News & Media


Chevrolet working hard on its car of the future

January 19, 2011, Mark Aumann, NASCAR.com

Among changes slated for 2013 is the redesign to an identifiable street look

The 2011 Daytona 500 is less than five weeks away, but 2013 is very much on the minds of designers and managers at Chevrolet. Work already is under way on a complete bodywork and chassis redesign that should be ready two years from now.

For Chevrolet, that means more closely aligning what fans will see on the track to what they manufacture for the street.

"We are working on a car for 2013 that will look like a production car that will be in the market at that time."

--JIM CAMPBELL

"I think what we all learned with the 2011 Nationwide car is that you can balance looks and performance," said Mark Kent, director of racing for General Motors. "The cars are distinctively different. So each of us was able to get more manufacturer identity. And I think what we saw on the track showed that it could be done.

"So as we go forward toward the 2013 Cup car, we're working to push that envelope even farther. Each of the manufacturers wants to get more identity into the car. And NASCAR, based on what they learned, is a lot more open to help us work collaboratively in 2013 to meet all of our objectives."

For Chevrolet, those objectives are the use of biofuels, relevant technologies that take cost into consideration and a distinctive design that allows the manufacturer to market and promote its products.

"For the series we compete in, in motorsports, we're looking for series that run on biofuels," said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president for performance vehicles and motorsports. "We want to use relevant technologies that don't push the costs up so high that it's unaffordable. Then we want the vehicle to be distinctive in a way that it can be associated with us.

"In the case of NASCAR, they've moved on to biofuels. They're going to go to an E15 ethanol. I'm very pleased about that. And with the other two, we're working very closely with NASCAR on that. ... For NASCAR, the car on the tracks looks like the car we sell."

What that car might be, Campbell didn't say.

"We are working on a car for 2013 that will look like a production car that will be in the market at that time," Campbell said.

In any case, the manufacturers believe they are getting more of a say as to the style details of the next generation Cup car. Campbell said NASCAR chairman Brian France, president Mike Helton and vice president of competition Robin Pemberton are working together with carmakers to return the sport to its "race on Sunday, sell on Monday" roots.

"Brian, Mike, Robin and the folks who support them have been very collaborative," Campbell said. "To me, that's the winning formula -- the collaboration between us, the sanctioning body and the team owners to put the best product on the track, that's exciting to watch, and can deliver on our joint objectives. I think that can be a winning formula."

"But it's hard work. You can't let up for a minute. While things like 2013 seem like a long ways away, they're really not. A lot of the work has to be under way, and it is."

France has spoken about the possibility of eliminating carburetors in favor of fuel injection, a move that Campbell wholeheartedly supports.

"We would love to see that step," Campbell said. "Then we've got to look further. What are the next elements of technology we can bring in? It's about relevant technologies that don't drive the cost so high that you can't get a return on investment, where the costs of competing become unaffordable.

"That's a delicate balance. That's almost a technology-by-technology decision we have to make in conjunction with the sanctioning body. In the end, they set the rules. What we need to do is make sure we're being clear with them on what the priorities are."

At the same time, Campbell supports NASCAR's due diligence when it comes to keeping drivers safe.

"We are an advocate of safety, for sure," Campbell said. "That's been a high priority, and Chevrolet and General Motors have often consulted on safety issues with a lot of different series. Because what you learn on safety, you want to share. You don't want to keep that as something just to yourselves."

Even though attendance and television ratings for Cup events have eroded in recent years, General Motors still sees value in participating in NASCAR, according to Campbell.

"The motorsports platform at Chevrolet accounts for over half of the leads we get from sales promotion platforms in general," Campbell said. "We still have amazing scale and reach in this sport. So we will not miss that opportunity to help us drive our business with that scale and reach."