MELBOURNE, Australia -- General Motors' decision to cancel North American plans for rear-drive premium vehicles means a diminished status for Australia in GM's global product pipeline.
In January, GM assigned Holden, its Australian subsidiary, as its global engineering center for its rwd platform, or Zeta architecture. GM also named Gene Stefanyshyn as Zeta's chief engineer.
But GM insiders say Stefanyshyn, the vehicle line executive for GM's Epsilon fwd mid-sized car architecture used in the Chevrolet Malibu and other cars, never moved to Australia, and his future in the Zeta program is unknown.
"We don't know the implications for Gene or his role as a VLE," a GM spokesman says.
Last week, GM Vice Chairman Robert Lutz told employees in an e-mail that the current business climate forced a stoppage of Zeta's use in North America. Engineers and designers now will switch their emphasis to pulling forward GM's full-sized trucks and SUVs.
The news seemed to catch Holden off guard.