There are few places in North America where the small, fuel efficient car is more popular than the province of Quebec. While the rest of us, at least outside of city centers, continue to buy larger vehicles, the population of Quebec prefers small, economical cars. Like in Europe, efficiency and simplicity have long been a common denominator in the car sales decision in this mostly French speaking community. This sensitivity towards environmental choices was demonstrated in no uncertain terms in the Chevrolet booth at the 2011 Quebec Auto Salon.
The front corner of the Chevy stand, directly across the show floor from the main entrance, was occupied by an eye searing pair of cars. A Synergy Green Camaro and a Rally Yellow Camaro Convertible were the first thing show visitors saw as they approached the display. It doesn’t get much more in your face than this pair and yet hardly anyone stopped to look at the Chevy muscle. Instead, there was a constant crowd further back in the booth, almost hidden by the rest of the display.
That crowd was surrounding the upcoming Chevrolet Volt plugin hybrid. Even Robert Page, General Motors’ PR rep for Quebec commented that he couldn’t believe how much attention was being paid to the Volt, while the Camaro was being ignored.
The Volt combines many things that French Canadian buyers have always valued in a car. Cool, Euro style, fuel economy, compact size and practicality. The Volt even has a hatch back, which is the ultimate in easy cargo loading. While American car buyers have never really warmed up to the hatch, Canadians have always loved them because they just make so much sense.
Even still, all of this love for the Volt flies in the face of the fact that the Camaro is a home town hero of sorts. Yes, we all know that the 2010 and onwards Camaro is built 8 or 9 hours down the road in Oshawa, but the previous generation was built right in Quebec. That’s right, the 1993 to 2002 Camaro was built in Sainte Therese, Quebec. For a culture that values their history, this is a big thing that they should ignore the descendants of their labor, while going gaga over the newcomer.
Then again, of all of the silly hybrids, the Volt is the one that makes the most sense in the real world. Regardless of the reason, one might be safe in predicting that Chevrolet will sell more Volts per capita in Quebec than they do anywhere else!