PARIS -- Next time around, General Motors wants its Epsilon car architecture to be a true global vehicle program.
The current Epsilon architecture, used on mid-sized, front-wheel-drive cars, wasn't global enough, said Hans Demant, General Motors Europe vice president of engineering. GM's Epsilon vehicles include the Saab 9-3, Opel Vectra, Chevrolet Malibu and Maxx, and Pontiac G6.
GM is re-engineering the architecture to cut the number of component sets -- and increase savings. GM also wants to create a wider range of derivatives faster than on the current Epsilon, Demant said.
The new architecture, called Epsilon 2, will debut in late 2007 or early 2008, possibly on a North American vehicle. Saab, which is part of GM Europe, will use Epsilon 2 for the next generation of its 9-3 model range. Opel will do the same for the next Opel Vectra, due in 2008.
When Epsilon was being developed for the cars now on the road, the architecture was touted as a global one that would have a high level of common components among brands.
In reality, the current Chevrolet/Pontiac, Opel and Saab vehicles have three different component sets, said Demant, who also is managing director of Adam Opel. He was referring to such things as fuel and suspension systems.
"I'm not saying this was right or wrong," but GM probably spent too much time engineering specific components to create the brand characteristics, said Demant, at the Paris auto show.
"If we would have had the discipline to maintain common components, we could have concentrated on developing more" vehicle variants for the architecture, he said.
GM uses the term "architecture" to signify a set of common components, performance characteristics, a common manufacturing process, a range of dimensions and connecting points, for key component systems.
Demant said the goal with Epsilon 2 is to "free up our resources to create things that the cars don't have and let things alone where we have a solution." He said that instead of three component sets, GM will have one.
Said Demant: "The beauty of the Epsilon 2 is that we [also] will be able to have a global powertrain portfolio that covers every need anywhere on this globe, including diesels and mild hybrids. All of that fits [or] can be easily changed without a lot of work."