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From GM: kappa coupes and wagons on hold...

But developing a coupe, wagon or anything more on the architecture is a low priority, says Lori Queen, GM vehicle line executive for small cars .
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Whole article (it's short)...
DETROIT -- General Motors has slowed ambitious plans for a wide lineup of sporty rear-drive cars on its Kappa architecture.

Kappa is the basis for the 2006 Pontiac Solstice and the 2007 Saturn Sky -- low-volume, two-passenger sports cars slightly larger than the Mazda Miata. GM may sell a roadster in Europe as a Vauxhall or Opel.

But developing a coupe, wagon or anything more on the architecture is a low priority, says Lori Queen, GM vehicle line executive for small cars .

That is a change from a year ago, when GM displayed the Chevrolet Nomad wagon and Saturn Curve coupe concepts and touted them as likely Kappa derivatives.

"I think a couple of realities hit," says Queen. "We have an awful lot of mainstream, high-volume products coming out right now."

Those include GM's highly profitable full-sized trucks and new Saturn models. GM's redesigned 2007 full-sized trucks are scheduled to debut next January at the Detroit auto show.

With those programs under way, GM executives are allocating resources carefully. And, Queen says, "Niche vehicles are not at the top of everybody's list."

Also, GM wants to see how the innovative Kappa vehicles make it through what Queen calls "a totally new vehicle-development process."

GM cut costs for Kappa so it could keep sticker prices low. The Solstice is a bare-bones sports car with a sticker price promised under $20,000 by Vice Chairman Robert Lutz. The Sky will be priced a few thousand dollars higher because it will have more equipment.

Lutz also wanted the first Kappa vehicle, the Solstice, produced quickly.

Queen's team scrapped the traditional "alpha build" of a rough "mule" vehicle, testing ride and handling by computer simulation. GM saved time and money by using parts from other vehicles. For example, the interior and exterior door handles are shared with the 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The outside mirrors come from a Fiat model.

GM also is trying a new stamping technique, using hydroforming to bend sheet metal. That cuts costs and time.

Says Queen: "There are still a lot of people who want to see if I can pull this off before we start committing to doing half a dozen more."

Staff Reporter Jason Stein contributed to this report.
 

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Bah, that sucks. But it is very understandable with their current history of cars not doing as well as they expect (GTO, SSR). There's no point devoting tons of resources into developing a future set of designs around a platform/design mantra that you don't even know if it'll make it past its first year of eistance.
 

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I almost find this article disturbing. Not only does it put greater pressure on these roadsters to carry the factory and sell at expected volumes, but it almost sounds like there is a large movement in GM that is questioning the quality of these vehicles and their overall engineering.

They are skittish about the short development process, corner cutting, the viability of the manufacturing process, as well as the market size and I have a feeling profitability of the Kappa platform.

Its almost as if the bean counters have taken a second look at the numbers and are having second thoughts. They obviously have not given the OK to further develop the stretched Kappa platform at this point. Sounds like that RWD Sunfire replacement isn’t going to happen (although that isn’t a total surprise anyway).

This certainly makes the Solstice an extremely important vehicle for GM. Not from a sales and marketing standpoint, but from the standpoint of Bob Lutz’s new direction. A failure of the quick design time, impressive styling, and outside the box thinking are all going to be on trial with this car. He did push it to production after all. A success will be a win for Bob Lutz and the new direction he is trying to steer GM into internally. A failure may validate GM’s old ways in the eyes of many company execs and insiders, who have been reluctant to embrace Lutz’s new philosophies.

Even more important. If GM execs are worried about this cars quality and new build processes, maybe it isn’t the best car to buy in the first model year.
 

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Fformula88 said:
I almost find this article disturbing. Not only does it put greater pressure on these roadsters to carry the factory and sell at expected volumes, but it almost sounds like there is a large movement in GM that is questioning the quality of these vehicles and their overall engineering.

They are skittish about the short development process, corner cutting, the viability of the manufacturing process, as well as the market size and I have a feeling profitability of the Kappa platform.

Its almost as if the bean counters have taken a second look at the numbers and are having second thoughts. They obviously have not given the OK to further develop the stretched Kappa platform at this point. Sounds like that RWD Sunfire replacement isn’t going to happen (although that isn’t a total surprise anyway).

This certainly makes the Solstice an extremely important vehicle for GM. Not from a sales and marketing standpoint, but from the standpoint of Bob Lutz’s new direction. A failure of the quick design time, impressive styling, and outside the box thinking are all going to be on trial with this car. He did push it to production after all. A success will be a win for Bob Lutz and the new direction he is trying to steer GM into internally. A failure may validate GM’s old ways in the eyes of many company execs and insiders, who have been reluctant to embrace Lutz’s new philosophies.

Even more important. If GM execs are worried about this cars quality and new build processes, maybe it isn’t the best car to buy in the first model year.
:agree
I will wait until the following year to purchase a Soltice. This car is to new from every aspect - will have to wait until all the bugs are out.
 

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mceb said:
Yea looks like no replacement for Sunfire...
Sunfire Sunset
That is a little odd that they would not pick up a version of the Delta car. The Vibe is selling fine, but not every compact buyer is going to want a wagon. They sell a healthy number of Sunfire coupes. That is a lot of sales to turn your back on.

The Pontiac dealers are instead going to be pushing those people into Solstices.
 

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Is this more bad news for the solstice [email protected]#$%

Seems more and more bad stuff seems to keep coming up recently......when's the good stuff going to start coming??? :rolleyes

I know that's relative to who you are, not everyone sees the trunk space etc. as necessarily bad, but still, nothing good has been anounced for a while.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I don't see it as bad thing, more caution. They have several of these niche cars in the pipeline and they want to slow it down a bit before we have 52 kappas running around. Also sounds like they have bigger fish to fry and know these things are more "halo" and little profit for bottom line.
 

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mceb said:
I don't see it as bad thing, more caution. They have several of these niche cars in the pipeline and they want to slow it down a bit before we have 52 kappas running around. Also sounds like they have bigger fish to fry and know these things are more "halo" and little profit for bottom line.
OK, then it's a good thing :)...finally ;-)
 

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RODEO said:
OK, then it's a good thing :)...finally ;-)
The good thing is probably that we are worrying WAY too much over the things we are not quite sure about. I think we’ll all be pleased in the end.
 

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I think they are getting nervous about the actual benifit vs. risk of the whole Halo concept. I think they are nervous about the actual success of the Solstice and Sky. What if they do get beat up in the press? What if the cars are not as good as they look? It's one thing if you build a halo car and it's criticaly acclaimed, but if you build a halo and it gets panned, well then it draws bad attention to the company instead of good attention. If the press says the Solstice is only a pretty face without the performance to back it up, and there are issues with the top and trunk space, followed by recalls because the car was rushed to production, well it could have the opposite affect on the overall health of Pontiac than they wanted.

Making bold plans like a awsome roadster for under 20k, requires extreme attention to detail and effort if it is to be successful. Chances are, the Kappa program is sucking more resorces than were anticipated. To late to pull the plug, so the best thing to do is put the program on hold and see how the Solstice does in the press and showroom. This announcement doesn't mean the Solstice is going to suck, but it does sort of imply that GM is loosing confidence in Bob's direction for the company, and they do acctualy know all the details about the Solstice....

Totaly sucks though, sounds like no Nomad! :mad
 

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Do you think the possibility of their debt bonds being reevaluated and that their reported earnings are off 37%, might be the reason for their caution?
 

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nighttripper said:
Do you think the possibility of their debt bonds being reevaluated and that their reported earnings are off 37%, might be the reason for their caution?
This artical combined with the one about watching over production, leads me to believe that the share holders aren't to happy with the performance of the company and are making noises for GM to perform. There must be concern that there is too much pie in the sky thinking and not enough bread and butter. They now have to strike a balance between taking GM to a new level and producing immediate returns. Market issues always drive a publicly traded company. :rolleyes
 

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:agree Lets hope that the demand in the market improves, or we might have bean counters in charge of design:eek :crazy
 

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AeroDave said:
This artical combined with the one about watching over production, leads me to believe that the share holders aren't to happy with the performance of the company and are making noises for GM to perform. There must be concern that there is too much pie in the sky thinking and not enough bread and butter. They now have to strike a balance between taking GM to a new level and producing immediate returns. Market issues always drive a publicly traded company. :rolleyes
I agree. If I was a shareholder, I would like to see these exciting cars, but not at the expense of thousands of dollars in rebates on other cars that could and should be better than they are.

Your right, the Kappa probably is starting to suck a little more money than originally anticipated. Bob had a big fight to get the Kappa going in the first place. Not everyone at GM thought it was a very good idea, but he swayed them to green light it. Now that they are looking at anticipated costs and returns, plus the potential damaging press they could generate, they are wondering why they are doing it.

I think there is a tendancy at really large companies like GM to overlook niche vehicles too. When the beancounters get down to looking at what is worth doing, they are unimpressed with low volume cars, even if they make money. A $20K car selling at 20K units a year, even if profitable, still does not amount to very much profit to GM as a whole. Therefore, they begin wondering if they spent the money they are using on the low volume cars to improve a sedan that sells at hundreds of thousands of units a year, they may get a much greater overall return on the money.

This is certainly an internal fight between Bob and CEO Rick Wagoner (from the finance side, a beancounter). Rick brought Bob in to invigorate products and help change the company, but he also has to listen to shareholders and try to make GM profitable. If he has to prioritize things now, Kappa and its low volume is certainly a candidate to hit the back burner.
 

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Fformula88 said:
Now that they are looking at anticipated costs and returns, plus the potential damaging press they could generate, they are wondering why they are doing it.
I don't share your concern that press will be potentially damaging. I think they are going to fall in love with this car.
 

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Oh no not another Fiero!

Todays new cars are tested thoroughly before being brought to market to get out the bugs and refine them. Car manufacturers cannot afford another Fiero,Studabaker etc. It would absolutley kill their reputation and future car sales and with car sales already down it would be a disaster to bring a lemon to market.
 

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Therein lies the rub...

The thinking of a "ultra-flexible" platform is really mostly fantasy. It doesn't take much to change a mass-produced vehicle from what seems simple to insane amounts of build complexity.

Take, for example, the Solstice. Designed as a two-seater, with a wheelbase of 95" and change. You'd think you just stretch the wheelbase, add a few seats and cargo area, and KerPOW! you have a new vehicle. But wait...

Lengthening the wheelbase increases understeer. Hmmm. Have to change the steering gear to compensate. Ok, so now the steering gear is different. But wow - the car gained 250 lbs.

Maybe the suspension we designed needs a bit of adjustment, new suspension travels, re-design the wheel wells. Whew, a few more components that are different.

But wait, there's more - this new vehicle actually has cargo capacity - two extra people and a bunch more luggage space. When fully loaded, the understeer changes drastically. A bit more thinking and realization that maybe we need to change the tires, and tire sizes...

and that larger weight needs a more powerful engine, maybe even a V-6 (for which you did not plan on using in your original architecture in the first place)...

and the list goes on. Pretty soon you're so far away that you might as well have a new architecture - because, get this, roadsters are not 4-seaters or wagons. Big surprise, huh?

Remember the internet rumors - Holden was going to have their Kappa? Except it was going to have a twin turbo V-6, and 4-seats.... But when it made its De-BUTT at the Sydney Auto Show, the only talk about it being a Kappa was that the structure was similar in the way the Kappa architecture is similar to the Corvette... I think Holden found out that cramming a V-6 and stretching the wheelbase has more implications than they thought.

I'm not surprised by this at the least. Ever since H. Ford started mass producing cars, the automotive industry has been looking for flexible manufacturing architectures. It's the holy grail - and the reason that vehicle "architectures" exist today.

Simpleton views of vehicles without true knowlege makes this thinking rampant - they all have four wheels and a steering wheel, don't they?

Yes, they do, but only in the same way a giraffe and a house cat have four legs and a tail. :rant
 
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