General Motors plans to sell the Chevrolet Camaro in China.
It also plans to market the Camaro in Europe beginning late this year.
Crazy ideas, right? Think again.
One of the most popular movies in the history of cinema is 2007's Transformers.
The science fiction movie features robots that morph into such things as a fighter jet, boom box, boat, even a car. The action characters are based on the Transformers line of toys created in Japan and introduced here in the early 1980s. Nearly every kid in the past two decades has played with a Transformers' action figure. The toys are still popular today.
Transformers was a global box office hit. The flick is among the Top 40 highest-grossing movies ever made worldwide. A sequel was made in 2009, topping the success of the original. The third and final installment in the Transformers series will debut in July.
One of the stars and heroes of the first two movies, and presumably the third, is Bumblebee, a robot that disguises itself as a high-performance, bright yellow Camaro. Bumblebee toys have been a hot item. So have posters and other merchandise.
Next month, Chevrolet will introduce the Camaro at Auto Shanghai 2011 in China The Camaro also was featured last fall in the Chevrolet display at the Paris auto show.
GM is in the process of launching the Chevrolet brand in Asia and relaunching the brand across Europe.
The Chinese Camaro version will be called the Ke Mai Luo, pack a 3.6-liter V-6 and carry a sticker of about $76,000 (500,000 yuan). GM says the car will be pitted against European models cars that carry a sticker price ranging from about $61,000 to $122,000 (400,000-800,000 yuan). That segment grew 141 percent last year, GM says.
So, considering the success of the Transformer movies and Bumblebee merchandise, will Chevy sell boat loads of Camaros in Europe and China?
Europe, no. The Camaro is too big. China? I expect that there will be plenty of buzz at the auto show, but $76,000 is a high price for admission.
Instead, the Camaro has a more important role. It is a terrific, aspirational car to introduce buyers in China and Europe to a new brand — Chevrolet — and its wide range of vehicles.