March 17, 2009 at 1:42 pm

New Camaro a pony of a more efficient color

GM hopes new model, with 29 mpg highway, will expand traditional sports car buyer base.

GM calls the upcoming 2010 Camaro a "reinvention." (Scott Burgess The Detroit News)

The all-new Chevrolet Camaro can help General Motors Corp. "jolt" the slumping car market this year, a GM executive said Monday.

"This is a great time to be launching a car like this," said Troy Clarke, GM's vice president of North America. "We're talking about the reinvention of a classic American sports car."

Clarke also said that the Environmental Protection Agency certified the V-6 Camaro can get 29 mpg on the highway and 18 mpg in the city, exceeding GM's expectations.

The fuel economy helps from a marketing standpoint and with the government, which wants GM to develop more fuel-efficient vehicles, but it likely won't help sales as long as gas is about $2 a gallon, said Jim Hossack, a consultant with research and marketing firm AutoPacific Inc.

"It's a discretionary purchase," he said. "You're not buying it to save the maximum amount of fuel. You're not buying it because it's the cheapest car in the world. You're buying it because it's fun and you enjoy it."

Ed Peper, Chevrolet's general manager, said while Chevy will take on the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger, it will also attract buyers who have considered less expensive Scions and sporty Hondas as well as higher-end Nissans and Infinitis.

Staff Writer Robert Snell contributed to this report. Reach Scott Burgess at (313) 223-3217 or sburgess@detnews.com">sburgess@detnews.com.