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General Motors is back to its old “badge engineering” tricks, the ones that almost sank the company in the 1980s.

That was my first thought as I took in the 2009 Chevrolet Traverse at the Canadian International Auto Show. GM simply had to do a Chevy version of the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, right?

Yes, but did GM stretch enough to distinguish the Traverse from its sister wagons? I’d say no for now and wait to be proven wrong.

Here’s what we know. The Traverse, a full-size crossover that will essentially replace the Chevy TrailBlazer this fall, shares all its expensive bits with the Outlook/Acadia/Enclave. That’s a good start, but spinning four models off the same platform strikes me as the kind of overkill that dilutes a good thing.

GM can prove me wrong by ensuring that the Traverse does something the others do not. The signs are not promising, however.

Certainly the styling is not a huge departure from the package we’ve already seen in the three others. In fact the Chevy is the most conservative of the bunch. Traverse will share the same 3.6-litre V-6 (286 horsepower) and six-speed automatic transmission as the others, and it has the same interior layout, too.

In GM’s favour is the fact that the wagons already in dealerships have been selling briskly and drawing loads of praise. But the Traverse strikes me as an afterthought, as if GM’s bosses suddenly realized that they have that big-volume Chevy brand, so we better give it a crossover. What’s in the parts bin?

They rummaged around and found the Outlook/Acadia/Enclave. And from those the Traverse was born.

GM has two ways to go to separate the Traverse from the rest. One is pricing. The Chevy should be less expensive than the others. We’ll know for sure later this summer, closer to the launch date.

And from behind the wheel the Traverse should feel a bit different from the others. We’ll know what Chevy has done there in a few months, too.

GM is walking a tightrope here. We’ll see if the General ends up needing a net.

Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080221.WBcatooncars20080221140451/WBStory/WBcatooncars
 

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"In fact the Chevy is the most conservative of the bunch". Gotta disagree, both the Acadia and the Outlook are more conservative. Look at the grille and the tail lights. Cato states that "the Traverse strikes me as an afterthought, as if GM’s bosses suddenly realized that they have that big-volume Chevy brand, so we better give it a crossover". Well d'uh! What should they do? Leave the Trailblazer to rot on the vine and the Chevy dealers without the hottest segment? It is a balancing act to keep everything that appeals to the other GM buyers as well as differentiate enough to appease Chevy enthusiasts while stealing market share from the Japanese. I think the Traverse successfully accomplishes this. If it does it at a price premium (we'll see) then I consider it a huge success. I am looking forward to the new features such as the Direct injection engine and bluetooth. I don't consider it a negative example of badge engineering if these sought after features wind up in the 09 versions of the other lambdas. :blob:











the Traverse strikes me as an afterthought, as if GM’s bosses suddenly realized that they have that big-volume Chevy brand, so we better give it a crossover
 

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So isn't the Ford edge and the lincoln MKZ or X (you know what I mean) a re-badge? Along with the NEW Taurus and Sable? ??? Boy, someone must have it in for GM.
 

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The Ford Edge, Lincoln MKX and Mazda CX-7 are the same. In fact, this is both extremely common AND necessary in today's environment. This is exactly why Lexus, Infiniti and Acura exist as well - a means to build higher quality, higher profit vehicles off of existing platforms. The vast majority of an automaker's expense comes in the R&D and development stages of a new platform. The only way to recoup that investment before the platform becomes obsolete is platform sharing - building multiple vehicles across multiple lines using the same technology.

Take a look at Nissan - they spend years and who knows how many millions developing the "FM" platform for the 350z, a car that starts at $26,000. From that platform, they've gone on to build not only the 350Z, but the Infiniti G35 coupe and sedan, the M35, M45, FX35, FX45 and the new EX35 SUV. This single platform has been used to build 2 seater convertible sport cars to full size sedans to mis size crossover suvs! There's NO way the 350Z could appeal to enough people to make the new (and necessary) platform profitable, but by building various models from it, the appeal grow substantially.

The same theory can be applied to brand loyalty, dealership location, styling cues and packaging options in the Lambdas. Not everyone loves the Acadia's red lighting or headlights/taillights. Not everyone lives close to a Saturn dealership (or prefers being able to haggle). Not everyone is enamored with the Enclave's "elegant" curves. But by creating various models that appeals to different people, they grow their audience and potential buyers pool large enough to make the new Lambda platform profitable.

And with CAFE standards going up quite a bit in the next few years, they HAVE to do something to replace aging mid tier gas guzzlers like the trailblazer and envoy with more fuel efficient models. Why NOT use "the best platform GM has ever executed, from an engineering standpoint" (those are the words of Bob Lutz himself)
 
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