GM and RWD

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GM has announced that, once again, they are considering a bunch of new models based on a RWD platform.
I guess they had to do something besides watching the 300C and Mustang sell like hot cakes.

The platform is being developped by Holden in Australia. So a whole team of Americans are now over there to work on these new US cars.
The prime candidates are the Buick Velite convertible, based on the 2004 Concept car. And of course the new Camaro. Which is said to be coming out first.
They are hoping in less than 3 years at a price similar to the Mustang.
They also claim the design will be pretty much what you see in the concept. (they ‘ve done it before with the Solstice)
But they also say the interior will have to be doned down in order to keep the V6 version price comparable to the Mustang V6.

The more surpising news are the other models they are considering:

-The next Chevrolet Impala. (They have actually designed 2 cars for this one. A FWD and a RWD version. So the final decision hasn’t happened yet.)
-The next Pontiac Grand Prix. (So they are really trying to appeal to the BMW crowd…)
-The next Pontiac GTO. (They are still trying…)
-A Buick flagship sedan. (Which would have to be ofer $40 000. Kind of a gamble. Unless the Anclave is a success. And people, by then, will be more accepting paying that much for a Buick.)

What do you think?
Besides muscle cars, do they realy need RWD? I guess that means all these cars will have V8s. A smart move?
(Gas prices are going up, again.)

By the way, Opel won’t use a version of this. It is too big for Europe.

Conversation 25 comments

  1. gas prices are going up but the v8 impala, has better gas mileage than the cts, and infiniti g35,if gm keeps the weight down, and keeps dod, the fuel mileage should be fine. the tahoes have always had better gas mileagethan the competition, and the new ones are even better. i think rear wheel drive will be good for gm, it will return gm to making passionate cars,that stir emotions. and many gms are good cars

  2. Just like those who drool over the prospects of driving around in a FWD 4 cyl Acura Civic, some of us like RWD V8s. MPG isn’t everything.

  3. it really depends what you’re talking about here. A V8 sedan isn’t exactly a road-carving switchback machine, but RWD is all about the turning, and general handling.

    However, its pretty funny that most Japanese cars have been FWD, since, those cars are generally lighter, more sprite, etc. while alot of the old glory American Muscle cars were RWD, but built to go in a straight line, where it doesn’t matter. Oh The Irony.

  4. GM has missed the train on RWD and it’s not a sound decision to invest billions on that. Ford already had a mustang that they could improve at low cost and Chrysler already had the platform for the 300 in the E-class from Merc.

    GM should invest in AWD instead and make their great DOHC engines more widely available with decent transmissions. I personnally have a Pontiac G6. This car is amazing but just needs a decent engine and transmission. They are so close to the competition but don’t go the extra mile to be the best. And they are paying for it because their cars need big incentives to get out of the dealerships. But hey, I pay my G6 the same amount I would have paid for a base Mazda 3…

  5. At least an Acura Civic won’t have body panel gaps that resemble the grand canyon…or power window switchgear out of my dad’s 1984 Blazer.

  6. I think this is a great idea and it’s about time. GM has long under-utilized their Holden subsidiary and now that GM is moving toward a “Homeroom” approach for global development (each area handles specific products — Europe: mid-sized cars, Korea: small-cars, etc.) they should get some truly well produced vehicles since everyone gets to do what they do best.

    Getting back to the RWD platform though, regardless of the fact that they’ll most likely have V8s, I don’t see this as being a bad move. They can always give them V6s as well and GM does have their DoD system too. Plus a RWD V8 hybrid wouldn’t be all that far off either. I personally can’t wait to see a RWD Pontiac G8, Chevy Impala and Monte Carlo and whatever Buick they decide to come up with. Plus, if this platform is flexible enough to build a full-sized Buick and Impala — and can still produce a small-ish Camaro and slightly larger GTO — then there’s no doubt that it could accomodate any number of vehicles. We could see a large number of RWD cars come to market in various guises.

    I think its a good move GM — now just get it done!

  7. For Mr Anonymous who onws a G6.
    How do you like the car? And what do you mean about the engine and transmission.
    GM is usually pretty good at smooth and responsive transmissions.
    I’m asking because I like the G6.

  8. I hope they go with the rwd because there is a lot more extra pressure ot make a suberb product. Just look at those hefty sales targets the camaro must meet to be profitable.

  9. All i’m gonna say is, GM Holden has two hot new cars coming this year that are large RWD. They will be available in Australia and other export markets, but the yanks wont get them… even though Holden tried to get the cars to the states… u can blame the unions when ur driving around in your crappy impalas and ford fivehundreds…

  10. When it is all said and done, what really matters is this:

    Is it a good car?

    There is no reason to gang up on GM’s V8s. DoD is allowing them to build high HP engines that get better economy than smaller V6’s. Not only that but they are doing it with regular gas, not premium. Those engines are starting to be attached to what appears to be an outstanding 6 speed tranny that was co-developed with Ford.

    I don’t think anyone would argue that there is a good business case for GM to start building the Camero, so it would only make sence to put more Zeta (or Zeta lite) platform cars on the road to reduce the development costs. The Velte, a REAL Impala (all Impala’s should be RWD) and a new Grand Prix (my speculation) would be good for GM. Not to mention all the possible crossovers you could get from that platform.

  11. Vince:

    I’m the Mr. Anonymous… who owns a G6 GT.

    I thought I was buying a sporty car. After all, it handles great and has good accelerations. But the old technology of the engine makes it great at low revs but it looses its strength at higher RPM. Also, the automatic transmission lacks one speed at least. The big difference in ratio between the 4th and 3rd gear that you feel during hard acceleration on the highway is really anoying. (The 4th gear is unusually long) (I used to have only manual transmissions so this could explain my annoyance on this one) This transmission is VERY responsive though. It felt better than the 6 speed auto from the Mazda 6…

    So this car prefers to be driven smoothly…And it’s great at that. It offers Great comfort on the highway and incredible fuel economy (better than a mazda 3 and my previous Protege 5) (sometimes 33MPG at 67m/h on the highway)

    The level of quality of the car is really good so far. And there are so many gizmos on this car, it’s amazing. The lights open by themselves, the rear window defroster opens automatically when you remote start it when it’s cold outside, the climate control opens by itself in some conditions, and SO MANY more. It feels like a luxury car for the price of a mazda 3.

    The bottom line is that I recommend buying one but with the 6speed manual transmission. (for those who like sporty driving and that can handle the manual…)

  12. Sorry to be a party pooper, but GM will continue to disappoint. The new promises of hot RWD cars may come, but they will come with plenty of less than optimal features. GM management will not and cannot produce a product that satisfies. “Make it soft for the average driver” and “pushrods are good enough, don’t need anything else” and “customer doesn’t care”. are their bywords. If the Camaro makes it to market, it will lose money. Maybe enthusiasts will like it, probably will modify it to make it better, but they will still lose money. Remember the new big Buick sedan has a 3.8 engine from the seventies, and is built on the platform of the Riviera they killed years ago.

  13. I wouldnt’ be so sure Autohistory.

    You have done a good job of outlining GMs past and your engine comments are valid to a point but…..

    GM launched a new product a few days ago. The new Tahoe didn’t disappoint, it blew people away. I got to drive one last week and I admit that I was blown away. The interior better than ANYTHING on the market. The Sequoia, Expedition, and Titan look terrible when compaired to the BASE Tahoe interior. The Escalade interior is just simply amazing.

    Then we have the Enclave. That car was a VERY THINLY disguised production car. The interior that we saw is going into the production vehicle.

    Then there are some other new cars like the Impala and Lucerne. While I admit the Impala is a rather boring design, the interior is a huge improvement. The Lucerne, however is absolutely stunning.

    These are products that Lutz has been pushing for. The HHR was the first car we saw from Lutz and the worst (yet Chevy is selling every one of them) The Solstice was the next product with his full influence and pretty much everyone agrees that it is a stunner. From a design standpoint, GM has turned a corner.

    Back to engines. I agree that GM has been rather slow in engine development in terms of entirely new engines. However they have done an outstanding job of developing new technology for existing engines. DoD, alluminum blocks, mutiple valves. These and other improvements have allowed GM to produce high HP engines that get great or at least decent mileage and can do it with regular gas. These engines are also VERY affordable compared to their OHC counterparts and fit in smaller spaces because they aren’t as tall. GM’s new Camero may have between 350 and 400HP, yet it will likely get around 25MPG or more and still be priced in the $25K – $30K range like the Mustang GT.

    So yea, GM certainly needs to keep improving and should definately put more into engine development (especially something to compete with Fords new 3.5 liter)

    Oh, and a note on that new Ford 3.5 liter. 250 HP, just like Nissan’s 3.5 liter, but unlike the Nissan 3.5, it doesn’t need Premium. At least that is what Ford says.


  14. You can’t judge the health of the company by it’s new products, unfortunately. GM has way too many dealers. Typical GM dealer sells half as many cars as a typical Toyota dealer. GM needs to get rid of dealers, because it it they who force the company to make too many different models to satisfy them. And GM can’t close dealers, because they have been suing the company for every such action. GM has to buy dealers to close them. They only have enough cash to lose money for three more years, then they will be broke.
    So, not only do they need new models, but they have to support the retirees who built the company when it had 50% of the market, and get rid of dealers, and cut model proliferation. I don’t think it will happen.

  15. Another valid point about dealers.

    As suggested by Mr. York, Kerkorian’s spokesman, GM should kill off one or two more divisions. IMO, Pontiac, GMC, and Saab would be the two top candidates. York suggested killing Pontiac or Buick, along with GMC, Saab, and Hummer. I would agree with that assessment, except for Hummer. Hummer is one of the few bright spots for GM. Saab, of course, can still be sold.

    The question is, does Wagoner have the balls to do it. Also, can they afford all the costs in closing down divisions.

  16. Thanks to all for these informative statements.
    I havent’ driven the Tahoe yet, but sati inside. And it is very impressive indeed.
    I also like the Impala a lot.
    I think it looks better than the Camry, and has a very decent interior. Also need to drive on.
    About the G6. It seems that all it really need is the new 6 speed auto. Another nice GM car.

  17. A 6 speed and a redone interior. Its a great car but that interior is cheap looking crap. Put something in it like the Saturn Sky or Pontiac Solstice interior and the G6 becomes a winner.

  18. I too like the Impala; so much so that since 2001, I have passed up buying that car 3 times…why? ONLY because each time I test drove the then-current model, the handling left too much to be desired. (The Impala has always had the room, gas mileage, and value I craved.) Since the Impala is a CAR not an SUV, it should have responsive, precise steering, and good handling – in short, handle like a Dodge Neon or other tossable car, not worse than my Honda CR-V.

    Give me an Impala that handles like the current model Accord (without having to pay the price for the SS), and I’ll finally buy one! Because if it can match the Accord in handling and gas mileage, the extra room of the Impala, and greater “value,” will give it the edge.

    Moving on to the RWD vs. FWD issue – if GM intends to build wallowy RWD (and so far it has mainly built wallowy FWD, so I find it hard to believe it will deviate from its bias towards a cush, not taut, ride across its models) – why bother? The country already has enough wallowy Crown Vic’s from Ford from the last 15 years to keep RWD people happy.

    Now if GM intends to build RWD full or mid-size passenger cars that handle close to the GTO, AND have 50-50 or close weight balance, AND add the VERY IMPORTANT stability control that helps RWD match FWD in the basic stability criterion,then bring them on! Otherwise, who needs 70’s and 80’s era Camaros?

    But I still think for most purposes FWD is superior. With an average suspension if will do better than average RWD in all types of weather, but especially in the snow, plus you get more people and luggage space, and could even have a flat floor design for better mid-row rear seat comfort.

    With better than average suspension (Ion Redline, Cobalt SS) FWD is more than adequate, it’s pretty darn good. Even on basic cars like the Neon you can stiffen the rear-end and cut out a lot of understeer. Today’s much improved tires make up for the difference that “one axle is doing all the work (steering, braking, accelerating).”

    It’s only when you aspire to the BMW level of perfect “balance” in handling that RWD becomes important. And do we really think GM is going to build those types of cars, outside of the Corvette and Cadillac? Heck, DC isn’t really doing that with the LX line of RWD’er’s, except at the top of the trim line. The entry and midlevel versions are a little – wallowy.

    Personally, I don’t think DC is selling all those 300’s because they have RWD – they are selling because of their looks and the HEMI. DC hasn’t been able to duplicate that degree of success with the Magnum or Charger…

    If GM wants that type of success, they need an engine with brand identity, awfully good looks, timing, and a lot of luck.

  19. I forgot to mention that the DC LX platform cars (300, Magnum, Charger) are all a lot heavier than the Impala, and therefore use more gas. The Impala is a veritable model of large (to me) car efficiency. Adding RWD would kill all that. Just make it handle better – re-introduce “sports suspension” upgrades as an option, without having to pay the SS tab. I want a 3.5 Impala LS – but with sport suspension and upgraded tires (I don’t even need cast aluminum wheels, which are often heavier than steelies).

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