Tag: platforms

By on July 13, 2011

It’s every manufacturer’s worst nightmare:

Between the top 911 model [the $245k GT2 RS] and the 918 Spyder [projected price point: $845k], there’s a price range that we’re not serving, but where other manufacturers are selling one or another product. We’re currently examining what options can be derived from this… [and] there already are initial ideas that look very promising on paper. It makes fundamental economic sense to serve demand that exists in the marketplace in a wise way

Poor Porsche sales boss Bernhard Maier. I mean, how does someone sleep at night knowing there’s demand in the $250k-$850k price range that you’re not exploiting? After all, Porsche currently offers nearly 30 “models” with base MSRPs between $80k and $200k. That, on average, comes to a different “model” every $4,000. So, according to the “fundamental economic sense” that Porsche applies to the $80k-$200k market, this new “hole” in the lineup should “be served in a wise way” by no fewer than 150 new vehicles. [via Automotive News Europe [sub]]

By on July 4, 2011

[Editor's note: the initial draft of this piece misunderstood the structure of the deal. Youngman and PangDa have paid over $350m for a 51% of Swedish Automobile, Saab's parent company (which has a market cap of $68m). Funding for the New Product Joint Venture (50% owned by Youngman, 50% owned by Swedish Automobile) has not been disclosed. See comments for more background.]

Just when the lights seem to be going out all around Saab, with employees calling for bankruptcy, suppliers in revolt and even the Swedish government pretending like nothing was happening, Saab always seems to find away to prolong the agony. Selling, then leasing back the factory was one step that’s been approved by the EIB. Getting the suppliers to take ten percent down on deliveries? Well, it turns out that management has some time to sort that one out, as the factory’s annual vacation starts in a week, and Saab is letting its employees go a week early rather than starting up and then shutting down the line. And the company is certainly hoping that it won’t have to restart the line simply to restore confidence, as it’s announcing the “final agreement” with China’s Youngman Auto and the dealer group PangDa for  €245m (about $365m) which it hopes will clear up the perception that Saab is a sneeze away from death. Needless to say, this agreement fits squarely into the “stringing along” category rather than the “game changing” category…

(Read More…)

By on June 29, 2011


Our sharp-eyed, GM-obsessed buddies over at GMInsidenews.com captured this image from a video that appears to have disappeared from the GM.com website, and they’re pretty sure it shows a skin-off look at the forthcoming Cadillac ATS. Based on the troubled (think: 4,000 lbs)Alpha platform that will also underpin the next-gen CTS and Camaro, the ATS is likely to launch with four-cylinder engines in naturally-aspirated and turbocharged forms, with a possible twin-turbo V6 rumored for the “V” version. Unless, of course, GM has made the questionable decision to engineer the platform to take a small-block V8 (which actually would not be much harder to package than a twin-turbo V6). Meanwhile, the big news recently on the ATS front has been GM CEO Dan Akerson’s opinion that the ATS and XTS

are not going to blow the doors off, but they will be very competitive.

We can’t see any front or rear subframes, so rumors of a complex and “sub-optimal” multilink front suspension must remain rumors for now. Otherwise, the body seems to have some strong potential looks-wise. Let’s just hope the entire package is able to deliver something better than what the rumors are suggesting, otherwise GM will have squandered yet another opportunity to crack the lucrative 3-Series market.

By on June 25, 2011

In 2009, the world’s top 20 platforms accounted for 29 percent of global production, underpinning 18 million vehicles. This number is about to double to 35 million units in 2015, when the top 20 platforms will cover 38 percent of global output

Herbert Demel maps out the future of platform-sharing for Automotive News Europe [sub]. This Quote Of The Weekend has been brought to you by the word “differentiation”…

By on May 27, 2011

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…
(Read More…)

By on May 17, 2011

Yesterday we gave GM kudos for addressing its lingering vehicle weight issues by redesigning the head of its popular 3.6 liter V6, and shedding 13 lbs in the process. It was, we noted, the kind of news that showed GM is staying focused on the nitty-gritty of product development, sweating the details. But, according to a fascinating piece by GMInsideNews, new-product development at GM still has its issues. Specifically, Cadillac’s development of a new BMW 3-Series fighter, known as ATS after its “Alpha” Platform, has faced more than its fair share of what GMI calls “drama.”

Turf battles, unnecessary “wants” on checklists and ultimately a severe case of “Mission Creep” have created a vehicle that now needs a crash diet, according to GMI’s sources both within GM and at suppliers working on the Alpha/ATS program. For a vehicle that’s taking on an institution like the BMW Dreier (not to mention costing a billion dollars to develop), these are troubling signs indeed.
(Read More…)

By on May 10, 2011

One of Bertel and my favorite Chinese car blogs, ChinaCarNews, has been reporting since October than the next-generation of MG/Roewe midsized sedans would be based on GM’s Global Midsized (Epsilon II) chassis (which underpins Buick LaCrosse/Regal and the new Chevy Malibu), and now the rest of the media appears to be catching up. From InsideLine to Autocar, everyone’s running with the story that MG/Roewe, which is owned by GM’s main Chinese partner SAIC, is working on an Epsi II-based MG7 for launch in the 2015 timeframe. According to InsideLine

[In 2015], the MG7/Roewe 750 sedan replacement appears some 15 years after the debut of the Rover 75 they’re based on. A coupelike four-door, it uses GM’s Epsilon platform and will be powered by 2.0 and 2.4 four-cylinder gasoline engines and a 1.9 diesel, all with dual-clutch transmissions.

GM and SAIC signed a Memorandum Of Understanding back in October [.DOC file here], which included the provision that, in addition to developing a next-gen electric architecture,

SAIC and GM anticipate sharing an additional vehicle architecture and powertrain application in an effort to help reduce development costs and benefit from economies of scale.

This could explain MG/Roewe’s rumored use of the Epsilon II chassis, but for the moment GM dismisses these rumors as “speculation.” And no wonder: even GM hasn’t announced when it will offer a dual-clutch transmission in its Global Midsized platform. Chances are, The General will want to offer that combination before its Chinese partners use it to beef up its MG/Roewe brands, which have been in product rehab for some time now.

By on April 25, 2011

Ever since Bertel showed us the newest version of the Buick GL8 minivan, with its “Business Concept”-inspired design and executive airport shuttle mission, we’ve been curious about the chances of it coming to the US. After all, GM hasn’t sold a minivan in the US since the Uplander died in 2009, a far cry from the 336,000-odd minivans The General sold in America just ten years before. But when we asked our Best and Brightest if Buick could use a minivan, the response was a fairly resounding “no.” One particularly uncharitable soul even suggested that we were trying to goad GM into making a mistake in order to have something to bash them for. But, as it turns out, GM’s US execs didn’t need to be goaded at all to consider bringing the GL8 to the US market. GM China boss Kevin Wales tells Reuters [via the Baltimore Sun] that

They’ve looked at it on and off as long as I’ve been out here. They’ve made a fundamental decision that says demand for that type of product’s not strong enough. We say that’s fine. We’ll just keep selling out here.”

(Read More…)

By on February 28, 2011

Since 2002 GM’s Compact Crossovers, like the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Captiva/Opel Antara have been built on a unique platform known internally as “Theta.” That platform, which debuted on Saturn’s Vue, was developed largely in Korea by GM-Daewoo, based roughly on GM’s Global Midsized (“Epsilon”) platform. Since 2002, Compact CUVs have become one of the fastest-growing segments in the US, and though GM’s Theta-based CUVs have sold well, the competition is moving towards mildly-modified C-segment platforms for Compact CUVs in order to use as many common components as possible, thereby lowering the cost of development and increasing manufacturing flexibility. Now, it seems that GM is following suit, dropping the Korean-developed Theta platform for a new generation of Compact CUVs developed by Opel on the Astra’s global Compact (Delta II) platform.

(Read More…)

By on January 31, 2011

Via Autocar come these first pictures of a long-rumored entry-level Maserati sedan testing in Europe with Quattroporte-based bodywork. The British buff book reports

Despite looking similar to the Quattroporte at first glance, the mule’s identity is given away by its shorter wheelbase, smaller front brakes and ill-fitting windscreen. The mule also sports just one exhaust pipe on each side at the rear, instead of the brace that appear out of the bumper on each side of its bigger brother.

The €55k Maserati sedan is said to be based on the platform used for Alfa’s 166 replacement, which is widely rumored to be the same Chrysler LX platform that currently underpins the 300 and Dodge Charger. However, because the LX platform’s wheelbase is only .6 inches shorter than the Quattroporte’s 120.6 inch measurement, it’s perhaps more likely that this BMW M5-fighter is based on the shorter LY variant, which has a 116 inch wheelbase. In any case, the global success of the Quattroporte makes this entry-level model of special interest… especially if Maserati can spin a Chrysler-based platform into sales gold.

By on January 19, 2011

It’s been a short, strange trip for Maybach, as Daimler’s über-luxe branding effort went from toast of the nouveau riche to played-out self-caricature in a few short years. Needless to say, TTAC has been awaiting the long-overdue death of that brand for some time now, only to be stymied by a “final” facelift and a Xenatec-developed Coupe. Now, with Aston Martin reportedly working on the new look of the brand that “nobody at Daimler wants to let die,” Maybach’s masters are finally admitting to the fact that TTAC pointed out back in 2007: The Super S-Class was “born old hat.” Autocar reports:

Originally created to be profitable at 800 cars per year, Maybach has regularly struggled to sell half that annually since the launch of the 57 and 62 in 2002. Insiders now admit the decision to base the Maybach on the platform of a two-generations-old S-class, the W140, was a mistake.

Doing so prevented Mercedes from updating the upmarket limousine’s standard features with new navigation, communication and entertainment systems, as well as new safety features owing to an incompatible electronics platform dating back to 1990.

D’oh! But don’t worry… this won’t happen again. Honest.

(Read More…)

By on January 15, 2011

Mitsubishi is set to release a “mid-term” global business plan in the coming weeks, and the company says it will use that opportunity to resolve the lingering questions about its Normal, Illinois plant. Automotive News [sub] reports that four midsize (PS) platform vehicles currently built their will give way to a “new family of vehicles” based on the firm’s compact (GS) platform that currently underpins the Lancer, Outlander and Outlander Sport. The only problem: Mitsu’s midsizers will have to struggle along until April 2013, by which time the model changeover will be complete. Mitsubishi Motors North America has dismissed the report as “speculation,” but frankly, wouldn’t you be more surprised to see a new “family” of compact Mitsus in less than two years? Meanwhile, breakeven at the 240k unit capacity Normal plant has already been lowered to 70k units, but only about 27k vehicles were built there last year. With less than ten percent of Mitsubishi’s global sales volume coming from the US, maybe it would be better if Mitsu simply called it a game… but instead the firm is “planning” to quadruple sales volume. And hey, why not?

By on January 10, 2011

Rather than host its event at a booth-side stage, Ford booked the Cobo Arena for its highly-produced (yet not without its stumbles) presentation. It began with the usual corporate propaganda, centering around the “One Ford” theme and highlighting the Blue Oval’s global operations. Then Alan Mulally zoomed into the middle of the arena in a 2012 Focus ST and, to gales of spontaneous sycophantic applause, began introducing the K-Car-like range of future products based on Ford’s Global Compact platform.

(Read More…)

By on January 3, 2011

Speaking of platform-sharing between brands, Volkswagen’s division of labor debates have been progressing this year with the result that Audi will develop the conglomerate’s SUVs, while Porsche is in charge of sportscar development, as well as the erector set that will become VW’s modular platform menace. Future luxury sedan development (think Porsche Panamera, Lamborghini Estoque and Bentleys)  are also said to be the purview of Porsche, although the German newspaper Der Spiegel recently revealed that

Volkswagen’s boss recently decided that, in 2014, the brand will distance itself from sportscars, instead offering a sedan based on the Audi A8.

Which is an interesting choice. After all, the king of über-luxury sedans, the Rolls Phantom, is based on a unique platform, whereas the A8 shares greasy bits with even the lowly Volkswagen Phaeton. Initially the Bugatti sedan strategy was to build the most expensive luxury sedan (as envisioned by the Galibier Concept) on the market to out-Phantom the Phantom, while (VW-owned) Bentley nips at its heels with the new Mulsanne, but that plan fell apart as a worldwide recession took hold. Now the idea seems to be to create something considerably more modest and brand-engineered… which doesn’t sound like much of a payoff for the most superlative of modern brands. We’ll just have to wait and see where this goes.

By on January 3, 2011

Toyota, possibly more than any other automaker, epitomizes a major tradeoff inherent in mass-market success: mechanical and stylistic homogeneity. Subaru, on the other hand, traditionally occupies the other end of the spectrum, slinging mechanically unique but ultimately niche-oriented products. Since Toyota took a 16.5 percent stake in Subaru’s parent company Fuji Heavy Industries, observers have wondered how the relationship between two so different automakers would play out. And since Subaru had already cultivated a fiercely loyal following with its dedication to niche values, the outcome has largely been that Subaru fans have decried the perceived “Toyotafication” of Subaru. And now, if a new rumor from Motor Trend is anything to go by, the uproar is about to get a little bit louder.

(Read More…)

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