General Motors Corp. will discontinue its Quadrasteer 4-wheel steering technology as an option on fullsize pickups and SUVs by the end of the '05 model year, Ward's learns, and the feature will not appear on the next-generation GMT900 fullsize vehicles, which begin production next year.

Quadrasteer, developed by Delphi Corp., was an expensive option that was extremely popular with a small number of buyers but was not profitable.

The phaseout begins this spring with the GMC Yukon XL and Chevy Suburban three-quarter-ton SUVs, which will free up space at GM's Arlington, TX, assembly plant as it tools up for production of GMT900 vehicles.

GM also will drop Quadrasteer from its GMC Sierra and Chevy Silverado half-ton extended-cab pickups and Sierra and Silverado heavy-duty crew cab pickups. GM purchased a fixed number of axles equipped with Quadrasteer. Once they are gone, GM will sell no more vehicles with the feature.

In 2004, GM sold a mere 5,502 vehicles equipped with Quadrasteer — most of them Sierra half-ton pickups, according to Ward's data.

Data indicates penetration rates for Quadrasteer on the Chevy and GMC vehicles were 0.9% in 2002, 2.1% in 2003 and 1.4% in 2004.

Web chat rooms make it evident Quadrasteer, which Delphi first delivered to GM in 2002, has established a cult-like following.

The technology, which provides compact car maneuverability in a fullsize pickup, is proving popular with owners because it takes the fear out of tight parking spots. It also is helpful for hauling trailers.

Within Delphi, Quadrasteer's future appears in question, although the supplier has attempted to sell the technology to other auto makers as well.

Delphi has dispersed the engineers who worked on Quadrasteer at a facility in Saginaw, MI, although the supplier hopes to reassemble the team in the event new customers emerge.

GM dealers say they have been hearing for more than a year that Quadrasteer was being discontinued, causing many to stop offering the option to buyers.

One dealer tells Ward's that Quadrasteer will be available on a handful of vehicles only for another month as a “last hurrah.”

However, the GMC dealer says he has no plans to order more Quadrasteer-equipped vehicles, because those he had earlier were difficult to sell.

GM previously has admitted it botched the rollout of Quadrasteer with exorbitant pricing. It initially was packaged priced at about $7,000 with a host of other features.

In 2003, the price came down to $4,495, and a $2,000 rebate eventually was offered, as well. Quadrasteer remained packaged with other features.

In 2004, the option price fell further to $1,995, with no rebates. Many dealers, according to consumer chat rooms, were unaware of the price cuts and dissuaded buyers from the feature, saying it was too expensive.

Percent Quadrasteer Production and Sales of Available Models
Model 2002 CY Sales 2003 CY Sales 2004 CYTD Sales
Sierra 2.8 5.0 3.4
Yukon XL 2.4 16.1 17.8
Silverado 0.3 1.0 0.5
Suburban 0.8 8.5 6.2
Total 0.9 2.1 1.4

At a 2003 automotive conference in Traverse City, MI, Gary Cowger, president of GM North America, took responsibility for Quadrasteer's rollout.

“Quadrasteer was our problem,” he said at the time, as GM was repackaging it at a lower price. “It didn't get the kind of penetration we expected.”

The failure of Quadrasteer marks the second time in less than three years GM has discontinued a groundbreaking technology following lackluster interest from consumers. In September 2003, GM confirmed to Ward's it was dropping its Pro-Tec composite pickup box after only two years of production.

While Quadrasteer and Pro-Tec did not have any performance shortcomings and provided significant benefits to consumers, the technologies were high priced and difficult to market.