LAS VEGAS -- General Motors Co. is studying whether to revive brands for performance vehicles to improve its image among go-fast car shoppers.
At the Specialty Equipment Market Association trade show here last week, GM unveiled the Z-Spec Chevrolet Cruze, Volt and Spark cars, and two SS-badged Chevrolet Camaros.
The debuts signal that the company’s new performance vehicles and motorsports division -- launched eight weeks ago -- is looking harder at performance brands, said Chris Perry, vice president of Chevrolet marketing.
Last year GM put development of performance-branded vehicles on hold and reassigned about 60 engineers. It’s still possible to buy a Camaro SS or Cadillac CTS V-Spec developed by the disbanded group.
“Right now we don’t have a performance sub-brand in us,” Perry said in an interview. “For now it might not be a sub-brand. It might be initiatives around parts and accessories.”
Despite all the hoopla at GM’s SEMA booth, the Chevrolet Z-Spec and SS vehicles were big on badging and body kits but light on actual performance modifications.
Perry noted that GM traditionally has left performance modifications -- which typically void the manufacturer’s warranty -- to aftermarket suppliers. He prefers to look at the Z-Spec trio of vehicles as “canvases for personalization.”
“There’s a lot of passion around the Chevrolet brand. A woman here had a Chevy bowtie tattoo on her neck,” Perry said. “There is a latent fondness we have to ignite. Is building a performance parts business the way to do that? Maybe.”