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Small GM Cars go Global

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Small GM Cars go Global

Gamma platform to be produced in low-cost countries


AutoWeek | Published 11/13/06, 8:25 am et

Posted Image

Sketch by C&G member Bearrunner44

Link to Original Article @ Autoweek

SHANGHAI -- General Motors is a global company, but so far it has had trouble creating truly global platforms that use huge volumes to cut costs.

That's starting to change.

Supplier and GM sources say GM is planning a new platform for small cars with worldwide annual volume of 1.4 million cars. The platform, called Gamma inside GM, will provide mechanicals for the next Opel Corsa and Chevrolet Aveo starting in 2009.

Final decisions have not been made, but GM and industry sources say GM is looking at producing Gamma variants in Korea, China, Thailand, India, Germany, Mexico and Venezuela. Cars also may be assembled on the Gamma platform in eastern Europe.

Gamma's global reach is a big step forward in GM's campaign to build more units using a few common platforms. In the past, GM's world-car strategy has been undermined by regional managers who demanded costly changes to their versions.

GM's full-sized pickup and SUV platform accounts for more than 1 million vehicles annually in North America.

Huge global platforms such as Gamma favor global suppliers that have factories in all major markets. The world cars also generate more work for small suppliers in low-cost countries such as China and India, where much of the production will take place.

Badges will run the gamut from Daewoo in Korea to Chevrolet in the United States and China to Opel in Europe.

"The Gamma purpose is to have a common platform which will integrate Daewoo and Opel models," says Ashvin Chotai, director of Asian automotive industry research for Global Insight in London.

Cars from the new platform will succeed cars made on two platforms now, one from Daewoo and a second developed by Opel and Fiat during their now-defunct alliance.

The current platforms account for the Daewoo Kalos, Matiz and Gentra, the Chevrolet Aveo and the Opel Corsa, Tigra and Meriva.

In the United States, a Gamma car would replace the Aveo, which is a rebadged Daewoo.

The current two platforms account for about 680,000 cars a year sold by GM in North America and Europe, about half of Gamma's planned total. Why the big increase to 1.4 million? GM is planning more sales in such fast-growing markets as China and India.

The company also is looking at more models.

Limited production is expected to start late in 2009, and higher volume is planned in 2010. The program is expected to run through 2015. Gamma cars will account for about 15 percent of GM's global sales, assuming modest growth for GM in the coming years.

Engine sizes on the models will range from 1.2 liters to 1.8 liters, with both gasoline and diesel versions.

The platform was developed at GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. in Korea, another sign that GM is eager to move some engineering-intensive work to low-cost Asia, away from Europe and North America.

Short version

A short version of the platform also will be built, suppliers say.

Cars from the short platform probably will be assembled in Korea, India, Poland and China.

They also will be assembled from kits in Columbia, Venezuela and Vietnam, say industry sources.

GM announced plans this year to invest $300 million in a new Indian assembly plant with a 140,000-unit capacity. That plant will start producing the short-wheelbase Gamma in 2009.

Chevrolet badges

Cars built in India will carry the Chevrolet badge and likely will be exported worldwide, Chotai says. They would replace current Korean exports.

In China, the Chevrolet Spark, an existing nameplate, will be assembled by GM's joint venture with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. and Wuling Automobile Co. That vehicle probably will be built on the shortened platform.

Some Chinese-built Sparks probably will be exported, says a supplier, adding: "The China volume is heavier than you would think they could sell domestically."

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Interesting - Korea's getting expensive, so Aveo size cars come from India and China in future.

Sounds like a great plan. But they have to be very careful on the quality of the Opels - that size car in europe is NOT a basic product - it's the second biggest market segment and for many Europeans their main family transport.

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i like the idea of concept sketches from members accompanying these stories. I guess it was only a matter of time before some people didn't pay enough attention to know those weren't real cars, though.

GM using its massive global platforms is only a good thing, I can't wait until these new cars are out. GM is definitely positioning itself to remain a number one or number two player throughout the world for a long time to come.

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