Lutz: RWD Zeta Platform RIP

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
lutz rwd zeta platform rip

GoAuto hears from GM Car Czar Maximum Bob Lutz himself that the Camaro and G8 will be the last US market GM products based on Holden’s RWD Zeta platform. “The strategy we had a few years ago of basically deriving a whole sweeping global portfolio off the Australian Zeta architecture … frankly, we have had to abandon that dream,” said Lutz. “This is because, whether you are in the United States or in China, fuel economy mandates are getting more and more severe, and we just could not base our strategy on doing relatively large and relatively heavy rear-wheel-drive cars. I suspect the same thing is going to start to bite the traditional rear-wheel drive producers.” Not that they’re ditching the platform entirely. “It is our intent to continue the Australian rear-wheel-drive cars; we will continue building them and doing a next generation and so forth and so on,” says Mr Maximum. “And, to be honest, they continue to be my favourite cars. I think they are absolutely wonderful – but the regulatory environment is such that it would be imprudent to base a whole global platform strategy on them … much to my personal chagrin, by the way.” And what of the rumored Alpha compact RWD platform?

“What many of us would like to do (one day) is to do an all-new global rear-wheel drive architecture that would be considerably smaller, lighter and be capable of taking four-cylinder powertrains,” says Lutz. “That, I think, could be globally shared. It’s not even in the plan at this point; it’s just what we tell ourselves in that there is going to have to be a next-generation Camaro, and there is going to have to be a next-generation Cadillac sedan, and so there is going to have to be a smaller and a way more efficient rear-wheel-drive architecture. But at this point it is just a gleam in our eye.”

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  • Reclusive_in_nature Reclusive_in_nature on Jan 17, 2009

    I was going to say GM is cursing itself with torque steer, but when CAFE gets done neutering the automobile industry most vehicles will be too underpowered to produce any.

  • Mistrernee Mistrernee on Jan 17, 2009

    I think the lack of sales on the G8 have more to do with GM's reluctance to sell the car because they (last I heard) lose money on each one and because the dealers are awful. On the highway the efficiency losses of a RWD vehicle are not even noticable. Aerodynamics and gearing are a much larger concern at highway speeds and even around town the losses are pretty minor. BMW has rwd down to an art and their cars make it obvious that efficiency isn't the issue. The Corvette, 4th gen f-body and the modern G8 also stand out as getting suprisingly good fuel economy. A lot of this may have to do with the LS engine being a fairly simple OHV V8 with a single cam and 2 valves per cylinder compared to the 24 valves and 4 cams of a modern V6. Manufacturing costs are the big reason why most manufactures went with FWD cars, they are much easier to build. It has little to do with interior space or fuel efficiency. Hell, throughout the 70's and early 80's most Toyotas and Nissans (including the Corolla) were RWD. The Corolla went FWD about the same time Chrysler started building K-Cars and GM unleashed it's fwd X and J body cars. They did it to get costs down, no one buying the cars particularily cared other then the car got cheaper. The space needed for the components in a low power RWD economy car is pretty minor, compared to the bulky chunks of metal needed in a V8 sports car cranking out over 300 ft-lbs at 2000 rpm. Most people don't care about the tunnel either, whoever got that middle back seat wasn't the person that bought the car so they could damn well deal with it (or they would get something real to cry about). I see more BMW 318's and 323's here in Vancouver then I see Toyota Camry's. Someone is buying the damn things, they just aren't interested in the Pontiac but that isnt the RWD platforms fault.

  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.
  • Lorenzo In Massachusetts, they used to require an inspection every 6 months, checking your brake lights, turn signals, horn, and headlight alignment, for two bucks.Now I get an "inspection" every two years in California, and all they check is the smog. MAYBE they notice the tire tread, squeaky brakes, or steering when they drive it into the bay, but all they check is the smog equipment and tailpipe emissions.For all they would know, the headlights, horn, and turn signals might not work, and the car has a "speed wobble" at 45 mph. AFAIK, they don't even check EVs.
  • Not Tire shop mechanic tugging on my wheel after I complained of grinding noise didn’t catch that the ball joint was failing. Subsequently failed to prevent the catastrophic failure of the ball joint and separation of the steering knuckle from the car! I’ve never lived in a state that required annual inspection, but can’t say that having the requirement has any bearing on improving safety given my experience with mechanics…
  • Mike978 Wow 700 days even with the recent car shortages.
  • Lorenzo The other automakers are putting silly horsepower into the few RWD vehicles they have, just as Stellantis is about to kill off the most appropriate vehicles for that much horsepower. Somehow, I get the impression the OTHER Carlos, Tavares, not Ghosn, doesn't have a firm grasp of the American market.