Would Camaro Man go Hybrid?

August 16, 2007: Source – Detroit Free Press

2009 Camaro concept

GM watchers muse that the company’s two-mode hybrid system, which debuts this fall in Tahoe and Yukon, might someday be adapted to a muscle car. Cylinder deactivation combined with an electric motor could boost the fuel economy of a theoretical Camaro V8 hybrid to 40 mpg in the city.

But other companies have already tried muscle hybrids and found them wanting. As reported in the Detroit Free Press:

There’s a real question as to whether buyers want a hybrid performance car, though. Honda failed when it pitched the hybrid Accord as a performance model, and the go-fast hybrid version of Lexus’ GS sport sedan has struggled, said Rebecca Lindland, analyst with Global Insight, Lexington, Mass.

“The traditional hybrid buyer is not worried about performance,” she said. “That may be changing, but even the slightest hint that it didn’t perform as well as the non-hybrid would be death.”

Of course, the hybrid Camaro is pure speculation at this point. Is it coincidence that the 2009 concept’s body looks an awful lot like the Volt?

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  • gok

    Accord and Lexus aren’t muscle cars makers. If GM drops in a souped up volt power train in the Camaro it will sell. Because it doesn’t look like an accord or lexus. Plus muscle car lovers can’t look at a japanese car and think muscle car. It’s just the paradigm they live with.

  • ex-EV1 driver

    The solution to high performance with a hybrid is not to try to milk a little more mpg out of a huge, inefficient V8 engine by adding cylinder control and an electric motor. These things only make it more complex. The right thing to di is to beef up a small Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) with an electric motor that easily produces high torque. The HAH proved that the big ICE isn’t the solution.
    With a small ICE and strong Electric motor, one can get economy car mpg and muscle car acceleration – IN THE SAME VEHICLE!
    I guess Tesla is the only solution out there.

  • dfschim

    The Tesla lists for 98,000. At 25,000 it would be revolutionary. At 98,000 it is an interesting science experiment. It is not a solution to any question that people without 6 figure incomes ask. The Tesla is also not a hybrid.

    The price that a muscle car buyer wants to pay is just like a midsized sedan buyer, around 25,000. Go up to 30,000 and you are talking about near luxury cars like the Mercedes C Class.

    There are really two kinds of muscle car buyers out there. The first are baby boomers who grew up with American V-8’s and want a nostalgia mobile to transport them back to their youth. The Mustang and the new Camaro and Challenger will fill that role. If you put hybrid equipment in these cars you would probably get the same fuel economy you get in a Lexus GS 450h, 22 City, 25 Hwy, 23 Combined. That is probably as good as you can expect with an honest V-8 rumble under the hood.

    The other set of muscle car buyers are more interested in the formula for a muscle car than in resurrecting the 60’s and 70’s. The formula that worked was take a compact or midsized American car, cut the wheelbase to 108 to 100 inches, and put in the biggest engine that fits from the next size larger American car. These buyers were upset when GM decided to not build a front wheel drive Camaro and Firebird. They could see that being faithful to the original idea of a cheap performance car based on a family sedan was more important than the preservation of the American V-8 muscle car. GM did not listen to them and watched the Camaro and Firebird die in the 90’s as the sedans that shared their V-8’s disappeared and their prices rose beyond the level that the younger musclecar buyers wanted to spend. Applying the same formula today will get you a front wheel drive muscle car, a direct descendant of the Chrysler and Plymoth Laser, Dodge Charger and Daytona, Eagle Talon, Ford EXP and Probe, Mercury LN7 and Cougar, Buick Skyhawk, Chevy Cavalier, Olds Firenza and Pontiac Sunbird from the 80’s and 90’s. The engine these front wheel drive muscle cars will have will be a turbo 4 or a V-6. The V-6 version would do as well as an Accord hybrid 24/32/27. A turbo 4 could get to 40 MPG city.

    The Japanese had their own problem with their sports cars in the 90’s. They made the same choices as GM and watched the price of the 300ZX and Supra climb when they stopped making rear wheel drive sedans here. New Celica, RSX, MX-6, Eclipse, and 200SX hybrids would be welcome here. After all people forget, but the Celica started out as a Challenger/Camaro copy and the 200SX as a Mustang copy, so those cars could rightfully become muscle cars too if they went back to their roots and copied American style.

  • Tony

    dfschim, Tesla never really claimed to be anything other than an “interesting science experiment”. Their roadster (which last I heard listed for well over 100k, but maybe they’ve come down) was almost a concept car with the promise of more to come.

    To be sure, I have read in recent months that Tesla is planning what they call a mainstream, mass-production model for the consumer market. But even this is to sell for over $50k, at least last I heard.

    I suspect, however, that Tesla may end up benefiting from Chevy’s R&D spending on the Volt. One of the battery makers that Chevy is funding is A123, which I believe supplies the batteries for the Tesla Roadster. If and when A123 starts making batteries for the Chevy Volt a couple hundred thousand at a time, prices should come down. While Tesla obviously won’t be able to get the same pricing on 5000 of them as Chevy gets on a quarter million, they will also not be paying anywhere near what they are now. That should help put their offerings into the reach of more consumers.

  • Collin Burnell

    I drive the new Nissan Altima Hybrid. The electric motor on this car is awesome and the raw acceleration is is quite thrilling. I agree that a smaller ICE and a larger electric motor would make a very fast and fuel efficient vehicle. I can’t wait until the racing circuit’s get there hands on the racing potential of Hybrids. That’s when the muscle car buyers will take notice.

  • ssssss

    this new Camaro, hybrid or not, BETTER BE AVAILABLE WITH T-TOPS!!!!

  • Anon

    T Tops wouldn’t suit the styling

  • numuzi

    I know this is very late but I can’t help but to comment.

    Camaro being hybrid gives a new chance for classic car to emerge into the limelight once again.

    I own a 1982 Camaro and I’m reading about Camaro engine performance modifications lately which made me conclude that the idea of hybrid classic Camaro cars is not far from reality.