California Autos Examiner

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ed Peper on Chevrolet MPV-7, Beat, Groove and Kappa

At the LA show we had a round table with Chevrolet General Manger, Ed Peper. During the Q&A section I asked Ed about the MPV-7 and the possibility of it being sold here in the States. Firstly, Ed stated that he feels the MPV-7 is not a small minivan but rather a more stylized people mover. The MPV-7 would be substantially smaller than the forthcoming Traverse crossover and would subsequently get better fuel mileage.

The overall impression I got from Ed was that he was pretty upbeat on bringing the MPV-7 here. The vehicle would have a lower entry price and combined with the better mileage would seemingly be hitting the two keynotes that Chevrolet is trying to stress: value and economy.

Given that the MPV-7 is going to be built here in the USA regardless of whether or not it is sold here and combined with the fact that GM is now engineering all of its vehicles to meet US safety standards, I don't think it's that big of a risk for Chevrolet to take a stab at the market.

The same logic goes for the Chevrolet Beat. GM has committed to building the Beat, but made no promises on selling it here in the USA. In discussions with Ed it was very clear that he is placing a high value on fuel economy going forward and was fond of saying "It (fuel economy) is not going to be any less important." If I could describe the look on Ed's face while talking about the Beat's possibilities here in the USA, I'd say it was one of firm resolution.

Now, the question turns to the second top vote getter, the Groove. GM had intended all along to build the Beat. I think that move was telegraphed by the very similar looking WTCC concept shown in Paris. However, given the very strong showing by the Groove in the online poll, I think that GM is strongly considering building it. When Ed was talking about the Beat, he would say things like "I think they have tremendous potential in the marketplace." Notice the "they" and not "it", seems like he's referring to more than one model, no?

On a final topic, I asked about a Kappa sports car for Chevrolet. When the first Kappa concepts appeared, there was the Chevy Nomad, a station wagon that apparently didn't clinic very well. After the Solstice and Sky appeared, there were rumors of Chevrolet getting a little convertible of its own, perhaps called Stingray. The rumors died down and I hadn't read anything lately, so I posed the question to Ed. The basic answer: CAMARO! It's the feeling of management that between the Camaro coupe and convertible and the Corvette coupe and convertible they have their bases covered. No Kappa for you!

GM wants you to know that they paid my way for this trip.

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