CHICAGO – General Motors Corp.’s long-awaited, next-generation Camaro will make its initial bow in the U.S. as a ’10 model, Chevrolet says.

The car first appeared in concept form at the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit to much applause and reappeared at the 2007 show in convertible form.

There had been talk the sport coupe might go on sale either later this year or next January as a ’09 model.

But Chevrolet officials now say the Camaro will arrive in dealer showrooms in spring 2009 as a ’10. The coupe will be first, with the convertible coming later in the year, also as a ’10 model.

The auto maker ruled out an earlier arrival in calendar 2009, because it would have meant a short model run before changeover to ’10 production. Instead, the Camaro will have a longer initial ’10 model run.

Chevrolet expects to start taking dealer orders later this year but hasn’t set a date. The Camaro concept coupe and convertible both were powered by a V-8, but the production models are expected to offer V-6s, as well, to keep the price down.

GM tells Ward’s production of the car at the auto maker’s Oshawa, ON, Canada, plant is set to begin February 2009.

Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman-global product development, who spearheaded the return of the Camaro after GM dropped the car following the ’02 model year, has said he believes Chevrolet will sell 100,000 units annually.