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Old 03-12-2008, 07:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
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The Cars GM Needs To Make

GM has an unusual opportunity. With the introduction of their new diesels, intended for the light truck market and the prowess of their Powertrain Division, they could make a couple of cars that could get a lot of attention real fast.

First a qualifier. If a person knows anything about GM, they are masters of flexible engine/transmission packaging. Every engine they ever built will fit (with minimal mods) every car they ever built. If they are touting a 4.5 liter V-8, you can bet the farm that somewhere in the bowels of the Warren engineering center there is a 3.4 liter V-6 and a 2.3 liter I-4, and the transfer line for the V-8 can make the V-6 and I-4. That has been GM policy since Alfred P. Sloan and “Engine Charlie” Wilson.

First the easy one. Put the 4.5 liter V-8 into the new platform being sold as the Pontiac G8. Front engine, rear drive. Put the diesel and a T-56 six-speed into the same car and you are easily into the 40 MPFG class with a car one does not have to be a midget to squeeze into. When it is ready also put the 3.4 liter V-6 into the same car, same transmission probably good for the mid-40s.

Now the tough one. GM needs an “Insight.” A car that is fangs out for the MPG crown. Myself I would imitate the VW sex toy. Two seats, tandem arrangement, a small (<25 HP) diesel, manual or constant-mesh transmission, a narrow four-wheel layout, and a composite body. With a tandem layout, frontal area could be cut 40-50% and not sacrifice this car to a midget-only market. GM could put in a new line at the Bowling Green KY Corvette plant and capitalize on the fact that work force knows how to make quality composite cars bodies. The car need not be a mass-market car any more than the Insight was, but it should be numerous enough to get visibility and make GM’s bones as a builder of high MPG cars.

Ford and Chrysler have atrophied to the point they simply cannot do something like this. Frankly I expect both to be liquidated within a decade. But GM can do it, by trading on existing strengths.

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Old 03-12-2008, 08:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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But the hummers make so much money!

Anyways, with the price of diesel absolutely sky rocketing compared to gas, I'm not convinced I want to drive a diesel. Right now a diesel engine would need to get near 48 mpg to beat the $/mile I get in my current, un-modded gasser. And even then, since I can already get the same $/mi, why would I want to buy a new car?
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Old 05-10-2008, 11:14 AM   #3 (permalink)
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About 30 years ago, GM tried putting diesels in cars. They got burnt really bad. Of course, they were basically somewhat reinforced Oldsmobile engines, rather than a purpose built engine. This may be a contributing factor to why GM chose to discontinue Oldsmobile, once their second most popular division. I suspect they are more than a little reluctant to head down the diesel passenger car road again.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Dave View Post
GM has an unusual opportunity. With the introduction of their new diesels, intended for the light truck market and the prowess of their Powertrain Division, they could make a couple of cars that could get a lot of attention real fast.

First a qualifier. If a person knows anything about GM, they are masters of flexible engine/transmission packaging. Every engine they ever built will fit (with minimal mods) every car they ever built. If they are touting a 4.5 liter V-8, you can bet the farm that somewhere in the bowels of the Warren engineering center there is a 3.4 liter V-6 and a 2.3 liter I-4, and the transfer line for the V-8 can make the V-6 and I-4. That has been GM policy since Alfred P. Sloan and “Engine Charlie” Wilson.

First the easy one. Put the 4.5 liter V-8 into the new platform being sold as the Pontiac G8. Front engine, rear drive. Put the diesel and a T-56 six-speed into the same car and you are easily into the 40 MPFG class with a car one does not have to be a midget to squeeze into. When it is ready also put the 3.4 liter V-6 into the same car, same transmission probably good for the mid-40s.

Now the tough one. GM needs an “Insight.” A car that is fangs out for the MPG crown. Myself I would imitate the VW sex toy. Two seats, tandem arrangement, a small (<25 HP) diesel, manual or constant-mesh transmission, a narrow four-wheel layout, and a composite body. With a tandem layout, frontal area could be cut 40-50% and not sacrifice this car to a midget-only market. GM could put in a new line at the Bowling Green KY Corvette plant and capitalize on the fact that work force knows how to make quality composite cars bodies. The car need not be a mass-market car any more than the Insight was, but it should be numerous enough to get visibility and make GM’s bones as a builder of high MPG cars.

Ford and Chrysler have atrophied to the point they simply cannot do something like this. Frankly I expect both to be liquidated within a decade. But GM can do it, by trading on existing strengths.
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Old 10-16-2008, 09:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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GM diesel experience?

GM built stationary, industrial and marine diesels...they even built a diesel airplane engine! They built them in many various configurations mostly two cycle.

They have never built a purpose built automotive diesel. V-8 GM diesels, aka Oldsmobile V-8's, were a laugh...any diesel engineer frowns on V type diesels anyway. Inline engines do best. There are German and other V configured marine engines and they are a maintenance nightmare.

There is a 14 cylinder inline 110,000+ HP diesel being built right now and used in super container ships for Maersk Lines (shipping co.)

Diesels are low rpm, high power engines...last forever and get the best bang for the buck/gallon. With rail injection; they are now quiet. A 3 cylinder is ideal for a nifty, quick high mpg 4 door sedan, albeit not so large a car but economical and long long lasting.

Watch Suzuki...clever engineers...just like the old Plymouth engineers many a year ago.

Ask me, worked on diesels all my life.
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Old 10-16-2008, 10:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Why do you say the "V" configuration is frowned on?
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Old 10-17-2008, 12:57 AM   #6 (permalink)
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If they built the high mpg platform, it wouldn't have to be diesel if their engines are as interchangable as you say. Let the customer choose.

I think they might be doing better to start from the Corvette. It's got a low profile, and I think will fit two people comfortably. (I've never actually driven one newer than the '60s models, though.) You no longer have to try to shoehorn a 4-500 hp engine in it, so you can shrink the nose and save weight. Do a body design with a low Cd, and aim it at the Miata/Mini market.

Another thing I think they (or someone) could do profitably is a SMALL pickup/delivery van, about the size of the old LUV. There are people who need a pickup for their work. The not-so-big 3 have suckered most of them into driving their oversized "full-size" trucks, often with crew cabs and such. But gas prices are going to persuade a lot of these people that they really could do the job with a small truck that gets double or triple the mpg.
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Old 10-17-2008, 01:41 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Ranger sales had tanked but they did show a spark of life when the fuel prices shot up...
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Old 10-18-2008, 01:47 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Except the Ranger isn't a small pickup, it's a midsized one. Nobody makes a small pickup any more: that's one of the reasons (another being that they keep running forever) you still see a bunch of '80s Toyotas on the road. I even passed a '70s model the other day, with magnetic sign on the door and bed full of landscape tools.
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Old 10-18-2008, 06:14 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I had a LUV in my younger days. Totally inadequate legroom. It was murder on my knees. It was also an unmitigated rust-bucket.

People don't really want small vehicles - they want fuel-efficient vehicles.
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Old 10-18-2008, 09:16 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesqf View Post
Except the Ranger isn't a small pickup, it's a midsized one. Nobody makes a small pickup any more: that's one of the reasons (another being that they keep running forever) you still see a bunch of '80s Toyotas on the road. I even passed a '70s model the other day, with magnetic sign on the door and bed full of landscape tools.
a ranger is the only truck listed as a compact.

rest are midsize and huge to me, i have a 98 tacoma and an 09 and there is a ton of size diference.

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