There has long been a stigma that General Motors vehicles, as a whole, weigh in on the heavy side compared to their competition. This reportedly had much to do with the development process of past and even current vehicle architectures tasked with underpinning several different models.
For instance, GM’s current Delta II platform that underpins vehicles such as the Chevrolet Cruze, Opel Astra, and the like, can all fit an engine as big as a 2.0L turbo-diesel under the hood, even if only one or two of the models/trim levels are destined to utilize such a powerplant. As such, these vehicles would receive unnecessary add-ons to accomodate the possibility of addition equipment, thereby adding mass. This one-size-fits-all approach may be efficient when it comes down to development and tooling costs, but is flawed in that it doesn’t optimize the specifications of vehicles on a regional level, while penalizing the weight of the volume-selling (that are usually less the powerful) variants of a particular model. This strategy has changed with the introduction of the Alpha platform in the Cadillac ATS, and even the new 2014 Corvette Stingray.
Believe it or not, the base BMW 3 Series is heavier than the base ATS by some 45 pounds, tipping the scales at a relatively light 3,315 pounds. The 2014 Corvette Stingray, meanwhile, is said to come in around a mere 3,000 pounds. This is accomplished by each model’s architecture being specifically tailored to the trim level/specifications of that vehicle.
So, the base ATS is the lightest, but in order to accommodate a V6 more effectively, those models receive added reinforcements to augment the structural integrity and handling characteristics of the vehicle. Yes, it’s a more complicated process, but this more detailed approach doesn’t result in the penalty of extra weight for models that don’t need it. The same approach will apply to variants of each model, such as the ATS coupe — with the same basic platform being adjusted to optimally fit a two-door model.
The GM Authority Take
This sounds like a very Volkswagen- and Audi-esque approach — which is a good thing. Looking forward, this new diet plan for upcoming platforms and models should contribute to increased fuel economy numbers, greater product differentiation across the board, as well as all the other benefits brought on by a lighter vehicle.