Switching Lanes and Taking Names

An intern ride and drive — by interns, for interns.

As Dbusiness interns, we focus on the power of the spoken word, but at General Motors’ Intern Ride and Drive on July 11, the focus was on us. We were tasked with rating the roar of a gleaming black 2013 Corvette Grand Sport as it eagerly accelerated out of the front driveway of the Renaissance Center and onto I-75, among other routine endeavors of a professional racecar driver.

The ride and drive, hosted by interns at General Motors, brought together our crew along with student colleagues from media outlets across Michigan — magazines, radio, newspapers, and TV — to see what the automaker offers us, drivers of the Millenial generation.

Sandwiched by short presentations on innovative design features, we ventured out on short test rides choosing among a fleet of 12 new automobiles. Our passenger for each review included an intern SME (subject matter expert) who answered any pressing questions. Adam made sure to begin with the maroon Cadillac CTS-V coupe.  Resistance to pushing the pedal to the floor with the 556 horsepower, 6.2 liter V8 engine under the hood was futile.

During the test drive, we asked about the kinds of projects the interns were tackling this summer. Dave Waskie, a GM intern at the automaker’s sprawling Technical Center in Warren, is taking part in a program called Pedestrian Protection Research for GM’s European division. One of his projects is looking at ways to reduce the impact of an accident when a vehicle strikes a pedestrian. The solution: Car hoods that absorb more of the force from the collision.

In addition to the Corvette Grand Sport and CTS-V coupe, we tested a GMC Terrain, Cadillac SRX crossover, 2012 Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Camaro SS, and a Buick Regal GS, the latter equipped with a 2-liter turbo 270 horsepower machine — the most efficient engine of its kind certified for highway driving. Not surprisingly, Buick is out to prove they aren’t just targeting Grandma’s generation anymore.

Although not as fast as the Buick, the Volt certainly turned heads given its distinctive exterior design, smooth ride, and an engine that runs as silent as a whisper. When the electric charge runs low, the car automatically and seamlessly switches over to gas power; with this kind of fuel exchange, the Volt can get over 40 miles per gallon!  “I haven’t filled up my gas tank in two and a half months,” says Kyle Suba, a GM intern. 

Based on polls, 32 percent of millennials are car enthusiasts, a market GM is eager to target. To that end, the event spotlighted the all-new 2013 Chevrolet Spark compact. Adhering to the younger demographic, the Spark is light in size and price. The base model starts at just above $12,000, and carries attractive amenities like an infotainment system that includes Blue-tooth, On Star, and a USB port all wrapped around a motorcycle-inspired dashboard. New fun and tasteful colors such as lemonade, salsa, jalepeño, and techno pink are also available. A new first for Chevy: The Spark offers an all-gas or an all-electric model; surprisingly, no hybrid option is available. Unfortunately, the Spark wasn’t available for a test drive, though it will be available in dealerships by Labor Day.

General Motors’ Intern Ride and Drive Event makes it clear that the automaker is paying attention to our needs and wants, including our fast-paced lifestyles. We need something that will do more than get us from “0 to 60,” and go easy on our pockets. Now, if only the program could be expanded. “There should be a ride and drive event on every college campus, ” says Stephen Martin, a Chevrolet intern.