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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
A lot of talk on this board about a published 20,000 critical number for each Kappa roadster. But what if that number is helped by the use of each as a development towards a future, unnamed Kappa 2+2? We worry about the break even but what if, going in, GM had never fully intended to bring down much of a profit on their roadsters? What if there's a 2+2 in the wings waiting to swoop down and reap the rewards of a year or two of refinement that production brings?

The potential market for a small, rear wheel drive car is HUGE! Given the popularity and development over the last decade in drag racing front wheel drive cars and the growing interest in "Drifting", to bring to market a small rear wheel drive car with an engine with the potential of the Ecotec for big HP numbers would be a trump play! In spite of the front wheel drive, single digit quarter mile times are common place. But all those Jetta and Civic tuners would climb over their cars to get to a Nomad-like car. Picture what the market would be for a $15,000 to $25,000 rear drive compact! Who would be it's compitition? No one! Is there a market out there? No doubt! Could you afford to loose a little on your roadster to bring this thing to fruition? YES!
 

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DreamerDave said:
The potential market for a small, rear wheel drive car is HUGE! Given the popularity and development over the last decade in drag racing front wheel drive cars and the growing interest in "Drifting", to bring to market a small rear wheel drive car with an engine with the potential of the Ecotec for big HP numbers would be a trump play! In spite of the front wheel drive, single digit quarter mile times are common place. But all those Jetta and Civic tuners would climb over their cars to get to a Nomad-like car. Picture what the market would be for a $15,000 to $25,000 rear drive compact! Who would be it's compitition? No one! Is there a market out there? No doubt! Could you afford to loose a little on your roadster to bring this thing to fruition? YES!
I guess it depends on what is considered "huge". The people you mention that might be interested in a stretched Kappa are really just a small group of people when taken in the context of the whole North American buying market. Drifting, Drag racing and Tuners are really just sub-cultures in America. The idea that lots of people are really looking for small rear drive cars seems optimistic. I look around where I live and find that most people still prefer driving to work and back in lumber wagons. The new craze last year seemed to be 4 door pickup trucks. The bigger the better.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Nomad, and I think that a stretched 2+2 is not only a good idea, but essential to the Kappa platform ever being profitable in the long run. However, I doubt that small RWD sports coupes are going to be the new choice mode of transportion in America (as much as we could use a trend like that!), and the average compact buyer would probably prefer a FWD car for not having a drive tunnel hump and a bigger trunk. I also don't think that many Civic buyers are likely to switch to a GM product. They buy Civics because they are Hondas and not too many other reasons. Bottom line is that people that buy Civics and Jettas don't trust GM too much and FWD makes sense most of the time.

I agree with you, there is a decent market out there for bigger Kappas, and it would be a good thing for GM and the future of the Kappa platform. I also agree that the potential seems to be there for racing opportunities and aftermarket mods. The RWD, stiff chassis (I hope) and Ecotech potential speaks to this. I'm sure Mr. Lutz has this in mind. I just don't think that the potential market for Kappas is ever going to be huge, just profitable I hope. You may be right if you ment "huge" in the context of the performance/hot rod/tuner/custom world, but "huge" in the context of automotive production numbers and sales is not likely. :cheers
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Why I say HUGE:
In the ninties, the last rear wheel drive sport compact died (Nissan 240SX). So people, like me, had to buy what was available, small front wheel drive sport compacts. And people, like me, spent time and money to get more performance out of them. But no one asked us if we wanted front wheel drive. Well GM missed the sport compact boat. All US manufacturers missed that boat for almost ten years until Ford got into it with a better Focus and DaimlerChrysler with their turbo Neon. But it was too late. Sport compact market share fell to Japan and with it brand loyalty. Most of people over thirty who drive Hondas and Jettas now, used to drive domestic.

People stopped buying front wheel drive mini vans to buy rear wheel drive SUV's. Large SUV's were hot when gas was thought to be cheap but now that people are complaining about poor gas mileage they sit on the lots. The swing is back to more fuel efficent transportation. So GM will put hoods on their minivans so they look more like SUV's and tell people it's the best of both worlds.

When the head of the just formed DaimlerChrysler was asked what US citizen wanted to drive he said "large, V6 powered, automatic front wheel drive cars" because that was all there was. But someone set him straight and they took a chance and now 300M's and Magnums are the hot car in their segment.

By HUGE I mean, imagine if a quarter of the small cars you see with loud exhaust and big wheels was a GM car. And I'm not saying abandon the Cobalt. But it's got to be something more than hopping up a Cavalier to get them out of there Hondas. A Redline FWD vs a Redline RWD is a no brainer. That's why I say rear wheel drive.

We talk about the Solstice competing with the Miata. But what if GM was making the only car in a particular segment. To say no one wants a rear wheel drive sport compact when there is none made is like saying no one wants a flyng car or anti gravity boots. If you build it, they will come.

Sorry 'bout the long rant. :rolleyes
 

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I drive a RWD V8 Chevy Silverado, despite NOT being a truck guy, because I don't like front wheel drive econoboxes. I really wanted a RWD car along the lines of the Impala SS or the Ford 427 Concept. But a small RWD sport coupe like the Nomad would be very attractive to me. Sure, I would prefer a strong pulling v6 to a four-banger. But sad to say, most all small cars are either ugly or very strangely designed with poor details. The Nomad is gorgeous, and given the sports car handling with the utility of the additional storage and the rear seats for emergency duty, I could easily live with the Ecotec motor for a Nomad daily driver to go along with my Solstice for weekends & travel duty.

As it is, I will likely keep my truck unless or until someone builds a good-looking, sporty small coupe with RWD being Mandatory. Please GM, build the Nomad. I DEFINITELY want one, and this is coming from more or less a dedicated v8 guy!
 

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and if i can chime in on this.... the bmw '3' series is basically a compact , rear wheel drive car. my 2000 bmw323i w/ sport package (for me) ,steptronic trans (for my wife) and sunroof was over 32k. i think the base model is about 32k now with no options. when i bouught mine, no one was giving rebates or discounts on these cars. they were selling all they could make.
i think there would be a good response for a RWD sport coupe/sedan if the performance and finish were good and the price was in the 22-27k neighborhood. and there is no reason it couldn't be built by g.m. - the Kappa platform looks like a good place to start. gm just needs to decide that it is going to compete against the bmw '3' series and the Audi A4 and build a car with fit and finish equal to the Saab 9-3; a car they are building now on the same platform as the malibu if i have my facts straight.
 

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It’s a good thought that Solstice (and Sky) could be a loss leader for a future Kappa, but based on everything I have seen about GM’s creation of the Kappa platform, and what GM has done in the past I find it unlikely that they will accept these cars as a loss leader for a different Kappa.

GM has essentially stated that they created Kappa to fill a couple niches with unique and fun to drive small RWD vehicles. They don’t intend any one line to sell in large volumes, but by making a number of small volume niche vehicles off a common architecture they could still make them at a profit.

So along those lines, I think they do expect to make some money off Sky and Solstice. Its not going to look like a huge profit for either based on the small volume, but their profit combined, and the profit of future models combined will begin to look better. Although GM probably can eat losses on some Kappa vehicles if others are profitable, there goal is really to get themselves into a number of niche markets and make money in all of them. So I do not think they are looking for a loss leader in the hopes of helping future products.

Second are GM’s feelings towards low volume loss leaders as halo vehicles. They don’t like them. GM decided it was not making much money on the C4 Corvette and put the C5 project on hold, essentially cutting funding. Had they not done this, the C5 would have appeared in the very early 90’s. GM was preparing to pull the plug on Corvette once the C4 chassis got too old to be useful and sales dies down far enough. Now there is no bigger halo vehicle than the Corvette, not only for Chevy but for all of GM. The Corvette was saved by some Chevy engineers and insiders who siphoned money out of other vehicle lines, especially the f-body development budget, to continue the C5 project. They did manage to save Corvette, and it has turned into a highly profitable model for GM. However, it does show that they were not interested in even the Corvette as a loss leader. If they wouldn’t accept it as a loss leader, I doubt they would be ok with Solstice.

Another angle I think is important to consider. The 2+2 Kappa is basically still a concept. There is no vehicle scheduled for production on a stretched Kappa yet, and therefore not a lot of development has been finished on a stretched chassis. Its going to be at least a couple years before a 2+2 could be brought to market. The 2 seaters will have to carry the platform. These 2 cars are all the bean counters will have to evaluate Kappa, and if they do not look like successes on paper, GM may be hesitant to approve future Kappa projects for fear of other disappointments.

The idea of a highly successful RWD 2+2 compact may not be that far fetched. The chassis, suspension and engine are certainly appealing enough to be popular in the compact sport market. However, the Kappa platform has to survive long enough to make it to that point too, and GM does not always have the most patience.

My prediction, at least one of these two must meet sales goals and be considered a hit. Second, it must remain popular without a drastic fall-off in sales the second and third year on the market. If it can manage that, GM will feel confident other Kappa projects could find success, and the roadster in question will survive.

Sorry for the long post!
 

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Eh, I'm not sure the market is there for a RWD sports compact. I wish I was wrong, but I've been dreaming of one for quite a while. I thought the Dodge Razor was the answer to my prayers, but even that project fell to the wayside. I could be wrong, but other than drifting being trendy right now among jobless teens, I don't hear any of the 300 people I work with ever mention desiring such a car and I've taked about it alot. Even if there was a market among 18-25 years olds, the insurance spike that would eventually hit them would cause alot of forced sales just as it did with the Pony cars.
 

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Darkhamr said:
Eh, I'm not sure the market is there for a RWD sports compact. I wish I was wrong, but I've been dreaming of one for quite a while. I thought the Dodge Razor was the answer to my prayers, but even that project fell to the wayside. I could be wrong, but other than drifting being trendy right now among jobless teens, I don't hear any of the 300 people I work with ever mention desiring such a car and I've taked about it alot. Even if there was a market among 18-25 years olds, the insurance spike that would eventually hit them would cause alot of forced sales just as it did with the Pony cars.
I think your right. I can think of another factor that would work against a RWD compact that had to sell in some volume. The majority of the big 3’s market share on the car side of the business tends to be in the northeast. Its no coincidence this is where most of their current and former employees, and families reside. However, RWD vehicles tend to be a tough sell in the northeast due to the weather. Especially non-sports cars that get driven year round. To be successful on a RWD compact car. Without an AWD option, I think even an affordable RWD compact would be tough to move for the General. The only thing that could save them would be widespread acceptance from import compact buyers. GM has not been too good in attracting those buyers so far, and a lot of it has to do with image and reputation and not product.
 

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Bottom line, FWD is the best choice for most cars (ie. people movers) and most people don't care which end drives the car (with the exception to those that believe they can't do without AWD). Having said that, there is a place for RWD peformance cars, and most companies have come to realize that after having almost compleatly elliminating the RWD car.

RWD also has come to earn marketing cache much like 4WD has. Today 4WD means rugged, youthful go anywhere and RWD means serious performance driving, while FWD seems boring, utilitarian and ordinary in the eyes of some consumers. The opposite thing was true in the 80's when the move was towards FWD. FWD drive ment smart, intellegent design and RWD ment old, outdated and behind the times.

Car marketing and sales are just as much a victim of fashion and trends as any other consumer product. FWD, RWD and AWD all have their places for different applications, and the marketing and public acceptance of each will ebb and flow, but I wouldn't look for a RWD revolution to take over or anything. Hopefully automakers will be able to strike a balance and utilize each drive system for specific advantage in intended platform end uses. I think they are getting there now. :thumbs
 

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Discussion Starter #10
:agree I wish I could find the link but yesterday I read that BMW would sell in the US a new, smaller 100 series of "Rear Wheel Drive Sport Compacts in the $18,000 to $25,000 range" to compete with the popular performance cars in that market. I'll add the link when I find it.
 

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BMW has been considering the 1 Series for our shores, but before you get too excited about the growing RWD compact market, be aware that the market is really clamoring for entry level luxury branded vehicles and the 1 Series happens to be RWD.

The popular vehicles in this market segment are as follows: Volvo S40 (FWD/AWD), Audi A3 (FWD/AWD, not for sale yet but soon), Mercedes C230 coupe (RWD but is being dropped in a year or so), Saab 9-2x (AWD, really a Saaburu), and I suppose the Acura RSX-S too (FWD).

I hate to call it the growing cheap brand snob market, but that is what it looks like more to me than a growing performance compact market. Sure these cars offer good levels of performance, but aside from maybe the RSX-S buyers in this market are looking for the premium name badge first, and some performance second.
 

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Fformula88 said:
BMW has been considering the 1 Series for our shores, but before you get too excited about the growing RWD compact market, be aware that the market is really clamoring for entry level luxury branded vehicles and the 1 Series happens to be RWD.

The popular vehicles in this market segment are as follows: Volvo S40 (FWD/AWD), Audi A3 (FWD/AWD, not for sale yet but soon), Mercedes C230 coupe (RWD but is being dropped in a year or so), Saab 9-2x (AWD, really a Saaburu), and I suppose the Acura RSX-S too (FWD).

I hate to call it the growing cheap brand snob market, but that is what it looks like more to me than a growing performance compact market. Sure these cars offer good levels of performance, but aside from maybe the RSX-S buyers in this market are looking for the premium name badge first, and some performance second.
Yeah, I had have to a agree with all of that. I think most people just want to turn the key and go with as little intrusion on their time as possible. FWD allows them to run all-season tires and do that. Not many want to store two sets of wheels and tires anymore. The rest of the considerations is just satisfying their perceived "wants". Whether that is name brand as FF mentions or vehicle segment,etc. If the vehicle that satisfies those wants happens to be RWD then they accept it. For now. I hear most people being gaga over the 300C / Magnum. Just this morning one of the guys who has one was leading a discussion about how it handled in the freezing rain yesterday as compared to the minivan he just traded in. "Scary" was the word he used. LOL I'm thinking after a full winter he will be considering his purchase unwise and overly spontaneous for his "needs". :nopity
 

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Darkhamr said:
I hear most people being gaga over the 300C / Magnum. Just this morning one of the guys who has one was leading a discussion about how it handled in the freezing rain yesterday as compared to the minivan he just traded in. "Scary" was the word he used. LOL I'm thinking after a full winter he will be considering his purchase unwise and overly spontaneous for his "needs". :nopity
I believe that people are buying the 300C/Magnum for their looks and hot rod image. These cars also illustrate what I was saying about RWD being reborn as a "performance and enthusiast" preference in the eyes of the consumer. However, if Chrysler had stuck to FWD on these cars and kept the Hemi V8s, I believe that they would sell damb near the same. Car enthusiasts would bitch and say "If only it were RWD", but people would buy them anyhow because they look like they kick ass and take names and have the muscle to back it up. Fortunately Chrysler did the job right.

The poor boob you mention just has to adjust his driving and go back to old school driving. It's a big change to go from a mini van to presumably a Magnum with the hemi. You are correct that maybe he didn't calculate his needs vs. wants all that well, but he is no doubt a victim of fashion. His reasoning was no doubt; performance = young, cool and fun, Big engine + RWD = performance, and so with out considering foul weather and safety he made the purchase. He will either adapt, or trade it in on some FWD or AWD vehicle. Like I have said before, FWD is not without it's merits and there are reasons why it has taken the world by storm.

I love the 300C/Magnum by the way, but I live in California. :D
 

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Good points. Fashion often wins out, and the 300C and Magnum certainly epitomize that. They have a big engine, but so do other cars. What sets these apart is the looks, and that is what is attracting people.

Its too bad that Magnum owner didn’t hold out for a AWD version if he thinks the bad weather handling of his car is scary. Had he gotten the AWD, chances are he would not have any complaints or concerns whatsoever with the vehicle!
 

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Well, RWD sells me. We can't be alone on this.
 

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jimbo said:
Well, RWD sells me. We can't be alone on this.
Sure, RWD will sell, and especially to enthusiasts. Its just harder to sell in greater volumes in certain areas of the country due to weather conditions. Especially when its a RWD with a short wheelbase and is low to the ground. Thats like the perfect storm of vehicle attibutes to curtail snowy weather operation.
 

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Fformula88 said:
Sure, RWD will sell, and especially to enthusiasts. Its just harder to sell in greater volumes in certain areas of the country due to weather conditions. Especially when its a RWD with a short wheelbase and is low to the ground. Thats like the perfect storm of vehicle attibutes to curtail snowy weather operation.
Just to add to this, just imagine that you are one of the vast majority of people out there that doesn't give a crap which end of the car gets you down the road, wouldn't you rather not have a hump down the center of your car and have a bigger trunk? Manufactures also like FWD because it's a little cheaper to build, and in the case of entry level and economy cars, the savings can be passed on to the consumer. FWD just makes good sense most of the time. It's just performance enthusiasts that piss and moan about it.

Fortunatly, Manufacturers are listening, and cars with a performance minded audience in mind are starting to come with RWD. The Solstice is a perfect example. IMO the Kappa platform was made entirely with performance in mind, so there will be RWD options out there in the future, just don't look for some kind of RWD revolution. FWD will continue to dominate.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
:agree but...I was saying that a small RWD car would sell well but not replace FWD. As you said, the vast majority doesn't care if they're pulled or pushed. And the vast majority of cars will continue to be FWD. But there is a very large number of buyers out there that have almost nothing to buy. This leaves a group of buyers out in the cold. That is group is a whole lot bigger than those that would consider a small roadster.

As a group, but each for their individual reasons, manufactures have moved to sell ONLY front wheel drive small compact cars. Yes, there's Subaru and now BMW but there's nothing from Ford, GM, DaimlerChrysler, Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Hundai, etc, etc.

And:
The popular vehicles in this market segment are as follows: Volvo S40 (FWD/AWD), Audi A3 (FWD/AWD, not for sale yet but soon), Mercedes C230 coupe (RWD but is being dropped in a year or so), Saab 9-2x (AWD, really a Saaburu), and I suppose the Acura RSX-S too (FWD).
Which one of those sells for under $25,000? Yes that market is driven by the name dropper snobs and most of the BMW's will be sold to those who are buying it just for the name. But my hope is it will be like a renewed 2002ei. I'm talking about the same group that GM is trying so hard to attract with their Performance Divisions (Redline, etc). Remember all the stuff they showed at SEMA. And speaking of SEMA, what do you think is one of the largest groups? My guess is those catering to the sport compact cars.

Yes, FWD cars can be made to be almost as fast as RWD. And they suck in the snow. And they will continue to dominate the market by a huge amount. But from a marketing stand point, it would pay to risk possibly loosing a little on a RWD roadster to sell a much larger number later to an under-represented RWD sport compact crowd, especially if the roadster has such a probable chance to make a profit.
 
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