General Motors is to revamp its entire mid-size car line over the next three years, focusing on fewer, yet stronger nameplates.
“GM is stepping up its efforts in this core segment, the largest in the industry, with a portfolio of ‘gotta-have’ vehicles that will cater to more diverse customer groups than ever before. New bodystyles, powertrains and performance packages created for each nameplate are being developed to increase volume and provide a greater range of options and pricing for the customer,” GM said in a statement.
GM currently sells over 1.1 million mid-size cars a year in the United States, more than Honda and Toyota combined and claims its planned mid-size range will continue to be the broadest, most comprehensive in the industry.
GM plans to debut at least 10 new or restyled mid-size vehicles by 2006, beginning with the 2004 Chevrolet Malibu and Pontiac Grand Prix.
“The mid-size segment traditionally has been a GM stronghold,” said Bob Lutz, vice chairman, product development, and chairman, GM North America. “GM intends to re-establish its strength in the mid-size market with a lineup of high-quality, innovative and visually appealing mid-size cars that rank with the best in the industry.”
GM’s overall goal is maximum market coverage with maximum cost efficiency thanks to flexible vehicle architectures and improved plant and product quality.
“As we phase out the Oldsmobile Intrigue and Alero, we will refocus our efforts on our remaining divisional entries,” said executive director, global market and industry analysis, Paul Ballew.
Epsilon will also be the foundation for the next generation Pontiac Grand Am and a Saturn L-series replacement.
Debuting in the fall of 2003, the new Malibu has a stiffer body structure claimed to significantly improve handling and interior acoustics. The new car is slightly smaller and more aerodynamic outside yet more spacious inside than its predecessor.
Jewelled lighting features, a chrome front bar and a gold Chevy bowtie highlight the contemporary lines – making Malibu the first passenger car in the Chevrolet lineup to show off the division’s new, next-generation family look.
Also in the 2004 model year, the Malibu name will expand with the Maxx, a new bodystyle that takes shape as a five-door extended sedan.
The new Pontiac Grand Prix has a muscular appearance devoid of the division’s recently used and much-criticised plastic cladding or other add-ons, with clean, sculpted sides and a wedge-shaped profile.
The next-generation WideTrack Handling System is claimed to harmonise suspension, steering and chassis components for outstanding vehicle control and a precise, on-centre feel.
Meanwhile, the new Competition Group, optional on the GTP model, provides a suspension package capable of delivering .83 lateral gs – world class for a front-wheel-drive car.
The new Grand Prix will be built on GM’s premium platform for larger mid-size cars, which also includes the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo, and the Buick Century and Regal.
In addition, GM’s upcoming mid-size lineup will make “extensive use of the company’s line of global powertrains”, which suggests some engines will come from Europe or a new global V6 production facility at Holden in Australia.