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GM To Wheel Out Big New Stable
Mark Phelan
Detroit Free Press


GM insiders and other industry sources say the automaker will introduce four new vehicle architectures over the next two years.

A fifth architecture already in production will form the basis of several new vehicles to be produced around the world. An architecture -- or platform -- is a set of components and structures used to produce a wide variety of cars or trucks. The Buick Rendezvous and Pontiac Aztek SUVs, for example, are examples of two vehicles built from the same architecture.

The four new architectures are code named Lambda, GMT 900, Zeta and Kappa. The existing architecture is called Theta.

GM will spend billions of dollars to develop and build the vehicles in more than a dozen assembly plants around the world, including at least one new plant, now under construction near Lansing.

The upcoming vehicles range from completely new small sporty cars to replacements for GM's full-size pickups and SUVs, including powerhouse names like the Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra and Cadillac Escalade.

Some of the new vehicles will fill gaps in GM's lineup, such as a midsize SUV for Saturn and large performance-oriented rear-wheel-drive sedans for Buick and Pontiac. Various models from the programs will debut over several years beginning in 2005.

Several of the new vehicles are vital to GM's plan to invigorate slower-selling brands like Buick, Saturn and Saab. GM also expects the programs to provide hot-selling models for brands like Chevrolet, Pontiac and Australia-based Holden.

Once all the vehicles reach production, they could account for 2.4 million sales a year, by a conservative estimate.

The crucial program

GMT 900 is the single program most vital to GM's success. It will lead to replacements for the company's full-size pickups and SUVs, vehicles that accounted for more than 1.6 million sales in 2003. GM may change the program's name before the trucks begin rolling off assembly lines from Canada to Mexico.

Whatever it's called, though, GMT 900's scope boggles the mind, potentially accounting for annual sales worth more than the gross national product of many countries and comprising vehicles ranging from workhorse Chevy Silverado pickups to Shaquille O'Neal's customized Cadillac Escalade.

"It's GM's most important North American platform, bar none," said Michael Robinet, vice president of forecast services for consultant CSM Worldwide in Northville.

GMT 900 will face a tough competitive landscape that includes the Ford F-150, which set a new standard for pickups, the Nissan Titan and Toyota's first truly full-size pickup, a larger version of the Tundra in a new plant in San Antonio in 2006.

"It's a very competitive battleground," Robinet said. "GM knows that, and I'm confident they will meet the challenge."

Secret platform

The most contentious and mysterious of the new architectures is called Lambda, and it will fill GM's new assembly plant in Delta Township.

Lambda is still so sensitive within GM that executives refuse to acknowledge the program even exists.

Lambda began its life as a family of front- and all-wheel-drive full-size trucks and SUVs that would be built on a car-like structure to combine some of a truck's usefulness with the smoother ride of a sedan. The Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander are examples of such car-based SUVs.

That vision of Lambda sparked fierce internal debates at GM, because some executives feared it would create competition for the full-size pickups and SUVs that are GM's most successful vehicles.

Lambda will now form the genesis for a family of midsize vehicles, primarily SUVs. The first to go on sale will be a Saturn model in late 2006.

Lambda will also create the replacement for Buick's popular Rendezvous SUV, and potentially a lower-slung Saab model to complement the 9-7X SUV Saab unveiled at the New York auto show.

The original plan for Lambda included pickups and minivans, but both of those ideas are currently on hold, sources say.

Honda will introduce a car-based midsize pickup later this year, and GM may study its sales before deciding to build a Lambda pickup, Robinet said.

Lambda was also developed to spawn a family of minivans, but the extensive reworking of GM's existing minivans this fall may obviate the need for those vehicles, said Jim Hall, vice president for industry analysis in the Southfield office of consultant AutoPacific.

Full LONG Article Here

 

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This is the most disapointing part.

Lambda was also developed to spawn a family of minivans, but the extensive reworking of GM's existing minivans this fall may obviate the need for those vehicles
Yeah right. :rolleyes: Why design a whole new platform just for midsize FWD SUVs. Can't Theta do this? The Equinox is pretty big.
 
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Cool. Now we just need to get the Lions in the Super Bowl.

<_< B) :afro:

:D :D :lol: :lol: :lol:

:bounce:
 

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I think they should concentrate on the next GTO at the same time as they are with the Buick sedan, the current GTO isn't doin very well.
 

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This is an information-packed article, Ming. What a great find! If the information is true, there lies [sic] a lot of potential in GM over the next few years.

Of course, I did find one or two points of contention: "Lambda was also developed to spawn a family of minivans, but the extensive reworking of GM's existing minivans this fall may obviate the need for those vehicles, said Jim Hall, vice president for industry analysis in the Southfield office of consultant AutoPacific. " I'm glad that Jim Hall works for AutoPacific and not GM; it gives me some hope that this prediction will not materialize. I believe the present, stopgap CSV's necessitate, not obviate, the need of a Lambda-based series of minivans. If the Lambda-based minivans are aborted and the above-mentioned vehicles are truly first-class, the present CSV's will stand in stark contrast to their newer brothers and sisters. Of course, transferring them to Lambda presumes that GM execs can make a business case for this expensive(?) transfer.
 

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It's all BS. Don't believe it...except for that note about GM executives arguing about what to do....that is always true...'cause 50% of them HAVE to be idiots for:

1. Being Slow.....a substantial new truck platform redesign should've been prior to 2006 - it is just simply too long. It's needed NOW! Search Google for: "F-150 kicking our ***....Toyota due next round"

2. Maintaining a horribly dated and insufficient platform (f-body) underneath Camaro for years....and finally killed it. I'll never get over it!

3. Not doing the things correctly with man, machine, materials, suppliers, etc. to prevent Recall, recall, recall, recall, recall, recall, recall, recall, recall.....

4. 2+ year launch dates for those limited production vehicles like SSR, Solstice, and GTO.

5. GTO...what a joke for sales...the obvious is what GM can't see...GTO is overpriced, too heavy, boring body design. Who designed this fleet car on 'roids? Likely the same guy who did the Mercury Marauder (that was a flop too).

6. Aztech...enough said.

7. No wagon release...when others have already left the starting gate....the GM horse is still in the stall wondering where the jockey went...

8. Lambda...the SECRET PLATFORM...GM just now waking up to realise that is what people want in their SUV ride quality? By the time this thing is done....everyone else in the industry will be on to releasing Hybrids and no one will know what an SUV is...

GM bureauracy(sp?) is almost as bad as the Federal government... :angry:

By the way...by miracle...the only thing GM does right...Saturn, Corvette, Caddy. I just don't know how or why considering the above.... :blink:
 

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Originally posted by leadfoot85@May 25 2004, 08:10 PM
1. Being Slow.....a substantial new truck platform redesign should've been prior to 2006 - it is just simply too long. It's needed NOW! Search Google for: "F-150 kicking our ***....Toyota due next round"

So let's see, GM introduces an all-new truck platform in 1999, and Ford's truck platform is already 3 years old, and it takes them 5 more model years for Ford to introduce a new platform. But GM is slow for waiting 2 model years to introduce a new truck platform after the new Ford is out?

Truck platforms are very expensive to redesign, and it's tough to get everybody to introduce their new platforms in the same model year, so somebody is always going to have the older truck. Ford ran their last design 8 model years. Dodge ran theirs 8 years. But you think GM is slow for running theirs 7 years? Does this make sense to anyone out there besides leadfoot?

GM's pickup sales are still very competitive with Ford's. It's not like they have dropped off. Ford's newer design requires lower incentives, but in 2 years, there will be two trucks newer than Ford and they will have to play the incentive game more. And if it takes them 8 model years to redesign, then GM will have the newer truck for 6 model years instead of only 2 that Ford will have.
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@May 25 2004, 12:44 PM
I believe the present, stopgap CSV's necessitate, not obviate, the need of a Lambda-based series of minivans.
Well said! At least the CSVs are getting the 3.5L engine. I'm so happy they didn't just give them a China (or wherever) sourced 3.4...time to put that engine out of its misery.
 

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1. Being Slow.....a substantial new truck platform redesign should've been prior to 2006 - it is just simply too long. It's needed NOW! Search Google for: "F-150 kicking our ***....Toyota due next round"
Yeah, it can be done easily if you Superman or something.
You can't just bring out a new model like that. It takes time and lots of money. GM can't make you happy. People might actually like the current styling of Tahoe, or Silverado. They might feel inspired by the design (or something like that). GM will not just change for you. You though can express your OPINIONS and SUGGESTIONS for the General.
 

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I think GM should update the current model Silverado to stay competitive. They could overhaul the interior, update the engines and make some changes to the suspension and chasis. That would be enough to hold off ford and company until a new silverado comes out.
 

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Originally posted by MelvinJ@May 25 2004, 09:02 PM
"...so somebody is always going to have the older truck... GM's pickup sales are still very competitive with Ford's. It's not like they have dropped off."
Agreed.

And it's important to note that GM's f.s. truck sales are up more than the overall market, so they cannot be all that bad, despite their collective ages. It's kinda like the increasing sales of the 5 y.o. Impala; that's even more mystifying to me!

I agree that the Chevy/GMC f.s. truck interiors are almost painful to look at, but overall, the Silverado and Sierra remain generally strong packages.
 

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I read another article today from the Detroit News about the new braking system that GM is putting in it's full-size trucks for 2005. They got together with Bosch to decrease stopping distance and have markedly better pedal feel.

I think this is great, and I wish they would fix more things as they go rather than wait for the next complete redesign. I can only assume that the braking system will transfer over to the GMT900 platform without big changes, or else they wouldn't have done it for one year. In the case of the truck's interior, I wonder if the public at large is as turned off on them as much as some of the press and some very vocal GMI members. I don't think they are top of the class, but they aren't the horrible abominations that people here make them out to be.

I would have liked to see them go for better steering feel, since the press gets all worked up about how bad they think it is, although maybe customers are happy with it. In the case of the brakes, these were items that were definitely marked down on J.D. Power surveys, so maybe that was a better thing to go after.
 
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7. No wagon release...when others have already left the starting gate....the GM horse is still in the stall wondering where the jockey went...

**** dude, you must be in a bad mood. You need to get some p*ssy.

Well they had the Nomad which the automotive press killed. I thought it was cool, even back then. With the sleeker front end, it looks even cooler now though.

GM is about ready to have import owners stopping at stop lights next to these 'bad boys' GM has coming out, and having them thinking to themselves, "What the **** is that?! That is f*cking cool!", then seeing who makes it and really putting them back on their heals. Will they go to showrooms and get out their checkbook? That is the big unknown. And that is GM's mission, to visualize import owners getting out thier checkbook at a GM dealership.

I'm cautiously opptimistic the auto consumer will return to Detroit.

<_<
 

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Originally posted by MelvinJ@May 25 2004, 11:44 PM
I think this is great, and I wish they would fix more things as they go rather than wait for the next complete redesign.
Constant improvement... Now what other successful auto company uses that as its guiding principle? In fact, I like the way that this idea seems to be permeating other GM divisions. A useful example might be the constant improvement/proliferation of the Escalade series at Cadillac: introduce the "short wheelbase" Escalade, the EXT, then the ESV, and now the Platinum edition. Gee, and sales continue to grow.

It's not like GM hasn't done this over decades past; it just seems that the changes may be becoming more relevant, no?
 

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I was fascinated by the notion of a unit body, front drive pickup. I have this series I call "specious supercar history" originally done as an excercise for a portfolio for the Art Center of Design. I think this one is short enough to post here. I did this around 2001. It was before I knew Olds was going to die, and after the SSR concept appeared - I'm thinking 2001. Anyway in this article the SSR is developed as a transverse engine, V-8 with full time four wheel drive intended for street use. This is SSR would be more of a mainline vehicle rather than halo, and shares most parts with a front drive S-10 pickup. The S-10 shares the Impala platform because in this alternate universe, there is no SUV loophole in CAFE or safety laws.



MOTOR TREND, OCTOBER 2003
In that grand scheme of product placement, GM was an originator of the “specialty car”. Bill Mitchell gave us the “personal” specialty cars of the sixties and seventies, which strayed away from the coupe sedan and wagon version of a given chassis. The specialty cars, like the Toronado had only one body, not even a convertible was available. Gradually, first with the ‘53 Corvette and ‘55 T-Bird, then the compacts of 1960, then perhaps with the Mustang, then the ‘66 Dodge Charger, ‘69 Grand Prix, ‘74 AMC Matador, and ‘75 Cordoba we began to think of each body configuration as it’s own model. No Cordoba wagons, no Grand Prix panel deliveries. Subcompacts of the seventies, like the Chevy Monza, furthered this “purpose built” idea.

Then came the Plymouth Voyager. Chrysler had the thing in the works in pre-Iaccoca days of 1976, but they didn’t come all the way through till ‘84. It wasn’t just a short wheelbase passenger van, this was a revolutionary new layout with a lower floor and car-like handling. By the early nineties, we had come all the way into model specificity in chassis layout. A ‘92 Mercury Grand Marquis was a four-door sedan of full size. Once this would have been the basis for many chassis variations, coupe, convertible, wagon. But by then, even the bread and butter Marquis became a sort of “specialty car.” A Corsica was only a four door, a Beretta only a coupe with totally different styling.

Pickups are most like the way cars once were. In fact a Model A could come as a pickup, as a mere chassis variation of the one line. Pickups can be two or four doors, two or four wheel drive, and of course there are the varied g.v.w. ratings for the one, half and three quarter ton derivations and the good ol’ long or short bed. You once could get the widest array of engines and other optional equipment, all under the umbrella of the “Silverado” model.

The purpose built “specialty” phenomenon, fueled by our SUV fever, has now convinced GM to divide its truck line between GMC and Chevy and then further into many distinct models rather than a vast array of variations on one theme. GMC and Chevy will divide the spoils with distinct front drive compact models to replace the 2003 Sonoma and S-10 pickups. Chevy will get a slightly smaller full size truck, with car-like construction like a “step down” floor pan derived from a perimeter frame, while GMC’s are longer, wider and taller than last year, now based on a traditional ladder frame shared with full size vans. So, taking a page from the Ford truck book, GM gives us two “big” pickups. Quirks to GM’s new separation of Church, State, GMC and Chevy, is the fact the Chevys will come standard with 5 speed manual and V-6, while GMC gets the 4spd auto and V-8 with the stick shift optional. GMCs get AC and a cassette player standard where you must pay extra for every thing on the Chevy north of power steering, brakes, am fm radio and a reclining bench seat.

The same “specificity” in models holds sway among the SUVs. For example, there is only a four door, 4x4 Blazer now and GMC gets no Envoy or Jimmy badge-engineering version. GMC will not sell the old S-10 based Sonoma pickup either. Even more radically, it is a front drive model, based on the Chevy Impala body shell, but with an added iron frame rails to hold the bed. It looks as tough as ever, but payload ratings are much, lower, even with the optional 3.4 V-6, because the tongue weight of the trailer takes weight off of the drive wheels, instead of rear, load-bearing wheels. Don’t panic, they didn’t axe the 4x4 option. Plus, a full time transfer case will be standard on the luxury Blazer and SSR coupe. This will raise the tow rating, nearly as high as the old 5000 pound rating for the 4.3 V-6 model. GM wants to steer those with 5000lb plus towing needs toward the Chevy Tahoe, which now rests on the three-inch shorter Silverado short bed pickup frame of 114 inches of wheelbase. There is no more Chevy Suburban. The name goes back to its original owner, GMC, on a new bigger, Ford Excursion scale goliath of 144 inches of wheelbase. Incidentally all big GMC’s are now 80 inches wide.

GM is gambling that reducing that old chassis flexibility as well as the “brand engineering” of old will make each of it’s trucks seem unique, and like certain Chrysler models, incomparable to other brands. It also happens to be faster and cheaper to manufacture one model, without much variation in optional equipment, an argument old school, bean counting GM couldn’t ignore. But GM is now following Chrysler’s proven strategic lead, unlike in its thriftiest days of 1950’s “planned obsolescence” when the other big two cowered before GM’s mighty hand.

The model we tried out at long lead press preview tested here, the Chevrolet SSR, is perhaps the most “purpose built” in its unique new layout. It is exactly as long and tall as the Chevy S-10 truck, but uses a five-foot bed, composed mostly of overhang. The front fenders and headlights are the same as the S-10, only the lower, plastic body panel is smoother and wider by a half inch than the S-10’s making it 73 verses 72 inches wide. The lower panel connects to a steeper raked bumper/fascia it shares with the Z-34 S-10 truck. The main difference between the S-10 and SSR is that it gets a steeper raked windshield and the rear fenders flow into the cab, like the old El Camino, rather than the traditional separate cargo box. In fact, Ford actually built F-100s with integral boxes in the early sixties. This model is the only “extended cab” compact Chevy truck, and is stuck with the 111” wheelbase common to all GM compact size trucks. Whether you order short or long bed S-10, Blazer, or SSR, you will get a 111” chassis, which will be shared with next year’s Impala. The SSR has the familiar side facing rear seats, but long, coupe doors which aid rear seat entry enormously. This truck is actually the closest thing to a Pony car made at GM these days, since it emphasizes the vices of lust and daring that muscle cars were once known for. It is, for now, the only compact GM truck with a 4.0 liter V-8. However, don’t be shocked if it works its way into an upcoming luxury Blazer that also uses the SSR’s low ride height four-wheel drive system. It is a sixteen valve version (again, borrowed from the Impala) of the smaller 32 Valve Cadillac Northstar V-8, used in the Olds Aurora. It is the only engine available, in keeping with the “specialized” model theme, and it uses only the Impala SS’s 5 speed clutch-less manual.

GMC will have a version of the SSR. Named the “Amarillo,” for now it is the only compact GMC pickup you can buy. It comes only with the V-6 and 4speed automatic, and will emphasize big car luxury rather than performance. The GMC version will be available in front wheel drive, unlike the SSR, whose extra punch needs the addition of rear drive wheels to get all the power to the pavement. The GMC Amarillo 4x4 will share the 4x4 S-10 pickup’s rear leaf springs and a taller ride which are higher than the SSR, and meant to reflect its off road application. The Amarillo transfer case is locked since it has no inner differential and is hence, not a “full time” unit intended for street running. Unlike in the SSR or Blazer, which have a permanently engaged, one speed transfer case ratio of 1:1, the Amarillo 4x4 gets a floor mounted shift lever to engage its single ratio of 1.4:1. The intent here was to totally change the character, and the constituency, of the GMC without varying the ingredients that much. For the winter auto show circuit, GMC will introduce an Amarillo based SUV, that, Chevy will not share, called the Safari. GMC’s new, more expensive fare is supposed to reflect on the value of Olds and Buick cars which, GM would have us believe, are worth about half again as much as comparable Chevys, and 1.25 times as much as a similar Pontiacs.

The SSR base price is a mere $19,800. Less than the old Z-28, which didn’t have a clutch-less five speed or four wheel drive. However, niceties like, air conditioning and power windows and locks, which we have come to see as bare necessities, are optional on the SSR, whereas the GMC offers them as standard. You don’t get standard aluminum wheels either, merely six-slot color keyed steel wheels with bright hubcaps meant to evoke manufacturing convention in 1940. Some Amarillo options, like a leather interior, OnStar navigation, and even GM’s Night Vision feature, are not even available on the SSR. This SSR cost cutting is supposed to contribute to the SSR’s “retro” character as a bare bones street rod of days gone by, even though the SSR styling, both inside and out, differs only in trim and colors. The SSR gets body color gauge cluster panel, center console and glove box, while it’s all gray inside the Amarillo. But if you want an S-10 extended cab, the SSR is the only game in town. The full regalia of options available make it a $27,000 vehicle, decidedly not a compact price for the compact truck. The lower content level does reduce weight, and that can only aid the SSR in its muscle bound mission. While not quite as fast or nimble as the 2000 Z-28, it still evokes all the sights and sounds of yester-year, along with that vigorous V-8 thrust. 0-60 mph times of 6.9 seconds, and a quarter mile e.t. of 15.3 at 92mph, place the SSR squarely against the popular Mustang GT. In fact, all wheel drive practically glues the SSR to the pavement, allowing the Chevy truck to best the Ford pony car’s slalom times. Distributing the torque to each wheel allows the front tires to hang on a little longer in turns, aiding the SSR’s very athletic .83 lateral G rating.

The SSR has a lot more to recommend it than the old Z-28. The 60” tall roof makes entry and exit a breeze, even for us aging baby boomers who don’t bend quite the way we used to. The higher chair height gives a much more commanding view of the road, something truck buyers always report as a major boon. Real life, chubby, American adults can actually sit in the side facing backseats, even for longish trips. The long coupe doors evoke the old street rod, and also make the newly extinct S-10 extended cab’s half doors unnecessary. The truck bed had the optional hard cover with a hinged door to provide access. In affect the bed becomes a 38 cubic foot trunk, about double the size of the biggest Cadillac car trunk. Even fuel economy is better than in the old 5.7 liter V-8 Camaro, despite full time four-wheel drive. This package is much more practical and utilitarian than a muscle car and erases our wistfulness for the extinct Camaro.
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@May 25 2004, 03:55 PM
leadfoot85, is it me, or are you having a bad day? (I'm not saying that tongue-in-cheek)
Yes, I was having a bad day yesterday....but I stand behind my opinions...except for the truck deal...that was jumping the gun a little...however, most agree the GM Silverado/Sierra IS becoming dated.

Yes...Chevy SHOULD produce the NOMAD.

GTO was a mistake in its current form - blah and boring...

don't be angry...it is just an argument... :argue:
 

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Originally posted by KingElvis@May 26 2004, 10:11 AM
MOTOR TREND, OCTOBER 2003
...This package (SSR) is much more practical and utilitarian than a muscle car and erases our wistfulness for the extinct Camaro.
What planet do these MT guys live on anyway.....I don't see a $27K SSR and I believe the 0-60 ET for most '98-'02 Camaro coupes were ~5.1 sec.

Is this guy reading the facts right or what? :blink:
 
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