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Old 08-21-2006, 11:21 PM   #1
KILLER74Z28
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Wagoner cruises in Camaro concept

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GM chairman attracts plenty of wanted stares, attention as he shows off muscle car on Woodward.


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Center stage: General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner, center, shows off the Chevrolet Camaro concept car, available in 2009, in Royal Oak on Friday as part of the Woodward Dream Cruise. "This car is kind of an exclamation point," Wagoner says. "It has generated as much excitement as any car you could imagine." Story, 4B See full image



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GM Chairman Rick Wagoner cruises Woodward in the Camaro concept car Friday. "It's not just about the Camaro -- it's about the company," says Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager, riding with Wagoner.
Wagoner cruises in Camaro concept


Bill Vlasic / The Detroit News
Charles V. Tines / The Detroit News

ROYAL OAK -- It's tough to stop traffic in the middle of the Woodward Dream Cruise -- unless you're Rick Wagoner behind the wheel of the ultra-hot Chevrolet Camaro concept car.

With a police escort leading the way, the General Motors Corp. chairman made a dramatic entrance at the Dream Cruise in the muscle car that GM hopes will symbolize its corporate comeback.

"This car is kind of an exclamation point," Wagoner said after pulling into GM's Dream Cruise headquarters at a restaurant. "It has generated as much excitement as any car you could imagine."

For Wagoner, the feel-good announcement last week that GM will bring back the iconic Camaro in 2009 represents another milestone in the automaker's long climb back from a $10.6 billion loss last year.

Just a few months ago, Wagoner was fighting for his job. Forced to seek a public show of support from GM's board of directors, Wagoner was being blamed for everything from GM's sliding market share to its dependence on gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUVs.

But since then GM has posted a second-quarter operating profit and accelerated its North American restructuring with the buyouts and retirements of 35,000 unionized workers.

GM executives now say the worst has passed, and Wagoner is leading a company on the rebound.

"It's not just about the Camaro -- it's about the company," said Ed Peper, general manager of GM's Chevrolet division. "The tide has been turning for some time, and our business is getting better and better."

Wagoner said Friday that he expects GM to hold onto its U.S. market share, even as Japanese competitors gain at the expense of domestic rivals such as Ford Motor Co. and the Chrysler unit of DaimlerChrysler AG.

"I think our retail sales are running at a pretty good pace," he said. "Our inventories are in good shape and we've shown some particular strength with smaller vehicles."

Wagoner declined to say whether GM would trim its fourth-quarter production schedule after Ford announced its own massive 21 percent reduction.

"There may be some fine tuning, but the market seems OK," he said. "Not robust, but OK."

He expressed optimism that a consensual solution will ultimately be reached on the downsizing of Delphi Corp., the bankrupt auto parts giant that is GM's largest supplier.

The decision Thursday by Delphi to seek a 30-day extension on its talks with GM and the UAW "is a good sign," Wagoner said.

"That doesn't mean that things are done," he said. "There's more hard work ahead of us. Nothing is imminent, but a lot of good progress has been made in the last 10 days."

He cautioned, however, that the UAW is still the key player in achieving an historic restructuring of Delphi's U.S. business.

Wall Street and GM's largest individual shareholder, billionaire Kirk Kerkorian, still appear unconvinced that GM's turnaround is gaining traction. And Wagoner declined Friday to provide details of the closed-door talks with Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co. about GM possibly joining their global automotive alliance.

What he preferred to talk about were the crowds of people lining Woodward Avenue, and the enthusiasm that car lovers were showing for the Camaro concept car and GM in general.

"There's an opportunity in this for us," he said. "The fact that these people used to love our cars in the past is to our advantage."

The trick, he said, is to turn that enthusiasm for the GM of the past into sales in the present.

"It shows that people have a connection to our history," he said. "And the excitement (over the Camaro) shows that we still have the ability to do great cars and trucks."

You can reach Bill Vlasic at (313) 222-2152 or bvlasic@detnews.com.
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Old 08-22-2006, 05:13 PM   #2
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Chevy's hot Camaro concept takes to the Avenue Friday with GM honcho Rick Wagoner piloting. The car will go on sale with a 30-mpg V-6, a choice of V-8s, and most likely a convertible variant.
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Old 08-23-2006, 09:04 AM   #3
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Chevy's hot Camaro concept takes to the Avenue Friday with GM honcho Rick Wagoner piloting. The car will go on sale with a 30-mpg V-6, a choice of V-8s, and most likely a convertible variant.
there going to be able to get the 30mpg out of the v8 thats why they designed the concept with the engine that shuts off four cylinders when cruising. the v6(if it has the same concept as the v8) should get a little more i would think
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