By on August 13, 2009

TTAC recently published a Wild Ass Rumor about Buick LaCrosse wiring problems. Jim Federico breached the GM – TTAC wall to quash the suggestion that production vehicles suffered from electrical gremlins. “I can confirm there is NO truth to this RUMOR,” the LaCrosse Vehicle Line Executive/Chief Engineer wrote. So I called the man responsible for “any car on the GM Global Mid-Size platform until I retire or get fired, whatever comes first.” [Note: GM no longer uses Greek names for its platforms. Literally. Federico flat-out refused to identify the Buick’s platform as an “Epsilon.”] Federico told me GM has delivered roughly a thousand LaCrosse to dealers; only one has been marked return to sender. “It was a car with a burned-out starter,” he revealed. “We identified the problem as a defective component and contacted the supplier to rectify the situation.” Now, as for that wiring rumor . . .

Federico repeated his categorical denial. There are not now nor have there been any wiring/electrical/computer issues with the LaCrosse. That said . . .

The LaCrosse is the first North American vehicle where assembly workers burn/download the software into the BCM (Body Control Module) and ECM (Engine Control Module) on the factory floor. As such, there were some electrical issues with the LaCrosse PPVs (Pre-Production Vehicles). “It’s nothing more than we expected in the normal development process,” Federico claimed. “About 70 percent good, 30 percent bad.” He said these problems were resolved before customer cars came off the line.

Federico was anxious for me to sample his handiwork firsthand. His GM PR handler (listening in as always) promised to arrange a press car for a TTAC review.

As Federico is in charge of all the American automaker’s Voldemorts—I mean, future Global Mid-Size Platform vehicles, I asked him if he saw any problems sharing the platform across GM’s four remaining brands. Federico rattled off a laundry list (so to speak) of all the ways the Epsilons would differ: fuel economy, handling dynamics, sheet metal, interior, etc. “We are not badge engineering,” he insisted.

We shall see.

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23 Comments on “Buick Vehicle Line Executive: No Wiring Problems with Production Buick LaCrosse...”


  • avatar
    slateslate

    Good luck GM…..you have millions of people with years or decades worth of bad/ambivalent feelings to win over.

    Hope you guys don’t think that you can cost-cut your way to bigger market share.

  • avatar
    ajla-

    Federico was anxious for me to sample his handiwork firsthand. His GM PR handler (listening in as always) promised to arrange a press car for a TTAC review.

    I wonder which LaCrosse they’ll send. Will it be powered by the good engine or the embarrassing one?

  • avatar
    z4eva

    How did a single car with a burned out starter get out of the factory? Do they even turn the engine over before they send them out the door?

  • avatar

    all the ways the Epsilons would differ: fuel economy, handling dynamics, sheet metal, interior, etc. “We are not badge engineering,” he insisted.

    So with the Chevy version they’ll give it a crappier interior, worse ride and handling, make it fugly and less fuel efficient? The Cadillac version will, of course, be saddled with even worse fuel efficiency than the Chevy, beautiful sheet metal, and a world class ride and interior.

    The true test TTAC should have asked for is (a test drive now, as well as) an eventual test period with ALL versions of the car, so each can be compared back to back to back so that claims of “badge engineering” might be put to rest.

    Gotta give props to Frederico for reaching out to TTAC in the first place though, even if it was to quash a rumor.

  • avatar
    Wolven

    Since the auto manufacturers (or maybe just their armchair appologists) claim that “styling is subjective”… why is it they all try to copy the Camry shape with their midsize (or are those fullsize now) cars?

    I hear people bitch that the “retro” cars prove the automakers have run out of ideas (a bullshit conclusion). But I never hear those people claim that copying the Camry proves those same automakers can’t come up with an original thoughtdesignidea…

  • avatar
    segfault

    Federico flat-out refused to identify the Buick’s platform as an “Epsilon.”

    Did he refer to it as an E60?

  • avatar
    97escort

    Don’t believe Buick or GM. This is a new body style and some electrical faults will not show up right away. GM does not do adequate real world tests on their new style vehicles. They let their customers do it.

    I have commented several times in the past about my awful 2004 GMC Canyon. One of the electrical faults did not show up until I had the thing for 4 years and 20,000 miles. The under hood fuse and electrical box is located in front of the drivers side front wheel. The truck has a stiff suspension and over time the shaking from rough roads vibrates the box so severely that a relay that controls the air intake shutoff solenoid comes loose. When this happens the air is shut off to the engine and the engine dies.

    I happened to be trying to figure out another electrical fault when this happened the first time, so I new enough to open the hood and press the relay back into place to get going. I fixed the problem by duct taping the relay to the electrical box and putting the cover over the duct tape to make sure it sticks. Now at least the truck runs on rough pavement.

    I bought this truck new in 2004. Do not buy a new body style vehicle from GM. Wait at least a couple of years if you must have one. Do not buy a GM vehicle sight unseen. GM uses style to suck in customers for the kill. Watch out.

  • avatar
    paulie

    I saw a few close up again…damn good looking cars.
    Didn’t drive one.
    Just didn’t muster the strength to deal with the walking dead sales staff inside.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Did you see Edmunds’ review of the LaCrosse today?

    http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do/Drives/FullTests/articleId=154946?tid=edmunds.il.home.photopanel..1.*

    They’re insulting anyone who thinks the LaCrosse is another dumb badge-engineered effort from GM. But they tested a $39k example of a car that comes in base form with steelies, and asserted that it competes with the Lexus ES. Uh, right. Isn’t this what GM has been doing for decades?

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Good looking car, but $10K too expensive. I’m sure the market will fix that and we’ll see big cash on the hood by November.

  • avatar

    Looks like someone at GM is taking my advice that if they’re truly confident about their products they should have RF review them because nobody can say he’s a GM shill. I think he should be the first journalist who test drives the Chevy Volt in extended range mode.

  • avatar

    the opening of communication is a good sign as is accepting valid criticism. these engineer types at GM really are competent, caring employees. too bad the marketers are so horrible.

  • avatar
    segfault

    Edmunds notes that the A-pillars are 9.5 inches wide at eye level. Why? Is Buick on a campaign to mow down as many pedestrians as possible?

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    ^^^^ Strange, I thought the A-pillars in today’s “view-through-the-Volt’s windshield” video looked oddly wide too.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    “It’s nothing more than we expected in the normal development process,” Federico claimed. “About 70 percent good, 30 percent bad.” He said these problems were resolved before customer cars came off the line.

    Ahhhhh. World class quality numbers.

    For any other manufacturer, this guys apparently complacent acceptance of such mediocre engineering and quality performance would be a career-ender…..other organizations bust nuts to make sure that initial quality on vehicles starts high, knowing that the world, (or at least guys like our beloved RF)are watching.

    New, Good GM?

    Not so much.

  • avatar
    Daniel J. Stern

    His GM PR handler promised to arrange a press car for a TTAC review.

    And a test drive of a carefully prepped and preened press car will prove exactly what about the car’s general build and reliability? Absolutely nothing. GM execs’ babble about “world class” has been based for years on driving such ringers.

  • avatar

    Daniel J. Stern

    Capisco.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @RF Here’s a suggestion, check out the press car.
    write your review or your thoughts,whatever.

    Wait six months, and rent one’ see how they compare.

    @z4eva.. Starters have been known to fail after 15 or 20 starts. Sometimes maybe 200 starts.I can assure you that the starting was working when it left the plant.Or maybe the guys in the plant pushed it off the line.Then they pushed it through roll rest.The vehicle would have failed DTV. Oh then they might have pushed it through final car inspection. Do you know how hard it is to push a Buick to the top level of a rail car,or a car carrier?

    Yeah yeah I know, us union types are lazy and stupid. 36 years in car assembly,tells me that somewhere somebody would have said. “guys,pushing this thing is a pain in the ass,lets send it back to reject,circle the part on the inspection card that reads REPLACE STARTER to repair the NO START conition”

    As for as the %70-%30 thing.Do Honda or Toyota report thier pre production quality figures? Do they report any quality numbers? Just asking.

  • avatar
    NickR

    It looks pretty good in that picture. Headroom in the rear might be a bit compromised. The version with the turbo-4 in the Cobalt SS should be awesome (please say there will be one).

  • avatar
    mwaterman

    “The LaCrosse is the first North American vehicle where assembly workers burn/download the software into the BCM (Body Control Module) and ECM (Engine Control Module) on the factory floor.”

    The new LaCrosse is certainly not GM’s first vehicle that has the ECM/BCM programmed on the factory floor. They have been doing that in some plants since the 90s.

    Also, PPV vehicles are built to help validate the product and process. They won’t be (and aren’t meant to be) perfect. Using any type of PPV quality number as some measure of final production quality is dubious.

  • avatar

    mwaterman

    That piece of information was provided by Mr. Federico. He ought to know.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    z4eva :
    August 13th, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    How did a single car with a burned out starter get out of the factory? Do they even turn the engine over before they send them out the door?

    It’s not atypical for a faulty part or device (of any sort) to work for a very short time and then fail. That is, it very well could have worked ten times and then failed the eleventh time the dealer wanted to start the car, with the first five starts at the factory.

  • avatar
    Juniper

    Mark MacInnis
    So when you build a preproduction run of highly complex electro-mechanical devices your quality is extremely high? Why do you build preproduction then? Please share your personal hands on experiences with us.
    (or at least guys like our beloved RF)
    Oh, and why don’t you guys get a room?

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