SAN FRANCISCO -- Stung by the success of the Ford Mustang and Chrysler 300, Chevrolet is studying rear-drive cars. The brand could decide this year whether to build more rwd vehicles.
"I think we probably will have more to talk about in the next several months," says Ed Peper, Chevrolet general manager.
The rwd Mustang, 300 and Dodge Magnum are selling well without cash rebates. Ford expects to produce 192,000 Mustangs this year.
And Dodge is expected to resurrect the Challenger name for a rwd Mustang-fighter around 2009.
With the exception of the Corvette, all Chevrolet cars have front-wheel drive.
Asked at a press event here whether a rwd sedan, coupe or Chevrolet Camaro-type vehicle are being considered, Peper said, "We are looking at some of those segments right now."
Peper says he is not sure whether Chevrolet will have a rwd concept car at the Detroit auto show in January.
"The ideas and the concepts are being talked about right now," he said.
General Motors was planning to introduce the first in a family of rwd cars for North America in 2007. The vehicles were planned on a rwd platform code-named Zeta. But the automaker's financial problems forced it to cancel Zeta this year.
Yet GM insiders still expect the company to develop a range of rwd cars, although the platform and timetable are unclear. Already in the pipeline are the Pontiac Solstice, a rwd roadster coming this fall and a sister car, the Saturn Sky, scheduled to arrive next spring. Both were developed on the small rwd Kappa platform.
Chevrolet's last large high-volume rwd car was the Caprice, which was scrapped after the 1996 model year. The sporty rwd Camaro was dropped at the end of the 2002 model year.
Regarding the Mustang, Jim Campbell, Chevrolet car marketing director, says: "I wake up every day knowing that I am spotting Ford 150,000 to 200,000 units.
"Do we want to take that head-on? Absolutely we do. There's an opportunity for a rear-wheel-drive coupe."
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