Camino LS6

Another puzzle piece on Zeta

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From today's Globe & Mail newspaper.

GM's move south a blow to Ontario

Rear-wheel-drive cars scrapped or moved to Michigan; company blames new fuel economy rules

GREG KEENAN

January 24, 2008 at 12:00 AM EST

General Motors Corp. has scrapped plans to build some rear-wheel-drive cars at its giant operations in Oshawa, Ont., a move that could threaten the long-term future of the largest vehicle assembly plant in Canada and thousands of jobs.

The auto maker has scuttled the rear-wheel-drive version of the Chevrolet Impala, which was scheduled to represent half the output of a leading-edge flexible assembly plant now under construction in Oshawa, industry sources said.

Production of rear-wheel-drive Cadillac and Buick sedans originally slated for Oshawa will be shifted instead to Lansing, Mich., the sources added.

GM will begin producing the reborn Chevrolet Camaro as a rear-wheel-drive muscle car in Oshawa later this year.

The move comes as GM prepares for crucial contract talks with the Canadian Auto Workers union this summer and seeks government financial help for an investment in St. Catharines, Ont., on top of $435-million Ottawa and Ontario have already agreed to give the company as part of a $2.5-billion plan to upgrade its Canadian operations.

Much of the $2.5-billion will be spent consolidating two Oshawa car plants into one flexible plant that will turn out the Camaro.

The two plants assembled 470,016 cars last year.

The next-generation Impala was designed to be heavier and larger than the existing front-wheel-drive version and would have been based on the same platform or basic underbody as the Camaro – GM's Zeta program.

The new plant would have cranked out a combined 500,000 Camaro, Impala, Buick Lucerne and Cadillac DTS cars.

The heavier Impala has been doomed by new U.S. fuel economy rules requiring auto makers to reach an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, industry and union sources said.

The new rules mean “some of those [vehicles] have been stricken from the future product program,” GM vice-chairman Bob Lutz acknowledged in Detroit last week when asked how the regulations would affect the Zeta cars. Mr. Lutz did not elaborate on which models were cancelled.

General Motors of Canada Ltd. spokesman Stew Low said yesterday that no vehicle beyond Camaro was ever approved, “so you can't cancel something that wasn't there.”

GM doesn't know what vehicles will be assembled in Oshawa beyond Camaro, Mr. Low said, in part because no one knows yet how the GM fleet will have to adjust to meet the new fuel economy requirements.

“Impala and the Buick will stay for the time being,” he said.

Scrapping of the proposed rear-wheel-drive Impala reduces the planned output of cars in Oshawa by 250,000 a year, industry and union sources said.

Separately, GM promised the United Auto Workers union during contract negotiations last fall that it would build two Zeta cars in Lansing, where it already assembles rear-wheel-drive vehicles for its luxury Cadillac division.

Shifting production of the Buick and Cadillac models subtracts another 100,000 vehicles from the planned output of 500,000, so the Oshawa plant could be producing as few as 150,000 Camaros unless GM finds another vehicle to build there.

Producing that number of vehicles would mean considerably fewer jobs than the approximately 3,000 positions that exist at the car plants now and likely would prevent GM from meeting job commitments it made to Ottawa and Ontario when they originally agreed to provide the $435-million.

Whether GM will find other vehicles to build in Oshawa or continue with a front-wheel-drive version of the Impala beyond next year likely hinges on the talks with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) union on a new contract, industry sources said.

“It all depends on what happens in these discussions come September,” one source said.

CAW president Buzz Hargrove rejected the notion that GM will tie future products for Oshawa to bargaining on the new contract.

“It would be impossible to imagine” that GM would be unable to find other vehicles for the plant after the huge investment it will make to build the flexible plant, Mr. Hargrove said.

Canadian Auto Workers members in Oshawa have already agreed to outsource janitorial jobs and to more flexible work rules in order to win the investment for the new Camaro and other products, said Chris Buckley, president of CAW Local 222, which represents workers at the plant.

“If the decision gets made based on the number of trophies on the shelf, Oshawa wins the prize,” Mr. Buckley said, pointing to numerous quality and efficiency awards the plant has won in recent years.

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so once again we see vehicle production used as a big ol' chess piece for labor bargaining. Not surprising, and smart on GM's part. Now, I don't get the impression that it's a "if the CAW gives enough concessions the RWD Impala will be built" - I think it's just plain gone. Question is what else they would build there.

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uh, weren't the Cadillac and Buick RWD sedans supposed to be built at LGR anyway?

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uh, weren't the Cadillac and Buick RWD sedans supposed to be built at LGR anyway?

Yeah, according to those UAW documents.

But that deosn't mean that Oshawa wasn't in line for part of the action as well.

If they build that GMC Ute, I could see Oshawa getting that and maybe a wagon-based crossover as well.

Seems alot rides on the CAW negotiations.

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uh, weren't the Cadillac and Buick RWD sedans supposed to be built at LGR anyway?

I think the article is covering a lot of ground "time-wise." It is possible that all NA ZETA production was planned for Oshawa originally, which is what kicked off the huge initiative to combine the plant for 500k production.

Between the UAW contracts, Cadillac's inclusion of Zeta (the ULS/16 was axed, Sigma canceled, and the STS/DTS merged), along with the Canadian dollar rising... LGR became a natural alternative for Zeta production.

Because of the great concessions the UAW made, GM is leveraging Oshawa for the CAW contracts. It only has one product... that's not a good sign. It could be just GM holding back for concessions as well, but I don't expect GM to blink until the contract is inked. Even then… what will GM build there?

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Epsilon II?

Yes, and they could also shift G8 production to Oshawa, as well. I know the NG G8 will most likely be built there. And the current G8 has a rather short lifespan, anyway. So ...

We should know something when we see how the CAW negotiations work out. Until then, it's anyone's guess, really.

Edited by YellowJacket894
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Yes, and they could also shift G8 production to Oshawa, as well. I know the NG G8 will most likely be built there. And the current G8 has a rather short lifespan, anyway. So ...

We should know something when we see how the CAW negotiations work out. Until then, it's anyone's guess, really.

Yes and if donkeys had wings they would fly. NG G8? You'll be lucky if this generation sees two model years.

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Yes and if donkeys had wings they would fly. NG G8? You'll be lucky if this generation sees two model years.

If you're going to be like that ... <_<

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I think the article is covering a lot of ground "time-wise." It is possible that all NA ZETA production was planned for Oshawa originally, which is what kicked off the huge initiative to combine the plant for 500k production.

Between the UAW contracts, Cadillac's inclusion of Zeta (the ULS/16 was axed, Sigma canceled, and the STS/DTS merged), along with the Canadian dollar rising... LGR became a natural alternative for Zeta production.

Because of the great concessions the UAW made, GM is leveraging Oshawa for the CAW contracts. It only has one product... that's not a good sign. It could be just GM holding back for concessions as well, but I don't expect GM to blink until the contract is inked. Even then… what will GM build there?

Sigma cancelled? I'm assuming you just mean the STS (not the latest and greatest 2008 CTS on Sigma II)?

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“Impala and the Buick will stay for the time being,” he said.

if that's the case, get on a 6speed for the impala...show "us" CIB engines can be just as good as OHC when giving the best other parts.

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Sigma cancelled? I'm assuming you just mean the STS (not the latest and greatest 2008 CTS on Sigma II)?

I think there was once a plan for a NG Sigma. Before Zeta became the RWD platform of choice.

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RWD is a way of life, one or two MPG means NOTHING to me!

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I think there was once a plan for a NG Sigma. Before Zeta became the RWD platform of choice.

But will there be a NG Sigma II?

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RWD is a way of life, one or two MPG means NOTHING to me!

Profits and NEW car sales mean something to GM.

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But will there be a NG Sigma II?

I don't work for GM so I don't know. People on GMI refer to the '08 CTS as being on Sigma II.

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Epsilon II?

That seems like the natural platform considering it's being used to replace the W-platform vehicles, but how many plants are needed to build Epsilon II?

They'll have Hamtramck, Fairfax, and Orion (probably since they're adding Malibu production) in the US alone. Canada too?

If GM decides to export Epsilon IIs as well, then I can see Oshawa coming on board.

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I don't work for GM so I don't know. People on GMI refer to the '08 CTS as being on Sigma II.

Hmmm... I thought the CTS was just riding on the STS's version of SIGMA (longer & wider) than the last gen CTS.

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Hmmm... I thought the CTS was just riding on the STS's version of SIGMA (longer & wider) than the last gen CTS.

The new CTS (08) is on the wide Sigma but has the original SWB that the previous car did. It may be easier to say that the CTS and STS are on the same chassis with the same width but the STS has a longer wheelbase.

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It would probably be more acurate to call the '08 CTS's platform Sigma 1.5

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Profits and NEW car sales mean something to GM.

I know what you're saying here, but I share the same opinion as 68 on this issue with the exception of certain Oldsmobiles. I am someone who buys new cars.

From the looks of it, an '08 or '09 CTS will be my last new GM.

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Yes and if donkeys had wings they would fly. NG G8? You'll be lucky if this generation sees two model years.

Okay, seriously. You WORK FOR GM. I don't care what division or far-flung corner of the world it's in - shouldn't you give a damn by now about the strategy that the COMPANY WHO'S SIGNING YOUR PAYCHECKS decides to use? If we, the disconnected enthusiasts give a crap about what happens to a company we HAVE NO STAKE IN, why do you spend all your time bashing it?

I thought Europeans were supposed to be open-minded. Maybe you actually are; in which case you won't mind when a decimated GM decides to sell its "European assets" (formerly Opel) to the Chinese after grossly miscalculating their North American product decisions.

Enjoy the future! See you in Shanghai! <_<

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Okay, seriously. You WORK FOR GM. I don't care what division or far-flung corner of the world it's in - shouldn't you give a damn by now about the strategy that the COMPANY WHO'S SIGNING YOUR PAYCHECKS decides to use? If we, the disconnected enthusiasts give a crap about what happens to a company we HAVE NO STAKE IN, why do you spend all your time bashing it?

I thought Europeans were supposed to be open-minded. Maybe you actually are; in which case you won't mind when a decimated GM decides to sell its "European assets" (formerly Opel) to the Chinese after grossly miscalculating their North American product decisions.

Enjoy the future! See you in Shanghai! <_<

That won't happen, to many GME employees are now in Detroit and Port Melbourne quietly assimilating. :AH-HA_wink:

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That won't happen, to many GME employees are now in Detroit and Port Melbourne quietly assimilating. :AH-HA_wink:

It'll happen if the company goes under because of poor sales of these newfound GME products that turn out to be nothing more than me-too cars.

Unless of course there is diversity, with distinctive cars that aren't all driven by the front wheels and 4-bangers, give those who want something different the ability to choose without having to go to Cadillac, which they may not be able to afford, or go to Chrysler or Ford, the former offering RWD and the latter planning to build RWD.

Oh and undai will be happy to sell you a RWD sedan or coupe too.

Edited by Dodgefan
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