View Single Post
Old 05-06-2009, 09:59 PM   #1

fbodfather's Avatar
Drives: Camaros................
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Grosse Pointe Farms, MI (suburban Detroit)
Posts: 4,508
Some thoughts on "recent" developments on this site....

Dear ones.........

I wrote this yesterday while at the Tech Center-- decided I should 'put it on ice for 24 hours' (a good idea for many, by the way...) -- and then posted........these are my thoughts and opinions and do not necessarily reflect those of General Motors.......

Here goes:

I’m sitting at the GM Technical Center awaiting ‘Thor’s’ reflash – he’s an early car (A9000130) built in January – and as we continue to find ways to improve the new Camaro…..he’s getting his OnStar module updated as well as his Body Control Module.

It may not seem like it to a few, but we (GM and Chevy) value our Enthusiasts – more than you might imagine.
From the very beginning—when the new Camaro began to take shape, we felt it was crucial to hear the ‘voice of the customer’ – and thus, we went about it in many ways.

We visited the garages of people who own competitive makes.

We visited the homes of those who are looking to move into a Sport Coupe.

We talked to our current owners in any number of ways – from reading your emails and letters, to holding focus groups.

I spent the past dozen years listening to our Camaro/Firebird owners as I travelled around the United States and Canada to various shows and get-togethers -- all the while making notes in a journal at the end of each day.

Finally, we felt we should have a dozen men and women from the United States and Canada to meet with us a few times in Detroit – so that we could get face-time to Camaros representing all generations – as well as Firebird and Corvette voices.

Thus we created “The Twelve Disciples of which there are 15”

Next – while we endeavored to keep much of the car under wraps until we were ready to talk about it, we also chose to put the cars out there without cammo. - -and of course we tried to share select information with you once we had decisions made –

Did we tell you everything? Well, no.

“Everything” is huge in terms of the simple ‘volume’ of information….. Further, there are constant changes on a new vehicle program– tens of thousands of them – as the car continues its development. For example: When we actually unveiled , for the first time, our production intent Camaros last summer, we talked about the fuel economy of the V6 – you may recall we said “26 mpg” – We now know after final development and tuning,that it’s 29mpg on the highway – an incredible number!..

…….that’s just one small instance of information that continues to change. So we must be vigilant in terms of WHAT information we put out there early……

We also felt that we should do something special for our Loyal Enthusiasts who have waited so long for this car – and that was, of course, the ‘early order’ program – better known as R6P. The intent was to offer a special ‘RPO’ code identifying these cars as ‘special’ while offering the owner a ‘welcome’ package. (and we all know how 'dear' that RPO code will be in 20 or 30 years!)

Additionally, it would allow us to gauge early option and model volumes - -which is always one of the most difficult tasks to do on a new vehicle program. When we announced the program, we said we’d build each of these cars by no later than the third quarter. We’re on target to meet or beat that date with over of these orders now either placed for production, in production, in transit, or in the owner’s driveway.

What we can’t control are the ‘unknowns’ - -such as the customer (and there are several…) who ordered a car at several dealerships – planning to purchase the first one that lands.

Or the dealer who perhaps was given an allocation of 5 vehicles – but took 15 orders. We’re trying to address those situations when they arise – but frankly, everything we do right now is to ensure that each Camaro coming off the line is the best Camaro we’ve ever built.

Will every car be perfect? We hope so…but we also know that even “ultra” brands such as Maybach and Rolls Royce and Bentley do not build perfect cars. Nevertheless, we continue to strive to make the perfect Camaro.

Meanwhile, I was bombarded with thousands (…yes, thousands!) of emails asking

“why can’t I even sit in a new Camaro at the *insert city here* autoshow? You want me to buy this car without even sitting in it?!?!?!?!?”

I calmly (….OK…................NOT so calmly…..........) continued to answer with ‘These are pre-production cars – and the interior panels are not finished – and we do not want you to judge the car until the interior is complete.’

Now -- this told us that we needed to get some Camaros out there so that YOU – along with millions of other Americans and Canadians - -could come into your local dealership and ‘touch and feel’ a new Camaro. (and let’s face it – the LAST thing you want is for other people to be crawling all over your new Camaro when it arrives at the dealership.)

So the decision was made to build one Camaro for each dealership – and that further, we’d attempt to get this ‘one Camaro per dealer’ out there by May 6th so that Chevy Dealers nationwide could invite their local Camaro/Firebird/Corvette owners – and others – to come and see the new Camaro – get in and out of it – and get to know it better.

We also found out in the pre-order activity that the V8 percentage was even higher than we’d thought it would be – so we also decided to make the “one Camaro per dealer’ a V6 – thereby accomplishing two objectives:
1. To preserve the V8 components for ‘R6P’ orders
2. To put a V6 in the showroom so that people who would not normally think about Camaro – would see the car – see the value – and perhaps purchase one. (we need to continue to sell Camaros in volume – and that means ‘conquest’ sales.)

(by the way – anyone who spent any time at an auto show this year will tell you that the American Public at large is in LOVE with the new Camaro – AND – when asked to guess the price, they’re always thousands of dollars higher than the actual price……….therefore, the V6 is the right car to put in a showroom early on.)

One last word or two (or more) about the Engines. Early on, conjecture on the boards was that we could not build enough V8s to meet demand. We countered with ‘no – that’s not true’ – and shortly thereafter announced we were going to build a V6 for each dealer. That started conjecture that R6P orders with V6s would be delayed. That wasn’t true either – but it certainly gave peoples’ blood pressure a test! And it caused many people to use bad words!—all for naught.

Now – we also know that ‘sharing’ information with you is a two-sided sword. Examples:

>The very early ‘first photo’ of the White Camaro in a garage – it was grainy – taken with a poor-quality cell-phone --- and I dare say that the Enthusiast Community at large lost its collective mind. HORRIBLE comments – and when I said “Please – don’t make a judgement until you see it in person” – well, -- you would have thought we’d broken into an orphanage and stolen all of the toys!

>Then someone took some pictures of very early IVER units in Europe – you may recall the pictures – there was a Camaro on a car carrier – and someone opened the door and snapped away. (This came to be known as the ‘shunt’ photo) -- You would have thought we’d broken into an orphanage, stolen all of the toys, and slapped a Nun or two! Again – I said “this is not a finished car – please withhold your judgement” – and there may have been even worse things said about me and everyone at GM!

>and then there were the headlights! So upsetting were they that we even got our own ‘smiley’ on this site that declared: “NOT THE REAL HEADLIGHTS!” -- and again, I said: “They are NOT the real headlights – please wait until you see the car…..” And two months later, we’d get a ‘newbie’ on the site ranting about the headlights!

…………….now – I could go on and on about the various (what I like to call ) “Panics du Jour.”

Why --- just last weekend, we had a ‘tragedy/panic du jour’ when someone reported that the front fascias would split in the corners when you drive fast. Evidently no one thought about the pictures of Camaro at the ‘ring – or that the Camaro has served as a pace car at several NASCAR races thusfar and has accumulated hundreds of miles at very high speeds…………………………and then you found out that the fascia on this car was a pre-production fascia……………….and thankfully, the thread was changed to reflect this. THE BAD NEWS IS that people read it early on this thread – went to OTHER sites – and posted similar threads – and guess what? Most of them have still not been corrected. The damage is done!

Now – all of the above are examples that:
1) – show you have great passion and enthusiasm for this car – and
2) – an awful lot of people jump to conclusions - -and perhaps believe what they want to, even when there is no factual evidence to support their beliefs.

Now the latest:

Some of you – rightfully so – want your Camaros!

…..and you want ‘em NOW!

………………….and we understand that.

However, nothing is ever quite as simple as it seems.

Yes – there are Camaros being built for one Rental Agency - AVIS. AVIS buys tens of thousands of cars and trucks from us EACH YEAR....

They are good customers as well…..

......and when they say “OK – we’ll buy XXXX number of *insert brand name here* IF you will get us 200 Camaros last week! – well – we DO have a business to run.

Yes – there are a few dealers out there that have taken more orders than they were allocated. We’re trying to get to the bottom of that issue……..

Yes – there are several customers out there that ordered multiple units - - ordering one unit at multiple dealers – so that when one came in, they’d be one of the first to have a new Camaro. (…….leaving a Camaro for that dealer to sell – which is a good thing if you find one – but NOT such a good thing if you were, say, number 5 on a dealer’s list -- and the individuals who did this were ahead of you…….).

Yes – there are some on this very site that have claimed to have had a new Camaro on order – notice I used ‘plural’ in this sentence – and when asked for their order number – well – they didn’t actually order one! But they won’t tell YOU that……….

And Yes! We should be building Camaros at a faster rate – but again, quality must be the beacon in everything we do.

We DO value you.

We DO want to make you happy.

However, we cannot just place every R6P order right now – because we can’t build them all RIGHT NOW – but we WILL get them built – and we hope to have most of you behind the steering wheels of your new Camaros just as soon as possible.

And we will not violate the laws of individual states or federal law..........

Now – I know I’m going to get flamed AGAIN……..

...........and I know that some won’t believe what I’ve just written….

..........and there are those who have opinions even though they have never worked in this industry, and thus, while it’s every person’s God Given Right to have an opinion – it is not necessarily so that the opinion has ANYTHING to do with fact.

And yes, there will be reasonable people on this site that come to my aid – and they’ll also be flamed and told that they ‘don’t understand.’

That’s unfortunate.

……..And unfortunately for both of us, I can’t be held hostage with “either do this or I’ll buy something else!” If we can do something, we will! If we can’t – I’m truly sorry.

Now – last thoughts.

It’s been difficult to be a Camaro Enthusiast since – oh— say – the year 2000???

The rumors were out there that the Camaro was going to die – and then it DID go on hiatus.

The rebirth started on January 9th, 2006 in Cobo Center in the heart of Detroit – when we unveiled the Camaro Concept. A little more than three years later, the Camaro is in production - -quite amazing when you realize we really didn’t start to work on the production car until the FALL of 2006.

Should we have unveiled the Camaro Concept it that early? Well – we knew that the Challenger would be shown – and we knew that the Mustang was very well received…….and so we took the gamble – not even knowing if the program would be approved for production. After all, our enthusiasts (that’s you..) kept asking: ARE YOU GOING TO DO A NEW CAMARO????

We listened – and we unveiled it to unbelievable acclaim!

Three years later, you have a Camaro that’s a dead ringer for the Concept Camaro!

We listened to you.

You said (in so many words--) “DON’T SCREW THIS UP GM! WE WANT THAT CAMARO!!!” (Meaning: don’t ruin the style! Don’t water it down!)

Three years later we have our first owners taking delivery – and in almost every case, they tell YOU ‘the car exceeds my expectations!’ –

....and, yes, in some cases they tell you: “this new Camaro FAR exceeds my expectations!”

So – yes – I’m asking you to wait a little longer.

I KNOW it’s hard.

Believe me, I DO know it’s hard to wait – because you love this new Camaro……

I’m on this (and several other ) site just about every day – lurking for the most part. Is it in my job description to do so? No. Should I be on this site? Absolutely – that is, if I want – and we want – this to be the best Camaro ever.

Do I lose my patience?

Boy Howdy! (that tends to happen when you get 4 hours of sleep each early morning…)

But I will tell you this: Based on everything I’ve witnessed – from full-grown men bursting into tears when first seeing the Silver Concept Camaro in January of 2006 – the ‘reverence’ that I witnessed in peoples’ behavior the first time people saw the Concept Convertible – the expressions on faces – and exclamations when we unveiled the Camaro to the press – and to YOU at Indy last September – the ‘perma-grin’ I see on owners’ faces when they get behind the wheel of their new Camaro for the first time –

…….I truly believe you’ll find it was worth the wait……..

Thanks for listening.

Thanks for your understanding.

….and thank you, once again, for “Keeping the Faith”

Last edited by fbodfather; 05-06-2009 at 10:09 PM.
fbodfather is offline