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Buick first for Holden's Zeta zest

Buick boost: Holden technology is set to play a vital role in the repositioning of Buick in the US.

Struggling GM division to lead the way on Holden new technology for the US

Holden logo26 Feb 2004

STRUGGLING US brand Buick is set to be the first North American recipient of Holden’s Zeta architecture.

General Motors has plans to reposition Buick as its direct opposition to Toyota’s luxury brand Lexus. Holden technology will play a key role in making that happen.

First signs of the co-operation should come in April at the New York auto show with the unveiling of a convertible concept expected to be called Velite.

But Buick will have to wait until 2007 before being able to exploit the architecture with a production car.

And according to GoAuto sources in the US that won’t be all, with the production convertible set to follow it on to the market in 2008.

As you can see from the launch schedule reproduced below, Zeta will also underpin Chevrolets and Pontiacs in North America. And the list we have obtained is by no means complete.

Zeta has been developed by Holden for the VE Commodore and its derivatives but, as part of GM’s global architecture strategy, the technology will be exported internationally to underpin a new generation of vehicles.

 center image Zeta can be formatted in rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, with V6 and V8 drivetrains and in a variety of wheelbases.

Last week, during an Australian visit, GM product czar Bob Lutz put the worldwide opportunities for Zeta at about 400,000 units per annum, but that is a very conservative number.

Zeta production is expected to start at the Buick plant in Oshawa, Canada, in 2006. In 2002 215,727 Buick Century and Regal models were built there.

Add the potential for a second US plant, Fishermens Bend production and possible European use (Saab and Opel), and the Zeta total climbs beyond 500,000.

So why Buick first? Because it’s in a much weaker state than Chevrolet or Pontiac. Last year it sold 259,348 vehicles, a 30 per cent slide from 2002.

GM plans to reposition Buick more upscale with higher prices, more standard equipment and options not offered on current models.

"It will be American premium luxury,” GM North America president Gary Cowger told Automotive News this month.

"When you think about Buick, you’ve got to think about going right head-to-head with Lexus – only (with) American premium luxury, distinguishing itself with very tasteful executions of interiors, getting back to more classic designs." The first step in Buick’s resurgence came at the Chicago auto show when the mid-size LaCrosse was revealed.

Replacing the Regal and the Century, the LaCrosse was one of Mr Lutz’s first targets when he re-joined GM. He killed the original proposal and closely managed the exterior and interior styling re-designs.

Significantly, Mr Lutz’s previous utterances about Holdens he would like to sell in the US have not only included the Monaro as GTO and the SS utility as a Chev El Camino, but also the long wheelbase Statesman as a reborn Buick Roadmaster.

ZETA ROLL-OUT
2007 Buick luxury sedan
2008 Buick convertible
2008 Pontiac Grand Prix
2008 Pontiac GTO
2008/09 Chevrolet coupe and convertible
2009 Chevrolet Impala
2010 Chevrolet Monte Carlo

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