GM's 2004 Model Year Preview

Entering the 2004 model year, General Motors is focused on rebuilding its historical strength in passenger cars while broadening its current strength in trucks. In reviving its passenger-car business, GM doesn't need to look far for a model for success. GM's industry leadership in trucks resulted in new U.S. records for sales of trucks and SUVs in 2002. Key factors in the successful truck strategy are: the introduction of emotionally compelling vehicles with great design; leading-edge technology with real customer benefits; continued improvements in quality, productivity and cost reduction; and an ability to move faster than ever to bring new products to market in less than two years.

"GM today is leaner, faster, more flexible and more efficient," said John Middlebrook, GM vice president, marketing and advertising. "We're focused like a laser on bringing to market the kind of well-built, stylish, innovative vehicles that GM was known for when it was the undisputed automotive leader."

New Excitement in Cars

While GM remains #1 in the U.S. in overall passenger-car sales and in most car segments, the company is focused on injecting new excitement into its car lineup in order to continue and accelerate the company's overall positive momentum. As evidence of this commitment, GM will introduce more than 30 new cars and car-based models in the next three years - and 90 percent of GM's 2002 model year car entries and 94 percent of 2002 model year car volume will be overhauled over a four-year period.

GM is focused on infusing these new cars with emotionally compelling designs and relevant technology. Leveraging a global base of architectures and powertrains, GM will be able to cost-efficiently build multiple derivatives while focusing intently on quality and reliability - and delivering products at prices that fit a wide range of pocketbooks. This broad bandwidth - a longstanding hallmark of GM - provides better competitive coverage of the market, while providing customers with more choices.

The emphasis on relevant technology includes a commitment to both performance and fuel efficiency in powertrains. Over the next three years, GM will introduce 15 engine and transmission variants for passenger cars.

GM's plan is to improve its offerings at both the entry-level and luxury ends of the passenger-car market, while simultaneously tackling the middle and also rolling out high-performance models and variants to appeal to enthusiasts. At the entry level, GM already is attracting new, younger buyers with the Pontiac Vibe and the Saturn Ion sedan and quad coupe. GM will further broaden its entry-level lineup in 2004 with the stylish and well-equipped Chevrolet Aveo. Available as a sedan or sporty five-door, Aveo will feature a roomy interior, and peppy performance. At the luxury end, Cadillac is following up on its successful launch of the CTS sedan with the XLR, bringing a striking new presence to the elite luxury roadster class with its athletic, knife-edged design, refined luxury touches and the Northstar 4.6L V-8 VVT (variable valve timing), the first Northstar developed for rear-wheel drive. Meanwhile, the new Saab 9-3 convertible - based on the 9-3 sedan that debuted a year ago - brings to the premium segment its own extremely high levels of refinement, structural integrity and build quality.

In the heart of the passenger-car market, Chevrolet will introduce the all-new Malibu sedan and Malibu Maxx extended sedan, while Pontiac launches an all-new Grand Prix. The Malibu offers impressive ride, handling and performance, while its Malibu Maxx stable mate provides even greater passenger room and cargo space. The sleek new Grand Prix embodies Pontiac's own new direction, with more horsepower as well as a clean body design that sets the standard for performance sedans.

High performance becomes an increasingly important part of the equation for passenger cars in 2004, beginning with the new Pontiac GTO. With an estimated 340-horsepower (254-kw) V-8, GTO is a modern-day muscle car with both outstanding acceleration and handling.

Marketing divisions also are working with the new GM Performance Division to develop high-performance passenger-car variants designed to get the adrenaline pumping through the veins of any enthusiast. These new models provide a total performance package appropriate to brand identities, striking a balance between horsepower, beefed-up chassis capabilities, driver-oriented features like sport seats, and unique styling cues. For 2004, these include:

  • CTS-V, the most powerful production car in Cadillac's lineup ever, with a 5.7L V-8 expected to produce 400 horsepower (298 kw)
  • Impala SS and Monte Carlo Supercharged SS, modern manifestations of Chevrolet's storied "Super Sport" heritage, each featuring a supercharged, 240-horsepower (179-kw) V-6
  • Pontiac Bonneville GXP, with refined styling and a 275-horsepower (205-kw) V-8, along with outstanding handling and luxurious interior comfort
  • Saturn Ion Red Line, aimed at compact-car performance enthusiasts with its estimated 200-horsepower (149-kw) Ecotec 2.0L supercharged engine, racetrack-inspired handling and unique styling.

Increased Technology, Innovation in Trucks

The renewed focus on cars doesn't mean GM will ease off the accelerator in the highly competitive truck market. For 2004, GM is driving hard to bolster its leading lineup of trucks with increased levels of technology and innovation, as well as several new model offerings. In full-size trucks, six new Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra models will be launched:

  • Silverado and Sierra 1500 Crew Cabs combine the features of a 1500 Series model with GM's roomiest cab and feature a new 5-foot, 8-inch pickup bed that permits easy handling, parking and garageability.
  • Silverado and Sierra hybrid FlexPower models, going into production for fleet and commercial customers in October 2003, feature a standard Vortec 5300 V-8 engine and Hydra-Matic 4L60-E four-speed automatic transmission coupled with the segment's first hybrid propulsion technology, providing 10 percent to 15 percent better fuel economy, 120-volt electrical power with ground-fault detection and a unique accessory powering capability.
  • Silverado and Sierra K3500 (4WD) single-rear-wheel models are designed for customers who need big-time capabilities but in a more driver-friendly, easier-to-maneuver configuration.

Four new mid-size truck nameplates along with one new model debut in 2004. Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon will set new standards for power, comfort and utility in the mid-size pickup segment. Colorado and Canyon offer choices to fit a wide variety of customer needs: Crew, Extended and Regular Cab models; manual and automatic transmissions; 2WD and 4WD; and ample power from two completely new engines, the Vortec 2800 inline four-cylinder and the Vortec 3500 inline five-cylinder engines. Rainier offers a level of performance, ride comfort and style that sets it apart from other mid-size sport utility vehicles. SSR is part roadster, part pickup - and a completely innovative expression of Chevy's proud heritage. GMC Envoy XUV sets a new benchmark in sport utility capability with a host of industry-first features.

Crossovers and compact utilities represent the fastest-growing segments in the entire automotive industry, and GM will launch two all-new nameplates, Cadillac SRX and the 2005 Chevrolet Equinox. The Cadillac SRX, a stylish "crossover" vehicle that's like a sports sedan that can also be taken off-road, will bring a heightened level of both performance and flexibility to the luxury segment. The Equinox will help redefine the compact SUV with its fresh styling and spacious, flexible interior.

GM is also strengthening its unibody truck lineup with new models within existing nameplate lines. These include: Rendezvous Ultra, a more powerful and refined version of Buick's mid-size SUV; the Saturn Vue Red Line limited-edition compact SUV, a performance-tuned variant developed by Saturn and the GM Performance Division that features Vue's new 250-horsepower (186-kw) V-6; and Pontiac Aztek Rally, the continuation of a mid-2003 model year addition that makes a high-visibility statement for a great price.

In medium-duty trucks, four new models debut in GM's ever-expanding commercial portfolio. Chevrolet Kodiak and GMC TopKick C-Series Crew Cabs offer something for every budget and bill of lading with a broad selection of wheelbases, a range of powerful gasoline or diesel engines and a variety of automatic and manual transmissions. Meanwhile, new Chevrolet and GMC T-Series tilt cabs combine both brains and brawn in a true medium-duty commercial truck.

'Relevant' Technology

Innovative technology that is relevant to the customer is an essential part of the formula for developing truly appealing products. GM continues to expand the availability of vehicle stability enhancement systems that help drivers maintain stability and control of their vehicles and improve ride and handling. GM offers the system across its many models with the names StabiliTrak, Precision Control and Active Traction. Vehicle stability enhancement systems are now available on more than one million GM SUVs. GM will begin installing the StabiliTrak vehicle stability enhancement system in GMC Savana and Chevrolet Express 15-passenger vans as an interim change during the 2004 production year.

A major part of GM's 2004 technology story is an impressive array of powertrains that offer both improved performance and fuel economy. Among the new engines with fully contemporary features - including dual overhead cams and fully variable valve timing - are the new 3.6L V-6 VVT in the Buick Rendezvous, Cadillac CTS and Cadillac SRX; the Vortec 3500 I-5 and Vortec 2800 I-4 in the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickups; the Northstar 4.6L V-8 VVT, the first Northstar developed for rear-wheel drive, in the Cadillac XLR and SRX; and the Ecotec 2.0L supercharged I-4 in the Saturn Ion Red Line.

Other powertrain highlights include the new 3500 V-6 for the Malibu and Malibu Maxx, and the 3800 Series III for the Grand Prix - both examples of further refining of existing technologies. New applications of the Corvette LS1 and LS6 V-8s provide class-leading output and uniquely "American" character, to the GTO and CTS-V, respectively.

Fuel economy will benefit from the hybrid propulsion technology in the Silverado and Sierra FlexPower models as well as from new Displacement on Demand technology. Debuting in calendar 2004 on the 2005 GMC Envoy XL and XUV and Chevrolet TrailBlazer EXT, Displacement on Demand automatically activates or deactivates half or more of an engine's cylinders, delivering to the driver only the exact amount of power required at any given time, and thus improving fuel economy in the process. For the long term, GM has demonstrated its commitment to future environmental and fuel sustainability with its Hy-Wire concept vehicle. Hy-wire is the world's first driveable vehicle that combines a hydrogen fuel cell with drive-by-wire technology. It clearly demonstrates just what a "hydrogen car" might look like.

As electronics and electronically controlled systems assume an increasingly vital role in cars and trucks, GM is developing the industry's most comprehensive portfolio of new and future electronic controls, plus the in-house expertise so that these technologies can be cost-effectively rolled out to the largest number of segments and customers.

In addition to GM's many powertrain-related technologies (Displacement on Demand, variable valve timing, Oil Life System), other advanced electronics systems include: smart sensors that tailor deployment of a multi-stage front air bag; intelligent chassis-control systems; XM Satellite Radio; and OnStar, which uses the Global Positioning System (GPS) and wireless communication to provide valuable safety, security and information services. With the introduction of Advanced Automatic Crash Notification (AACN) this year, OnStar advisors will be able to relay accident information from vehicle sensors to 911 dispatchers helping them to quickly determine emergency services needed.

Leveraging Global Resources

An important aspect of GM's competitiveness and its ability to serve its customers better is the company's ability to take advantage of its global resources. One expression of this strategy is the use of global architectures, such as Epsilon. Global architectures enable GM to tailor different vehicles for different markets with a cost-efficient investment, thus keeping customer costs lower.

Epsilon debuted in Europe as the underpinnings of the new Opel Vectra and Saab 9-3 in 2003. In 2004, it provides the basis for the new Pontiac Grand Prix and Chevy Malibu - and the architecture's versatility is demonstrated with a stretched version, Malibu Maxx. Epsilon also will be the flexible foundation for the next-generation Pontiac Grand Am sedan and coupe, and a future Saturn mid-size vehicle.

Chevrolet Aveo and Pontiac GTO illustrate how GM is leveraging its global resources by tailoring vehicles for different markets. Aveo is built in Korea by GM Daewoo, while the GTO is based on the Holden Monaro coupe from Australia. Also leveraging the global resources of the GM Group, Saab is collaborating with Fuji of Japan to create the new Saab 9-2 model in cooperation with Subaru, Fuji's automotive division. The 9-2, Saab's entry offer, will go into production early next year.

Another example of how GM is utilizing its vast resources is the Global Manufacturing System (GMS), which is based on applying learnings from around the world. GM is expanding implementation of the GMS, which in turn is increasing the flexibility of its plants, boosting productivity and allowing the company to respond more quickly to changing market trends.

Strength in Divisional Brands

As GM renews and strengthens its product portfolio, the intended result is even stronger divisional brands. Here is a synopsis of 2004 divisional highlights:

  • Buick. As it marks its centennial year, Buick is celebrating its history while putting down the foundation for a strong future. The new Rainier sport utility and the addition of Rendezvous Ultra will help solidify Buick's emerging status as a significant player in the important premium mid-size SUV segment. Among other offerings designed to attract new customers, Buick will introduce a new high-end crossover sport van in the 2005 model year.
  • Cadillac. GM's flagship division continues its resurgence with two all-new entries in new segments - the XLR luxury roadster and SRX luxury utility. In addition, 2004 ushers in new varieties of some of Cadillac's most significant products, with the CTS-V performance version, the new Platinum version of the Escalade ESV and a special armored version of the DeVille, available in both standard sedan and stretch models.
  • Chevrolet. GM's largest-volume division is on the offensive with all-new, heart-of-the-market offerings such as the Malibu and Malibu Maxx, Colorado and the 2005 Equinox. On the car side, Chevrolet also expands its appeal to entry-level buyers with the new Aveo, and targets enthusiasts with supercharged versions of the Impala and Monte Carlo. Truck highlights include the Silverado 1500 Series Crew Cab and FlexPower hybrid propulsion and single-rear-wheel 3500 Series pickups. Chevy also is continuing to roll out the one-of-a-kind SSR roadster pickup, first introduced as a 2003 model. Corvette celebrates the beginning of its second 50 years with commemorative editions that share a LeMans Blue color scheme of the race-winning C5-R Corvettes.
  • GMC. The new Canyon mid-size pickup and the inventive new Envoy XUV are prime examples of the versatility of GMC's lineup of Professional Grade trucks. New 1500 Series Crew Cab, FlexPower hybrid propulsion truck and single-rear-wheel 3500 series pickups highlight the Sierra changes for 2004.
  • HUMMER. The world's premier off-road vehicle brand continues to offer H1 and H2, the latter being the top-selling large luxury SUV in the U.S. Product enhancements on both models include an available Delphi integrated navigation radio with full map navigation and a CD-ROM/audio player. The H1's 6.5L turbo-diesel V-8 engine has been retuned to deliver more horsepower and torque along with improved emissions. Coming soon: an H2 sport utility truck (SUT) that will be available at HUMMER dealers during the second quarter of 2004 as a 2005 model.
  • Oldsmobile. America's longest-standing automobile nameplate continues to wind down production in the 2004 model year. The company founded by Ransom E. Olds in 1897, one of the earliest in the General Motors family of brands, will offer Alero, Bravada and Silhouette.
  • Pontiac. The "excitement division" turns up the heat in 2004 with the GTO, a modern version of the classic muscle car; the new Grand Prix plus a GTP version with a supercharged 3.8L V-6 that muscles up 260 hp (186 kw); the powerful new GXP version of the Bonneville with an estimated 275 hp (205 kw); and the Rally edition that lends spice to the Aztek lineup.
  • Saab. New from the ground up, the 2003 9-3 Sport Sedan marked the first arrival into the "new" Saab family. For 2004, Saab introduces the 9-3 Convertible, with the design, performance, control, safety and versatility that have long been hallmarks of the Saab brand. In the spring of 2004 Saab will introduce the 9-2, aimed at attracting new, younger customers to the brand.
  • Saturn. The new Red Line series of specialty vehicles heralds a daring new era of performance for Saturn. Only two years since its introduction, the Saturn Vue receives a mid-cycle enhancement featuring an all-new 3.5L V-6 and five-speed automatic transmission. As part of its plans to grow the brand, Saturn also has announced that it will add a crossover sport van to its lineup, debuting as a 2005 model, and bring out a version of the Vue sport utility with a hybrid powertrain in 2005. Also planned for 2005 is a new mid-size car based on GM's global Epsilon architecture.

Cutting across divisional lines is the GM Mobility Center, which is helping GM take a lead role in reaching the 76 million Americans age 50 and over, and the more than 54 million Americans with disabilities. Through the Mobility Center, GM is engineering and designing features and vehicle attributes that meet the needs of all customers, including seniors and people with disabilities.

Renewed Passion

There's a renewed passion at GM today. The company is breaking down old bureaucratic barriers. It's leveraging its unique global scope. It's moving faster than ever. Perhaps this renewed passion has been most evident on the auto show circuit, as GM has rolled out a succession of daring concept vehicles. Production vehicles such as the Cadillac XLR (which began as the Evoq concept), Chevy SSR and HUMMER H2 moved quickly from the concept stage to the showroom. In calendar year 2003, GM has continued this momentum with concept vehicles such as the gracefully executed Buick Centieme, the functionally innovative Chevy Cheyenne, the contemporary sport sedan Chevy SS, the driver-oriented Pontiac G6 and the show-stopping Cadillac Sixteen.

"GM is recapturing the bold spirit that drove us in our celebrated past," said Middlebrook. "Watch this space: With our renewed emphasis on passenger cars this year, coupled with our growing strength in trucks and SUVs, look for this to be the year that GM not only 'keeps America rolling,' but helps get America rocking and rolling as well."

Source: General Motors

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