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General Motors’ vice chairman of global product operations is so strong a believer in his company’s product he’s willing to prove it in a tug-of-war between the GMC Heavy Duty and the Ford F-Series Super Duty.
Vice Chairman Tom Stephens made the bold statement in an interview with PickupTrucks.com about the new Duramax engines powering the 2011 Chevrolet and GMC Heavy Duty. The site’s editor was surprised by the statement, he asked Stephens three times if he was serious, but Stephens remained adamant.
“You’re going to love our new diesel Duramax engine in the new Heavy Duty,” Stephens told PickupTrucks.com. “You know what I want to do to prove it? I want to take our truck and Ford’s [new Super Duty] and chain them together back -to-back. Then I want to have them pull against each other. I know our truck will beat theirs.”
PickupTrucks.com passed the challenge on to Ford but has yet to get a response. We’re not sure if Ford is willing to take the bait, but this is one challenge we would love to see.
Buick has just released a teaser image of a new entry-level luxury crossover that will slot in underneath the Enclave. Normally word of a new model is news enough, but GM has decided to increase our expectations of its new model by announcing that it will be offered with a version of the Volt’s Voltec plug-in hybrid system.
This will make the new crossover the first plug-in hybrid SUV on the market.
The new five-passenger crossover will go on sale next year with PHEV models on sale in 2011. The conventional gasoline models will be offered with a choice of two engines: a direct-injection 2.4-liter turbocharged Ecotec four-cylinder or a direct-injection 3.0-liter V6. The Ecotec motor is expected to deliver 30 mpg on the highway.
The Buick PHEV will use a battery pack roughly half the size and power of the one found in the Volt and be mated to a 3.6-liter V6 FexFuel engine, indicating that the Buick hybrids will follow the Lexus philosophy of using the hybrid powertrain to deliver high-performance with reduced fuel-consumption. Similarly, it appears, Chevy models like the Volt will follow the Toyota model of delivering maximum fuel-efficiency.
The Buick PHEV will be able to be recharged fully in 4 to 5 hours through a conventional 110V household outlet and will be ale to travel up to 10 miles on pure electric power (at low speeds).
“Buick has always been at the forefront of new technology, so it is only fitting that the brand should debut our new plug-in hybrid technology in a beautiful new crossover,” said Tom Stephens, GM vice chairman of product development. “This will firmly put Buick, and GM, front and center in the advanced technology game.”
Official release after the jump:
There is hope, be it ever so slight, that the Pontiac G8 may live on even though the brand it’s attached to is most certainly slated for elimination.
“I know there’s still discussions on it,” GM’s product boss Tom Stephens told Automotive News, giving some hope to the legions of G8 fans that haven’t had anything to get excited about since the fourth generation Firebird came out in 1993.
Stephens did add, however, that as Chevrolet already has several sedans, another one wasn’t really necessary.
The G8 could work as a high-performance SS version of the Impala, or even as the basis of a Buick vehicle – although that seems highly unlikely. And unfortunately for G8 fans, GM already has an excellent rear wheel drive platform that underpins the Cadillac CTS.
Still, the sun hasn’t quite set on the G8 and there’s plenty that can happen between now and the end of 2010 when Pontiac is scheduled to be scuttled.
GM has continued to insist that the Pontiac brand isn’t for sale and that it will be eliminated as a part of its Viability Plan. While the brand as a whole has struggled significantly in recent years, the G8 has been a success, with high sales and rave reviews from journalists. This has prompted some to speculate that the closing of Pontiac (a brand known for performance) may be more of a political decision than an economic one.
Bob Lutz with the Cadillac ConverJ at the 2009 Detroit Auto Show
Bob Lutz, Vice Chairman of Global Product Development at General Motors, is stepping down from his current position at the company and will retire at the end of 2009. According to a press release posted on the company’s website, Lutz, one of the best known names in the auto industry, will continue on at GM as Vice Chairman and Senior Advisor.
In his transitionary role, Lutz will give, “strategic input into GM’s global design and key product initiatives until his retirement at the end of 2009,” and will report to CEO Rick Wagoner until that time.
Tim Stephens, the current executive vice president of Global Powertrain and Global Quality, will replace Lutz. Stephens will also continue to oversee quality issues at General Motors.
Before joining GM in 2002, Lutz held many key roles at many major manufacturers including being a VP at Ford, an Executive VP at BMW and an executive at Chrysler.
“Bob Lutz was already a legendary automotive product guy when he rejoined GM in 2001,” Wagoner said, “and he’s added to that by leading the creation of a string of award-winning vehicles for GM during his time here. His 46 years of experience in the global automotive business have been invaluable to us. I’ve personally learned a great deal from Bob and have very much enjoyed the time we’ve worked together. I’m looking forward to Bob’s continued contributions to GM for the remainder of 2009 – and I know the impact of his efforts leading GM global product development will continue for years to come.”
Tom Stephens discussing the future of hybrid technology at General Motors
As for Stepehs, Wagoner had this to day: “Tom Stephens is the perfect guy to take the reins of GM’s global product development. “e’s had extensive experience in virtually every aspect of our global product development activities. With his 40 years at GM, Tom has an extraordinary understanding of our products and our organization, and is highly respected worldwide. I’m confident that with Tom’s passion for great products and vast knowledge of advanced propulsion, he will continue to raise the bar in executing outstanding GM cars and trucks.”
Official release after the jump: