"In the 1950s, design ran the place and we had some great cars," said Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman of global product development. The company plans to get back to that way of thinking, he said.
Ed Welburn, vice president of GM Global Design, presented the three concept cars, which have been the subject of much debate in the blogosphere. People can vote for their favorite concept model on GM's Web site, and the company plans to produce the winning model as a production car.
The Chevy Groove is a miniature roadster that looks like it could be a little brother to the PT Cruiser. The Chevy Trax is a micro SUV, and the Chevy Beat strongly resembles a Smart Car.
Welburn said there is no timeline for when one of the vehicles would be in production but that the winning car would be available globally.
"I don't know if it's Car 2.0, but this is a more creative way of doing marketing. We get to do this online and, yes, target a young market, or people who consider themselves quite youthful," said Welburn.
The company asked a design team in South Korea to come up with a concept car. The team, consisting of South Korean, Australian and American designers, came up with several choices. The company liked three of the choices so much that it decided to conduct its own public marketing research.
GM's attempt to change its public perception was evident in the way the company revealed the cars. A hip-hop dance troupe did an interpretive dance for each model, followed by blonde, identical triplet women asking the crowd to throw colored foam balls to signify their favorite of the three.