Three times now, GM has planned to build a plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of its Theta-platform crossovers, once with the Saturn Vue, once with the Buick “Vuick” and now, according to Reuters
General Motors Co has canceled plans to develop a plug-in hybrid vehicle based on the current Cadillac SRX crossover platform, deciding the project was not financially viable, three people with direct knowledge of the project said.
While two of the sources said the plans could still be revived on a future platform, they and two others familiar with the matter said engineers involved had been reassigned to other projects.
Back in early days of the program, the plan was to bring a Vue PHEV to market as soon as 2010, but the death of Saturn (and other difficult-to-identify issues) forced a change of plans. The Buick version was literally laughed out of consideration in what was the first-ever Twitter-based future product killing. But given that hand-picked members of the public were driving mules nearly two years ago (see video), we figured enough development had been done that GM essentially had no choice but bring the troubled Theta PHEV to market. Today’s cancellation of the SRX version is therefore just a little confusing…
So, what’s the deal? According to Reuters:
The plug-in would have been based on the current SRX platform, which is two years old. In the auto industry, the life cycle of a platform, which dictates the size and body construction of a vehicle, is typically about five years.
By the time the Cadillac plug-in was ready for production, the platform would have been nearing the end of its life, adding to the costs of developing the vehicle, two sources said.
The costs of the program were already high, and the vehicle was expected to lose money, two people with direct knowledge of the program said.
GM has made engineering advances since the program was initiated, so it made more sense to focus on the next platform with the improved, more cost-efficient technologies, one source said.
Having torn through three brands and multiple launch date targets, the Theta plugin has lead a rich development life… which does make one wonder how much money was written off with this cancellation of a product GM has been hyping for at least three years now. And it’s also another black eye for GM’s hybrid development program, which, between the first-gen BAS “mild” hybrids, the Two-Mode V8 hybrid and this plug-in two-mode hybrid, has yet to record any significant successes (still). But with a Volt-based MPV likely planned, it’s time for The General to move onto the next big thing…