Oracle of Delphi

GM snuffs Holden's global RWD dream

93 posts in this topic

As Z28 and ZL-1 know, I am in Australia, so I think this should come from me to soften the blow somewhat, at least I hope it does. Better to come from me than a stranger I think.

General Motors confirms G8 and Camaro are the last Aussie RWD models for America

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in DETROIT 13 January 2009

DEVELOPMENT of future large rear-wheel drive vehicle programs beyond the current-generation Holden-devised Zeta architecture has halted at General Motors, according to global product development vice-chairman Bob Lutz.

Speaking to Australian media at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, Mr Lutz confirmed that increasingly punitive fuel-economy target legislation, combined with the severe economic crisis, had left the corporation with no option but to cease future RWD large-car development.

This means that GM may have to keep using the ageing Sigma RWD and all-wheel-drive architecture that has served on its upper-echelon vehicles such as the Cadillac CTS and STS sedans and the SRX luxury SUV.

The Sigma architecture debuted in 2002 beneath the first-generation CTS.

“The strategy we had a few years ago of basically deriving a whole sweeping global portfolio off the Australian Zeta architecture ... frankly, we have had to abandon that dream,” Mr Lutz said.

“This is because, whether you are in the United States or in China, fuel economy mandates are getting more and more severe, and we just could not base our strategy on doing relatively large and relatively heavy rear-wheel-drive cars.

“And I suspect the same thing is going to start to bite the traditional rear-wheel drive producers.”

Left: Bob Lutz unveils the VE Commodore-based Pontiac G8 at the Chicago show in 2007.

The Zeta’s death knell in the US follows GM’s announcement last week that the VE utility-derived Pontiac G8 ST program had been axed just months before the first vehicle was due to be made and shipped to North America.

Mr Lutz also confirmed that the Australian-developed Chevrolet Camaro – which is also built off the Zeta platform architecture – has suffered delays as GM tries to get back on its corporate feet. The convertible version will now arrive in 2011 while development of a right-hand drive model has also been set back by a few months – at the very least.

“Frankly, when we looked at investments that we could defer a little bit because they were non-essential or not critical to the short-term survival of the company, one of the things we pushed out a little bit was the Camaro convertible,” he said.

“It was going to initially be just one year after the coupe (on sale in the next few months in America), and now it is going to be two years after the coupe.

“And another thing we deferred was the right-hand-drive version. I’m confident it is going to happen, it’s just that it is going to happen a little later.”

How long the VE Commodore-based Pontiac G8 – which is built at Holden’s Elizabeth plant in Adelaide – survives is tied in with Pontiac’s fate.

“It all depends on what we are going to do with the Pontiac brand,” Mr Lutz said. “It is one of the US brands that we have announced that is under ‘strategic review’.

“With the current financial reality of the company, we’ve got too many kids and too many mouths to feed, and three brands ... actually three-and-a-half brands are under strategic review: Saturn, Hummer, Saab and ‘kind of’ Pontiac.

“We’ve said that we are going to focus Pontiac down to one or two entries – and for the time being one of the two entries will be the G8, the other being the Pontiac Vibe, and of course the Solstice Roadster and Coupe – and that’s basically the Pontiac line-up.”

Nevertheless, GM’s global design director (and former Holden design chief) Mike Simcoe told GoAuto in Detroit that the Pontiac G8 had become profitable in North America in recent months, despite selling around half as many as GM anticipated, due to the big drop in the value of the Australian dollar compared to the US currency.

And the HSV-based 6.2-litre Pontiac GXP will still be launched as scheduled in February.

Mr Lutz also acknowledged that there would be a next-generation Commodore produced in Australia using a development of the Zeta architecture that debuted as the VE series in July 2006.

Due out in about 2012 or 2013, it is believed that the next Commodore’s ‘top hat’ (body and interior) will change, as will parts of the drivetrain to accommodate alternative fuel powerplants, but the basic chassis will be carried over.

“It is our intent to continue the Australian rear-wheel-drive cars; we will continue building them and doing a next generation and so forth and so on,” Mr Lutz said.

“And, to be honest, they continue to be my favourite cars. I think they are absolutely wonderful – but the regulatory environment is such that it would be imprudent to base a whole global platform strategy on them ... much to my personal chagrin, by the way.”

Mr Lutz said that, providing GM pulled through the current economic crisis, he expected the auto giant might again be open to the development of a new RWD platform with an expert partner like Holden in Australia – in the long-term.

“What many of us would like to do (one day) is to do an all-new global rear-wheel drive architecture that would be considerably smaller, lighter and be capable of taking four-cylinder powertrains,” he said.

“That, I think, could be globally shared. It’s not even in the plan at this point; it’s just what we tell ourselves in that there is going to have to be a next-generation Camaro, and there is going to have to be a next-generation Cadillac sedan, and so there is going to have to be a smaller and a way more efficient rear-wheel-drive architecture.

“But at this point it is just a gleam in our eye.”

Meanwhile, Mr Lutz revealed that GM’s decision to green light the design, development and assembly of its next-generation ‘Delta’ small car in Elizabeth leaves Holden in a stronger position to weather the vagaries of consumer trends and economic downturns.

“Holden has basically committed to localising a compact car for Australia’s future because we see that is where the growth is,” he said.

Holden managing director and CEO Mark Reuss also said in Detroit this week that sealing the small-car deal for Australia was one of his top priorities when he began his stint in Australia one year ago, and that much of his time since has been spent implementing the program.

Link: http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf...A25753D0016D9D3

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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I'll get it out of the way

Waaaaa!!! Waaaa!!! :hissyfit: :hissyfit:
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It's a cop-out. Put some fuel efficient diesels in there like the Germans do in Europe, get them to meet US emissions and there you go. Maybe throw in some hybrid powertrains...maybe a diesel hybrid?

I saw it coming but it's still a big steaming load of BS.

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1. RWD v. FWD make no difference in fuel economy

2. "Coming from you" doesn't soften the blow. It's you here saying "I told you so" and I wouldn't doubt that you had a hand in it.

3. Sigma is "aging" already? Kicking BMW ass around Nurburgring and it's "aging"

4. What happens to Alpha?

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Certifying those diesels would cost money that GM doesn't have

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1. RWD v. FWD make no difference in fuel economy

2. "Coming from you" doesn't soften the blow. It's you here saying "I told you so" and I wouldn't doubt that you had a hand in it.

3. Sigma is "aging" already? Kicking BMW ass around Nurburgring and it's "aging"

4. What happens to Alpha?

As far as #4, this implies Alpha is on the far back burner:

“What many of us would like to do (one day) is to do an all-new global rear-wheel drive architecture that would be considerably smaller, lighter and be capable of taking four-cylinder powertrains,” he said.

“That, I think, could be globally shared. It’s not even in the plan at this point; it’s just what we tell ourselves in that there is going to have to be a next-generation Camaro, and there is going to have to be a next-generation Cadillac sedan, and so there is going to have to be a smaller and a way more efficient rear-wheel-drive architecture.

But at this point it is just a gleam in our eye.” (Alpha?)

Sad... I guess to survive GM is going to focus on FWD generics for the mass market and forget about the good stuff, beyond what is already in the pipeline.

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Certifying those diesels would cost money that GM doesn't have

GM should have been working on it years ago when they had the money.

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GM should have been working on it years ago when they had the money.

Unfortunately for everyone (a diesel Astra would make me overlook some of the huge flaws the car has) foresight is something that the state of Michigan outlawed in 1968.

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Well this really sucks for the next generation Impala then --- what do I replace my 06 Impala SS with - a new Malibu? I don't think so.... GM should dump the G8 and make that the next Impala, at least as a stop-gap for a few years.

Seriously, this is terrible news for future full-sized GM sedans, and especially bad for Chevrolet, which now has a very dated flagship model.

I might have to look at a new Lacrosse or buy a slightly used DTS now...

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Read my sig.

And this while you're at it:

http://www.camaroz28.com/forums/showthread.php?t=661387

If that whole post is true, that leaves me much more at ease about the future of RWD at GM. I can handle the waiting game until things stabilize.

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CAFE is a weak excuse, they still make Hummers, Suburbans and Tahoes that suck far more gas than any rear drive car. The CTS gets the same mileage as the Malibu, so FWD vs RWD makes no difference in mileage. The problem is too many years of feeding Saturn, Saab, Hummer, etc and not enough time making modern, lightweight platforms, clean diesel, hybrid cars, etc. Only now are they getting the 6-speeds and DI engines to market, they should have been doing that in 2005-2006, but they pushed the GMT900s as priority one, and thought "high value" 3500 and 3900 V6s is what the market wanted.

Sigma may not seem dated now, but the E-class and 5-series are getting redone this year, and BMW is already has the test mule for the next generation 3-series, if they don't start on a Sigma replacement now, they will be behind again.

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DEVELOPMENT of future large rear-wheel drive vehicle programs beyond the current-generation Holden-devised Zeta architecture has halted at General Motors, according to global product development vice-chairman Bob Lutz.

*YAWN* ... Old news... This has been out for a few days now.

And BTW, the quote that followed that quote basically said that GM will continue to work on RWD when it gets more $$$.

This means that GM may have to keep using the ageing Sigma RWD and all-wheel-drive architecture that has served on its upper-echelon vehicles such as the Cadillac CTS and STS sedans and the SRX luxury SUV.

I love how Sigma was "phenominal" last year when the CTS debuted, but is apparently "AgEing" now. :rolleyes:

The Sigma architecture debuted in 2002 beneath the first-generation CTS.

Oh, teh noooz.... It's a whopping 7 years old! Don't most camry platforms go for about twice as long as this?

The Zeta’s death knell in the US follows GM’s announcement last week that the VE utility-derived Pontiac G8 ST program had been axed just months before the first vehicle was due to be made and shipped to North America.

1) Zeta has been "dead" in the U.S. since the FIRST time Lutz rang the "death knell" (seriously... same wording used and all)

2) Word from insiders is that the Cadillac and Buick Zetas are merely delayed at this point, not dead. (Epsilon is being evaluated for those replacements but certainly has not been chosen, and the choice probably will not be made for another year as GM has WAY more important things to execute than LARGE cars right now.)

3) The G8 ST was killed because it clashed with what Pontiac is going to become, not because it mattered as a Zeta. Production, that has already been paid for, of about 5-7,000 units isn't anything to CAFE. And, FWIW, LaNeve even contended that the G8 ST could return if the market rebounds.

Mr Lutz also confirmed that the Australian-developed Chevrolet Camaro – which is also built off the Zeta platform architecture – has suffered delays as GM tries to get back on its corporate feet. The convertible version will now arrive in 2011 while development of a right-hand drive model has also been set back by a few months – at the very least.

Good... GM needs to focus on paying the bills, not being sexy.

How long the VE Commodore-based Pontiac G8 – which is built at Holden’s Elizabeth plant in Adelaide – survives is tied in with Pontiac’s fate.

“It all depends on what we are going to do with the Pontiac brand,” Mr Lutz said. “It is one of the US brands that we have announced that is under ‘strategic review’.

Well, considering that Lutz said the Commodore is safe for at least 2 more generations. And that the G8, no matter how much it sales is profitable (unless the dollar goes schizo) And that the G8 has been identified by almost EVERY exec as a keeper in the Pontiac line up... I'd say it's chances are pretty good.

“We’ve said that we are going to focus Pontiac down to one or two entries – and for the time being one of the two entries will be the G8, the other being the Pontiac Vibe, and of course the Solstice Roadster and Coupe – and that’s basically the Pontiac line-up.”

Sounds good to me... There have been many conflicting reports though.... People saying anywhere from 3 to even 6 cars. Hell, even Lutz contradicts himself in that quote. He says one or two cars, then list four. (He counts the Solstice coupe as a separate entry)

“And, to be honest, they continue to be my favourite cars. I think they are absolutely wonderful – but the regulatory environment is such that it would be imprudent to base a whole global platform strategy on them ... much to my personal chagrin, by the way.”

That should've been a no brainer from day one. Hell, even if regs hadn't gotten in the way, it's not like they would've sold in the volume that GM wanted to sell them in.

Mr Lutz said that, providing GM pulled through the current economic crisis, he expected the auto giant might again be open to the development of a new RWD platform with an expert partner like Holden in Australia – in the long-term.

Alpha or the newly prophesized Zeta-lite

“What many of us would like to do (one day) is to do an all-new global rear-wheel drive architecture that would be considerably smaller, lighter and be capable of taking four-cylinder [THE REST OF THE QUOTE GOES:] V6 AND V8 powertrains” he said.

This article is like 2-3 days old...

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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2. "Coming from you" doesn't soften the blow. It's you here saying "I told you so"

:yes:

Exactly....

and I wouldn't doubt that you had a hand in it.

I highly doubt that... They usually don't let global janitors make product decisions (although, the janitors might do a better job than the execs have been doing)

:neenerneener:

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Unfortunately for everyone (a diesel Astra would make me overlook some of the huge flaws the car has) foresight is something that the state of Michigan outlawed in 1968.

Apparently so...

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General Motors confirms G8 and Camaro are the last Aussie RWD models for America

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in DETROIT 13 January 2009

“This is because, whether you are in the United States or in China, fuel economy mandates are getting more and more severe, and we just could not base our strategy on doing relatively large and relatively heavy rear-wheel-drive cars.

So I take it this means they are going to stick to producing overweight FWD cars instead?!? :rolleyes:

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So I take it this means they are going to stick to producing overweight FWD cars instead?!? :rolleyes:

Seems that way.

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No new news. I am waiting to see what comes out on the other side of the current sales slump. I do have some faith in GM and Pontiac.

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I know this particular article is fairly recent, but haven't we all sort of known this was going to happen for a while now? Hell, I was actually fearing he'd say that the G8 is dead beyond this summer or something. It's not even really that bad.

The only disturbing part in this article was how he referred to a smaller rear drive platform as a "gleam in their eyes" or some such b.s. I'm really pulling for a slightly smaller, lighter Camaro with a crazy high horsepower V6 or maybe even a small displacement but high horsepower V8. My wife's 2008 G35 is a blast to drive - its almost just as quick as my 98 Z28 was, and its a V6. GM needs a car like Nissan's FX platform in a major way. Sigma II sort of works, but it's a little bit on the heavy side. Although I wonder if GM could just lighten up Sigma for a car like that - and make the NG CTS lighter and use that platform for a Camaro as well?

The other thing that has me "worried" is that the NG CTS and STS would be moved to a fwd platform altogether. If that happens, all bets are off for Caddy. It wasn't said in this article, but I can easily see the "brains" at GM looking at how Ford is treating Lincoln and think "wow, we can do that too and sell cars". I wouldn't be too terribly surprised if they change direction at Cadillac and move that brand back over to fwd entirely. Based on principle, I think I'd have to completely abandon GM at that point, even if I was only in the market for a mundane front driver like my Vue. If they do that to Caddy, I'd be pissed.

Personally, I don't think this is a CAFE issue as much as it is a cost issue. I'd be willing to bet a fwd Malibu or LaCrosse costs less to build than a rear drive G8 or Camaro. At the end of the day, the bean counters are still going to win. Cheap to build product is going to win over expensive to build product now.

Thinking out loud - maybe the only thing saving Sigma/Caddy is the fact that they can get away with charging so much for it. Perhaps getting $45k+ for a rear drive Sigma is better than only getting $35K for a front drive Eps II?

Who knows - GM is so goofy sometimes when it comes to product planning and placement that I can't even believe they've made it this far past the late 90s.

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...and so the terrorists have finally won.

No RWD, no sale. Its that simple.

The Germans and Japanese will continue to provide good RWD cars, so I guess I'll have to get a bumper sticker for my 7 series... "I tried to buy American, but the Big 3 used CAFE as a cop out".

When I buy my G8 GXP in a few months at a GM fire sale, I guess I'll have to put it in the garage and treat it like the early '70s end-of-an-era cars.

I hope Lutz, Wagoner and PCS like their Studebaker-like legacy.

I really have to stop paying attention to this soap opera. It's giving me an ulcer, and the results are going to be as predictable as a slasher film: more of the same FWD generics... a 30 year GM legacy... and America ain't buying them.

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...and so the terrorists have finally won.

No RWD, no sale. Its that simple.

The Germans and Japanese will continue to provide good RWD cars, so I guess I'll have to get a bumper sticker for my 7 series... "I tried to buy American, but the Big 3 used CAFE as a cop out".

Well not quite true, Chrysler will still have large RWD cars, maybe even midsize if they produce the 200C. Ford's got...the Mustang.

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Well not quite true, Chrysler will still have large RWD cars, maybe even midsize if they produce the 200C. Ford's got...the Mustang.

Fixed

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Personally, I don't think this is a CAFE issue as much as it is a cost issue. I'd be willing to bet a fwd Malibu or LaCrosse costs less to build than a rear drive G8 or Camaro. At the end of the day, the bean counters are still going to win. Cheap to build product is going to win over expensive to build product now.

It's not...

Especially if the mix continues to be as it was this year... CAFE won't even be a factor then.

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