GM is using the summer blockbuster Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen to showcase a lineup of the next generation vehicles they hope will TRANSFORM their struggling empire. Whoo! I shelled out $10.50 and sat through 147 minutes of Shia LeBeouf to document this film and absorb key insights into the crucial future of General Motors’ offerings, which turned out to be completely unnecessary because all of the information I needed on the cars was already posted on the Internet.
CHEVROLET VOLT as “Jolt”
The Volt is being called the vehicle that will save GM. Set for release in late 2009, it could prove to be a true landmark success for electric cars. GM calls it an extended-range electric vehicle. Running on an electric motor powered by a lithium-ion batter pack, the Volt can travel up to 40 miles on electric power alone. After the battery drains, a gas engine charges the battery to keep the electric motor running. (1)
Volt vehicle chief engineer Andrew Farah says that the car will have a range of more than 300 miles on a full charge with a full tank of fuel and that the batteries are being designed to have a 10-year life. (2)
As for price, the MSRP is yet to be decided, but estimates range from about $30,000-$40,000. Whether or not the sticker will be competitive with the likes of the Toyota Prius which starts in the low 20’s will most likely depend on what kind of real world efficiency numbers the Volt can produce once it’s released for testing outside of GM.
CHEVROLET TRAX as “Mud Flap” and CHEVROLET BEAT as “Skids”
When these cars first appeared on screen I thought I was looking at a Scion, or some sort of Japanese subcompact tuner that had somehow infiltrated the domestic lineup and would soon be destroyed. Then I noticed the bow tie up front. The Trax and Beat are Chevrolets, but they don’t look like any Chevy you’ve ever seen before.
If and when GM releases the two cars in North America they would be the smallest General Motors has ever sold in the U.S. - At 137 inches long they’re smaller than a Chevy Aveo. Car and Driver reports that the Trax is a five-door utility vehicle that rides on the same chassis as the Chevy Spark, a minicar sold in Asia, and is powered by a similar 1.0-liter engine. (3)
The Beat is based on the same platform as the Trax/Spark, but is a three door with a different body design and is powered by a turbocharged 1.2-liter four cylinder, making it the sportier offering of the two subcompacts being considered for the US.
2010 CHEVROLET CAMARO SS as “Bumblebee”
What’s most alluring about the leading car in the new Transformers movie might be that GM is currently offering a Bumblebee appearance package for Camaro LT and SS models through December of this year. The Bumblebee option includes Rally Yellow exterior color with black “Bumblebee” stripes and “Transformers” badges on the wheel center caps. (4) I’m not sure how many people who could afford a new SS would want Transformers badges on their wheels, but that’s just me.
CORVETTE STINGRAY CONCEPT as “Side Swipe”
That’s right, a new STINGRAY. It rides on big chrome wheels and looks like a cross between the original 1959 Stingray race car and the ’63 Vette with its split-back rear window if you crossed both with a shark. But don’t get too excited just yet; GM claims that the car featured in the movie is not a sign they might bring the legendary model out of retirement.
"This is purely a concept…. I like our designers to feel free to bring forward ideas," said GM design boss Ed Welburn. According to Auto Week:
“The Corvette Stingray concept was designed in General Motors' infamous, secretive Studio X, and caught the eye of Transformers director Michael Bay--landing it a role in the movie that premieres in June.” (5)
Hmmm…GM just happened to be doing something with the old Stingray design for the first time in decades around the same time they had an agreement to showcase a lineup of their new cars in Transformers? And the Sting Ray concept just happened to “catch the eye” of Michael Bay as he was wandering around in GM’s top secret Studio X?
Auto Week mentioned that Ed Welburn didn’t entirely refute the idea that the Sting Ray concept might have something to do with the design of new Corvettes in the future:
“He (Welburn) also was coy about development of the next Corvette, hinting that a design team ‘has explored that quite a bit,’ in reference to creating drawings. It's unclear when the next-generation Corvette will arrive.”
That just about covers GM’s star appearances in Transformers 2. As for the film itself, I have but a few critiques:
1. Shia LeBeouf is a world class LeTool, but he works what the good lord gave him in this one and managed to grow on me a bit.
2. Megan Fox is beyond hot.
3. Overall, the movie is about what you would expect. If you want to see it, do it. If not, you wont miss out on much besides some hot Megan Fox action. Such as:
It’s a link to a screen shot of Megan bending over a motorcycle in barely-there cutoff jean-shorts.