DETROIT -- When Joe Baker was doing research for the new concept car he was designing for Chevrolet, one piece of information stood out.
Baker, who designed the Code 130R concept, looked most at United States Census data that said 80 million American consumers are approaching the age of 30. Those 80 million consumers represent about $1 trillion in potential buying power that Chevrolet is trying to harness with concepts like the 130R.
It's kind of a baby brother to Camaro and Corvette, Baker said in an interview with the International Business Times here in Detroit Monday at the North American International Auto Show. If you take them as the performance icons of Chevrolet, how would this sit with them? This is something that sits within that family.
And now, Chevrolet's concepts are growing up, as well. The Code 130R features a modern, sporty style. It could also pack 150 horsepower into a 1.4-liter engine and be able to average 40 highway miles per gallon.
Chevrolet introduced another concept, the Tru 140S, as well as a sportier make of the Sonic subcompact car here at the Detroit Auto Show on Monday morning.
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Chevy is banking on a somewhat affordable price -- expected to be in the low $20,000 range -- to attract young buyers.
Tru 140S shares many of the same features of the Code 130R, but also borrows the front-wheel drive architecture of the brand's popular Cruze coupe. The Code 130R features rear-wheel drive. But both concepts will eventually pander to a youthful demographic.
We're opening up the design process right here at our Chevrolet display, said Mark Reuss, president of GM's North America division. We call this 'crowdsourcing,' and we think it's going to resonate with that sub-30 buyer who wants to have a significant say in what they ultimately drive.
General Motors has ridden the Chevy Cruze's popularity to a rebound in 2011. Sales of the Cruze were up 53.5 percent in December. For much of the year, GM benefitted from the crippling of Honda and Toyota sales that resulted from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
GM said it surveyed about 9,000 young consumers, who said they wanted four doors but a muscle-style car. Likely, that led to Reuss describing the concept as a pure, functional muscle car with no retro feel.
Baker, who has also designed the Ford 427 concept and worked on the Ford Bronco design, took those survey results and said he didn't try to second guess what young people would want in their cars. He said he designed with confidence, ending up with a product that he hopes will attract the main target for Reuss and GM.
It's everything, Reuss said of the youth market. There are 80 million people in this generation. There are 40 million of them that have the money to buy a car right now. This is going to continually be more and more important. This is job No. 1 for us right now.