News that GM will be sending some production of the Chevrolet Equinox to their Ramos Arizpe, Mexico plant passed without much fanfare – GM’s PR machine was much more interested in touting the move of the Cadillac SRX to Spring Hill, Tennessee. While the Equinox’s move to Mexico will backfill capacity at that plant, it spells another blow for the future of GM’s Oshawa, Ontario plant.
“On a clear day,” John Z once famously wrote, “you can see General Motors.” The day has yet to come, however, when the works of GM will be made plain to the mortal man. Consider, if you will, the bizarre story of the “Theta” platform in the United States. It’s a huge success; the Equinox and Cadillac SRX (which, we are assumed, is totes different from the Equinox, but we will will discuss that contention below) combined for about a quarter-million sales in 2011. It’s a perfect example of the way GM is supposed to work nowadays: there are two platform variants with very little visual similarity combining to provide high volume in one model and high profit in another. Theta is NAFTA-friendly, with the cheapie being made in Ontario and the luxury model in Mexico. The two models are generally well-reviewed. The obscurity, stupidity, and thrown-darts decision-making which used to characterize the General are nowhere to be seen. What’s to criticize, even here at TTAC, where we typically cast a jaundiced eye on the RenCen fire drill?
Well, there is the minor issue of a third Theta, which is as perfect an example of GM’s undiminished ability to screw things up as the other Thetas are of the company’s ability to get things right.
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…