Earlier in August, we were shown a picture of an upcoming Buick-badged CUV that was nothing more than a grille-and-logo swap of the now-extinct Saturn Vue. The product was planned to receive the two-mode hybrid powertrain after its launch. But before the vehicle was even born, we received word that it has already been killed. Michelle Bunker, Manager of Buick Communications, confirmed to Autoblog earlier today that this is, in fact, the truth: GM has canceled the program.
The biggest reason for the cancellation is the widespread initial negative feedback from the media, employees, and dealerships about the upcoming vehicle. The product seems to have not been a good fit for the direction the General has planned for the Buick brand. (We will have more coverage of GM’s product portfolio going forward in an upcoming post.)
Not all hope is lost, however, as it’s being reported that the plug-in hybrid powertrain of the discontinued Vue will be transferred to another GM vehicle and will come to market with no delay from the previously planned 2011 sales date for the Buick. Details such as whether the vehicle will ride on the same (Theta) platform as the outgoing Vue, what body shell it would have, or what GM badge it would wear are not known at this time, but GM promises to reveal the replacement for the PHEV in the not-so-distant future. If you asked me (which I know you probably did), I’d say the awesome powertrain will be carried over to the 2011 Chevy Equinox and possibly – down the road – to the recently-redesigned Cadillac SRX. This would allow GM to realize greater economies of scale by making available the same powerplant across a broader range of vehicles.
The move to cancel the Buick program and carry the work over to a different product is evidence that things really are different at the New GM. Just a few months ago, the same decision would have most likely taken multiple meetings and countless delays. Also, this works to further underline CEO Fritz Henderson’s dislike for rebadging – since the Buick-badged CUV would have been little more than a nameplate swap with the Saturn Vue.[Source: Autoblog]