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GM Engineering Chief Reuss Hopes for RWD Chevys, Buicks

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WARREN, MICHIGAN - Like everybody else working for General Motors, Mark Reuss, the vice president for global vehicle engineering is happy Opel is not going to be sold. Meanwhile, he's changing the GM plan from his predecessor, Jim Queen's, global product development strategy. Under Queen, each region, or "global engineering center," had permanent responsibility for a specific set of products. Russelsheim, Germany, Opel's headquarters, pretty much owned the Epsilon/Epsilon II front-drive midsize platform, for example, while small cars were done at GM-Daewoo in South Korea and large trucks, SUVs and the Corvette were developed in Michigan.

"I'll never do that because each one of these centers does something important for a car or a piece of a car, or a family of cars," Reuss said Thursday. "And so, the minute I say a center is capable of doing all this ... number one, it's not true. Number two, it limits our ability, because this is a moving target. Next year when you ask me this question I'll have a different set of what people have grown into what they've been able to do than what they've been able to do the year before. It may have grown out of another cycle of product, or it may have grown out of a targeted, strategic ramp-up of capability in a place."

When Russelsheim is finished with the next version of Epsilon it may be ready for a smaller or larger car. Reuss says he'll leverage head-count and expertise, share engineers from various regions when needed and as a result, stabilize staff levels in each of GM's regions.

"I'm trying to change this from, everybody's going to be able to do everything for everybody all over the world to, these are the places that are really good at doing that, so we want to keep them doing that. If there are places that need to help them with things they aren't good at, then we're going leverage those things to do it, too."

No, you're not confused. This does seem like picking nits between Queen's decade-long work changing Old GM to a more global structure and Reuss' global strategy for a post-bankruptcy New GM. The big difference is that Queen tried to streamline all the regions while working within the confines of big, clunky Old GM. And the plan to be able to build any Epsilon-platform Opel, Vauxhall, Chevy, Buick, Cadillac or Holden in any Epsilon factory in the world never quite happened.

We'll need to wait a few years before we see whether Reuss' change makes any progress. It will be just one more way to judge whether the new, slimmed-down GM is any more efficient.

Reuss, the 46-year-old son of former GM President Lloyd Reuss, was promoted to Queen's position after serving a year and a half as president and managing director of GM Holden in Australia. So what about Holden's leadership on the Zeta rear-wheel-drive architecture?

That platform is the basis for the '10 Chevy Camaro, the 2011 cop car-only Chevy Caprice, the 2008-09 Pontiac G8, Holdens Commodore and Statesman, and Chevy and Buick variants for the Middle East and China, respectively.

Going into GM's bankruptcy last July, rear-wheel-drive seemed all but dead, relegated to Cadillac (and not the whole lineup), body-on-frame trucks and the Corvette here in anticipation of new Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards. GM's ability to quickly add a Holden sedan with a Chevy nose and cop car tires, brakes and lights to the Camaro's Oshawa, Ontario assembly plant bodes well for a civilian Chevy Caprice and Buick Park Avenue there in the future. If CEO Fritz Henderson's ban on badge engineering holds, North American Zeta Chevys and Buicks won't simply wear Holden sheetmetal with a different nose.

"We strove to make Zeta rear-wheel drive in Australia relevant for the rest of the world. Relevant from a fuel economy standpoint, relevant from a safety standpoint, relevant from a performance standpoint. We put 3.0-liter and 3.6 direct-injection engines into that plant, put them into that car. We lead the market in fuel economy in Australia with that car."

Reuss says the Holden Commodore with a 3.0-liter direct-injection V-6 and six-speed automatic achieves 9.3-liters per 100 kilometers fuel efficiency (combined). That's the equivalent of about 25.3 mpg U.S.

"The next piece of that will be taking mass out of that architecture. And so, if you have an evolutionary perspective of that architecture in Australia to be successful and profitable, and you do that over a long period of time, the export markets will come knocking on your door to get that car. Either the Middle-East or the United States."

There's "nothing irrelevant" about a relatively lightweight, low-cost, fuel-efficient rear-wheel-drive sedan, he says. This is a clear reversal of the attitude GM executives had toward rear-wheel drive before the company's bankruptcy, and potentially, finally, a reversal of GM's overdone shift to front-wheel-drive large sedans begun some 20 years ago.

Link: http://blogs.motortrend.com/6608727/corporate/gm-engineering-chief-reuss-hopes-for-rwd-chevys-buicks/index.html

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There's "nothing irrelevant" about a relatively lightweight, low-cost, fuel-efficient rear-wheel-drive sedan, he says. This is a clear reversal of the attitude GM executives had toward rear-wheel drive before the company's bankruptcy, and potentially, finally, a reversal of GM's overdone shift to front-wheel-drive large sedans begun some 20 years ago.

Sounds like there is a new sheriff in town.

Also, sounds like Lutz is the new county judge.

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Great way to start off my week, after the uber crappy week I just went through.

BTW, JB - that picture on the front page is hot.

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Wow! So somebody at GM finally suggests what many C&G posters have been insisting all along: Zeta is an excellent platform that could be viable for future products with some updates/improvements in mass and fuel efficiency. It's great to see that someone at GM "gets it". I hope he succeeds in expanding the utilization of this platform.

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Wow PCS it looks like you are turning out to be right again. Have any insider info on that new MY 2012 Chevy SS? I hope this gives RWD a future and did I read the 25 mpg combined for fuel economy right? All that from a RWD car, $h! thats better than a six banger Malibu or Impala! Who says RWD can't be fuel efficent, now if I can just get it confirmed that Chevrolet will be getting a four door Zeta for consumers. :scratchchin:

Also the new LaX is proof GM can do it and the Regal with a six speed manual and possible wagon even GN trim would be even better.

Edited by gm4life
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So PCS comments are coming to pass it seems. I am watching. If they brought Statesman/Caprice here they would change the front end and the interior. They did it for China. Why not?

If they could get Statesman/Caprice, the UTE, the wagon here and Commodore, you are set. A Whole line up of Holdens at your local Buick GMC dealer.

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Hopefully, at your Chevrolet dealer instead.

Excepting the LWB sedan, perhaps.

LWB back doored as Law Enforcement hopefully with possible Sgt-Mjr interior upgrades as in the past 91-96 Caprice.Many were sold to our City only to be used for City Commissioners court officers other Dept.Directors ect...

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