GM reverses course, says revised version of Zeta rear-drive architecture is back on track
DETROIT - Six months after General Motors halted plans to use its Zeta rear-wheel-drive car architecture in North America, the company has revived the program.
In an interview with Automotive News last week, Jim Queen, GM's vice president of global engineering, said a revised version of Zeta is back on track.
Engineered at GM's Holden subsidiary in Australia, Zeta was expected to be the basis of the next-generation Pontiac Grand Prix and GTO; the Chevrolet Impala, Monte Carlo and a new version of the Camaro; and other vehicles. Vehicles in the program were expected to debut as early as 2006.
Queen did not discuss vehicles on the new version of Zeta or timing. Some vehicles that could be in the Zeta program include the next-generation Pontiac GTO as well as a Chevrolet coupe and sedans. They could debut by the 2009 or 2010 model year, say one company source and one industry analyst.
Queen said initial plans for Zeta stretched the architecture beyond its limits for some North American vehicles. "We needed to reassess and reconfigure the program," he said.
"As we started counting who was in and who was out of Zeta, we realized too late" that Zeta would not work in North America, Queen said.
Part of GM's reasoning in slowing Zeta's development was to focus on pulling forward its full-sized SUVs and pickups. GM's next-generation SUVs will debut early next year.
At the time, GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz wrote on GM's FastLane blog that GM had "canceled & plans to build rear-wheel-drive vehicles off the Zeta architecture."
"But that does not mean we've canceled plans to build rear-drive vehicles altogether," Lutz wrote. "We are simply reallocating resources (human and financial) to pull some other programs ahead and get other vehicles to market sooner."
The revised Zeta program is being developed in GM's Australian engineering center. The vehicle line executive on the program is Gene Stefanyshyn, the former vehicle line executive for GM's Epsilon, or mid-sized cars, in North America.
A GM spokesman said no product plans have been approved and that GM still is studying design themes, performance characteristics and variants for Zeta vehicles.
GM uses the term "architecture" to signify a common set of components, performance characteristics, a common manufacturing process, a range of dimensions and connecting points for key component systems.
(end of article)
Likely Challenger: Dodge prepping a rear-drive coupe to take on Ford's Mustang
RICK KRANZ | Automotive News
Posted Date: 6/13/05
DETROIT -- Watch out, Ford Mustang. Dodge is preparing a challenger.
In fact, it's likely to be called Challenger.
Chrysler plans to resurrect a respected name from the pony car era for a rear-wheel-drive Mustang fighter, industry sources say. The car is expected in 2009 on the LX platform, the basis of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum and Charger.
"It is a two-door, essentially a competitor for the Mustang," says Catherine Madden, a production analyst for industry research group Global Insight. "They are really excited about it."
Madden says the sport coupe is planned to debut in 2009, when the next-generation LX vehicles are scheduled to be re-engineered and restyled.
"They would be able to make some additional investment in the platform, make some adjustments for that product" at that time, she says.
"The enthusiasm for that product," Madden says, is "very big."
Chrysler hopes to sell 60,000 to 70,000 of the cars a year, she says. An assembly site was not identified. Production of the 300, Magnum and recently introduced Charger is expected to fill Chrysler's Brampton, Ontario, assembly plant.
Chrysler officials are not talking about the car, but industry analysts say they are familiar with the plans.
Jim Hall, vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific Inc., says he isn't sure Chrysler can pull it off. "They have a lot of stuff that has to be cleared off the table before they start playing around with that car," he says.
The redesigned 2005 Mustang has exceeded initial sales estimates. Ford expects to build 192,000 Mustangs this year, and most retail units are selling at a price near the sticker.
The 1970-74 Challenger was Dodge's answer to the original Mustang, as well as the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird, Mercury Cougar, and AMC Javelin.
(end of article)
Here is a 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible for reference (they aren't that common on the roads these days).
This Challenger originally had a 318 cubic inch V-8, but the car was restored and now has a 440 6-Pack, a shaker hood, and a hurst pistol grip.
Ford should build the Australian Ford Falcon here.
check this link for FPV (Ford Performance Vehicles)
The vehicle shown is a Ford FPV GT-P. The stripes can be deleted.