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As part of its agile marketing plan, General Motors Corp. has incorporated consumer needs research into its cars.

Below, Vince Barabba, general manager of GM's strategic decision center, discusses how research helped design autos.

Chevrolet Lumina

"Interior space relative to size is important because the Lumina buyer is also looking for high value. There are economic constraints on the buyer of that vehicle that would cause you to keep it a certain size. And its performance based on miles per gallon and cost to maintain are heavy drivers of that particular market.

"That doesn't mean they want an ugly car. They want a nice car and they want to be proud of it, but they wouldn't trade off functionality or value for appearance."

Pontiac Grand Prix

"That vehicle is focused around the driver. Although the driver will take people with him and might show some appreciation for their comfort, that's not the highest [need] on that person's list.

"It's not that there's no comfort in [the car]. But that appearance caused us to lower the back end of that roof. That allows you to give that person what they're really looking for: When you step into that car, you feel like you own the street."

Oldsmobile Antares

Note: The Antares, positioned between the Lumina and the Grand Prix, is a con

"It wouldn't take too much imagination to think about a vehicle .... to satisfy the people in between the Lumina and Grand Prix. They might be looking for more room in the back seat, but still more expressive styling [than the Lumina]. You might find yourself trading off a little bit of the [Grand Prix] look for a little more back-seat room. We can create those differences just in the greenhouse. From a perceptual point of view, those are big differences."

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