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GM Puts Hold on Development of RWD Vehicles Pending CO2, CAFE Regs

Chicago Tribune. In an interview with Tribune auto columnist Jim Mateja, GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said that the company was putting a hold on the development of future rear-wheel drive vehicles until regulations on CO2 limits and fuel economy are sorted out.

Rear-wheel drive cars tend to be larger and heavier than front-wheel drive or are high-performance cars.

So it comes down to the matter of fuel economy. Or as Lutz says: “We don’t know how to get 30 percent better mileage from” RWD cars.



The 'threat' of CO2 regulation seems to be having a positive effect of the industry, go figure.


Errr, maybe they could try putting a smaller more efficient engine in !
this guys comments are that of a school boy whos had his pocket
money cut off , makes me want to puke !


Smaller engine does not equal more efficient if it has to work harder to get a heavier vehicle up to speed.



Smaller engine is more efficient *because* it is working harder. Gasoline engines are less efficient at part load, hence efforts at cylinder de-activation, etc, to overcome this inherent property.


Cervus :

here in europe we have many gas and diesel engines which push out
more than 100 bhp per litre , GM seem to be able to do it over here
so why can they not do it over there ?
I think that we both know that they have become too lazy,
too used to being spoon fed by administration , and the american
public . why is it that Gm can make a car in europe with a displacement
of 2 litres pushing out 180 bhp and returning 32 mpg US , yet in america
it all seems to fall to pieces!



Mostly because they can't make a profit selling small cars here. They lose money on every Cobalt sold due to legacy costs. So yes, they're going to focus on products with higher margins. But we've been over this before.


That's new to me. I always thought that smaller, less powerful engines meant less economy because you have to jam on the gas more in order to keep up with traffic. I know I have to push hard on my 250cc Reflex scooter to keep up on the freeway.

Ron Fischer

Lutz is trolling for help with opposition: "Why just look at how even the threat of CO2 legislation has already reduced consumer choice! Those RWD cars would be SHOWROOM MAGNETS (per the article) and could have turned it around for old GM (sniff) but alas..."

The idea that a company with the engineering skill of GM cannot build an efficient RWD vehicle is disingenious. But I say go ahead: eliminate CAFE. Call GM and the oil company's bluff on this. Watch what happens.


there is an economy of scale why not just make one car in each
level to sell throughout the world
For example Gm make a car in europe called the omega in
europe , ok its not the best in its class, but why not sell this product
in the states.


Because what sells in Europe does not sell here? GM is taking a risk with Saturn right now, bringing over some Opels as Saturns (the Aura and the Astera). If you go over to autoblog, whenver a European model is featured, you read a lot of comments about wondering what is up with GM that they don't bring these cars over here. Well, maybe they're actually following through now. But I doubt it's going to sit well with the UAW.


just read the article in full , and now I am going to puke
why don´t they just get on the blower to their workmates
SAAB in sweden and get them to walk GM America through
the procedure for squeezing every inch of horsepower out
of a 2litre block and also return decent mpg!
Don´t these people talk to each other !


Still there is one good by-product of this statement by Mr Lutz
if they are not going to put more work on RWD saloons , that
will give them more resourses to work on " The Volt" !


I'm disappointed with GM- but moreso with Lutz- in light of the fact that he is a former Marine Officer. Does GM pay him to whine?

Mr. Lutz, I'm sure "A Message to Garcia" was required reading at the Basic School when you went through. In light of your present difficulties, you might want to dust it off and read it again.

I realize GM's hands are tied by legacy costs and the intransigent UAW.

The domestics need to: 1. cut capacity, 2. drastically reduce their UAW footprint, 3. cut exorbitant executive pay, 4. stop diluting their vehicles through fleet/rental sales, 5. heed the demands of the market, and build what the market demands.

Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, BMW, and even MB continue to demonstrate that there is a valid business model for building cars profitably in the US.

Oh, and please quit whining. It's not professional.


Cervus, Nick:

Smaller engines can be more efficient overall, but it ain't necessarily so - especially with instationary uses, where real-world elasticity is of great importance. Downsizing is just one engineering- and packaging concept, no more, and actually it's a tough one to realize.
Plain engine size is one bad consumption indicator in comparing vehicles of more or less the same kind, performance and weight. GM's small blocks, for example, are ahead of european and asian competition in most of their installations. And that's proven right up to a bias of 2:1 in displacements (if we think of the contemporary ZO6 vs. the teutonic 911 Turbo), without inverting this!
Lots of false reception and urban myths in such classless reasoning. Try to imagine a 2.4 or 3.1 of 300 to 400hp in the new Tundra or Sierra pick ups, how it would save fuel and survive as the V8s do, and you know, what I mean. Might get worse than the Cayenne 4.5 Turbo's reality ;)
Please excuse my weird german english,



I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at, but I'm not proposing putting the wrong engine in the wrong vehicle. All I'm saying is that gasoline engines in cars spend most of their lives running at part load, with the throttle open only a little bit, an inherently inefficient situation due to pumping losses, etc. All other things being equal, a smaller displacement engine running the same constant load at a higher percentage of its full output potential--throttle more open, etc--will be more efficient, not even counting reduced friction, less rolling resistance, etc, simply because pumping losses will be less. Of course car designers have to make many tradeoffs, including power (acceleration) vs efficiency (cruising), and many tricks and tweaks have been developed to make larger engines more efficient at part load (e.g. cylinder deactivation) or get smaller engines to have higher power (e.g. turbocharging, higher engine speeds, etc.).

I agree pickups that occasionally pull boats need a lot of torque. Perhaps a clean diesel is a better choice for that application than a 12 mpg V8 that rarely gets used to its full capacity.

As for cars, many are overpowered these days, and could do quite nicely with smaller, more efficient engines with a nice 5 or 6-speed tranny, IMHO.


Hello clueless peoples! Let me explain the facts.

Rear wheel drive is usedfor certain kinds of cars. It is NOT good for small engines as oddly enough it is used in cars that need large low end torque and the tranmission itself is alot bigger and would eat far too much of a small engines power and thud gas milage.

All lutz is saying is these drives are on hold until gm is sure its worth spending money on them.

VERY LIKELY heavy hybrid and or biofueled/h2 fueled rear wheel drives will take over anyway over the long run.

What does it mean for gm? They can fire more us workers and clear more legacy costs. See gm is a globalcompany and the us market doesnt matter anymore. Gm can spend evert availablr crnt in chiba production and profit from it many times over the pathetic amaerican waste.

GM is saying all this because this is the only wat they can talk directly to all the uaw wotkers and tell them exactly whats going on.



I appreciate the informative explanation. Thanks for clearing up my misinformation. I went from a 1.6L in my first car, to a 2.0 in my second, to a 1.8 in my Corolla. I was also considering my experience with my Reflex.

Mr me, you dont want me in your office.


"We don't know how." We don't want to find out eigther because it will cost us more in current operations going forward. That
means less profit and shareholders aren't patient enough to wait and see. Our suppliers, (makers of our car parts before we assemble and sell them) are not going to retool and exacerbate legacy costs. They need to extract a profit from the non amortized current manufacturing infrastructure before they can reinvest in an entirely new business model. The NEW PLAN then is don't build RWD vehicles, if your Engineers and suppliers can't get on board with new CAFE standards. I'm sure others will be more willing to figure a way around this insurmountable task, and take that segment of your market, while hansomely profiting from it. Hearing Lutz say "can't" sounds a little more like "won't" , "UNLESS" he can leverage some Faustian bargain in for some good measure. If Lutz does't get some direction from his board at GM, he is headed into oblivion. Might be better if he kepthis trap shut, untill they finish fighting this CAFE litigation out in the courts.



you're mostly right, just as Cervus was right at the same time!
Don't forget: It's hard to keep the smaller engine near WOT without a CVT.

The more a downsized engine resembles a bigger one in torque characteristics and all-out performance, the more it ends up just as throttled for part load all day long.
(Otherwise speeding for mileage?)

If a downsized engine just offers same peak power at high revs, otherwise suffers poor torque characteristics, it tends to end up high in the rev range, even too high in its own rev range, to save fuel. (Car geared for engine revs; driver downshifting or holding for responsiveness, where he would be holding or upshifting to let the torque work efficiently at WOT.)

If a smaller engine is just a smaller engine, well, it's just a smaller engine ;)
Sometimes already available..., sometimes more fuel efficient....
Sometimes too efficient = floored all the time = so very efficient, that it's hardly ever left there, is kept revving and guzzling instead. (Premature wear and tear, repair / replacement resulting, adding consumption / emissions upstream.)

For turbo-downsizing, there may air have to be pumped through intercoolers and piping, aerodynamics may suffer, static compression ratios be lowered, lag be concealed per gearing, early enrichment and high revs again mean losses manufacturers don't advertise...

BSFC is never constant throughout the rev range! An impressive minimum may well be quite worthless in real cars with discrete transmission ratios. With a hybrid the responsiveness of the electric motor is the workaraound, with a CVT the optimum can be approached. In a conventional car downsizing still has to be demonstrated convincingly, I think.

Agreed - developments like variable valve timing + lift have been established in many engines, allowing size reductions engines, but these can't be repeatedly employed.




Yes. As I said before, 'all things being equal...'.


So RWD means they can't do economy?

All BMWs (other than the mini) are rear wheel drive. Look at the 320d. RWD, 168 hp, 0-60 in 8.6s and on to 140 mph.

Yet it can still manage 40 mpg (US) on the combined cycle.

GM's excuses are pathetic.


Lutz is a pretty outspoken kind of guy on most things Automotive, and that's what I probably like best about him. I like that he's forthright about things like this.

In regards to what he said regarding the CAFE reg's., I believe he's pretty much right on, in my opinion. How? I believe Lutz is suggesting that in order to eventually hit or even exceed the proposed CAFE regulations, even if they are incremental as the government suggests, will require the collective U.S. fleet to be converted to all hybrids and diesels. Anyone with a little background on this subject knows that with complexity and new technology come added cost. A hybrid of any form, costs $3000-$6000 more than a regular ICE model. A Clean diesel costs considerably more than even a regular diesel due to the more complex emissions controls. The new lithium ion batteries coming out are considerably more expensive than the Nickel ones. All of these technologies don't come for free. So with all that said, he's right--if Automakers are forced to produce all of their cars to be clean diesels and/or hybrids, that won't come for nothing. Even Toyota, who can do no wrong, will charge $3000-$4000 more for the added technology for a hybrid.

Most of us may already know that Lutz is not a fan of the CAFE regulations and never was. I'm not either. The reg’s. are a joke in my opinion. The Government can try and regulate the car companies until they are blue in the face, and it really won't do a bit of good. The gov't. may think that increasing reg's. on the car companies will change the heart and minds of the car buying populous, but they won't. It is too easy to just slap another hollow piece of legislation on the car companies, and say, "Now it's YOUR problem to make all of this work, we(the gov't.)are done with it". The only thing that turns peoples' heads, are big gas price spikes. A sting in the wallet is the only thing that really gets noticed. Al Gore may be a heck of a nice guy, but a little documentary won't get peoples' attention like a gas price spike. So again, I think Lutz is right about CAFE reg's. and their inability to change market direction.

In a previous debate, one poster inquired if I see any other Automakers complaining about pollution control reg's. like Lutz does on behalf of GM? My response is, No, instead I see them happily pushing their hardest to sell Tundras and Titans, and they still get heaps of loving kisses on their behinds from this crowd.


An engine operating at the most efficient point seems to be one of the main features of the Volt. A 1 liter turbo genset in of/off mode, made to run at its most efficient point, could be why they can claim the mileage that they do. The mileage of the Volt is just a claim right now, I know of no long term data to support the claim.

tom deplume

Americans are stuck in a schizoid situation WRT what they want from auto companies. We want big vehicles and high fuel mileage at the same time. Compared to the 1970s the cars we have now are much more fuel efficient on a per pound basis. My brother has one of those large GMC pickups with a diesel engine and he claims he gets 20 mpg. This is a truck that weighs as much as a 70s Caddilac that got only 8 mpg. It's more about accepting less horsepower in exchange for more comfort and comfort is what old farts like me want to have. It is what we say in focus groups and market surveys. The questions that the market surveys don't ask is whether we would pay a price premium for plug-in pickup truck. If I had the money I would.


I don't mind people smartly bashing GM. ...maybe that's all that makes their day, but:
What if we had a 30year-moratorium on vehicle advance development as a whole and worldwide; even dropped 90% of all car models from production and focused on the best 10%? Unthinkable? Maybe billions of people without drinkable water could imagine us working on other problems, other progress...
This petrol efficieny (contemporary GM is actually quite good at) seems to have become only one more area we lost all sense of proportions in. With twice the vehicle consumption reductions expected by the simplest minds for our future, we were still going to burn all the fossils we can ('t) afford to burn, right?
But I'll stop sounding like the bolshevik I am for now...
'67 to '70 were the cutest Eldorados ever - and they were FWD! Cheers

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