low-cost — but upscale — concept cars aimed at winning new buyers.
“The young market is everything,” GM North America President Mark Reuss, noting the huge pool of 80 million young buyers. “This is job one for us.”
At the North American International Auto Show here, GM introduced two concept coupes focused on next-generation buyers.
“Chevrolet has always stood for making the aspirational attainable for all generations” Reuss said. “These two concepts interpret that vision for a new generation. We’re seeking out our newest customers’ opinions, listening to their advice, and engaging them in new ways.”
GM hasn’t used any TV advertising for its new Sonic compact — focusing on youth-oriented internet advertising.
GM said there are 80 million American consumers approaching 30. They represent 40 percent of today’s potential car-buying public and a combined $1 trillion in purchasing power.
Since last year, GM has worked with MTV to figure out what younger buyers want — but it has no plans to introduce a youth-oriented brand like Toyota Motor Corp.’s Scion unit. “I think the Chevrolet brand has a lot of aspiration and I think we’d like to capture that with young people — everything from Sparks to ZR1s — and that’s a healthy dose of an American brand,” Reuss said.
Reuss said GM began production on its new Malibu today — but he said he didn’t know when they would reach dealers
The Chevrolet Code 130R — a four-seat coupe with a simple upright profile — features “heritage performance-inspired styling and rear-wheel drive with a “hint of the Camaro,” Reuss said. The other — the Chevorlet Tru 140S s a front-wheel-drive “affordable exotic” four-seat sporty coupe. The three-door hatchback was designed to be an attractive-yet-affordable sports car.
The young concepts focus on sedan-sized functionality in performance coupe form that seats four; interior connectivity, 40 MPG with a 1.4L Turbo Ecotec engine with approximately 150 horsepower and “possible production price range in the low $20,000s
“Young customers tell us they want functionality with coupe-like aesthetics. Both the Code and Tru body styles resonated with this audience,” said Frank Saucedo, director of the GM North America Advanced Design studio in Los Angeles where the two concepts were developed.
From Detroit, the pair of Chevrolet concepts will travel to major auto shows, key lifestyle events, one-on-one experiences and other venues such as college campuses. Chevrolet will engage customers using social media .
“For the car company that can successfully engage this generation, there is a tremendous opportunity,” said John McFarland, senior manager for Chevrolet Global Marketing, who heads youth research for the brand. “At Chevrolet, we want to build authentic and meaningful relationships with these customers on their terms. We want to hear what they have to say, engage them in our design process, and give them what they want – not what we think they want.”
Photo gallery: Chevrolet Tru 140S concept