Some Chevrolet dealers said today they aren't sure why there's such a brouhaha over General Motors Co.'s edict that the shortened “Chevy” name not be used in company communications.
On Tuesday, GM sent a memo to employees urging they use the brand's full name Chevrolet for consistency.
Dealers said customers aren't likely to stop saying Chevy.
“Everybody seems to call it Chevy and not Chevrolet, so how do you retrain the entire world?” asked Gordon Stewart, who owns four Chevrolet stores.
GM already began retreating from the memo early today, just hours after the news broke in The New York Times.
Reacting to what it called an “emotional debate,” GM put out a statement today saying “We love Chevy,” but saying the brand needs a consistent name for advertising and marketing. The statement called the memo “poorly worded.”
It added: “In no way are we discouraging customers or fans from using the name.”
40 years too late?
Robert Potamkin, who owns the Potamkin Automotive Group, including Potamkin GM in Manhattan, said: “I don't think they will be successful in getting people to change from calling Chevy Chevrolet.”
“They are swimming upstream. Chevy is a household name,” said Potamkin. “They are probably 40 years too late."
Stewart said he thinks the employee mandate will be short-lived. The full Chevrolet name and logo are used in advertising, he says.
Stewart notes that “Chevy” is too strongly ingrained in pop culture to disappear. “There are even songs -- ‘I drove my Chevy to the levee' -- that's why everyone knows the brand,” said Stewart, whose stores are in Garden City, Mich.; Tampa, Fla.; Orange Park, Fla.; and Augusta, Ga.
Tommy Brasher, owner of Brasher Motor Co. in Weimar, Texas, said the flap “doesn't doesn't bother me one way or another.”
But he also agreed consumers aren't going to stop saying “Chevy.”
“It is hard to teach an old dog new tricks,” he said. “Surely they have more serious things to worry about.”
Won't change the image
John Manganelli, owner of 86th Street Chevrolet in Brooklyn, N.Y., said the average layman knows the terminology. “Everyone who is looking to drive an automobile knows Chevy means Chevrolet and General Motors.”
Manganelli said using Chevrolet won't change the company's image. “I don't feel it's a big deal.”
Richard Malouf, owner of Malouf Chevrolet Cadillac Inc. in North Brunswick, N.J., said it's too early to assess whether there will be a major change in the way GM advertises Chevrolet product.
Malouf said employees in his dealership usually say Chevrolet -- just like they say Cadillac. “You don't say Caddy. When a customer knows what Chevrolet is, you may use Chevy.”
Other brands certainly don't shorten their names, Malouf said. “You don't say ‘Lexy' for Lexus or ‘Merc' for Mercedes-Benz.”