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Discussion Starter #1
Interesting read on GM's decision to cancel Zeta platform.

Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman for product development, canceled development of the premium rear-wheel models for North America, according to two people familiar with the situation.

It was Lutz who first championed the new rear-wheel drive platform. The renowned car expert announced the Zeta program in 2003 as the industry was turning its attention toward rear-wheel drive vehicles.

But he pulled the plug on the North America models after determining the vehicles could not be engineered and assembled to sell at prices competitive with the popular Chrysler 300C, Ford Mustang and other models, without sacrificing quality and content.
Link:
http://www.detnews.com/2005/autosinsider/0503/21/A01-123402.htm
 

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It's interesting that GM can't figure out how to build a rear wheel drive platform that could not be competetive. Hah! There is nothing to RWD. Just take any old FWD, say a Taurus, or Monte Carlo and hand it over to NASCAR. They'll toss the FI in the trash while they're at it, but it will be RWD. What happened to the engineers that used to build RWD at GM, Have I missed something - are all the Chevy and GMC pickups FWD? Bob, it's called body on frame construction and you are doing it now, Colorado, Silverado. On a side note, my wife, enthusiast driver that she is says so what, she relies on FWD to get through the snow while her friends with RWD spin and struggle.
 

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achieftain said:
It's interesting that GM can't figure out how to build a rear wheel drive platform that could not be competetive. Hah! There is nothing to RWD. Just take any old FWD, say a Taurus, or Monte Carlo and hand it over to NASCAR. They'll toss the FI in the trash while they're at it, but it will be RWD. What happened to the engineers that used to build RWD at GM, Have I missed something - are all the Chevy and GMC pickups FWD? Bob, it's called body on frame construction and you are doing it now, Colorado, Silverado. On a side note, my wife, enthusiast driver that she is says so what, she relies on FWD to get through the snow while her friends with RWD spin and struggle.
achieftain,

you know it's not as simple as that. The 300 and the 'stang are RWD unibodies. BOF will be heavier - meaning you need more engine to get competitive performance, bigger brakes to stop it which is more expensive, and so on.

A rough example - the chrysler 300c is RWD unibody with 120" wheelbase. Its curb weight is right around 2 tons.

The SSR is a 2-seat convertible body-on-frame. It has a 116" wheelbase, but it weighs an extra 800 - 1000 lbs. It's missing THREE seating positions vs. the 300c, and has nothing but a box in the back. To go 0-60 in roughly 5.5-6 seconds, the SSR needs about 400 horsepower.

The 300c only needs about 340-370 horsepower.

BOF has strength advantages - but usually at a weight penalty.

All the NASCARs use the same chassis - basically a hand-built tube frame equivalent of a unibody, because it is weight efficient.
 

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The bottom line is that while Ford and DCX were figuring out how to preserve or take advantage of their global RWD platforms, GM was busy working on trucks. In the meantime, instead of nurturing the F-car platform, they killed the only mid-size RWD platform that had a chance of at least evolving into a low cost smaller (not Kappa size) RWD platform - in deference to the CTS platform.

The timing sure doesn't help...
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Sounds like it could have been a cost cutting move made in response to the financial woes? I read somewhere else that platform could be resurrected later.
 

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It doesn't seem to make much sense to me, since it sounds like they are still going to develop the platform for other markets. I thought one of the benefits of the platform was going to be that it would be designed for the start for use in the US as well as other markets to cut the development costs. So if they are going to develop it anyway, how much more could it really cost to develop a US platform.

S-man has a good point on what the competition has been up to also. However, its based in part on the competition's partners. Ford has done an amazing job at integrating its global platforms and taking advantage of its partners platforms and engineering strengths. The Mustang platform has roots in the Lincoln/Jaguar DEW platform. The 500 (fwd/awd) from the Volvo S60 platform. The new Ford Focus (not in the US) and Mazda3 on the Volvo S40 platform.

This is what Chrysler is up to also, using outgoing Mercedes platforms under new Chrysler models. (E-class under the 300, SLK under the Crossfire). Some initial reaction might be to criticize this move because those platforms are now a generation old, however I think its really a genious move. A prior generation Mercedes platform is probably going to be as good or better than any lower cost automaker's current platforms. So it allows Chrysler to put really high grade platforms under cheaper cars to make them much more competitive, and they don't lose their shirts financially because Mercedes already recovered a large share of the development costs. It also helps keep Mercedes an exclusive brand, since they are not sharing their new platforms with lower priced/branded cars.

GM on the other hand does not own any companies like Volvo, Jaguar, Mazda, or Mercedes with really good engines, platforms, etc to draw from. They do have Saab which benefits GM's 4 cylinder turbo engines, but that has not really helped GM much in North America so far. Their 20% of Subaru has netted them the Imprezza platform, but again, thats not been much of a help. How about a Pontiac built on the Legacy platform? I do not see where Suzuki or Daewoo add anything other than low budget vehicles to compete in developing countries and against Korean imports. They don't seem to be getting any real benefit from Opel or Holden either. My point, GM has not made the aqcuisitions (or been acquired) companies with some world class platforms and componentry like Ford and Chrysler have. Therefore, GM has to develop their platfoms themselves to keep up with the platform sharing going on at those other two companies. I don't know if its ultimately more costly or not, but it certainly isn't as easy or quick.

I think killing Zeta could be a huge mistake. Throwing all their efforts into trucks right now could be a huge error if gasoline prices continue to rise, and truck sales begin to decline. Not only will their resources all be tied up in vehicles that are losing popularity, they are pulling resources out of vehicle segments that are gaining popularity.

Can GM wait until beyond 2008 for some all new cars to show up on its lots?
 

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Wow, I dind't even realize the Zeta was dead. I guess GM just needs to buy someone who has the know how, because as was pointed out, that seems to be how Ford and DCX are doing it. I wonder if Holdens cooking up something GM could use, because otherwise they're pretty SOL.

With the Zeta being dead now, I guess that pretty much killed all of the hopes people had for Firebird/Camaro revivals anytime soon. Because we all know you're not going to get a Firebird/Camaro out of a Kappa WITHOUT redefining what those cars used to be. But if they did that, then where would the Solstice be in the line-up?
 

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brentil said:
Wow, I dind't even realize the Zeta was dead. I guess GM just needs to buy someone who has the know how, because as was pointed out, that seems to be how Ford and DCX are doing it. I wonder if Holdens cooking up something GM could use, because otherwise they're pretty SOL.

With the Zeta being dead now, I guess that pretty much killed all of the hopes people had for Firebird/Camaro revivals anytime soon. Because we all know you're not going to get a Firebird/Camaro out of a Kappa WITHOUT redefining what those cars used to be. But if they did that, then where would the Solstice be in the line-up?
I actually think Holden is where this chassis might have been coming from as a Holden was supposed to be one of the units built on this platform. They did say that it was dead only for North America and not the rest of the world. This may tie in with the new Saab based Caddy for Europe only. GM is so sure that they cannot bring in vehicles from outside the country cost effectively, yet they bring the Aveo from Korea and surely they must have plants in Central America like Ford and DCX do.

SOlman I was just attempting to make a point that as big as GM is how can they not be right on top of what the other big boys are doing. And I know the truck chassis is not the answer, especially when Honda can bring out a full size unibody truck. Won't be too long before Toyota follows suit. The more times GM comes to the party too late with too little the quicker they will no longer be invited.
 

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achieftain said:
SOlman I was just attempting to make a point that as big as GM is how can they not be right on top of what the other big boys are doing. And I know the truck chassis is not the answer, especially when Honda can bring out a full size unibody truck. Won't be too long before Toyota follows suit. The more times GM comes to the party too late with too little the quicker they will no longer be invited.
GM being behind the foreign competition has a variety of reasons (or excuses, depending how you look at it). For years, about two decades, GM simply did not care about improving certain things. Essentially they neglected to do R&D to keep up. They did not concern themselves with interior designs and quality of materials because they wanted to save the extra $500 per car it would cost to do them top notch. They stuck with pushrod engines instead of developing new OHC engines as the competition did because it was cheaper to do so, and figured it wouldn't hurt their sales. However, 20 years later there are competing cars that have similar price tags, however their nicer interiors and smoother running motors make them seem like they are built better, and are a better value. So neglect is certainly one area.

A second is operating cost, and profit per vehicle sold. Toyota earns about three times as much profit per vehicle sold than GM does. That means Toyota is making about 3 times as much money that they can put back into their vehicles in R&D for improving engines, platforms, offering extra features, refining build quality, etc. They simply can throw more money at making their cars better than GM can at any one time, and this allows them to improve their vehicles at a quicker pace. Since GM has fallen behind, they now have to really catch up with Toyota/Honda and other competition while making less per vehicle than those companies are. That is a very difficult thing to do. Especially when your profit is still being erroded by rising legacy costs, and your market share is declining.

GM is in a tough spot to catch up. It would be a tough enough job for them to keep pace with their main rivals if their cars had been equal the last 20 years. Having to play catchup is exponentially more difficult.
 

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"Big Brother" Bob is definitely watching. No sooner than the news of ZEta demise makes the rounds and he posts a new rebuttal that performance RWD is not dead at GM, just reshuffled. "Rest assured, we remain committed to developing RWD, premium,
high-performance, affordable vehicles, perhaps even a few with a trace of nostalgia baked in." Lutz
http://fastlane.gmblogs.com/archives/2005/03/zeta_not_the_en.html#more
 

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:lol:

Yep. Seems a lot like the scene from broadcast news, where Albert Brooks calls Holly Hunter with a question for the anchorman, William Hurt to ask.

15 seconds later, William Hurt is asking the question on the national news.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
He's also reacting to major new outlets that are the ones actually saying the platform was dead.
 

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Thats great that he threw out that rebuttal, but when is he planning to make these "RWD, premium, high-performance, affordable vehicles, perhaps even a few with a trace of nostalgia baked in." From what I have seen, the Sigma platform (Cadillac CTS et al) is too expensive to sell at lower price points, and it could water down Cadillac. What else is there? I seem to be missing the RWD architecture they could use. Some on GMI think an extended Kappa could be the way to go, but they would really have to expand it to get it to mid-size proportions.

If Bob has another midsize RWD platform in the works, I bet he is also going to pull a rabit out of his hat for Easter.
 

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Fformula88 said:
Thats great that he threw out that rebuttal, but when is he planning to make these "RWD, premium, high-performance, affordable vehicles, perhaps even a few with a trace of nostalgia baked in." From what I have seen, the Sigma platform (Cadillac CTS et al) is too expensive to sell at lower price points, and it could water down Cadillac. What else is there? I seem to be missing the RWD architecture they could use. Some on GMI think an extended Kappa could be the way to go, but they would really have to expand it to get it to mid-size proportions.

If Bob has another midsize RWD platform in the works, I bet he is also going to pull a rabit out of his hat for Easter.
Nostalgia will be when in 10 years he reintroduces the Bonneville and SUnfire and says remember the Bonneville and Sunfire and such good RWD sedans they were. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Fformula88 said:
...Some on GMI think an extended Kappa could be the way to go, but they would really have to expand it to get it to mid-size proportions.
The thought crossed my mind about that :devil:
 

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achieftain said:
Nostalgia will be when in 10 years he reintroduces the Bonneville and SUnfire and says remember the Bonneville and Sunfire and such good RWD sedans they were. :lol:
RWD vehicle, nostalgia styling... I got it! They are planning on reintroducing the Chevette on the kappa chassis! :leaving:
 

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Fformula88 said:
Thats great that he threw out that rebuttal, but when is he planning to make these "RWD, premium, high-performance, affordable vehicles, perhaps even a few with a trace of nostalgia baked in." From what I have seen, the Sigma platform (Cadillac CTS et al) is too expensive to sell at lower price points, and it could water down Cadillac. What else is there? I seem to be missing the RWD architecture they could use. Some on GMI think an extended Kappa could be the way to go, but they would really have to expand it to get it to mid-size proportions.

If Bob has another midsize RWD platform in the works, I bet he is also going to pull a rabit out of his hat for Easter.
I'm still betting Holden has something in the pipe. The GTO is one of their normal production cars, that is also sold in Euro under the Holden name. I'm betting they've got something in the works to replace it eventually. As was said though this might have been the Zeta platform, however I'm betting it's not completely since GM keeps refering to future GTO models.
 

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Fformula88 said:
RWD vehicle, nostalgia styling... I got it! They are planning on reintroducing the Chevette on the kappa chassis! :leaving:
You got it! By the time they get around to the nostalgia thing the Solstice/Sky will just be a memory like the Fiero (hope not ever) so they'll reintroduce - hey wait a minute, maybe they are bringing back the Fiero, its RWD. :lol:
 

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Dead Zeta? That is just WRONG! :smash:

They kill the RWD platform just when the Chrysler 300 becomes a home run. Ford and GM both need to find an answer to this car. Maybe if they still built the 1996 Impala SS.
 

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jimbo said:
Dead Zeta? That is just WRONG! :smash:

They kill the RWD platform just when the Chrysler 300 becomes a home run. Ford and GM both need to find an answer to this car. Maybe if they still built the 1996 Impala SS.
I agree that GM needs an answer, but I suspect the Ford 500 might be a satisfactory answer at Ford. Ford has goofed up on the 500 launch, but the car as a whole is really strong. It doesn’t have the distinctive styling of the 300, but I think it does look good for a 4 door sedan too. The biggest problems where Ford’s fault by not having more AWD versions available, and for not having the new 3.5L Duratec engine ready at launch. Demand for AWD has far outstripped supply, and the 3.0L in the car is a little weak. However, more AWD is on the way, and once they can couple that with the 3.5L next year, I think this car will be a very strong seller.

GM on the other hand, GM doesn’t really have a large car to compete. They have the Buick Lucerne on the way, and the restyled Impala, but I don’t see either of those doing much more than keeping current LeSabre and Impala owners happy. Zeta could have helped.
 
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