At the recent 2008 Southeast/South Central GM Collection in Nashville, the world's No. 1 car maker pulled out all the stops. It brought in a senior GM executive and numerous new vehicles for the automotive folks to test drive. Among the notable ones were the 2008 Cadillac CTS, Saturn Vue, Buick Enclave, Pontiac Torrent GXP, Hummer H3 Alpha and the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon hybrids. On display, for a peek only, were the all-new Chevy Malibu and the Pontiac G8, a replacement for the Grand Prix.
Starting at $19,995, the midsize Malibu will be pitted against the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord and Nissan Altima. GM also plans to introduce a hybrid version at $22,790. "We didn't set out to build a better Malibu," says W.W. Brent Dewar, vice president of GM's field sales, service and parts. "We set out to build the best midsize car in the market and the most affordable in its class."
Dewar is equally excited about the rear-wheel-drive G8, which will be equipped with a 3.6-liter V-6 engine (260 horsepower) or a 6.0-liter V-8 engine (355 hp). "With the G8, we are back to Pontiac's roots of performance and design," he says.
Dewar, who has been instrumental in designing the campaign Chevy, An American Revolution says the top five reasons to buy a GM vehicle today are: exterior styling, value for money, fuel economy, dependability and dealership sales experience. To attract more buyers, GM has sought to reduce rentals, increase transaction values and highlight its 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain limited warranty.
The success story of the Cadillac transformation brings a smile at GM. "The 2008 CTS has been tested on the finest tracks in the world, including Germany's famed Nurburgring, (known as the Ring)" Dewar says. "Great attention has been paid to detail, especially the interior. At Saturn, we have the Aura - the North American Car of the Year. And then there is the upcoming Astra."
The Buick Enclave continues to be a hotseller, too. "I think it's one of the finest luxury crossovers ever," says Dewar, who also mentions GMC's success with the crossover Acadia and pickup Sierra and the product lineup at Hummer with Alpha 3. "Chevrolet is one of the fastest-growing brands," he says. "We have the Cobalt, the Aero, Impala and the Silverado - 2007 Pickup of the Year."
With gasoline prices at a record high, GM is touting an energy diversity strategy, namely improving the internal combustion engine; utilizing alternative fuels; and producing electrically driven vehicles such as the Chevy Volt.
According to Dewar, the key is to accommodate several energy sources, including petroleum, biofuels, electricity and hydrogen. "By 2008, 2 million vehicles on the road will be equipped with Active Fuel Management, which deactivates four of the eight engines in the 5.3 V-8," he says. "Also helping save fuel is the 3.9-liter V-6 engine."
Flexible fuel or E85 is another part of the solution to the energy problem for GM. "E85 is clear burning, renewable; (it) reduces greenhouse gases and our dependence on foreign oil," says Dewar. Another step toward resolving the energy question is GM's commitment to the 2-mode hybrid and reinventing the automobile with the Chevy Volt. "The plan is to go 'From Gas Friendly - to Gas Free.' "
Wrapping up the day's event, Dewar stresses that GM does not chase the No. 1 position. "We continue to be a leader in the world. We tend to produce locally. We are a global company that is proud to be American."
For information on any GM vehicle, visit www.gm.com.
OnStar puts help at your fingertips
Lost your sense of direction on a desolate highway? Looking for a gas or E85 station? A restaurant and a motel? Run out of gas? Car stolen? If you are in a 2007 GM vehicle, you are in safe hands.
Unarguably, the best and newest feature of OnStar is the Turn-by-Turn Navigation introduced with the 2007 model year in most GM vehicles. Kurt Moats, retail advertising manager for OnStar, recently gave us a brief demonstration of the system by calling up an OnStar adviser about four miles from our destination.
Here's how Turn-by-Turn works. Press the OnStar button to get hold of a live adviser. Give the address of your destination and within 30 seconds, OnStar sends step-by-step directions, audio and visual, to you. In the Chevy Silverado, the visual directions appear on the instrument gauge.
OnStar is free for the first year. Then it's $199 annually for the Safe & Sound package (which doesn't include Turn-by-Turn, Ride Assist or Information/Convenience) or the $299 a year for the Directions & Connections package. However, GM buyers can upgrade to Turn-by-Turn Navigation for an additional $100 during the initial year of service.
For information, go to www.onstar.com.