Exclusive Interview With the Camaro "Big 3" continued
With John Fitzpatrick's answers added...
1) CamaroZ28.Com: We know what the name Camaro means, but what does Camaro mean to you personally?
Scott Settlemire: I think Pete Estes had it right ("Friend, pal, comrade") and the proof is the number of Camaro enthusiasts that get together several times a year to celebrate these great cars. Moreover, it could be argued that we get together each day or night (as we log onto web sites such as CamaroZ28.Com) to talk about all things Camaro.
I fell in love with the Camaro on September 10, 1966, and it's been a love affair ever since. Frankly, it was like losing a member of the family when the last Camaro (and Firebird) came off the line at Ste. Therese on August 27, 2002. A lot of tears were shed that week.
I see it as the American performance car. It has a muscular V8 engine, rear wheel drive, and a look that's distinctively "American as apple pie". I see 'em as my "kids" 'cause they really can control my life at times.
2) CZ28: Regarding the recently leaked photos, has it helped the project at all? How much did it hurt the project?
Scott: That's hard to gauge. I'd say that the early leaks hurt us because the shots were very unflattering and what we DON'T know is this:
How many people were waiting (for the new Camaro) saw the leaked images of the unfinished car and said, "the heck with it" and went out and bought something else? That can hurt.
The good news is that the photos we put out there of the front shot of a mule on a high speed track has been overwhelmingly accepted.
John Fitzpatrick: Although no one likes unauthorized photos, I think even though photos have stoked the fire and provided the team with some great early feedback.
3) CZ28: Is the Camaro team surprised by the attention the car has received?
Scott: I knew in my gut that the car would be very well received. What I don't think most people at GM were expecting to see on January 9, 2006 was full-grown men and women burst into tears when the concept roared onto the stage.
I don't think I was quite expecting the non-enthusiasts to embrace the car as well as it has been embraced. I stand quietly by the concept or Bumblebee at various new car shows around the country and look at peoples' reactions and listen to their words. I can't tell you how happy it makes me. This car strikes a chord in most Americans, even those who would never consider an American car.
John: I would agree with Scott. The acceptance, the attention the car receives where ever it is on display is just overwhelming.
4) CZ28: Is there any way to tell how the new government regulations will impact future Camaro models? If so, can there be a possibility of it being in a good way?
Scott: I'm not sure that I want to address this subject at this time. The U.S. government just adopted new standards and we're still digesting them so it's really premature for any of us to discuss.
5) CZ28: What are your thoughts on Camaro's soon-to-be competition, like the Mustang, Challenger, etc.?
Scott: BRING IT ON, PONY BOY!
John: I think it will be very clear when Camaro arrives, it will be the standard the other two will be judged by.
6) CZ28: Some people feel the upcoming Hyundai Genesis is also competition for the Camaro since it has 300HP and is RWD. Agree or disagree that it is competition?
Scott: Of course it will be competition. The consumer has a myriad of choices when it comes to transportation and so in a way, any car or truck is competition. I think the Hyundai will capture peoples' attention because of the styling and frankly, the small import enthusiast crowd's gotta be looking at it...
7) CZ28: What is the current state of Camaro development?
Scott: I'd say 70 to 75% finished. Now having said that, it's never really over as we're looking at the entire lifecycle. Cheryl and the engineering gang are REALLY busy these days. We have some stuff up our sleeves.
John: Scott is correct. Every day we draw closer to Job One, so development is on a very fast pace now.
8) CZ28: Why is the Camaro going to be a 2010MY if it is coming out early 2009?
John: By assigning the Camaro a 2010 model year moniker, it maintains resale value. Also, what better way to start the second decade of the 21st Century?
9) CZ28: It is reported that dealerships have been taking deposits for well over a year. What are your thoughts on that?
Scott: I'm glad that there are waiting lists. I'm not happy that some dealers have taken actual monetary deposits because they really shouldn't be doing that until they have ordering info. Once ordering info is published then it is appropriate to ask for a deposit.
John: I am elated at the number of people on waiting lists (when I talk to dealers and they give me the numbers they've got). By the way, ordering information will be available later this year.
10) CZ28: How will people know when the appropriate time to place a deposit on a new Camaro is?
Scott: When the order guide hits dealerships - and we'll let you know that through CamaroZ28.Com.
11) CamaroZ28.Com: Many people do not understand why the 4th gen F-cars were not heavily advertised. How much advertising can people expect to see for the new Camaro?
Scott Settlemire: People have to remember that GM is like many other business or families with only so much money available to spend, which has been emphasized even more in recent days regarding our 2007 performance. Back in the late 90's and earlier this decade, Camaro's future was bleak for many reasons. Whether correct or not, decisions were made to focus on other areas, reducing the amount for advertising.
John Fitzpatrick: When the new Camaro debuts, it will have a much more generous budget to work from. However, advertising is much more different today as it was even seven years ago. Instead of national TV ads, you'll see a much bigger presence in other areas such as internet ads and events. The goal will be simple: be where the consumers can easily find you.