By on July 14, 2009

Automotive Traveler cites confidential sources inside GM as saying that GM’s Caprice (neé Pontiac G8) will be built in Oshawa, Canada. According to AT’s sources, the Impala’s age is hurting it in police fleet sales. The Caprice would presumably fix that and potentially squeeze a few more sales out of the Zeta platform. But it also flies in the face of recent revelations that Fritz Henderson is “not a fan of rebadging” (in regard to the G8, no less), and that the Impala is moving to the Epsilon II platform. Are we seeing the beginnings of a Lutz-Henderson rift?

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31 Comments on “Oshawa Zeta Plans On Again...”


  • avatar
    86er

    But it also flies in the face of recent revelations that Fritz Henderson is “not a fan of rebadging” (in regard to the G8, no less), and that the Impala is moving to the Epsilon II platform. Are we seeing the beginnings of a Lutz-Henderson rift?

    Here’s a clever way to fudge that: this car is branded as a Chevy Caprice in other jurisdictions. Ergo, no rebadge.

    As per Oshawa, glad to see this hard done by factory get a (probably small) reprieve. This is a gold standard plant and they deserved better.

  • avatar
    tced2

    They’ve done a lot of “badge engineering” not too well – putting different names on essentially the same (mediocre) car simultaneously. But have they actually “re-badged”? I can’t think of a car they discontinued and brought back as another car. Especially a worthy car like the G8 / Caprice.

  • avatar
    superbadd75

    AWESOME!!! If they let this happen, then maybe there’s hope that someone at GM gets it.

  • avatar
    CarnotCycle

    Given that the G8 never really arrived on the public’s radar, re-badging it makes sense because it is a really good car.

    I don’t know why they are re-badging it as a Caprice though. Are they going to keep the Impala? As is? That would give them three sedans for the “mainstream” brand. The Impala SS sure becomes even more pointless. And what about Buick? Or the fact you would then be able to get essentially the CTS-V for thousands less?

    By my count, GM is going to be selling something like seven or eight basically mid-size sedans over three brands. Quality of the G8 (or whatever you want to call it) aside, that is asinine over-kill.

  • avatar
    gamper

    I agree that it would be a shame to lose the G8, but have to question this move. Is it intended to be a fleet replacement for all the Crown Vic intenders that will soon be without a full sized RWD choice. Or is GM looking for solid retail sales. I dont think it would be wise to count on retail to pay for the program, so hopefully they have the costs based on fleet sales.

    It looks like the Charger is having some success as a police cruiser, but I still havent seen them in large numbers. I am sure there are a lot of fleet buyers who would be happy to see another full size RWD choice on the market. Is 2010 the last year for Crown Vic? I cannot recall.

  • avatar

    A US-built Caprice wouldn’t be the one pictured or anyting Holden builds in Australia, necessarily.

    The lines in Australia and Canada can’t literally build the same cars, the Zeta the Camaro uses is much different than what Holden is building in Australia.

    GM has been working on a Camaro-based, fullsize Impala redesign for years and stopped last year when fuel went through the roof. They’re likely blowing the dust off that project and resuming it, that car will probably wear the Caprice name. That should help keeping Oshawa’s car line moving when Camaro sales start to cool.

  • avatar
    Bancho

    That’s a good looking car.

  • avatar
    CommanderFish

    …And by the time they get this sorted out and ready to go, the 2011 Charger will be coming off the lines at a different factory in Ontario. We’ll see how many police deparments go for Caprices then.

    Also, if the Impala is too old for police departments, then why are they still buying Crown Vics?

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    That’s a good looking car.

    Reminds me a Lincoln LS with a Chevy Grille.

  • avatar
    essen

    GM made a concious decision to abandon the police/taxi market, and to hand this business to Ford, when it killed the last big Caprice. It apparently was a low margin business. Were they wrong then and right now? It didn’t seem like a good idea to me at the time to give your main competitor (Ford) a monopoly in any market.

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    So Zeta has been killed and resurrected nine times now? Better call the car the Wild Cat.

    I’ll believe the last resurrection of Zeta when I see it…

  • avatar
    CamaroKid

    It didn’t seem like a good idea to me at the time to give your main competitor (Ford) a monopoly in any market.

    That was in 1996, they did it a second time when they killed the Camaro in 2002.. Not like GM to learn from its mistakes is it?

  • avatar
    Samuel L. Bronkowitz

    On again… off again… on again… off again… on again… off again…

    sure seems like “old GM” to me.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    From what I’ve read cops don’t like Charger due to poor visibility.

  • avatar

    I thought police departments mostly bought Crown Vics because they were cheap, cheap, cheap.

  • avatar
    pariah

    The other day I saw someone pulled over by a Camry. It wasn’t an unmarked car either, it was a full-fledged patrol car complete with paint job, decals, and light bar. I thought that was kinda weird.

  • avatar
    miketve

    Your homework on this subject: go to holden.com.au

    interesting stuff.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Also, if the Impala is too old for police departments, then why are they still buying Crown Vics?

    The Crown Vic is the perfect fleet vehicle for rough-duty work. The Impala is almost as good, but it’s not really as robust nor as cheap to repair. They see duty as highway cruisers and bylaw enforcers, and they’re losing ground in the latter to the likes of the Prius.

    I don’t think the Charger or the G8/Caprice/Commodore/Whatever will change this. The complex, space-eating, fragile tangle of suspension in a modern car is just not as low-TCO as the Panther: a car you can hop curbs on with impunity, hammer back into shape quickly and with minimal expense.

    The other day I saw someone pulled over by a Camry. It wasn’t an unmarked car either, it was a full-fledged patrol car complete with paint job, decals, and light bar. I thought that was kinda weird.

    Was it highway or in-city. I’ve seen all sorts of interesting cars on highway duty, but intra-city fleets still seem to favour the Vic.

    On an unrelated note, I saw a G35 painted up in Taxi livery today. I’ve seen a few I35s and Sonatas in the past, but seeing a G was a shocker.

  • avatar
    50merc

    The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and some other law enforcement agencies have tried SUV’s as patrol vehicles. Powerful, roomy, sturdy, good visibility, RWD. If GM, Ford or Chrysler would modify a small SUV for police pursuit work by providing protection for cargo, and lowering the vehicle and tuning the suspension for fast driving, they could sell a ton of them. A helluva lot more cop cars are sold than Buicks or Mercuries.

    I hear cops don’t like the Charger because its stupid squashed roof hurts visibility and headroom.

  • avatar
    CommanderFish

    You want to hear something scary?

    Milwaukee County has Buick LeSabre undercover cars. Be afraid.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    This is a solid decision.
    Provided they market the Caprice right.

  • avatar
    cthill

    The lines in Australia and Canada can’t literally build the same cars, the Zeta the Camaro uses is much different than what Holden is building in Australia.

    So much for GMs interbuildability or what ever they call it. I cannot believe that they allowed this.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    If the G8 manages to live on in some form, be it Caprice or whatever, it will be the occassional good car that GM always seems to make by accident. The management contradicts each other, the decision is on/off/on/off/on, the strange seeming fleet logic, yet somehow at the end of the day a pretty nice powerful car will hit the streets. Of course for each one of these there are half a dozen Luminas, Uplanders, etc.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Actually, the ’96 Caprice sold in pretty good numbers but GM wanted the production space at Arlington, TX converted to Tahoe production. That’s where the demand was at the time and the Tahoe made a lot more $$$ per unit. GM knew they would have a FWD Impala surfacing down the road so the Caprice/Impala SS faded away in December of ’96.
    As for Fritz’s comment about badge engineering, that’s laughable. With small exception, that’s the reason Pontiac is taking a knee next year. It’s been badge-engineered to death over the last 35 years; someone at GM was a fan of it and he being the CFO tells me he probably had a lot to do with it.

  • avatar
    akear

    What is strange is that the aging Impala continues to outsell all these new GM sedans. When GM tries to kill the Impala it comes roaring back on the sales charts. Even if you just count retail sales the Impala still outsells the Malibu. I talked to a frustrated Chevrolet dealer who tries desperately to sell the Malibu, but most of the time ends up selling the Impala instead.

  • avatar
    Jonathan Gregory

    I thought I heard that the Crown Vic PI is actually quite profitable. CapX is all but long paid for. I haven’t heard any intention to kill it anytime soon. Most departments love it for several reasons:

    1. Size and space
    2. Maintenance friendly and cheap parts (in-house mechanics could fix them in their sleep)
    3. Well-developed police prep packages from the factory (electrical runs, light kits)
    4. General vehicle robustness

    It may not be the baddest or newest kid on the block, but it’s ol’ reliable. When you’re running a fleet, that’s a giant factor.

    As a corollary, if you go to Japan, every taxi is a Toyota Crown and there’s bazillions of them. It’s the same exact design that’s been around for more than 25 years (now with airbags). It’s no looker, but it works (spacious design), and is dependable and affordable.

  • avatar
    NickR

    Jonathan Gregory, agreed, they’d be very hard pressed to compete with the Crown Vic. Displacing a vehicle so well-established is hard. And police departments flog these things to death in testing and the Crown Vic holds up better than its rivals. And good luck competing on price. As you pointed out, the CapX was paid for ages ago, the factory is in a small town that needs the jobs so I am sure they get generous tax breaks, and if practice makes perfect that factory should be remarkably efficient.

    Slashing the price of the Caprice to gain fleet market is…oh no, not again!

    Seriously though…the Caprice? As someone else pointed out the V6 is a Chevelle and the V8 is the Chevelle SS.

  • avatar
    SupaMan

    Well, Ford has already decided the Panther is going away next year I believe. So cars like the Charger and Caprice(new Impala?) will be the ones to take over the law enforcement role.

    And really….Caprice? Sure the Impala sells in stellar numbers but isn’t it the last car being made on the old W platform? Time for a new Impala…a RWD one.

  • avatar
    paris-dakar

    As a corollary, if you go to Japan, every taxi is a Toyota Crown and there’s bazillions of them. It’s the same exact design that’s been around for more than 25 years (now with airbags). It’s no looker, but it works (spacious design), and is dependable and affordable.

    The old Nissan B13 Sentra/Tsuru occupies the same niche in Latin America.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    I remember reading somewhere that GM decided not to build a large Cadillac to replace the STS/DTS on the Zeta platform because it was too expensive. So, it’s too expensive for a large Cadillac, but not too expensive for a large Chevrolet. Does this make any kind of sense?

  • avatar
    NickR

    SupaMan, I’d have to look around online but I believe that decision was rescinded.

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