This morning's announcements from GM were met with a big public-relations offensive which included a special bloggers-only conference call with vice chairman Bob Lutz. TheCarConnection.com and Gaywheels.com were invited to be on this very limited call, the highlights of which appear below in brief notes:
2008 Buick Invicta concept
- Lutz says GM is fundamentally altering its product portfolio in the U.S. and it will resemble more closely those in Europe and Asia--with much more fuel-efficient vehicles.
- In regards to struggling Saturn, "Our worry with Saturn is that the franchise is not generating enough volume," Lutz said. "We had planned to short-cycle the Aura" and replace it with the mid-size Opel Insignia, he said. By holding on to the current Aura for a few more years, GM can conserve cash.
- Conversely, he says the Buick Invicta is one of "nicest things we've ever done." The car may not carry that name in production.
- "I hope fuel doesn't get more expensive," but Lutz says the introductions of vehicles like the new Cadillac SRX and Chevrolet Equinox will draw its lineup slightly down in size and dramatically higher in fuel economy.
- The new Chevrolet Cruze is expected to have 40+ mpg fuel economy in a package that's larger than today's Cobalt, Lutz says.
- He hints that GMC will get a crossover, substantially smaller than the Acadia, equipped with four-cylinder engines. GMC is expected to get a version of the new Chevrolet Equinox; it's "so different" you would never guess they were similar under the skin. (The GMC version is expected to be called the Terrain.)
- "As U.S. fuel costs approach fuel costs of the rest of the world...the vehicle park of the U.S. will come to resemble the vehicle park of the rest of the world."
- As for Pontiac, it's a vital part of the Buick-Pontiac-GMC group, he explains. Buick will be positioned at the premium end, with GMC selling trucks and crossovers. Pontiac will be low-end passenger cars. Offer "excitingly styled, fun to drive cars that are affordable," and largely based on Chevrolets.