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How I would deploy Zeta in light of CAFE

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* note: I don't know how far I want to take this just yet, And I will be editing as I go. Feel free to give feedback as I am just brainstorming at this point.

Given the announced threat that the new CAFE regulations have become for the zeta platform, here is my prescription to use that architecture as an advantge in the CAFE race.

At the bare minimum each zeta variant would offer flex-fuel and/or 2-mode and/or AFM, with diesel and other technologies applied as required.

Cadillac:

- sedan to replace both the DTS and STS: US-built and unlimited production.

- AWD Crossover/wagon and Crewman style AWD crossover utility: Oshawa-built for domestic market as well as Australia and China with diesel variant for the European market. These would replace the Escalade trio at Cadillac.

Chevrolet:

Camaro: Oshawa-built for domestic, European, Australian, and Chinese market.

Caprice: Holden-built, limited production version of Holden Statesman with high value, limited content/options - an entry level RWD sedan.

Platform mate to Cadillac crossover Utility: With concurrent restrictions on Avalanche production and replacement of Colorado with smaller compact pickup (brazil), and the cancellation of trailblazer.

Tahoe and high-end Silverado 1/2 ton production cuts.

Buick:

Riviera: Coupe and convertible, limited production, US-built for domestic and Chinese market

Park Avenue: Limited Production HSV-built re-badge of the HSV Grange

GMC:

Platform mates to Cadillac Crossover wagon and Crossover utility These would be introduced in tandem with reduced Yukon and high-end Sierra 1/2 ton production. with Canyon and Envoy discontinued.

Pontiac:

G8 "family" of sedan, wagon, and sporttruck : All limited-production and Holden-built.

Variants could ramped up/down,be rotated with new models, cancelled, or replaced as the market demands. As acceptance of the AWD crossover products grew the coresponding full-size truck variants could be further trimmed in production level, variants, and trim packages in the 1/2 ton models. The long term goal would be to replace most 1/2 ton full size trucks and SUVs with zeta-based unibody models which would meet the needs of most 1/2 ton truck buyers. The employment of diesel powertrains, AFM , two-mode hybrid, and efficient v6 options on these would further enhance the positive effect on CAFE while allowing more flexibility in offering cars such as Camaro and the G8s.

The key would be flexibility and rotation of models, drivetrains,build loactions, and production levels. Zeta is the perfect platform for this mission as it provides a huge catalog of potential variants which can be phased in or out as conditions change. The above skeletal list only scratches the surface of potential variants. A second generation could address issues of weight and other limitations going forward. A platform of this type will always have a place in the portfolio if you think about it. Keeping a steady hand on the production throttle and product mix is all that's required. Once in full production shifts in emphasis could keep the whole program fresh and quickly responsive to changing conditions. With an attendant push in small cars as the other side of the coin, zeta could do very well indeed for GM.

It is the heavy slant to trucks and SUVs that hampers GM's CAFE strategies and breeds all of the drastic pronouncements we've been hearing. GM must lighten the truck load to become nimble enough to dance around CAFE, and zeta can help with that.

Don't forget that this would not happen within a vaccuum, other changes and technologies will be brought to bear at the same time. Two-mode spreading to other lines, mild hybrids and plug-ins, alternative fuels and new imports from other GM markets, lighter materials and flex-fuel products.

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I like it. Groupthink suggests that GM leave the trucks as they are, and decimate the passenger car lineups. This actually diversifies things a bit - most civilians don't NEED a Silverado, Tahoe, or an Avalanche but get one because there's no better option at GM. Case in point - how many Silverados out there do you see with nary a scratch in the bed? A compelling small pickup or wagon/crossover could entice people away from the large trucks and into vehicles that, while fully capable of handling Home Depot runs and towing a small boat or trailer, are smaller, lighter, more manageable, more fun to drive, and more efficient.

I'm surprised you didn't allocate yourself an El Camino. The Chevy could be the handyman's special (and optioned as such) while the Pontiac remains focused on sport/youth.

And another thing, I think a Zeta II that is lighter and more flexible is possible if GM is overwhelmed with consumer demand for the first generation Zetas.

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I may just release this as is, and let the rest of the membership finish the writing as they see fit, editing freely.

Could be fun.

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Pontiac:

G8 "family" of sedan, wagon, and sporttruck : All limited-production and Holden-built.

Variants could ramped up/down,be rotated with new models, cancelled, or replaced as the market demands. As acceptance of the AWD crossover products grew the coresponding full-size truck variants could be further trimmed in production level, variants, and trim packages in the 1/2 ton models. The long term goal would be to replace most 1/2 ton full size trucks and SUVs with zeta-based unibody models which would meet the needs of most 1/2 ton truck buyers. The employment of diesel powertrains, AFM , two-mode hybrid, and efficient v6 options on these would further enhance the positive effect on CAFE while allowing more flexibility in offering cars such as Camaro and the G8s.

You forgot the Coupe and Convertible for the full set of cars on the platform

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You forgot the Coupe and Convertible for the full set of cars on the platform

No, I didn't.

They would be at your Chevy and Buick dealers. :AH-HA_wink:

At least until Camaro moved to Alpha, then it would be Pontiac's turn. :yes:

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You forgot the Coupe and Convertible for the full set of cars on the platform

Riviera deserves, and GM needs, a prestige four-place convertible. Standard V8, automatic, optional "Silver Arrow" package in 2013 (the 50th Anniversary year).

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.

I'm surprised you didn't allocate yourself an El Camino. .

That's what gen II zeta is for. :AH-HA_wink:

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Riviera deserves, and GM needs, a prestige four-place convertible. Standard V8, automatic, optional "Silver Arrow" package in 2013 (the 50th Anniversary year).

How about an exclusive Turbo V6?

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How about an exclusive Turbo V6?

Not sure about that - I'd think that sort of engine would fit better in a Pontiac (youth marketing and all), but it is a brave new world. :)

Like your thinking, though...GNX, maybe?

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Interesting... so in essence, a Zeta pickup would replace Silverados currently used by those who find truck attributes appealing, but only occasionally use the bed or tow. GM must do a good job making this alternative compelling, by endowing it with the style, utilitarianism, and image of a truck, and they will have to educate buyers to rethink their choices. In many ways, it's similar to Ford's upcoming push to position EcoBoost engines as a replacement for larger-displacement engines: the product is suitable, but consumers are unfamiliar with it.

GM could utilize their durability expertise on Zeta, and who knows, maybe consumers will gravitate towards the improved comfort, refinement, fuel economy, and handling... meanwhile, only those who need the capabilities of an HD truck will buy an HD truck.

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am i smelling a new C&G Underground Project? :AH-HA_wink:

and if so... can i get in on this one? haha

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- AWD Crossover/wagon and Crewman style AWD crossover utility: Oshawa-built for domestic market as well as Australia and China with diesel variant for the European market. These would replace the Escalade trio at Cadillac.

Platform mate to Cadillac crossover Utility: With concurrent restrictions on Avalanche production and replacement of Colorado with smaller compact pickup (brazil), and the cancellation of trailblazer.

Tahoe and high-end Silverado 1/2 ton production cuts.

Platform mates to Cadillac Crossover wagon and Crossover utility These would be introduced in tandem with reduced Yukon and high-end Sierra 1/2 ton production. with Canyon and Envoy discontinued.

If that ever happens, it's interesting how we're reverting back to the RWD wagon (think Roadmaster), after all these years of big SUVs. These Zeta crossover/wagons will be for current Tahoe buyers who tow; Lambdas can do everything else.

Zeta "pickup" : Zeta crossover/wagon :: Silverado : Tahoe

edit - Also, is the Zeta platform AWD compatible?

edit 2 - The only thing I'm not sure of is the Caprice; I don't know if there's a market for a non-luxury RWD big sedan.

Edited by empowah
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If that ever happens, it's interesting how we're reverting back to the RWD wagon (think Roadmaster), after all these years of big SUVs. These Zeta crossover/wagons will be for current Tahoe buyers who tow; Lambdas can do everything else.

Zeta "pickup" : Zeta crossover/wagon :: Silverado : Tahoe

edit - Also, is the Zeta platform AWD compatible?

edit 2 - The only thing I'm not sure of is the Caprice; I don't know if there's a market for a non-luxury RWD big sedan.

Mercury Grand Marquis seems to be doing okay, considering its age. Then again, Marquis' average buyer gets older by the second.

In my opinion, GM got rid of big wagons too soon - they owned that market when Ford abandoned the segment. But Tahoes and Yukons, with their higher profit margins, were an easy draw and GM dropped the ball on all their big cars.

The Fleetwood, in particular, was perhaps the finest expression of classic Cadillac elegance in a long time - especially after years of front-drive fluff. Had that basic idea evolved into something more like today's Cadillacs, with independent rear suspension and Northstar engines, there would be no need for the DTS.

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Wow. This is like one of those "If I were president for a day" things.

So, how much does it cost to retool these plants? What do you suggest we do in the meantime?

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Here is how I think Zeta should be used:

Cadillac:

New SRX

7-Series/S-Class competitor - this would be modified and all-aluminum/other lightweight metals, or this could go on a stretched Sigma

I think the Escalade line should stay on the truck platform. First, they don't sell in that high of volume, and second, there's no reason to mess with success. Finally, all Escalades could get the 4-mode hybrid system. It would add cost, but $5k is pocket change to Escalade owners, anyways.

Chevrolet:

Camaro (should go on Alpha eventually)

Impala

El Camino (makes more sense than Pontiac ST)

Buick

Lucerne/Park Ave

Enclave (platform mate with SRX, would help to differentiate from Acadia/Outlook)

Pontiac

G8 sedan, wagon

GTO (it is a tough choice whether to make a GTO or GN for Buick, but I feel that the CTS coupe and Buick coupe might steal sales from each other. The same could happen with the GTO and Camaro, but I feel Pontiac can move upmarket of Chevy, and that the CTS would not be upmarket enough from a Buick coupe, but who really knows...)

The idea of a Zeta pickup is interesting, but I'm not sure if it would work. Perhaps a NG Avalanche on a beefed-up Lambda would work, and obviously the El Camino could be done... perhaps there could be two El Camino versions... one sporty (SS is both 3.6 DI form and V8?), one for more truck-like work, and finally one that's rather civilian (2.8 DI or turbo 4cyl?). Perhaps Colorado/Canyon could just be on a beefy Zeta? Zeta does not seem like it is big enough to accommodate a full size truck to me.

I think lots of Tahoe buyers will migrate to the Chevy Lambda... so I say keep the Tahoe on a truck platform so it still has good towing capabilities, etc.

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Wow. This is like one of those "If I were president for a day" things.

So, how much does it cost to retool these plants? What do you suggest we do in the meantime?

You have to re-tool when you switch to a new product anyways... introducing these suggested vehicles would be just like making a new version of the vehicle they are replacing on a different platform.

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Call it Sigma or Zeta, whatever, but GM still needs a new mid-large rwd architecture. Weight must be addressed, as botht he Sigma and Zeta architectures are too heavy compared to the competition (let alone the effect it has on performance and fuel economy). I'd like to see at least three different sizes offered, midsize CT5/CT6, large DT7 (Lucerne size) and larger DT7 L; and a truck version to replace the 3-row SRX (sport-crossover) and Trailblazer (off-road SUV). Ideally I'd like to offer an upper midsize Grand Prix and large Bonneville on stripped-down, rebodied Cadillac sedan structure, but C- and D-segment Alpha sedans are far more crucial.

Camino, don't expect the Colorado replacement to be any smaller. If anything it should be slightly bigger, to better match up with the Hilux and Frontier. Don't forget that outside of NA these are 1-tonners. The true compact pickup is the Gamma-based fwd Montana (which offers a near 3/4 ton payload capacity itself).

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Don't forget Holden - they're going to be a large part of making this happen, and they should probably get one of every variant mentioned here: coupe, sedan, wagon, convertible, 2dr and 4dr pickup, crossover, etc. Of course the volumes needed for Holden would be infinitesmal compared to GMNA's demands, but I think harmonizing the tooling in the GMNA Zeta plants with the Elizabeth plant will yield a very powerful scenario where GM could shift production of various Zetas between GMNA and GMH as demands and currency rates fluctuate. Perhaps this could even justify significant investment in Elizabeth or the creation of another Australian Zeta plant to handle the extra export demand.

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Great input everyone, keep it coming.

If you guys know me, I left out many,many, versions I personally would like to see. I did this to limit any duplication accross the brands, with the exception of the AWD (yes zeta is engineered to be AWD capable) crossovers/utilities/wagons. Those I gave to Caddy, GMC, and Chevy so that replacing the truck/suv lines would have the necessary impact on CAFE to make this a viable plan.

The cool part of all of this (as Z alluded to) is that it would be exteremely flexible and able to add/subtract, shift production locations, adjust production mix, etc. constantly to meet the need. As illustrated by the Turbo 6 idea for the Riviera, a huge potential for differentiation exists as well. If CAFE can be balanced by the reduction of large truck and SUV sales and the addition of small, fuel efficient cars at the other end of the range Zeta could be a huge,versatile, adaptable, hit for GM.

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Wow. This is like one of those "If I were president for a day" things.

So, how much does it cost to retool these plants? What do you suggest we do in the meantime?

Actually, 3 plants on two continents, and in three countries are already being readied (in Holden's case already in production)for Zeta production. So your concerns are a non-issue.

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Here is how I think Zeta should be used:

Cadillac:

New SRX

7-Series/S-Class competitor - this would be modified and all-aluminum/other lightweight metals, or this could go on a stretched Sigma

I think the Escalade line should stay on the truck platform. First, they don't sell in that high of volume, and second, there's no reason to mess with success. Finally, all Escalades could get the 4-mode hybrid system. It would add cost, but $5k is pocket change to Escalade owners, anyways.

Essentially what I propose here would merge the SRX and Escalade lines, i think the Escalade fad has just about run its course. The standard Escalade could remain for a year or during the transition, but the EXT and LWB model should go immediately.

Chevrolet:

Camaro (should go on Alpha eventually)

Impala

El Camino (makes more sense than Pontiac ST)

Pontiac needs the ST right now more than Chevy needs the El Camino (though it pains me to say so). Impala would be duplicative as related to G8, and I have to assume that GM plans to go ahead with the next gen on FWD, so I limited it to a LWB Caprice in low numbers and based on the Statesman. If I had to choose one model to cancel in my original array, this would be the one.

Buick

Lucerne/Park Ave

Enclave (platform mate with SRX, would help to differentiate from Acadia/Outlook)

Park Avenue yes (based on the HSV Grange) - Lucerne and Enclave no

Pontiac

G8 sedan, wagon

GTO (it is a tough choice whether to make a GTO or GN for Buick, but I feel that the CTS coupe and Buick coupe might steal sales from each other. The same could happen with the GTO and Camaro, but I feel Pontiac can move upmarket of Chevy, and that the CTS would not be upmarket enough from a Buick coupe, but who really knows...)

The idea of a Zeta pickup is interesting, but I'm not sure if it would work. Perhaps a NG Avalanche on a beefed-up Lambda would work, and obviously the El Camino could be done... perhaps there could be two El Camino versions... one sporty (SS is both 3.6 DI form and V8?), one for more truck-like work, and finally one that's rather civilian (2.8 DI or turbo 4cyl?). Perhaps Colorado/Canyon could just be on a beefy Zeta? Zeta does not seem like it is big enough to accommodate a full size truck to me.

I think lots of Tahoe buyers will migrate to the Chevy Lambda... so I say keep the Tahoe on a truck platform so it still has good towing capabilities, etc.

The GTO/GN thing would likely have to wait for a Shift in the Zeta mix, I think a Luxury oriented Riviera would be a better place to start for Buick. When/if Camaro shifts to Alpha, GTO becomes a good choice. A Lambda pickup is a bad idea IMO, Like the Ridgeline it would be trying to be something it isn't. The Colorado on Zeta is in line with the game plan though - or could be. Tahoe would not go away, just be more limited in volume - except for the hybrid.

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Actually, 3 plants on two continents, and in three countries are already being readied (in Holden's case already in production)for Zeta production. So your concerns are a non-issue.

Of course theyre not but I think you may have missed the point.

Wheels this big are already in motion but if you get a proposal by all means take it as far as you can.

Variety is the spice of life or something like that.

Just be mindful of crossing over into Buickman territory.

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Essentially what I propose here would merge the SRX and Escalade lines, i think the Escalade fad has just about run its course. The standard Escalade could remain for a year or during the transition, but the EXT and LWB model should go immediately.

I don't know... what does Cadillac tell all the professional athletes, rappers, movie stars, etc., that have grown accustomed to the Escalade? The aren't going to buy used ones, they'll migrate elsewhere if they have to. It seems every luxury maker besides Acura and BMW have a small ute (BRX), midsize (SRX), and large (Escalade). We'll have to agree to disagree, I guess.

Pontiac needs the ST right now more than Chevy needs the El Camino (though it pains me to say so). Impala would be duplicative as related to G8, and I have to assume that GM plans to go ahead with the next gen on FWD, so I limited it to a LWB Caprice in low numbers and based on the Statesman. If I had to choose one model to cancel in my original array, this would be the one.

Perhaps Pontiac does need the ST, and since it's probably easier to do it as a Pontiac than a Chevy, it is fine to do it that way right now, but in the long run Chevy offers more market coverage, I think (with sport, utilitarian, and basic models). I think Impala and G8 can be well differentiated. Right now, the G8 is too big, IMO. It should be 5er sized, not 7er sized. Alpha = 3er, G8 = 5er, Impala = 7er (or perhaps bigger) in terms of size.

Park Avenue yes (based on the HSV Grange) - Lucerne and Enclave no

By Lucerne/Park Ave I meant one or the other (basically just a name), not both. What do you feel is wrong with the Enclave on Zeta? It seems it could make it more premium than its platform mates, which it should be.

The GTO/GN thing would likely have to wait for a Shift in the Zeta mix, I think a Luxury oriented Riviera would be a better place to start for Buick. When/if Camaro shifts to Alpha, GTO becomes a good choice. A Lambda pickup is a bad idea IMO, Like the Ridgeline it would be trying to be something it isn't. The Colorado on Zeta is in line with the game plan though - or could be. Tahoe would not go away, just be more limited in volume - except for the hybrid.

I don't know, I think Lambda is more truck-like than Zeta, but we don't know exactly how versatile either platform is. The Ridgeline is fine for running to home depot, and I don't think a Zeta truck is going to be any more capable towing and hauling than a Lambda truck. Lambda is also a bigger footprint to start with.

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I don't know... what does Cadillac tell all the professional athletes, rappers, movie stars, etc., that have grown accustomed to the Escalade? The aren't going to buy used ones, they'll migrate elsewhere if they have to. It seems every luxury maker besides Acura and BMW have a small ute (BRX), midsize (SRX), and large (Escalade). We'll have to agree to disagree, I guess.

I don't think keeping the Escalade around for those people is any better an idea than offering pale pink as a color choice in the hopes that Mary Kay saleswomen will buy one. And even if they "need" a full-sized luxury SUV, they can always go with a GMC Denali, which should be made even better in the absence of an Escalade.

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Of course theyre not but I think you may have missed the point.

Wheels this big are already in motion but if you get a proposal by all means take it as far as you can.

Variety is the spice of life or something like that.

Just be mindful of crossing over into Buickman territory.

I'm not certain that I understand your meaning entirely, but no "Buickman" charade is in the plan here. This is simply an exploration of the options for a ready platform and how it might help GM to deal with CAFE.

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