DETROIT -- To cut costs, General Motors Co. is looking at more extensive freshenings that upgrade exteriors, interiors, infotainment, safety equipment and powertrains instead of more-frequent redesigns, said Vice Chairman Tom Stephens.
"Is the customer going to buy your product because he perceives you have an all-new vehicle?" Stephens, who heads product development, asked an audience of financial analysts here last week. An extensive midcycle change, he said, has a "similar impact to bringing out an all-new product."
Before GM's trip through U.S. Bankruptcy Court last year, the company tried to sustain demand by redesigning products every five to seven years, Stephens said.
In other product news at the event, Stephens:
-- Showed a picture of what he called an upcoming Chevrolet family "van" for several global regions -- probably the Chevrolet Orlando seven-passenger crossover, which GM yanked this year from its planned spot in the U.S. portfolio starting in 2011. GM did not make the picture available to reporters.
-- Said GM has designed Chevrolet SUV and small-car concepts. The SUV, which Stephens said GM's South American designers had created, could be built on the same platform as the global compact pickup being developed by GM's Brazilian operations. Stephens did not say when the vehicles might be produced or where they might be sold.