By on August 12, 2009

General Motors has always been long on talk about the future. The company that invented concept cars and pioneered planned obsolescence has always kept consumers focused on the next big thing(s), and that tradition is ever more important now that GM is a publicly-owned entity. Future products are the justification for current investments and subsidies, and GM knows it. Though details are sparse and largely sifted out of the murk of PR leaks, teases and hearsay, a picture of post-IPO GM’s 2012 lineup is beginning to form. The success of these vehicles depends on a number of difficult-to-predict factors, but assuming fairly conservative projections (steady increases in US economic growth, auto sales and gas prices), it’s not too hard to tease out a few early conclusions on GM’s strategy. So let’s hop in the time machine and set the dial for the Fall of 2011.

City/Mini Class

The Chevrolet Spark will be all-new for the 2012 model year, hitting dealerships just as our time machine arrives two years into the future. Based on the basic-by-third-world-standards Daewoo Matiz, the Spark is Geo Metro redux with a Chevy badge and styling. With a 1.2 liter engine and a goal of 50 mpg on the highway, Spark is clearly GM’s insurance policy against another sharp spike in fuel prices.  US production of about 25k-30k units annually (about current Aveo sales levels) is reportedly planned. Most of GM’s competitors plan on bringing more premium offerings to this segment (e.g. VW Up!, Toyota iQ), making Spark a potentially unique value (though probably less profitable).

Subcompact Class

GM will replace its unloved Aveo as a 2011 model, a year before our time machine lands. Chinese/Korean engineered on the new GM-Daewoo “Gamma II” platform and styled by GM’s Brazilian studio, the new Aveo is supposed to be built at Orion Township. Strangely though, Automotive News [sub] reports that Aveo will “likely” be produced at San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Styling and space should be improved compared to the outgoing model, but the model will probably struggle under the Aveo name thanks to its predecessor’s weak reputation. Name continuity is a good thing, but Bob Lutz’s apparent decision to keep the Aveo name may not have been the example for GM to start the habit with.

Both the Spark and Aveo will struggle to hide their developing-market roots and will likely do little to change the perception small cars are an afterthought for GM. The Spark in particular should face some trouble, given that most economists see economic recovery and rising gas prices arriving hand-in-hand. In that scenario (and considering GM’s desperate need to improve its small-car rep), Toyota and VW’s premium city car approach seems to be the better choice. And with the Aveo upsizing to near-Cobalt size, GM will also be selling it as a hatchback only for fear of cannibalizing the Cruze. This will further limit its appeal in the American market.

Compact Class

The Cruze will debut alongside the new Aveo in 2011, and will be built on the global Delta II platform in Lordstown, OH. Early reviews from Europe and Australia where local versions have already debuted are . . . mixed. Reviewers praise the space, styling and interior quality, while criticizing the car’s weight, engines and dull handling. All in all, though, it’s hard to conclude that the Cruze won’t be a huge improvement on the Cobalt. This should go a long way towards building some kind of reputation for GM in a segment where it has never really been competitive. Unfortunately, for every positive step there’s at least one regression.

A Delta II-based Buick is planned for model year 2012, which has been conceived as a way of returning lost Pontiac volume to the Buick-GMC dealer network. “Unique sheetmetal” is promised, but the model (like all Buicks going forward) will essentially be a tweaked Chinese-market offering built alongside the Cruze at Lordstown. GM’s level of cynicism in executing this model will be a defining choice. With the Cruze already offering a relatively high quality interior for the segment, differentiating the Buick compact will be tough. Especially if Buick-GMC dealers are counting on it for real volume.

In addition to badge-engineering, GM is also saddling its compact portfolio with its other age-old sin, the fleet special. Though the weary Cobalt will no longer be offered at retail when our time machine lands, GM is considering a fleet-only version of the Cobalt to soldier through 2010 and possibly into 2011. Though fleet specials are understood to have a negative effect on brand image, old habits die hard. And as we will see later, the Cobalt “Fleet” won’t be the only image-dragging holdover model in GM’s portfolio come 2011.

EREV

The Volt should be available at dealers when we arrive to witness GM’s 2012 lineup. 10,000 units of production are planned for 2012, with an MSRP of $43K and GM will lose money on every one. A Cadillac Converj version could be available by 2012, but the chances are not good. If it is available by 2012, expect either a rebadge of shocking cynicism or a super-limited halo car. Neither of which will help GM. As reality sinks in and hype fades, the Volt could well be the cause of a few GM PR headaches by 2012.

Compact MPV/CUV

Entering the magical world of crossover utility vehicles, GM’s 2012 product planning begins to show signs of yet another classic GM sin: overlap. Chevrolet’s Delta II-based Orlando looks to be a relatively solid contender as a cheap seven-seater in the Kia Rondo mold. But will those two extra seats be useful enough to tempt Americans away from GM’s slew of five-passenger vehicles? Given the limitations of the platform, the answer is probably no. Unless, of course, a gas price shock creates more interest in the micro-van segment.

A Gamma-II based five-seat CUV is planned for Buick, in yet another attempt to bring more volume into the Buick-GMC sales channel. As with the Buick Cruze rebadge, this weak motivation could easily tempt GM into the old cynical rebadge trap. Though GM-Shanghai’s Business concept shows the possibility of an attractive small Buick CUV, putting concept into practice could prove difficult. The challenge: attracting a premium over the upsized, five-door Aveo, without cutting into GM’s four Theta CUVs. Or a possible 2012 GMC “Sub-Terrain” CUV based on either the Gamma II or Delta II platform.

Given GM’s history and limited resources, expect the Buick CUV to be tough to distinguish from the Aveo and the GMC to be similar to the Orlando. Execution is everything with this much potential for overlap, and GM has only so much time to create meaningful differentiation in this cluster-NSFW.  And as we move into the meat of GM’s planned lineup, that problem appears everywhere. No way can GM make sense of all of it.

Midsize CUV

Here in 2009 this is one of the hottest segments in the market, as Americans downsize from Detroit SUVs into CRVs, Rav4s and Foresters. And GM is only a little bit late to the party, banking on the 2010 Equinox and Terrain to fight for the remainder of the cute-ute boom. But GM is already having difficulty explaining how consumers should choose between these offerings. For 2011, Buick will add to the confusion by offering what appears to be an only mildly rebadged version of the Saturn Vue, which will bridge the already-narrow gap to the “Theta Premium” Cadillac SRX. Further complicating the Theta competition will be the Saturn Vue and the Saab 9-4X, which will likely both be sold by the former GM divisions in 2011.

The problem with GM’s Compact CUV offerings isn’t that GM misunderstands the market; this segment should continue to sell well through 2012. The problem is that GM is set on flooding the segment with models that, while distinguishable to buffs and designers, will only serve to confuse consumers. The Buick Vue rebadge seems to be a particularly senseless and cynical decision, justified only by the 2012 option of a plug-in drivetrain that should really be an option on the SRX. Retaining the Equinox name could also keep one of GM’s most important products in the shadow of its (ironically) forgettable predecessor, while the Terrain will share lot space with the Buick Vue. For such a crucial segment, GM has some major (and sadly familiar) issues to sort out. Fast.

Fullsize CUV

Though one of its more-recent platforms, the Lambda is already one of GM’s most egregious examples of latter-day brand engineering. Pre-bankruptcy, GM had four poorly-differentiated versions of the platform. In 2011, GM will likely have four poorly-differentiated versions of the platform. Traverse will be soldier on unchanged, while the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia are scheduled for a 2012 refresh. Though the Saturn Outlook will probably still be on sale at Penske’s Saturn dealers (just to keep things fun), the fourth GM model is likely a 2012 Cadillac Escalade replacement. Though there’s talk of stretching the platform for ‘sclade duty, don’t expect it. GM will either do a quick-and-dirty Lambdasclade or allow the old GMT 900 beast to live on (truck/SUV strategy, as we will see later, is in chaos).

Either way, the Lambda glut caps a potential eleven-model swath of CUVs in GM’s lineup, not counting the five-door Aveo or the CTS Wagon. Four-brand GM dealer lots will be a maze of the rounded-off wagon-utes, with salesfolks guiding bewildered shoppers through a seemingly infinite palette of family vehicles. The CUV segment is a melting-pot of automotive styles anyway, where lines are already blur into unfamiliar form (and bland looks). And despite the huge number of models, nowhere in this mix is a credible compact off-roader or a modern family/commercial van (ala Ford’s Transit Connect). In model year 2012, it seems, variety in the heart of GM’s lineup will still only be skin-deep.

Midsize Sedans

Chevy’s “perception-shifting” 2008 Malibu will not be updated until after the 2012 model year, and for 2013 it will actually be downsized (except for the trunk). Which is hard to understand, considering that the aging Impala has hung close to the ‘bu in sales, seemingly on the strength of its interior size alone. But that’s a concern for 2013; for the purposes of our time-traveling, the Malibu will remain unchanged. But will its sales still be consistent?

By Fall 2011, the Opel Insignia-based Buick Regal will have been on sale for about a year. By then it should be fairly clear if the new model drives the kind of volume that Buick dealers need to make up for the loss of Pontiac. GM expects the four-cylinder-only Regal to cost “a few thousand dollars” less than its platform-mate, the LaCrosse, and become Buick’s best-selling model. Though the Insignia has been well-received in Europe, it shows less promise for the US market. It will have to be positioned as “more sporty” than the LaCrosse while only offering a four-banger to avoid overlap. Stuffing the Regal between LaCrosse and Impala/Malibu means limiting options, a compromise that hurts its chances as a volume model. And it may be the motivating factor in the ill-advised 2013 Malibu downsize.

Fullsize/Premium Sedans

GM’s decision to allow the W-body 2006 Impala to soldier on until 2014 is perhaps one of GM’s greatest sins. Though the Impala currently sells at about the same levels as the Malibu, one can’t help but feel that by 2012 the Impala will be bought only by curious students of 20th century automotive technology. It seems that GM has almost completely given up on large FWD sedans as a competitive volume product, perhaps assuming that the segment will be abandoned for the CUVs that it has bet the farm on. This assumption is by no means a sure thing. Meanwhile, the Impala will be an inescapable reminder of the old, bad GM.

Worse still, anyone who wants a remotely competitive fullsize GM sedan will have to look at one of its luxury brands. Specifically, they will have to look at Buick or Cadillac’s flagships, the LaCrosse or the XTS. The 2010 LaCrosse is seven inches longer than its Regal stablemate will be, and offers V6 and AWD options. Does that make the LaCrosse a “flagship” as GM claims, or does it make the Regal a hamstrung, would-be cannibal?

Cadillac’s “flagship” similarly fails to generate any unique appeal. Though Cadillac is supposed to fight BMW as a high-tech, dynamically-driven line of vehicles, the XTS will be a bloated “Super Epsilon,” possibly with standard AWD. This compromise (born of the inability to develop a true Cadillac flagship) places pressure on the entire GM sedan range by dint of its placement so close to the LaCrosse (itself to close to the Regal, Impala and Malibu). Somewhat larger than the CTS, there’s little chance it will better embody the brand’s world-class dynamic ambitions. That would be the job of the Alpha-platformed ATS sedan, a long-rumored BMW 3 Series fighter. Which will be expensive to develop, and difficult to justify considering the CTS is due to be downsized for 2013 or 2014.

Trucks And SUVs

Once GM’s bread-and-butter, truck and SUV development is in chaos as GM grapples with upcoming CAFE standards, the fear of gas price shocks and a buying public that appears to be “over” the body-on-frame craze. Expect Tahoe, Yukon, Suburban and Yukon XL to soldier on until at least 2013, unless GM rushes out more Lambda clones in the meantime.

Long term, the only apparent plan is to remake the Avalanche in the mold of the Ridgeline, also on the Lambda platform (Acadia SUT anyone?). Silverado and Sierra are in a holding pattern until at least 2013. Colorado and Canyon will be discontinued in 2012, possibly to be replaced by a global small pickup developed by GM of Brazil. The fact that GM is seriously considering abandoning the compact pickup market speaks volumes about GM’s jaundiced view of the future of body-on-frame.

Conclusion

By 2012, GM’s offerings will have become more narrow in positioning, with the exception of the Spark at the low end and the Volt at the high end. Between the upsized five-door Aveo and the premium brand “flagships,” GM’s products will be more tightly positioned than they have been in years. Overlap and brand dilution are likely to be the result, as many of the planned models serve only to make up for lost Pontiac volume at Buick-GMC dealers. Ironically, this flood of Buick product is both starving and cannibalizing Cadillac, which no longer has the resources to properly differentiate itself from Buick (in terms of aspiration, if not dynamics and styling).

Reviving Buick also means that one of GM’s least competitive products, the Impala, will stick around long past its best-by date. This will be corrosive to the Chevrolet brand, which won’t be able to compete with Ford’s Taurus without threatening the Buick/Cadillac balancing act. How many Epsilons can you fit on the head of a pin anyway? And if the Impala is going to slouch towards ignominy, why not a post-Cruze fleet special Cobalt too? Or maybe squeezing a few more bucks out of the HHR wouldn’t hurt too much?

One bad habit leads inexorably to others, especially for institutions so steeped in bad habit-as-tradition. GM’s executive never miss an opportunity to insist that change is here, telling us that they’re not fans of rebadging, and that every product must be class-leading. But the tight positioning, slumming holdovers and acknowledged volume-chasing to support dealers for model year 2012 show that these executive statements are either misleading or just crazy. Unless we are about to see one of the greatest achievements in the history of product differentiation, GM’s bright dawn will remain just out of reach. Same as it ever was.

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71 Comments on “Editorial: General Motors Zombie Watch 14: 2012 Lineup...”


  • avatar
    BDB

    My worst fear is that Buick gets Chryslered (yes I made that word up).

    To be Chryslered means a near-luxury brand being de-contented and down-marketed to hell due to a volume companion brand being discontinued, like what happened to the Chrysler brand when Plymouth was deep-sixed.

    • 0 avatar
      almprin06

      Do not fear.

      Better that Buick be Chryslered than be Saturned (yes I made that word up, aren’t I smart?).

      To be Saturned means a previously-unique brand is so diluted with corporate models that customers stay away and the brand is eventually dissolved.
       
      Incidentally, now that our excellent Saturn dealership is gone, I have to take mine to the local Buick dealership for service, which really sucks, and is like stepping back in time to a 80′s Chevy dealership where they have no idea who you are or why you would ever need service.

      Buick really needs to step up their dealer-network if they plan to compete with BMW, Infiniti, Hyundai, and Lexus.
       

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Can’t they expand the Epsilon by 6-9 inches to create a new Impala?

    Anyhow, I’ve never read such an honest pipeline review. Nice work.

  • avatar
    walksatnight

    An article like this sure helps to define the sheer magnitude of the mess that GM has.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    Bankruptcy protection should have been used to change the Chevy/GMC/Buick/Cadillac dealerships to ‘GM’ dealerships that offer all brands and all models so that there would be no reason for overlap. Two channels is the kind of thinking that got them in this mess in the first place.

    mini class – Smart doesn’t sell well at a premium, so going after the ‘cheap’ market is probably the only solution and necessary to counter the bad Eco rap

    subcompact – short term pain for long term gain with the Aveo name in changing perceptions, they have to create some consistency at some point

    compact – if the 1.4 turbo turns out ok, Cruze should compete well within the class (lets hope they didn’t benchmark the Corolla, they would be aiming too low)

    midsize – Malibu and Insignia should be fine

    large – replace FWD Impala with RWD Zeta and everything would be fine here also, LaCrosse isn’t much smaller than Lucerne, hopefully they won’t bother trying to come up with a larger Buick

    SUV’s/CUV’s – probably way to much overlap, but at least they are class competitive and make money (with less models they could make way more money)

    Cadillac – it will take another generation and higher MSRP’s before the brand can be ‘fixed’ more

    Buick – North America will probably get every model that China needs (why not, it’s already been developed)

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Reviews of Cruze: criticizing the car’s weight, engines and dull handling.

    This is the recurring problem of GM’s Daewoo-engineered vehicles. The Saturn Vue “compact” CUV weighs 4200lbs!

  • avatar
    Stunned_BB

    What no 57 Chevy upgrade?

  • avatar
    ajla

    Decent editorial, but you forgot about the Camaro and Corvette (unless you think GM will kill them both by 2012?)

    You also seemed to forget that Max Bob is still around. Do you really think that he is going to be able to resist creating some useless SSR-type vehicle over the next two years?

    I can nearly guarantee that Lutz will at least make some “sport” version of the Lacrosse or Regal.

  • avatar

    I thought GM was supposed to roar back revitalized thanks to its government bucks and sloughing off the pre-bankruptcy debt.

    Doesn’t look likely based on this review.

    Ford’s position looks pretty darn good. Doesn’t look like there’s going to be significant domestic competition left.

    Well, other than the Japanese transplants, but for those loyal to a domestic label, Ford’s looking like the only intelligent life out there.

    D

  • avatar
    slateslate

    In recent memory, has any GM model launch exceeded GM’s internal sales projections (except maybe the Camaro)?

    As for the Vue, I thought it was a fat ass as well. But after researching it for the mum, I was surprised to learn that it’s only chubby, not morbidly obese. Red Line = 3908 lbs. 4-cyl. XE = 3664 lbs.

    http://www.saturn.com/vehicles/2009/vue/features.do

  • avatar
    tced2

    Isn’t the Saturn Vue an Opel-based platform? – not from Daewoo.

    All of the vehicles need to have weight reduction. Drivetrain refinements can only take you so far, the rest is the energy needed to move the (too high) mass. Reducing mass has other advantages -like better handling and braking. It requires better materials and engineering techniques.

    Cadillac needs a top-line (RWD) sedan which is not available in any of the other GM lines to compete with Mercecdes E/S or BMW 5/7.

  • avatar
    NulloModo

    I don’t get the point of these sub-sub-compact ‘mini’ cars. The Smart doesn’t sell in any real numbers, and I can’t imagine Americans wanting to buy the Toyota iQ in any real numbers either. Using NYC as a reference, if you live in Manhattan (which is really the only borough where you would need a ‘city’ car, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island all have decent parking) you are either wealthy enough that you can afford a real car, or paying so much of your income in rent that you rely on the excellent mass transit system instead.

    Subcompacts – I am a bit iffy on this segment as well, but the Versa and Fit seem to have been a success, and the upcoming Fiesta should be a huge hit, so the new Aveo is going to have some might big shoes to fill.

    Compacts – The Mazda3 and Civic currently outclass anything else in the segment, the Corolla fits the bill for anyone looking for cheap, reliable, dull transportation, and by 2012 the Euro Focus will be here. The Cruze needs to be a lot more than just an incremental improvement on the Cobalt to work out in this increasingly competitive segment.

    Small CUVs – The new Equinox/Terrain look cool, have nice interior, good power from engines, and excellent fuel economy in the 4 cylinder models, this is one area I think GM is going pretty well.

    Fulsize CUVs – The Traverse, Acadia, and Enclave are all selling well, so, good job with that, and all are pretty respectable vehicles in their own right. The Escalade has no business ever playing in this segment however.

    Sedans – The Malibu is class competitive, but from a sales point of view gets eclipsed by the Fusion, Camry, and Accord. Not sure what the trouble is, but GM needs to get its marketing mavens on it stat. The Buick Lacrosse is a nice enough looking vehicle, but Buick will never be a volume player. The CTS is currently a great offering in the midsize realm, and GM needs to continually update it to keep it that way. The Lucerne, Impala, DTS, and STS are all third rate or lower in their class, have no business being sold, and certainly have no business lasting another couple years.

    Trucks – GM trucks are second only to Ford in the lucrative full size pickup market, and the Tahoe/Suburban/Yukon all handle themselves well vs the competition in the segment. The new Escalade needs to be more than a gussied up Tahoe, but at the same time shouldn’t dip into CUV waters and end up as a Lambda. Aside from the CTS, the Escalade is Caddy’s most profitable and healthy brand name, it needs to continue to offer what people expect from it.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Wow…going into this I feared this would be a very “negative GM” biased editorial. But after reading it a few times, I completely agree.

    Fritz vehemently states he is not a fan of ‘rebadging’ or ‘badge engineering’, but one look across the 2011-2013 model years paints a very different picture. Nearly every vehicle is a rebadge in an effort to secure volume and replace vehicles lost under the Pontiac brand name without much to distinguish them from each other.

    I’ve just about finished ranting on the crazed decision to not bring the G8 as an Impala replacement but to let the W body car soldier on until 2014 on the basis of volume sales (that apparently rival the Malibu’s) is just plain crazy to hedge your bets on. By 2011, the Impala will have the same appeal as the Taurus before it became the Five Hundred: a car you bought because the price was low and you couldn’t do any better.

    I have to disagree with your view on Cadillac though Ed. The CTS has always been a car sized as an E-Class/5 Series competitor but actually competes with the C-Class/3 Series segment strictly on price. As crazy as GM is, I don’t see them downsizing the CTS when the ATS (bless their hearts) will be a more direct competitor to the 3 Series. My opinion is that the CTS will gain little in size but will pick up more powerful (hopefully a turbo DI 3.6 V6?) to compete toe-to-toe with the mid-size segment. However, spot on with the ‘Super Epsilon’ flagship. I doubt CTS buyers will want to step up to that monstrosity. I also foresee a stretched Lambda Escalade in the future.

    In any case, this was a spot on editorial. I’ve already counted GM as dead in a few years because it just cannot resist going back to its pre-bankruptcy ways. Ford’s in a much better position to move forward and has the products to prove it.

  • avatar
    CarPerson

    Consumer Reports (September 2009) just ranked the Malibu at 9th, 10th, and 14th place in the family sedan class, depending on powertrain.

    Instead of the next 1,000 days supporting a company still delivering wholly inferior cars and trucks to the uninformed, why not GM get focused on the product for 1,000 days and start delivering cars and trucks better than the consistently back-row product lineup they seem happy cranking out.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    SherbornSean:
    Can’t they expand the Epsilon by 6-9 inches to create a new Impala?

    That would be the Cadillac “flagship,” the XTS. The Impala has nowhere to go without bumping into Malibu, Regal or LaCrosse (not to mention their Epsi-mates, the Saturn Aura and Suzuki Kizashi).

    SkiD666:
    if the 1.4 turbo turns out ok, Cruze should compete well within the class

    This gives me a little optimism as well, because weight does seem to be an issue. Korea-built, Holden-spec 1.8 MT Cruze tips the scales at 1380 kg (3,042 lbs).

    ajla:
    you forgot about the Camaro and Corvette (unless you think GM will kill them both by 2012?)

    No, I just plain forgot. Camaro Convertible likely arrives as a 2011 model, which will give sales a bump. But I don’t see it lasting. By fall of 2011 the bloom will be off the Camaro rose, and sales will settle down at about 1,500 units per month (current Corvette levels). C7 Corvette is tipped for 2013, so I’d reckon that the hype will have dented C6 sales a bit by Fall of 2011.

    I can nearly guarantee that Lutz will at least make some “sport” version of the Lacrosse or Regal.

    If the Regal were canned in favor of a Riviera coupe, it might be an improvement brand-wise. It won’t feed the sales channel though.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    @Supaman:
    No way GM dies before November 2012.

  • avatar
    mtr2car1

    Great article by the way.

    So if I look at Good GM’s lineup Today they have 12 car models – you work the math from the data above and Good GM’s Tomorrow lineup looks to be at least 15 and up to 20 depending on if you want to count the fleet specials.

    I didn’t bother to count the CUV/SUV/Truck group since its easy to see with the new segments – its going to be A LOT more.

    How is this progress??
    How can they claim they’re cutting models and once the check clears its back to the same game???

    I guess the bigger question is why am I even surprised?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Spark: 40 mpg city / 50 mpg highway, $15-20k
    Volt: 230 mpg city / 40 mpg highway, $32-43k

    The total cost of ownership for the Spark, combined with its simplicity, will (Dae)woo a lot of customers away from the Volt. Even a $7500 tax break and/or a future CFC incentive of another $7500 for the Volt won’t close the TCO gap.

  • avatar
    ajla

    @NulloModo:

    The new Equinox/Terrain look cool, have nice interior, good power from engines, and excellent fuel economy in the 4 cylinder models, this is one area I think GM is going pretty well.

    I found very little good about the 2010 Equinox 2LT I drove recently. It cost $28K, The cloth seats were cheap, and the rental car gray interior was a CTS design with Camaro quality.

    But, oh man, that 3.0L V6. What a piece of trash. It’s rated at 264 hp @ 6950 rpm and 222 lb-ft of torque @ 5100 rpm. However, at 3000 rpm it felt like it made roughly 80 hp and 20 lb-ft of torque. You have to cane this V6 domestic CUV like a Civic Si to keep old ladies in Lesabres and classic VW Beetles from passing you.

    I’d love to see this motor hooked up to a dyno. It must have the worst torque curve ever.

    Maybe the high-MPG 4-cylinder and two-tone interior make a better package, but I was very unimpressed with the vehicle.

  • avatar
    mikey

    The Impala till 2014? Why not? The average joe doesn’t care that the “W” platform is ancient. Is the Impala not GMs best selling vehicle? The tooling is long since paid for,so the Impala actually generates revenue.

    The consumer today is looking at bang for the buck. Thats exactly what the Impala is offering.

    Just look at what Kia and Huyandai have pulled off. Misguided buyers feel thier buying percieved asian quality,without paying Honda and Toyota prices.

    People are flocking to Wallmart for the same reasons. How far can I make a dollar stretch?

    Talk about ancient tooling/platform how about the old Marquis?

  • avatar
    Packard

    Sure, and they’re also promising a C7 Corvette.

    Let’s face it, this is all fantasy.

    GM is lying.

    It has no money. It’s burning through what the government gave it, just to keep the UAW paid.

    It hasn’t got the bucks to develop a new anything.

    And, it’s not likely to be able to get those bucks, either – because no private investor is going to buy anything that GM’s management is selling,

    and Obama’s credibility has crapped out, thanks to his being his real self.

    GM’s dead.

  • avatar
    paulie

    Edward Niedermeyer

    Nice work.

    I do not know where to find the exact numbers, but how did the Cavalier do in the early part of this millennium?
    I see the damn things everywhere. In fact my daughter has an 02.
    I can’t drive it because its so hard on my back and the noise. Oh, the noise!

    And I would appreciate it if some time in the future, as one of your features, you did an explination of all the platforms now being used.

    Gamma-II?

    With so, so many cars sharing the same platforms, what are the differences between the Taurus, the MKS?
    I unerstand although the same platform, the MKS has completely different front and rear equipment.
    Fusion, Mazda6?
    What will be the difference between the Accord and the new crossover?
    The Camry and the Venza?

    And even now, the next, smaller Taurus is being planned to use the Fusion platform, whatever that is.

    http://www.autoblog.com/2009/07/12/report-next-gen-taurus-likely-to-move-to-common-platform-with-f/

    We read all the banter and likes and dislikes, but I think very few really understand or how they differ.
    And knowing this will make us better buyers.

    Looking forward to this

  • avatar
    Styles79

    Early reviews from Europe and Australia where local versions have already debuted are… mixed.

    That’s putting it mildly. I’ve only read two reviews here in NZ, and they absolutely bagged it. Honestly I have never read worse reviews in my life.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    mikey: “The Impala till 2014? Why not? The average joe doesn’t care that the “W” platform is ancient. Is the Impala not GMs best selling vehicle? The tooling is long since paid for,so the Impala actually generates revenue.”Yeah, the Impala, like the Grand Marquis, has a captive market that likes the ‘value’ of a big, American car in comparison to the smaller (but in the same price range) Camcordia6.

    Even though the Impala pretty much sucks at everything (save maybe a nice, floaty ride on the interstate), there’s always going to be a segment of the population that’s going to buy it for its perceived value, i.e., a big, FWD, American sedan that the average American can wedge their fat, obese ass into on the cheap.

    Frankly, as sorry as the Impala might be, along with the full-size trucks, it’s the only ‘sure thing’ GM has left they can count on. All the other stuff is a major-league crapshoot.

    It’s actually a shame that GM doesn’t put more effort into the design/engineering of the Impala instead of virtually abandoning the market. Imagine if they’d update the car in the same cycles, brought it up to the quality level of the Japanese, and added some design tweaks (like maybe adding a decent hybrid and/or station wagon version). It would do wonders for GM’s bottom line.

  • avatar
    tparkit

    I expect competition for GM is going to be tough on the sub-compact end. Last I heard, Honda was re-engineering a Japan-only microcar for sale in North America. In view of the good job Honda did with the Fit, the new entry is likely to be a quality product.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Here are a couple of review statements of the new Holden/Daewoo Cruze. From drive.com.au.

    Petrol 1.8L: “The Cruze ticks many of the small-car boxes but its petrol engine misses the mark by a fair way, which detracts from what is a competitively priced car with more than a few redeeming features. A generous assembly of standard fare, good safety and respectable road manners make up some points but for now the Cruze falls short of more polished competition.”

    Diesel 2L: “The Cruze is neither class-leader nor tail-ender. It does seem to have many of the right elements to be a contender but there is still refining to be done. At least drive the auto version so you know how much better this car can be, albeit with lag off the line.”

    Mind the perception gap!

  • avatar
    Accords

    Jeez..
    The more they change… the more they stay the same.

    Makes ya wonder if the departing brands: Pontiac, Saab, Hummer and Saturn vs whats going to happen.. is actually going to be any different.

    Im seeing a big GIANT NO.

  • avatar
    lw

    I think the next 2 or 3 GM bailouts will decide a great many things about the 2012 product lines.

    So I’ll wait and see how the payments are structured and what strings are attached before I make any guesses.

  • avatar
    maniceightball

    This is an excellent post — straightforward and without the snark that can sometimes poison the message.

  • avatar
    ajla-

    I do think GM should offer the 3900 as standard in the Impala.

    The 3500 isn’t really good at anything, and if most people’s experience with a GM product is going to be in a rental Impala they might as well make it as nice as they can.

  • avatar
    postman

    I think GM will last as long as the Fed keeps handing them money. As soon as Uncle sugar daddy takes a walk, GM will do it’s terminal face plant. And THAT will be the end of GM. All that is going on now is just PR while the life support is still turned on.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    “I think the next 2 or 3 GM bailouts will decide a great many things about the 2012 product lines.”

    lw: I agree that the bailout parade will not end soon, particularly with GM. Your choice of phrases made me think this: The next 2 or 3 GM bailouts may decide the 2012 presidential election.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    Yep – new cars start to suck even more around 2012, just as the new EPA requirements hit.

    The reason the Spark/Aveo will have a developing country feel is because the United States is fast becoming a developing country level economy.

    I’d rather have a Impala than a Malibu, so put me in the cheapskate American category.

  • avatar
    Slare

    It’s nice to read an article that doesn’t mirror forum type GM bashing. I was starting to lose faith in TTAC.

    Great read. Thanks.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    You also seemed to forget that Max Bob is still around. Do you really think that he is going to be able to resist creating some useless SSR-type vehicle over the next two years?

    I can nearly guarantee that Lutz will at least make some “sport” version of the Lacrosse or Regal.

    All I can say is he BETTER. Else I’ll never buy another GM product again. I can forgive the whole bailout thing and constant bashing and perceived inferiority the company receives, but I refuse to give my hard earned money to a company that produces only a lineup of fuel sipping vaginas on wheels. I think Mr. Lutz must be the only executive at GM with anything resembling male genitalia (note: not a sexist comment. The average female has more testosterone than the average GM exec).

  • avatar
    gimmeamanual

    If the US gets what I see here in China, you’ll be better off in a Fiesta or a Focus. GM’s little cars are blah.

  • avatar
    John R

    “Misguided buyers feel thier buying percieved asian quality,…”

    Truly spoken like someone who has not driven a Hyundai lately. Anyway, GM is doomed, the sky is blue and water is wet.

  • avatar
    The Walking Eye

    If the Impala had a higher quality interior, it would be just fine in my book. Also, a real SS version would help out for those of us who like that kinda thing.

    Reading this article didn’t give me a whole lot of confidence in GM going forward. I’m still trying to figure out why Buick and GMC are necessary core brands.

  • avatar
    DPerkins

    Very good editorial, does an excellent job of trying to sort through all the PR announcements coming out of the “new” GM. (The volume of future product announcements coming out of GM certainly makes it seem like the “old” GM.)

    I hope that you are wrong on several items, but fear that you are correct. The potential product overlap is again, very much like the “old” GM.

    As far as trucks are concerned, I currently have a 2002 Chevy S-10 regular cab, 2WD, 4-cylinder, 5-speed pickup. Fuel efficient, reliable, very useful, and reasonably (for its type) fun to drive.

    IT is the truck that GM should be planning to build to meet the upcoming CAFE standards.

  • avatar
    Fromes

    I went car shopping yesterday and confirmed what I have always known; GM is doomed. I went to the Audi dealership and they had new A4s with quattro and automatics for 35 grand. The interiors where excellent both to the eyes and the touch. I went to the chevy dealership and the had 4cyl mailbus sticking for 27 grand with some cheesy two tone leather that looked and felt like plastic, the only interesting vehilce they had was a new camaro SS for 34 grand, it looked good untill the sales man informed me the price was actually closer to 45 grand because of a mark up due to the fact it was such a “hot car” seemingly ignoring there was 5 other ones on the lot….

  • avatar
    moedaman

    Reading this article didn’t give me a whole lot of confidence in GM going forward. I’m still trying to figure out why Buick and GMC are necessary core brands.

    Probably because they didn’t want to get into anymore hot water closing any more dealerships. But Buick could still offer value to GM. I would have closed down GMC and merged Buick into either Cadillac or Chevy dealerships. That way you have more product available at a store without all of the badge engineering. But I guess GM looks at success as how many models it has. Doesn’t matter if those models aren’t unique.

  • avatar
    NN

    Excellent job on the breakdown, Edward. It really does crush one’s hope in a future for GM, however.

    I do think moving the Avalanche to a Lambda platform may rescue the product…a 25mpg (highway) full-size crew cab pickup? Just make the AWD system lockable, and keep the midgate. Could be a good product.

    Still, that’s not going to save GM. As long as they rely on Daewoo to engineer their future small cars, they will never be competitive with Honda, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, etc. Opel was a much better hope for that. They’re trying to do it on the cheap, as usual, instead of putting money into engineering a good product, like the others do.

    Not to mention, Buick looks like it’s going to get totally lost…GM doesn’t have enough development money to keep it differentiated and marketed properly. America doesn’t want Chinese Buicks, nor Daewoo-Buicks, I guarantee you.

    When GM puts forth effort & money at engineering good product…they succeed. Think CTS, Corvette, Lambda’s, GMT900′s…all good products. Unfortunately, they again are going back to the ways of trying to sell new products without engineering anything.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I do think moving the Avalanche to a Lambda platform may rescue the product…a 25mpg (highway) full-size crew cab pickup? Just make the AWD system lockable, and keep the midgate. Could be a good product.

    Because, you know, the Ridgeline sells so well.

  • avatar
    slateslate

    ****Truly spoken like someone who has not driven a Hyundai lately. Anyway, GM is doomed, the sky is blue and water is wet.****

    After sitting in a 2009 Sonata for the first time last night, the interior is shockingly good….and makes me shake my head at GM.

    The only criticism……like almost every other mass market car, the door armrests are hard plastic. Damnit, how much can it cost to put pleather on the center console and the door armrests?

  • avatar
    geeber

    Edward Niedermeyer: All in all, though, it’s hard to conclude that the Cruze won’t be a huge improvement on the Cobalt.

    The Cobalt was a big improvement over the Cavalier, and that still wasn’t enough. Today the car barely competes with the Focus, let alone the Civic and Mazda3. This is not a good sign…

    The big unknown in the subcompact class is the potential impact of the upcoming Ford Fiesta. I drove one briefly, and my first impression is that it will do for very small cars what the Explorer and the original Taurus did for SUVs and aerodynamic design, respectively – namely, make them acceptable to middle America.

    Unless the new Aveo is really, really good, GM will be an also-ran again.

    Overall, there is too much model overlap, too much rebadging and too many models being allowed to linger past their expiration date. I see GM falling further behind the competition by 2014. And too many models appear to be developed with the goal of serving internal constituencies – dealers, the union, executives – as opposed to customers. There also doesn’t seem to be too much awareness of what the competition is doing.

    Bankruptcy and billions in government aid have left us with a GM that consists of several poorly defined brands selling many overlapping models – too many of which are middling competitors at best – with a few models far past their expiration date thrown into the mix.

    In other words, nothing much has changed.

    Thank you for posting this information in one easily read article.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The truly horrible part of all this is watching Buick become the new Pontiac. And by Pontiac, I mean “Chevrolets with cladding and a split grille”.

    I know BPG dealers will be crying for volume sellers, but is this really the way to do it? Could you not offer them Chevrolets instead? Could you just let them die?

    Why wreck three brands (Pontiac, Buick and Chevrolet; heck Cadillac by extension) just to satisfy whiny dealers and crack-addled idea of “we’ll make it up in volume!”, all the while selling products that lose you money? Remember that: you are not making money on these cars, so selling more of them will simply lose you even more money.

    My only hope is that, once we’re reasonably clear of the recession, that GM will be allowed to die.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    On a side note, I’ll never understand the excuse that keeping Buick around was necessary because it sells well in China.

    If Buick sells in China, then sell Buicks in China. Opels sell in Europe, but you don’t see GM maintaining an Opel marketing presence in North America, do you? Not every brand has to be a global one.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I can nearly guarantee that Lutz will at least make some “sport” version of the Lacrosse or Regal.

    Well, of course. They’ll have to find some way to stretch the Camaro’s cost out a little more.

    Expect a “Grand National” that’s a Camaro with waterfall grille and slightly less objectionable interior trim.

  • avatar
    commando1

    I officially now proclaim that my wait for a return of a full-sized RWD from GM has been officially schnizzled.

    Goodbye, GM. Forever.
    Have a nice life…

  • avatar
    bodyonframe

    With all those CUV’s it just seems like a sea of mediocrity. Every one of these things just screams 5 on a scale of 1 to 10. Just blah and boring. Now add blah and boring together with a Buick and what do you have? I don’t know, but I’m guessing no one under 80 will want it. Also why is GMC still here? again I don’t know. With the exception of Camaro, Corvette, Trucks/SUV’s and maybe the CTS if it doesn’t get too small, there is nothing here I give a damn about.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Also why is GMC still here? again I don’t know.

    So that BPG dealers have trucks to sell.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I hope for GM’s sake you are wrong. A marketing plan is supposed to be based on a “marketing mix”; this sounds more like a “marketing mess”!

    I fail to understand how the corporation that really created marketing segmentation 65 or 70 years ago has been so hopelessly lost over the last three decades. This reeks of continued GM leadership myopia (pointless badge engineering of mediocre product); sounds like that’s the change that needs to be made before we get to 2012.

  • avatar
    NickR

    I hate to pile on…but I will. The Impala has soldiered on for years despite being neglected. It is built in an efficient plant with high quaity ratings. Maybe I am reaching here, but wouldn’t it make a lot of sense for GM to freshen it up and continue to build it in the same plant?

  • avatar
    rnc

    “Still, that’s not going to save GM. As long as they rely on Daewoo to engineer their future small cars…”

    I remember an article 1.5-2 years ago (I don’t remember if it was Forbes or BW, I want to say J. Flint wrote it) on what a huge advantage GM had b/c they had Daewoo to engineer/design thier small cars and all that Ford had was Mazda and F. Europe and b/c of this GM would win the new small car war. That really left me scratching my head for awhile.

  • avatar
    Accords

    commando:
    GM has been balking fullsize RWD cars.. for quite a while. They brought the G8 in as a fluke.. (just like bringing the band up from down below.. JUST WHEN TITANIC.. IS SINKING) Then GM complains about how it doesnt sell, just like the Astra And Ford for the Contour.

    They want people jammed into AWD / FWD 7-8 pass awd top heavy POS. and they want every brand to have at least one.

    Its all a losing proposition.

    And I hate to get all eco/compact on ya’ll, but a damn Matiz badged for Chevy from Daewoo, alongside the Aveo *cough KALOS cough*.. doesnt tell me anything good for fuel economy. ESPECIALLY when every vehicle that SURROUNDS THEM is absolutely MASSIVE. There are FAR too many CUVS / SUVS against even the compacts.

    —————-
    bodyonframe:
    I hate to say this..
    But Im CONSTANTLY reminded on my commute (138.6 mi a day, 12k in 85 days) of exactly what people will buy. People will buy any damn thing they want.. for their perceived need. NTM GM didnt design these things to be used by the average person.

    People will buy whatever shit GM decides to screw together and sell at a discount. Add in their usual sales pushes and the new stuff.. and ya got a receipe for failure = usual op status at GM.

    NTM people wont know the difference between the two. As they say, there is a sucker born every minute.

    ————–
    The Walking Eye:

    At this point in the game, tt doesnt even matter if the Impala had a better interior. The frame is coming on 20yrs old, and their last refresh just stirred the moldy slime around.

    NTM.. when the SS did come out (besides the whole discussion about why was there even an SS when Pontiac was/ is around) the car looked virtually the same as a stock unit. Painted in shit primer (silver) with a inch larger tires.. a set of badges.. and grandma driving it.

    Face it..
    Impala is a gutless, useless, $(#@ of a car, with no real chance of doing anything good. Its just another name, that GM has squandered its history on, just like every vehicle theyve fucked up in the past 20yrs.

    It only serves(d) as a bad place holder from the days back in 98 when the Lumina was around. Now it has the same blandness and horrible looks. But now ya have two same sized cars (yes Malibu could be a 5 seater, not rocket science).

    And I cant for the life of me imagine why anyone would want an Impala. There are much better cars out there (larger AND smaller.) Just like I will never understand why GM made the STS and the DTS (one a FWD one RWD) as if people actually notice.

    Just my .02.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Maybe I am reaching here, but wouldn’t it make a lot of sense for GM to freshen it up and continue to build it in the same plant?

    Points of note:
    1. The Impala is cheap to make. Making it competitive would require spending money
    2. Because it hasn’t changed in a while and is somewhat crude, it’s relatively robust. Again, changing that would cause trouble.
    3. Oshawa is a good plant, but GM wants cheap, not efficient. There’s a reason why they took the GMT900s out of Oshawa.

    It’s like the Crown Vic. People note that it’s probably more profitable and could sell better than the D-Platform cars if only it was freshened and marketed. We forget that making the Vic competitive would result in a car that’s just as complex and expensive as the D-Platform.

  • avatar
    motownr

    Well done!

    My perception is that the B/G channel is just a short term maneuver ginned up by the Task Force to have a more gradual restructuring path for the General. Once the number of B/G dealers shrinks by 50-60% in a few years, those that remain will be bought out and the brands morphed into some form of niche additions to Chevy/Caddy points.

    Either way, it’s all about Chevrolet for GM, and by this measure I think the General will do quite well. They’ll continue to grab share at the expense of Chrysler, and with their leading share in full size trucks and large crossovers, they’ll continue to compete well against the Asians.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    slateslate and mikey, we rented a Sonata for an almost 3,000 mile trip to Maine and back, it is a very good car (only about 4,000 miles on the odo when we started, time might tell). I was looking at one in the dealer show room the other day and it is much nicer than the rental, but not much, which says something good about the ones they put out for rental fleets. I rather like the exterior look of them too. If I was in the market for that size sedan it would be at the top of the list.

  • avatar
    WildBill

    In all this back and forth is strikes me that GM should have been smaller coming out of BK. Sad to see them in this state of affairs, knowing the end is coming yet again in my lifetime.

  • avatar
    Monty

    I just don’t understand why the “New” GM didn’t just force all the brands into one sales channel. If I was a BPG dealer who just got the volume seller yanked from me, I would want to augment my line-up with the other volume seller methinks.

    Consolidating all 4 marques under one roof would sort of eliminate the need for so many overlapping models. Eliminate Chevrolet trucks, because you still have GMC, eliminate 2 or 3 Lamda variants because you would have need for only one in a single sales channel set-up.

    It’s as if GM is responding to anything other than the customer, and answering to the dealers and the little fiefdoms within the RenCen.

    Nothing has changed.

  • avatar
    Fromes

    People talk about the Lambda like its some fuel miser, its really not, despite the ratings it gets worse gas milage then a full size yukon, just ask anyone that owns one. My acadia gets 16.1 mpg in combined driving…at 70 mph on the high way its getting 18, not the 24 its advertised

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    indi500fan :
    August 12th, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    @Supaman:
    No way GM dies before November 2012.

    If you said November 2010 I could agree with you. Midterms are a bitch, especially the first one after a party switch. But Obama will Cruze (sorry) to victory come 2012, and he will have coat tails down ticket. His opponent will, most likely, be Romney, Huckabee, or Palin-all horrible candidates. The recession will be long over in Nov. 2012, and Obama’s patience with GM and Chrysler will have long since run out.

  • avatar
    Axel

    Though the Impala currently sells at about the same levels as the Malibu, one can’t help but feel that by 2012 the Impala will be bought only by curious students of 20th century automotive technology.

    My dad (through his company) leased a 2000, 2003, and 2006 Impala. This time around he bought a new one outright (paying about the same this I paid for my Civic, so I can’t say I blame him). As he is just turning the corner into his 60s, he’ll be an Impalista for many years to come. It’s a way to have your Buick without admitting you’re old enough to drive a Buick.

    Malibu? “Too small inside,” “you have to get a puny four-banger to get better gas mileage,” yadda yadda yadda. Accords, Altimas, and the like are “too expensive.” He “doesn’t see what spending all that extra money gets” him.

    They’re out there. In massive numbers.

  • avatar
    menno

    I can nearly guarantee that Lutz will at least make some “sport” version of the Lacrosse or Regal.

    According to the local Buick-Pontiac-GMC dealer, who was speaking to one of my colleagues after she bought her last Pontiac new, Buick will be moving into Pontiac territory, including sports editions of cars to try to retain Pontiac buyers.

    Ironically, once upon a time about 40 years ago, Buick GS’s did the division proud. Not to mention, 45 years ago, the Riviera also was well accepted and considered one of the most beautiful cars ever built, even by the Italian ‘experts’.

  • avatar
    wsn

    psarhjinian :
    August 13th, 2009 at 10:12 am

    On a side note, I’ll never understand the excuse that keeping Buick around was necessary because it sells well in China.

    If Buick sells in China, then sell Buicks in China. Opels sell in Europe, but you don’t see GM maintaining an Opel marketing presence in North America, do you? Not every brand has to be a global one.

    ———————————————

    Since I grew up in China, I can tell you that actually was the reason.

    Most Chinese are as ignorant as Americans. They still believe in Caucasian built everything. Of course, they don’t know that many line workers are actually African Americans.

    If Buick got killed in its home country, the respect will be lost, i.e. no “face”.

    Your Opel example is totally wrong. You sound as if Opel is an American brand. It is not. It is German.

    The lesson here is that a brand must be accepted in its home country to be respect by (misguided) foreigners, not the other way around. Even foreigners can no longer by misguided when the brutal news kicks in.

    If Buick is killed in its home country (US), it will not flourish in China.

    If Opel is killed in its home country (Germany), it will not flourish in China, or Eastern Europe or US.

  • avatar
    ChristyGarwood

    IIRC, Fritz said in one of his early live web chats, GMC=profits. GM is being rational in keeping GMC around, especially for its truck lines.

    wsn explains the reason Buick is around perfectly. I will add that the Chinese auto market is growing.

    As for all the greek letter platform names, forget about it. Just focus on Edward’s size descriptions – cars are overlapping across brands and the movie “Honey, I’m Shrinking the Kids” comes to mind. But don’t forget, the presidential task force is still around and the US Gov’t wants smaller cars in the USA, despite what consumers say they want.

    Edward, I assume you went to the Product/ Tech event – you took better notes than I did when I went to the similar employee review on August 5th. Excellent account of what you saw!

    SEDANS – Personally, I see the Buick La Crosse as a great vehicle along the lines of a Saab 9-5 Sedan at a similar price but with lots more technology. With its big back seat, a young family with two incomes will welcome all the room for car/ booster seats and eat up the high tech/ affordable pricing. Plus in the first half of next year it should have a 4-cyl engine to improve its gas mileage. And what you call the Buick Regal, which is not named yet, is in my opinion the Saab 9-3 replacement, a little smaller than the La Crosse but affordable luxury.

    Cadillac sedans will be luxurious and styled/ priced for full-blown luxury – ATS, XTS, CTS Coupe and Sports Wagon (people really like this when they get inside of it even though the typical US customer just doesn’t get wagons because they are typically a European thing.)

    Chevy full size sedans, Malibu v. Impala, well apparently size does matter to the Impala buyer, so if they keep coming to buy them, GM will sell them. And shouldn’t GM do just that to start paying back the gov’t loans? And the ‘bu is for the thrifty crowd that doesn’t want to spend the $ on a Buick. There are buyers out there that just want to get from point A to B and have room for the family and luggage/ groceries/ trips to Costco. They could care less about styling and handling. And they don’t like climbing in and out of a CUV’s extra heighth.

    CUV – I think the GMC Terrain and Chevy Equinox will hit a sweet spot in the market and catch those that like the GMC Acadia and Chevy Traverse but think they are too big. Plus they get better mpg than the competitors. Unless you are a GMC fan, it is difficult to explain why those customers buy GMC over Chevy. The fact remains they do and GM caters to those customers. RE: the Vue-ick, I agree with you on exterior styling, and you mentioned the plug-in hybrid powertrain. (Why do you think the SRX needs this powertrain?) Is it really senseless and cycnical when a company is short on cash but needs to bring a new product to market fast, to re-use what is on hand in a mix/ match way or is it prudent and logical until loans are paid off and profits are flowing?

    Mini – As for the Spark, I was skeptical at first, but seeing it up close and sitting in it, it has … well spunky Spark! Door closing quality was excellent, tall guys fit nicely in the front and rear seats, it has flexibility with the rear seat folding down and the liftgate in back. It’s going to be a hit with the Tuner crowd that is short on cash as well as the scrooges amongst us that don’t like drab designs and need a high mileage commuter car.

    Volt – my crystal ball is showing me a different picture than EN’s. Think of all the doctors that live close to their offices, that can afford a more expensive vehicle and like the idea of never having to pump gas into a tank until they take a weekend trip. There’s a sleeper market out there and I can assure you. And if GM is losing money on it, there will be a full court press in product and manufacturing engineering to get Gen II profitable and to market faster than the electric drive delivers power to the wheels.

    Trucks – body-on-frame – will sell even without major redesigns to exterior/ interior. And GM has been incrementally improving the MPG performance in trucks for several years now and will continue to do so. Hundreds of thousands still buy trucks to do work that only a truck can do.

    I appreciate your insight and comments regarding GM’s lineup. Do you have any suggestions on what they should do differently so as not to fail? mikey’s current and my future (and maybe Dr. Fox’s) retirement checks need GM to succeed.

  • avatar
    akear

    Compared to the lineups offered by Toyota, Honda, and Nissan, GM’s looks pretty mediocre. The Cruze is not even competitive with the competition today. Just looks at the review the Cruze got in CAR magazine.

    Same old GM, same old crap.

  • avatar
    DearS

    I almost don’t care about GM and their BS. Money stealing bastards.

  • avatar
    Steven02


    Without seeing the Spark, and what will be on sale in the US, I don’t suppose you can really say how premium the offering will be.  That includes the VW offering and Toyota as well.  From what I have seen, it will be a very nice product.
     
    The opinion of “hiding their developing-market roots” is opinion as you have seen neither the Aveo or Spark.
     
    For the Cruze, you are assuming that they won’t change the engines, which should be changed.  Weight is a real problem.  But handling in this class is laughable for most.  If GM wants to make an SS version of it, I am sure it will be fine.
     
    For the Buick Delta II car, it will be Astra based.  It won’t look anything like the Cruze and have a very nice interior, better than the Cruze.
     
    For the Volt, the MSRP hasn’t been announced.  For the Converj, there should be plenty of time to get new sheet metal and interior.  Making the Volt, won’t make money at first, but the knowledge is what GM needs.  Later versions will be more profitable as the Voltec technology goes to other vehicles.
     
    For the Orlando, which is a global vehicle, it won’t sell great in the US, but that isn’t the point.  It will sell elsewhere and sell ok in the US.  In other places, this sells well, and don’t forget that the Mazda also sells a minivan in the segment.
     
    The Gamma II Buick won’t have any problems in positioning and pricing.  Remember, they sell the Enclave and Acadia on the same lots, and sell quite a bit of them.  It will be a more premium vehicle than the Terrain.
     
    Buick isn’t getting a Saturn Vue rebadge.  I don’t believe it is getting any Theta variant at all.  They killed this a few months ago.
     
    The Lambdas are differentiated in price and content.  They are good vehicles for people looking to downsize from the Tahoes of the world.  They are quite good in fact.  I don’t believe the Saturn version should have ever been made, and sales agree with that.  A Caddy version isn’t a sin.  For the count, Chevy has 2, (Traverse and Equinox), Buick has 2 (Encore and Enclave), GMC has 2 (Terrain and Acadia), Caddy has 2 (SRX and possibly new Escalade).  And noone cares about offroading in a CUV.  That was the point of making CUV’s.
     
    For the Malibu, it may not actually get downsized.  It might not be on the SWB EPII platform like the Regal, but on the LWB of the LaCrosse and the Impala on the Super LWB like the Caddy XTS.  That hasn’t been confirmed either way to my knowledge.  The Regal will get either a V6 version or a turbo 6 version.  Not all trims will be available at launch, but don’t pretend that they won’t exist ever.  Options won’t be limited on the Regal.  It will simply just have different styling, size, and engine combinations.  Your example of limiting options would be a bad idea.
     
    The Impala does need replacement.  While not a great vehicle when released, it wasn’t a terrible vehicle either.  It will be a full sized sedan on Super LWB EPII.  FWIW, the LaCrosse isn’t full sized.  The Regal will have its own differentiators and will stand on its own as a good car.  I just don’t expect a good review from anything GM makes on this site.  With statements like, “Though Cadillac is supposed to fight BMW as a high-tech, dynamically-driven line of vehicles, the XTS will be a bloated “Super Epsilon,” possibly with standard AWD. This compromise (born of the inability to develop a true Cadillac flagship) places pressure on the entire GM sedan range by dint of its placement so close to the LaCrosse (itself to close to the Regal, Impala and Malibu). Somewhat larger than the CTS, there’s little chance it will better embody the brand’s world-class dynamic ambitions.”  All of that with out seeing the car or driving it.
     
    On the Trucks and SUVs, most manufactures are going through this right now with their US products.  BOF SUV’s will be limited in selection and in brands that offer them in a few years.  You will see new engines, maybe new interiors, and possibly the SUT Lambda.  An SUT lambda might replace the need to have midsize trucks as an offering.  GM hasn’t built a compact truck in the US since the S-Series.  Most people consider the Colorado, Tacoma, and others midsize trucks.  Ranger is the only real compact truck available today.
     
     
     
    In conclusion, I am glad this was marketed editorial as it is all opinions.  GM making better products will be better for GM.  Some of the glimpses in their newest products are very good.  This must continue for them to be successful.

  • avatar
    almprin06

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    Buick really needs to step up the customer service quality of their dealer-network if they plan to compete with BMW, Infiniti, Hyundai, and Lexus.
     
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