General Motors proudly unveiled the Chevrolet Volt hybrid vehicle this week, first to an audience of mainly ex-GM owners and then to a a gathering of media and analysts. The look of a proud parent was impossible to miss at these events, and why not- the Volt can tout an estimated highway MPG rating of 230. This staggering figure changes the game in hybrid vehicles. Toyota Prius, the current market leader, can get only about 1/4 of the Volt’s mileage performance. The Volt’s price tag of $35,000-40,000 makes it less than a slam dunk success when it hits the market in 2010, but its launch is critical to GM’s success going forward. The impressive mileage performance of the Volt sends a signal that GM is capable of producing innovative new products.
The coming out parties for the Chevy Volt signal intentions for change at GM. CEO Fritz Henderson says the company will put consumers first; the meeting with ex-customers before holding the media event was symbolic of the goal to focus more on consumers. Greater effort will be made to get consumer feedback, according to Henderson. Let’s not get too crazy about that statement; that is what marketing is about, after all. At least we should credit GM for adopting the right mindset.
Henderson also discussed marketing strategy. The corporate GM brand will be downplayed as most resources will be directed toward the four remaining GM brands (Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GM) and the various models that are subbrands of the four brands. This move is appropriate. There is not a great deal to be gained by promoting the GM brand today. It carries a great deal of negative baggage. Greater consumer interest will likely exist for the different GM nameplates, not the parent brand. Focusing marketing efforts on the four brands allows GM to reach customers at the level where they are evaluating choices, at the brand level.
Marketing Daily – “General Motors Addresses Consumers First”