SAN DIEGO A massive change to General Motors future product plans is expected if the 35 mpg CAFÉ fleet average favored by Congress is enacted into law.
The minute we have confirmation of the 35 mpg rule, that is the point where we go through all of our forward product plans and probably introduce, frankly, massive restructuring of the product plan, said GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz. A 35 mpg fleet mix means there is a bunch of stuff out there that is going to have to be 40 and 50 mpg.
The House bill passed last month calls for a 35 mpg nationwide fleet average by 2020, roughly a 40 percent increase from todays CAFÉ standard. A key provision allows an automaker to trade credits between its car and truck fleets.
We will have to take a look at everything because were going to have to come up with a plan which gets us to 2015, 2017, gets us part of the way there, and with clarity on how were going to get the rest, said Lutz, interviewed Dec. 5 at a Saturn event in San Diego. Then we will have to start raising prices as we introduce the new technology.
He estimated a $6,000 to $7,000 increase in the price of vehicles requiring new technology. GM is offering a two-mode hybrid power system in the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon, although it has not said what the price of the option will be.
It is developing a series hybrid vehicle based on the Chevrolet Volt concept that would run solely on electric power, recharged by a small gasoline engine. A production version is expected to arrive in 2010.
Earlier this year, many industry figures said the 35-mpg CAFÉ plan would hurt automakers, suppliers and workers. But the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, of which GM is a member, endorsed the House bill.
I think one of the reasons that everybody said, Yeah, yeah, were in agreement with this, is because anything, even a horrible alternative, is better than the constant uncertainty, he said.
While such vehicles as 2008 Saturn Astra, which goes on sale later this month, gets 32 mpg on the highway and could be tweaked to reach 35 mpg, he said there is no way that were going to get pickups and sport utilities to anywhere close to 35 mpg. The two-wheel-drive Tahoe with a two-mode hybrid system gets 21 mpg city/22 mpg highway.
Lutz said it is impossible for GMs Lambda-based crossovers, such as the Buick Enclave, to achieve 35 mpg, he said. GMs plans for larger rear-wheel-drive vehicles like a Chevrolet Impala replacement remain uncertain, Lutz said.