Alpha based Buick's aren't a go yet, and may depend on a Chevy counterpart.
December 3, 2012
By: Nick Saporito
Late last week speculation surrounding the potential of rear-wheel drive Buicks was reignited. In a report from Edmunds, it is asserted that General Motors is going to launch a Buick based on the rear drive Alpha platform that currently underpins the Cadillac ATS. While performance Buick's are currently under consideration, final approval may hinge on a sister car for Chevrolet, one similar to the Code130R concept car.
In recent months GM has been renewing trademarks for legendary Buick nameplates, such as the Grand National and GNX. It isn't uncommon for manufactures to hang on to historical names just in case, but the timing does appear to be peculiar considering other speculation surrounding rear drive Buick products.
Sources familiar with GM product plans have told GMI that Alpha based Buicks are indeed under consideration by the company, but at last report, have not been given the full green-light for production. The holdup is allegedly surrounding the business case of the program.
One source mentioned that the viability of Alpha based Buick's is likely hinging on the decision to produce a higher volume Chevrolet Alpha car, similar to the recent Code130R "youth concept" that GM launched earlier this year in the auto show circuit.
Rear drive rumors are nothing new at GM. Numerous speculation consistently surrounded the company's Zeta rear-wheel drive program that underpins the Holden Commodore. Unlike Zeta, the Alpha program has been given the global designation within GM product development, providing another hint that the company intends to leverage more global scale out of the Alpha architecture than it has with the larger Zeta platform.
Aside from the Chevrolet counterpart, sources have also said the company will likely test the waters with a Buick coupe concept car prior to stamping the program for approval. Buick employed a similar strategy with the Regal GS; showing the car as a loosely veiled concept car, gauging reaction, then putting the car in production. It's likely a safe bet Buick will examine the market's reaction to the Regal GS as well, considering it is the brand's first sporty car under its new direction. Early this year the GS was accounting for a respectable 12 percent of total Regal sales.
It is far too early to speculate engine offerings in potential rear drive Buicks, but GMI can confirm that the Alpha engine bay can fit a Generation V Small Block V-8, like the Edmunds report confirms. GMI sources did bring up a good point: if the ATS-V is going to use a twin-turbo V-6, why would a Buick get a V-8?
Currently only the Cadillac ATS is being produced on the Alpha platform, with an all-new CTS slated to launch next year on an enlarged version of the platform. It has also long been speculated that the sixth generation Chevrolet Camaro will be built on a variant of Alpha as well.
Sources have not been able to confirm when GM will make a final call on Alpha based Buicks, though it sounds like the company is still putting together the business case, and a concept car may be showing its face in the near future to help the business case along.