“something big, fun, and dramatic” for this year’s Los Angeles auto show. He went so far as to describe this surprise as a “linchpin” of the Chevrolet brand.
The obvious conclusion would be a hot new car,
but on further inspection, it doesn’t hold up. Most of Chevrolet’s
lineup is all-new or recently refreshed. The widely panned Malibu is
getting an emergency update and the Cruze is doing so well they’ve
pushed back the next model. The Sonic, Spark, Impala, and SS are all new
or close to it, as is the Silverado and the upcoming Colorado. The
Traverse was recently updated and the next-generation Equinox is due soon. Even the Corvette is all-new and the Camaro was just updated.
A production version of the popular Code 130R concept,
which GM unveiled at the 2012 Detroit auto show, is also out of the
question. When asked specifically about the Code 130R concept, Reuss
said he still wants to build the car, but demand isn’t there yet. While
he sees an untapped market of young people in the U.S. currently buying
used rear-drive cars, he doesn’t see that same market globally. In order
to make the Code 130R work financially, it would need to be sold in
several markets around the world and Reuss doesn’t think there are
enough buyers yet.
Why, then, does a new platform make sense? Several reasons. First,
because we later pressed Reuss and he hinted that GM is working on a
modular architecture like Volkswagen’s MQB platform.
Common platforms that can be stretched or shrunk in any direction to
fit any vehicle are a huge money saver for automakers as they cut down
on development costs and parts costs. He also confirmed that the
announcement won’t be limited to the Chevrolet brand.
Reuss, an engineer at heart, also allowed in a separate question that
GM cars are currently too heavy and need to lose weight to maintain
competitiveness. Weight, when engineered into the platform, is tough to
eliminate without re-engineering the platform. Case in point: Reuss’ baby, the Camaro Z/28, only dropped 100 pounds compared to a Camaro SS despite a huge amount of effort put toward weight savings.
There’s also precedent. GM has long been a believer in platform
sharing, sometimes to a serious fault. These days, though, the company
has been smarter about differentiating models on the same platform.. A
single modular platform replacing a variety of car and crossover
platforms would take this strategy one step further, if done right.
Reuss did have a few things to say about product, though. Biggest on
our radar was his promise that more diesels will be coming in the
future. We think it will start with the new Colorado small pickup, which
we reported back in March. If that truck and the Cruze Diesel are
successful, we hope to see small turbodiesels proliferate throughout
Chevy’s lineup. Likewise, we hope Nissan’s decision to put a diesel
engine in a light-duty pickup will spur GM to follow suit. Diesels
aren’t the only alternative powertrain coming, either. Reuss also
promised more electric vehicles from Chevrolet on top of the Spark EV
and the Volt plug-in hybrid.
Finally, Reuss confirmed that the updated Silverado HD is on its way,
as are the Tahoe and Suburban. We know the Tahoe/Suburban’s platform
mate, the Cadillac Escalade, will debut in early October, so the
Chevrolet SUVs can’t be far behind.
Thanks to: Motor Trend