Welcome to Japan: General Motors Intros Corvette Stingray C7 and Cadillac CTS (GALLERY; VIDEO)
High-Tech American Sport and Luxury from General Motors Japan
Hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Club and surrounded by about 150 journalists, GM Japan’s managing executives on Wednesday unveiled plans to expand and enliven their J-lineup. 2014 will see the introduction of the sporty but luxurious Chevrolet Corvette Stingray C7 and the luxurious but sporty Cadillac CTS.
Back home, both cars have already won wide praise and shelves of awards. Motor Trend gave the Cadillac CTS its Car of the Year award, and the new Corvette snatched up Road & Track’s Performance Car of the Year and Automobile Magazine’s Automobile of the Year. GM clearly brought their A-game to Japan, and they’ll need it to win over Japanese buyers. And they really, really need to win over Japanese buyers (see GM in Japan below).
So, the Corvette and Cadillac go on sale next April at a cost of ¥9,290,000 - ¥10,990,000 (~$93,000 - $101,000) and ¥5,990,000 - ¥6,990,000 (~$60,000 - $70,000), respectively. That’s quite a bit more than U.S. MSRP, but hey, it’s an import.
We’ll spare you trudging through the specs, but if you are interested and want to get hip to the tech, it does not disappoint. GM space-age engineered the hell outta these cars: they’re safer, lighter yet more rigid, and faster yet more fuel efficient. After squaring away the structural stuff, they then shoehorned in just about every kind of sensor and electronic amenity imaginable. These are easily two of the technodorkiest cars ever put on the road.
The tech goes deep, but briefly, standouts include the Corvette's mode selector that basically toggles like a stereo from ‘Rock’ to ‘Jazz,’ but in this machine it’s more like ‘Lazy City’ to ‘Eco Mode’ to ‘Full-Blown Racecar.’ The high-end version even has sensors to tell you how hot your tires are (more from Chevrolet). The Cadillac is also totally geeked out. It automatically parks itself. Which isn’t novel unless you factor in the part where it also looks for parking spots (more from Cadillac).
Yeaahh, everything on the planet is becoming a sub-discipline of computational science. Including Corvettes and Cadillacs.
GM in Japan
These two shiny additions will bring GM’s total J-lineup to 10, and 10 cars might not sound like much, but it was only 4 in 2010. So, good on them for the 250% improvement. That they sold only about 1200 cars in 2012 (yep, 1200 total), that also sounds like not much, but glaringly - so not good on them. If you think about it, it’s actually kind of incredible.
In 2012, General Motors, one of the world’s largest corporations, sold 2.6 million cars in the United States alone. How is it that this mammoth automaker can’t get any business done in the world’s third largest economy? In all seriousness, can 1200 cars a year even cover GM Japan’s, you know... existence?
Breaking-In is Hard to Do
As reported by the AFP that same day, American Vice President Joe Biden, as part of his pan-Asian persuasion excursion, had been in Japan Tuesday supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The agricultural issues were expected, but he also addressed Japan’s notoriously difficult to penetrate auto market. Difficult for American makers, that is, e.g., in 2012, BMW pushed about 40,000 cars in Japan.
If approved, certain regulatory adjustments in the TPP pact might lubricate things for GM, and that could serve as the proverbial “golden lever or magic button” longed for Wednesday by Greg Sedewitz, GM Japan’s Director of Sales and Marketing. Given the obviousness of it all, we posed the TPP yay or nay question to the presenting panel, including Mr. Sedewitz and Managing Director Sumito Ishii. From Mr. Ishii, as expected:
“That’s an issue between governments on which we cannot comment.”
Well, a shiny new product launch probably isn’t the place to take a political stand on international trade agreements, but a good bit of their presentation was about how to increase sales - so you know, they kinda brought it up, and we were all thinking about it.
Well, to Mr. Ishii, Mr. Sedewitz, and Ms. Nakagawa in PR, best of luck. Our gratitude for making AkihabaraNews a special guest of General Motors, and if we can test drive the Corvette next year, we’ll promise to throw softballs at the next product launch.
Okay Enough Babble Make with the Photos:
Taking ourselves a bit less seriously than most, we of course bounded around shooting angles just like the genetically pure journalists. To say the least, both cars are impressive. Even the garish yellow seemed acceptable on the Corvette’s lovely lines, and, and as per Cadillac’s marketing materials, the CTS is a luxury car that visually expresses a want for sport. Have a look: