GM Kills V8/RWD platform for cars

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Old88
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GM Kills V8/RWD platform for cars

Post by Old88 »

"And now, news of fresh disaster."

The latest is that GM (nyse: GM - news - people ) is killing the Zeta program for America. Zeta was an Australian-developed platform--or architecture, as GM likes to call it--for rear-wheel-drive cars.

I've never been totally comfortable with the concept of a global platform--particularly one sourced from Australia--but Zeta was intended to fill a huge gap in GM's U.S. lineup. Zeta was to be the basis for a range of midsize and large rear-drive models, like a new Chevy Impala, Pontiac GTO and, most important, a new fleet of big Buicks.

GM had said it planned to spend $3 billion resurrecting Buick. Those rear-drive cars were the heart of the program. Kill them, and the great plan to save Buick is back on the shelf. There's just a reskinned LeSabre/Park Avenue coming out in this fall, renamed Lucerne.

After years of not offering a V-8 engine option in its sedan lineup, Buick will have one in the Lucerne. That's good, but a warmed-over front-wheel-drive car is not as good as a brand-new lineup of rear-drive cars. Last year GM showed a gorgeous Buick dream car convertible to be built off that Zeta architecture. Everyone who saw it was excited. Well, it's gone.

How come?

Here's what I say:

That $2 billion given to Fiat (nyse: FIA - news - people ) in February drained the kitty, so Zeta died. General Motors has another problem. Its most important program is what they call T900, a replacement for GM's big sport-utility and pickup trucks, such as the Chevrolet Suburban and Silverado, GMC Yukon and Sierra, and Hummer H2. GM has made up to 1.8 million of its big truck nameplates in a year. It's been the one great success story at GM, and highly profitable.

The current versions of these vehicles, as good as they are, have been around a while and are getting tired. The T900 program replaces them. The new sport-utility models are to begin rolling out early next year. Pickups would start the following fall. But something must be going wrong. GM is diverting manpower and money into the program. I say you don't make a move like that, only nine months from Job 1, unless there's a problem.

On his blog, GM Vice Chairman Robert A. Lutz says that the cancellation of Zeta is simply a reallocation of resources. Lutz also claims that the company remains committed to developing rear-rear-wheel vehicles. All this may be true, but the scrapping of the Zeta program will definitely push back the date that GM rolls out new rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive mass-market sedans and coupes.

It is clear that the market is making a shift back to rear-wheel-drive cars, and that all-wheel-drive is also gaining traction with consumers. The American arm of DaimlerChrysler (nyse: DCX - news - people ) got a jump on its U.S. rivals last year when it introduced its big rear-drive sedan, the Chrysler 300C, which is also available with all-wheel drive. Ford Motor (nyse: F - news - people ) has been surprised at the demand for the AWD versions of its new Ford 500 and Mercury Montego sedans.

Buicks will have to soldier on for a few more years with just two front-wheel-drive sedans, plus a few light trucks. And if you were wondering, Buick sales in the first two months this year are running 20% behind last year. Its current sales rate is about 250,000 units per year, which is terrible.

Right now--just when rising gasoline prices are starting to put a crimp in sales of big trucks--GM is worried about its next generation of trucks. And I'm hearing strange things about those T900 vehicles. For example, I hear that the new big SUVs coming next year don't have fold-flat rear seats. It's difficult to imagine any manufacturer building such vehicles today without fold-flat seats. Chrysler went through a hugely expensive emergency crash program to get them into its minivans in the middle of the model cycle. Fold-flat seats are what they call "the price of admission" today.

Pro
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Post by Pro »

I thought all new ss had either AWD or RWD & V8(exception cobalt ss).

http://www.chevrolet.com/upcoming/

ie an SS for everything but corvette and colorado

Speaking of which, I now cannot decide between maxed out colorado (or wait for colorado SS) or just getting a monte carlo SS (5.3 DOD):
http://www.chevrolet.com/montecarlo06/

Look at the black one in the gallary. OMG THATS BADASS LOOKING

endo
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Post by endo »

Pro wrote:I thought all new ss had either AWD or RWD & V8(exception cobalt ss).
Regrettably not the case....Impala SS and Monte Carlo SS both have transverse motors and front-wheel-drive. Yuck. I *$!@ing HATE front wheel drive. Not that I'd be in the market given the styling GM seems to stick on those things. The new Monte definitely looks A LOT better in the looks dept, but the car still has way too much butt on it.
Last edited by endo on Sat Mar 26, 2005 10:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Stealth97
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Post by Stealth97 »

GM cars, not for me.

GM's truck newer than 1999, NOT FOR ME.

And I've seen real in life photos of the new GM trucks. They are hideous. Imagine trailblazers, uglified, in large Tahoe form. BLech!!!!

GM knows the new trucks it is bringing to market are trash. They are scrapping Job1 and redesigning, just you watch. They got HORRIBLE feedback from test research groups. Something like soccer moms puking their guts out type of thing.

endo
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Post by endo »

Stealth97 wrote:GM cars, not for me.

GM's truck newer than 1999, NOT FOR ME.

And I've seen real in life photos of the new GM trucks. They are hideous. Imagine trailblazers, uglified, in large Tahoe form. BLech!!!!

GM knows the new trucks it is bringing to market are trash. They are scrapping Job1 and redesigning, just you watch. They got HORRIBLE feedback from test research groups. Something like soccer moms puking their guts out type of thing.
Personally, I like every REAR-WHEEL-DRIVE car they make, i.e., Corvette, GTO, STS, CTS, XLR, SRX...but would never consider one of their FWD drive cars, (in the purely hypothetical scenario where I were drugged, beaten, and otherwise forced at gunpoint to choose and purchase a front-wheel drive vehicle).

Where'd you see the '08 pickup photos? Or are these the three photos that have been circulating the internet...two showing a silver avalanche, one showing a silver tahoe? Or the new red tahoe shown in some issue of motortrend?

Are you saying you think the current GMT 800 line are "trash" in terms of quality, or that the next-generation will be?

Speeder
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GM is heading for a bankruptcy

Post by Speeder »

and the Feds are gonna have to bail them out. They are a week late and a sawbuck short on innovation these days. Look at the HHR, not due out till next year and looks like a PT Cruiser clone. The PT Cruiser has already done the damage as well. I don't see many of them on the road, and when I see them up for sale the price is pretty low. I'm still laughing at those fools that were paying 40-50 grand for a first year cruiser, and pretty much got themselves a Neon station wagon. GM needs to push hard to get back into RWD, and just make economy, small and midsize in FWD. Anything larger needs to be RWD, and I'm not even sure that midsize needs to be FWD. They also need to reduce the models they make, perhaps line each make up with a version of the same car and make the options determine the make. They could set Chevy up as the economy brand, Pontiac as the performance brand, Buick as the luxury brand and Cadillac as the premium brand. Set each model up with a base set of options, and allow any GM offered option to be added for an extra cost. This would mean GM would have maybe 5 or 6 platforms not counting trucks to build. Give each brand an economy car, a small car, a midsize car, a large car, and a sports car. Make the sports car the only brand-only model, and not make a sports car for all brands. Chevy, Pontiac and maybe Cadillac would be the only ones to need a sports car. Then, only set Chevrolet and GMC as the truck makers. If they made all the midsize, large and sports cars RWD then there would be no need for a luxury SUV.

The problem is, GM is chasing the dollar to the exclusion of all else. This is their right. But, they are looking at ONLY what brought in the dollar last year, not what will bring in the dollar next year.

Hell, put me in charge of the whole thing. Give Wagoner his walking papers and put me in his office. I'll make the sacrifice of living in Detroit to save GM. 5 year after I took over GM would be a lean, mean, top of the line machine.

03Z71
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GM Cancels H2 and SRX

Post by 03Z71 »

The H2 was a hot seller when it first came out, but recently it’s been losing quite a bit of its steam and momentum. Sales have been down significantly this year compared to previous years, even with the introduction of the SUT. GM-TC has gained access to an internal GM memo from non-other than Bob Lutz himself. It’s an interesting look into the world of GM and just how much trouble the automaker is in. Unfortunately for the H2 and SRX, it seems each of their refreshes have been put on hold. Not good news for two ill selling models…

"To: Vehicle Line Executives

As part of our efforts to address the current business situation we are
facing today, we have had to make some difficult product portfolio
decisions.

As a result, we are canceling all vehicles planned off of the Zeta
architecture. Since the recent announcement of the Global Zeta Development
Team and Gene Stefanyshyn's Global VLE appointment has been widely covered
by the media, it is important to proactively position this decision
internally and externally. The message should be clear, we are not
abandoning rear-wheel-drive vehicles and we will continue to evaluate our
future RWD plans.

In addition, we are canceling the Hummer H2 MCE* and GMT361/371
right-hand-drive vehicle and delaying the GMT267 Cadillac SRX. There will
be other reductions in concept and show vehicles, SVA/HPVO* activities and
some annual discretionary content.

These cancellations and delays allow us to realign resources to accelerate
some of our key strategic high-volume product launches.

It is very important that you communicate these decisions to your teams,
and that work stop immediately on the programs affected.

We find ourselves in tough times, but with the entire team working
together, we can get through them.

Thanks for your continued support."


Bob Lutz

* SVA/HPVO stands for Special Vehicle Assembly(?)/High Performance Vehicle Operations and MCE is mid-cycle enhancement.

endo
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Re: GM Cancels H2 and SRX

Post by endo »

03Z71 wrote:The H2 was a hot seller when it first came out, but recently it’s been losing quite a bit of its steam and momentum. Sales have been down significantly this year compared to previous years, even with the introduction of the SUT. GM-TC has gained access to an internal GM memo from non-other than Bob Lutz himself. It’s an interesting look into the world of GM and just how much trouble the automaker is in. Unfortunately for the H2 and SRX, it seems each of their refreshes have been put on hold. Not good news for two ill selling models…
Don't know anything about the SRX (thought they were selling well) but I can totally understand the cancellation of a mid-cycle refresh for the H2. Considering the mainstream (Tahoe/Yukon/Suburban) full-size SUVs are do for a refresh for MY07, it's likely that there'll be a new H2 by MY08. Chances are they just did the math and figured out that a mid-cycle refresh wasn't likely to generate adequate ROI. If they were to launch a new H2 in 08, the current model will have only had a 5 year run...pretty short considering the segment.

I'll agree with Speeder on the chasing the dollar idea....way too many companies these days have forgotten what they really do, and that financial success is just the reward for doing it well.

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