by MARTY PADGETT, Gaywheels.com
The recent announcements by General Motors hit its workforce and retirees hard but, among the bad news, the company is sending a message that it's changing the way it does business—permanently.
The way the company did it? It confirmed a slew of new products for the 2009 and 2010 model years while admitting that the replacements for the current full-size pickups and big SUVs, like the Tahoe and Escalade, will have to wait until fuel prices come down. GM's executive team said, point-blank, at a press conference that it doesn't expect that to happen anytime soon—if ever.
So as it tries to rapidly change the direction and size of its U.S. fleet, GM is pushing ahead with new vehicles for 2009 and 2010 that are smaller and more fuel-efficient than the vehicles they replace. An example is the new small crossover for Cadillac coming next year that is based on the Provoq concept. ( Editor's note: According to a company press release, the concept involves 'a hydrogen fuel cell crossover vehicle that continues GM's commitment to displace petroleum through advanced technology.' ) But instead of being a smaller addition to the lineup, the vehicle will replace the big SRX crossover and will take its initials when it goes on sale next year.
Another example is the new Chevrolet Cruze, which bows this fall at the Paris auto show. It will replace the Cobalt sedan and coupe and, though it will be bigger than the Cobalt, it's expected to boast a nearly 9-mpg increase in fuel economy from a new 1.4-liter turbocharged engine.
The rest of GM's upcoming products, revealed by the management team, includes the following:
—Chevrolet Cruze: A 2011 model, the Cruze will be built in America and exported around the world.
—The Chevrolet Equinox arrives as a 2010 model and is joined by the GMC Terrain, which effectively replaces the Pontiac Torrent. GM promises best-in-class fuel economy.
—Cadillac CTS Coupe and Wagon: Both are approved and go on sale next year.
—The Cadillac SRX goes on sale in the middle of next year as a 2010 model.
—Saab 9-4X: Shown as a concept earlier this year, it goes into production in the fall of 2009.
—Buick Invicta: A concept shown at this year's Beijing auto show, the Invicta is likely the replacement for the Buick LaCrosse; GM vice chairman Bob Lutz says it's one of the nicest products GM has done, including the new Saturn Aura and the Chevrolet Malibu.
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