Editor/Reporter - CheersandGears.com
April 9th, 2012
Despite its limited application as the basis for the Australian Holden Commodore sedan and Chevrolet Camaro coupe, GM North American President Mark Reuss says the rear-wheel drive Zeta platform is still a relevant global architecture for cars. Speaking to Australia’s GoAuto at this month’s New York Auto Show, the former Holden boss defended what has been called an “orphaned” platform, saying that Zeta would continue as long as sales in Australia would support it and exports remained healthy, and that it currently still figures in GM’s global strategy.
“It’s still a global rear-wheel drive architecture, so we leverage it on Camaro, we do lots of things,” Reuss said. “I mean, you guys (Holden) still export things. There’s all that.” He then continued: “I’m not sure that changes unless the market tells us to change it. If the market tells us to change it, we’ll change it.”
While it’s good news that it seems Zeta won’t be going anywhere any time short-term, Reuss also claimed he couldn’t make any long-term predictions about its future.
“I don’t know because the volume comes out of Australia,” he said. “And if the [Australian] economy says that we’re going to keep making it, we’ll keep making it.”
During GM’s perilous restructuring efforts a few years ago, the company assigned what it called a “homeroom” status to certain branches of itself — for example, GM Europe (aka Opel AG) would be the homeroom for small to medium front-wheel drive car platforms, mainly handling their development. Although GM Holden was assigned as the homeroom for rear-wheel drive platforms and cars, the only Zeta platform spin-off has been the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro, whose version of the Commodore architecture is known as Zeta II. Because Zeta has only birthed two different versions of itself focused solely on two different markets, some folks are quick to say it isn’t a true global automotive architecture.
Some of those people will also point out other factors which work against Zeta. For example, the Camaro’s sales numbers suggests its more of a “niche” player and, overall, it’s a lower volume platform. There’s also the curiosity of GM North America developing GM’s newest global rear-drive platform dubbed “Alpha” and used beneath Cadillac’s new BMW 3-Series competitor, the ATS.
Reuss had something to say about most of that. He was quick to bring up that Camaros were sold all over the world and that he thought GM was “kicking ass with it.” He maintained that it doesn’t matter that Zeta doesn’t have the sales volumes of Delta II small car platform or the medium car-sized Epsilon II.
“No, but so what? I don’t care as long as we’ve already paid for it, it’s all done,” he said.
Mark Reuss is currently championing the return of the Commodore to the U.S. as a rear-drive Chevrolet sports sedan. GM has confirmed that some sort of new top-dog Chevrolet is coming and that it will woo millions of Budweiser-swillin’, lawn chair-sittin’, salad-hatin’ NASCAR fans at racetracks next year. What remains to be seen, however, is if it will in fact be related to the Commodore or the new ATS, since some industry analysts claim that, on the contrary, Zeta no longer fits into GM’s plans for big rear-drive cars and a upsized version of Alpha will succeed it.