Friday, May 22, 2009

Malignant Rumors: Zeta Is Back - Or Is It?

Malignant Rumors: Zeta Is Back - Or Is It?

Even though GM's current situation makes it difficult to predict what the future holds for the troubled automaker, Zeta platform rumors have been making the rounds again, and I like what I'm hearing. It turns out GM may want to spread the Zeta love, making use of it in everything from cop cars to Cadillacs. What are the possibilities? Let's cogitate. The G8 (rebadged as a Chevy) police cruisers from down under stand a good chance of making it, as long as Holden pitches the idea right. Not only could they make up for the Impala, the sales would help offset Holden's expected billion (Aussie) dollar annual loss from its expected export of 30,000 G8s to America.

The doorway's already open; Ford's Panther platform is on its way out. With some 60,000 Crown Vics moved yearly as cop cars, this leaves a lot of sales the Zeta sedan could snag. If the cruisers made it, then perhaps the G8 could get another shot, as the new Impala. Don't even start to think LS3 Impala SS, or you'll jinx it.

Then there's the lovely Pontiac ST, a car-based utility vehicle that was trying oh-so-hard to bring back 1983 and whitewash jeans with a vengeance. Sadly, the Pontiac Ute was killed, followed quickly by the brand itself. To make further use of Zeta, people are theorizing that GM could place the ST in the GMC lineup. A car-based GMC truck (Caballero!) would be a fresh vehicle in a stagnant lineup of badge-engineered Chevrolets that's just now starting to get unique options in the form of the 2010 Terrain.

Topping off the range is Cadillac. The DTS/STS replacement with the extended-wheelbase Zeta under it could supply the American luxury brand with a large, RWD car to compete with ze Germans and Japanese. If you factor in Cadillac's ever-improving designs, it's a car for people who want full-size luxury and who also want to buy American. Standard of the World? Not quite, but it would be a fitting (and economically feasible) new model after the latest CTS.

What about the engine lineup? With the Zeta platform, a lot is possible. The required V8's would appear, of course, but what about people who don't want a guzzler? Offer smaller engines like the direct injection V6 and a hybrid option and people will take notice. There's also whisperings of turbocharged 4-cylinders making the rounds. And diesels? That would almost be a necessity for something like the ST, where utility would be a selling point.

The questions I pose are these: What kinds of Zeta-based cars do you think that American consumers want to see (sedans, coupes, utes)? What kinds of power trains are important to you? Ultimately, what would make you buy "big" from GM and its remaining brands?

By Phil Alex

Phil Alex was born in Rhode Island in 1985, yet for reasons unbeknownst to him moved to South Carolina. He graduated with degrees in Finance and German from Wofford College in 2007 and has had a strange obsession with cars and travel. When not back in Sparkle City, he resides near Japan's international airport in Narita. He makes no apologies for his articles and welcomes all feedback, as long as it is adamantly worded. Oh, and if for any reason you are inclined to vent some more, check out more of his posts on the Examiner here.



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