Robert Lutz says a global plan will replace GM's regional plans.
Robert Lutz, GM's vice chairman of product development, discussed the changes with Product Editor Rick Kranz at the Geneva auto show this month.
What will be different now that the global committee is in place?
There will no longer be a European engineering budget, an American engineering budget, a General Motors North America engineering budget. There will be one global engineering budget that will be administered by (global engineering vice president) Jim Queen.
Toyota and Honda run this business on a global basis, and we were maybe a little bit late. The regional model worked very well for us about 10 years ago. Now the scale of the business has changed.
In the old days, the global product plan was simply the Asia-Pacific product plan, the (Latin) American product plan, the European product plan and the North American product plan stapled together. That is out the window now.
We are going to have a genuine global product plan with global priorities, global vehicles - not necessarily the same vehicles - and it all fits in with the global architectures.
In terms of common engineering, how will today's Epsilon architecture differ from the next generation?
Today's Epsilon is not interbuildable. We call them all Epsilon, but Saabs can't be built in a German Epsilon plant; German Epsilons can't be built in a Saab plant. (Chevrolet) Malibu and (Pontiac) G6 couldn't be built in Europe. (Opel) Vectra couldn't be built in the United States.
Wasn't that the goal of today's Epsilon architecture?
It never worked. They (the regions) departed to where you can't interchange parts.
We still had regions, and once the architecture was settled, every region started to say, "Well, we don't double-tool this thing anyway, so we might as well make it the way we like it or the way it is convenient for us."
(Now) we will be able to build a Buick Epsilon in China, a Saab Epsilon in Korea or the United States, a German Epsilon in Latin America, Germany and Korea with a minimum lead time. Once we get the parts identical, we have these enormous savings in worldwide parts buying.