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GM Rear-Drive Plan Includes Big Cadillac, Big Buick

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While Ford bails on big rear-wheel-drive cars entirely and Chrysler reskins its existing 300/Charger lineup in 2011, General Motors is pushing ahead with an abbreviated version of its rear-drive plans.

As reported a few weeks ago, the Chevrolet Camaro is still in GM’s production plan. But GM's decision not to proceed with a range of rear-drive vehicles for Pontiac, Chevrolet and Buick has changed the financial case for the car, meaning the Camaro V-8s will probably be more expensive, and meaning a hybrid Camaro has become a distinct possibility, to keep GM’s fuel-economy averages from getting too far out of line.

But there are survivors in the GM rear-drive plan other than the Camaro. has confirmed that at least two other vehicles still will be spun from GM’s global rear-drive platform that will also underpin the new Pontiac G8.

The two divisions that will get versions of the new Australian-designed rear-drive architecture are Cadillac and Buick. reported last year that a big rear-drive Cadillac would be spun from the new rear-drive architecture, and that the Camaro had been delayed significantly so that the new architecture would be flexible enough to support more vehicles. That big Cadillac initially had been planned to replace the STS, but sources now report that the STS and the DTS could be replaced by a single vehicle engineered in Australia.

The other vehicle, a Buick, will likely replace the big Lucerne front-drive sedan, which shares its running gear today with the DTS. The Buick version would likely spawn a version that would let GM soak up the various commercial businesses that Ford will leave behind when it exits the rear-drive market sometime before 2010. That’s when the Crown Vic/Grand Marquis/Town Car lineup is retired and replaced with a Chicago-built, all-wheel-drive car.
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Comments (12)
  1. Further proof that of all the Detroit companies that GM is th eonly one thinking ahead. It is sad that Ford wont work with their aussie brothers to build a new long wheelbase Ford but it is only one of many dumb decisions made at Ford over a very long time. Good to see GM leveraging off Holden to make rear wheel drive Buick (as it already does for Buic in China). Tehir are dynamic advantages to rear wheel drive, that is why BMW and Mercedes stick with it despite packaging disadvantage to front drivers.

  2. In a recent interview with Alan Mullaly on Autoline Detroit we were told that Ford is now developing two rear drive platforms. One will be a new large Lincoln and the other for Ford products. You can check out the footage at

  3. This is indeed an encouraging article and nice news!

    But one thing flawed: There are recent reports of Ford announcing and developing a new RWD line, not abandoning it. The Panther body-on-frame RWD line (Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, Lincoln Towncar) is said to end around 2010 (it basically dates back to MY1979).

    I'm glad to see GM moving forward with their investment with Zeta, particularly with Cadillac and Buick, but, I still would have liked to have seen a RWD Zeta Impala successor. Who knows (and this could be wishful thinking) maybe a front-drive, stretched, long-wheelbase Epsilon II could serve as a mainstream Impala successor, but, perhaps a Zeta-based niche vehicle could run alongside it and be more luxury/performance oriented. The current Impala is being overshadowed by the successful new Malibu.

    Also, I've seen conflicting reports regarding Buick:
    1) A Lucerne successor being a RWD Zeta vehicle.
    2) A LWB, stretched Epsilon II succeeding the Lucerne, and a Zeta range-topper like the China Park Avenue sitting above it.

  4. Right GM cancelled the Zeta Chevrolet Impala, just so it could build a Zeta Buick Lucerne and sell it as a fleet vehicle for police departments and taxi cab companies! LMAO! Tick-Tock, Zeta's time is running out!

  5. The way I read it, the Zeta Buick will take over from the Lincoln Town Car's livery business, not as a police car or taxi. I'm glad to read this, and I hope GM has the guts to stick with at least this truncated large car RWD plan.

  6. Right - lost police taxi sales don't seem too bad when you consider that prom-night special stretch limos are pretty numerous in their own right. I'm sure coachbuilders will be tripping over themselves to get their hands on a Zeta Buick or Caddy when Ford finally comes to its senses and takes the Town Car behind the ol' barn and shoots it. In any event, the news bits seem to point to Zeta in NA being used primarily for premium vehicles, with the exception of Camaro. Caddy, Buick, and GMC are all potential homes for Zeta vehicles, and whether Pontiac continues to get one depends on how the G8 does. All hope is not lost yet for Zeta - hopefully the plan is to get creative with this version of Zeta while buying time to create a lighter more flexible replacement.

  7. Well according to the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, the vehicles that replace the Taxi and limos of New York city must meet the following standards.

    * meets highest safety standards

    * superior passenger experience

    * superior driver comfort and amenities

    * appropriate purchase price and on-going maintenance and repair costs

    * smaller environmental footprint (lower emissions and improved fuel economy)

    * smaller physical footprint (with more useable interior room)

    * universal accessibility for all users with a goal of meeting ADA guidelines, (wheelchair accessible)

    * iconic design that will identify the new taxi with New York City

    Zeta misses the boat on several of these standards. the short wheel base version of the Zeta is a fat heavy pig, coming in on average at 4200 pounds, I can just imagine what a stretched version of this vehicle will weigh in at, and with cude oil priced over 100 dollars a barrel I would think coach builders and fleet agencies such as police departments and Taxi cab companies would steer clear of this vehicle, as well as the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission, since the Zeta platform has a limited life span within GM itself. After all Mr. Bob Lutz himself, stated that Zeta will never meet the new CAFE standards that have been set by the U.S. Congress.

    Whether it's a police car, taxi or limo, those types of vehicles need to get good gas mileage, after all fuel economy is the bread and butter of limos, taxis, and even police agencies when it comes to budgeting money for new police crusiers. Higher fuel cost, means that a limo and taxi company must charge higher rates for transporting customers and police agencies will need more tax payer dollars to fuel these vehicles. What the commission needs to look for is a car that has a V8 that can meet the new CAFE standards without having to drop down to a V6, as I doubt any V6 would be able to take the wear and tear of daily fleet use, without incurring heavy maintenance bills.

    In the end Zeta has a limited lifespan, even as we speak the clock is ticking, Tick-TocK.

  8. Ah, Borger..there you are...hanging out here after you left C&G?

  9. Borger - how do you know this without being in upper level management at GM itself? I would think someone in that position would actually be promoting his or hers company's products.

    We should all keep in mind - GM is a full range, very global and very complex car company. It should continue to build and market products that are appealing to a wide variety of car buyers - it's what's expected from a company with such a rich and storied history. To publicly bash an entire product line that is probably for all intents and purposes, one of the best within in the company - is pretty arrogant if not just insanely foolish.

    Zeta and RWD is what GM desperately needs right now to become viable again in the eyes of buyers who skip right on past the Buick-Pontiac (and Chevy) dealers and head straight for Lexus and Infiniti. There's a ton of profit and customers to be had in this segment - my only complaint is where was Zeta 10 years ago when it would have been a logical replacement for the older BOF rear drivers?

  10. I don't believe you will find a Borger was ever a member of C&G, should you happen to check the membership registry there. As for how I know what I know, suffice it to say I know many things, and leave it at that.

  11. Hmmm...what you say is interesting Borger - in fact - you're very interesting....hehehe. :)

    Hey, at the end of the day, we're all just dumb car nuts wasting our time on the internet having some fun. But I do think GM should at the very least keep Caddy rear drive (to compete with the "Big Boys" like Bimmer, Mercedes and the 2 Japanese brands) and have at least 1 or 2 competitively priced rear drivers at Chevy and/or Pontiac to compete with the Mustang and the 350Z, etc...Whether it's Zeta or a smaller RWD platform (which I'd actually prefer in a way), doesn't really matter too much. Rear drive is important in the market - it's a driving experience that I think can't be matched by a mainstream front drive car (note I said mainstream, I'm sure there's some exceptions to this rule). Also, I think a good rear driver gives the company some real clout as well - look at all the accolades the press has given the CTS (and the G8 for that matter).

    With the upcoming Volt, and some of the re-badged as Saturns Opel cars coming over, there's no reason not to have at least a couple of good, solid, modern rear drivers to offer too.

    A G8 or Camaro may be sitting in my driveway at some point in 2009. If those cars didn't exist, I certainly could find an alternative somewhere else (think Lexus or BMW, or even Mustang) and GM would be out $30k + in revenue.

    Bottom line - plenty of market, despite fuel prices/CAFE, etc..for a solid rear driver or 2 in the lineup.

  12. To the person who the rude comments abou the Towncar, you are an idiot. Abandoning that market is going to hurt Ford, and that will serve them right. They shjould have designed a new full-size rear-drive body on frame platform to succed Panther years ago. People like you who laugh at the demise of these good cars and insult them for no reason really make me sick.

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