GM touts BrandScape

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Staking claim to the midsize auto market, General Motors Corp. showed off its "BrandScape" models to the 1996 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. "One model can't possibly fit all the needs of the industry's largest segment that encompasses more than one of every four passenger cars on the road today," claimed Ronald L. Zarrella, group VP in charge of sales, service and marketing, as he unveiled the Pontiac Grand Prix, Oldsmobile Intrigue, Chevrolet Malibu and Buick Century. Each of the four new models, making their debut in 1997, has a brand character aimed to meet a specific customer.

Other news from the auto show:

Mercedes-Benz of North America unveiled a sleek concept version of its new sport-utility vehicle and said pricing will start in the mid-$30,000s when it comes to market in September 1997. Mercedes will position the vehicle, to be built in Vance, Ala., as having the ruggedness of a truck and the safety, comfort and driveability of a car. Rapp Collins Worldwide, New York, is handling an advance direct marketing effort targeting 400,000 prospects, but Mercedes has not yet chosen an agency for an estimated $50 million introductory effort.

Also at the show, Chrysler Corp. said it will bring the two-seater convertible Plymouth Prowler to market in early 1997 as an image leader to help reinvigorate the Plymouth brand. The Prowler, a design throwback to street hot rods, will be teased as part of a new Plymouth brand campaign breaking Wednesday from Bozell Worldwide, Southfield, Mich.

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