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GM's Project Alpha Takes Shape

General Motors' plan for a new family of midsize, rear-wheel-drive cars is beginning to take shape, with the lead vehicle — an RWD successor to the Pontiac G6 — penciled in for a late 2010 intro, Inside Line has learned.

cadillac bls wagonpontiac solsticechevrolet malibu2007 pontiac g6The platform, called Alpha, also will underpin several other models in North America and Europe, beginning in model-year 2011, according to GM suppliers. Alpha reportedly has been designed to use bits of the Kappa platform on which the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky are based.

Replacements for the front-wheel-drive Cadillac BLS sedan and wagon, based on the rear-drive Alpha architecture, are due in early 2011. At that time, the car may be introduced in North America, where it would be slotted below the CTS in size and price, with stickers starting in the high $20,000s.

In model-year 2012, Saturn is slated to get an Alpha-based sedan, which may supplement rather than replace the front-wheel-drive Aura. The RWD Saturn four-door body will be shared with Opel and Holden, GM insiders tell IL.

However, GM still has significant plans for several of its existing front-wheel-drive midsize sedans. The old W-body platform (also known internally as MS2000) is being phased out after 2010. A successor to the W-body Buick LaCrosse, rebadged as the Regal, will shift to the Epsilon 2 platform in early 2009, followed by a redesigned Aura in late 2009. The new Epsilon-based Regal, according to IL sources, will be built and sold in both North America and China, with virtually identical sheet metal.

The Malibu gets a significant redesign this fall but isn't scheduled to move to the Epsilon 2 architecture until late 2010. About the time the last of the old W-body models — the Chevrolet Impala (rebadged as the Impala Classic) — is put out to pasture, Chevrolet may create a long-wheelbase, six-passenger companion to the Epsilon-based Malibu, to serve customers and fleets who prefer front-wheel drive and may shy away from the new RWD Impala that's coming in mid-2010. Chevy reportedly would pit this large FWD four-door against the Ford Taurus (née Five Hundred).

In Europe, replacements for the Saab 9-5 and 9-3 will shift to Epsilon 2, in mid-2009 and mid-2010, respectively. Opel and Daewoo also will have future products based on the same architecture.

© Source: insideline
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