In addition to being delayed by aCorp. decision to juggle product plans at an assembly plant under construction, the automaker's Epsilon midsize vehicle platform is losing products, too.
GM has delayed indefinitely — or more likely axed completely — the Pontiac Banner and Buick Signia crossovers, sources tell Ward's. Codenamed GMX390 and GMX391, the “sedan-like vans” were due around 2003-2005. Banner was to replace the Pontiac Bonneville and Signia was to replace Buick LeSabre, sources say.
Portions of Epsilon have been postponed or scaled back, because GM is changing the program's sourcing. The platform originally was assigned to plants in Fairfax, KN; Oshawa, Ont.; and Delta Twp., MI. About six months into construction, GM moved Epsilon out of Delta Twp. and replaced it with the Lambda platform, a program that GM is co-developing with Subaru and is believed to include the next-generation minivans due in July 2003 and crossover vehicles. Delta Twp. now is expected to open in 2004, a year later than planned.
GM is looking for another Epsilon plant to replace Delta Twp. Likely candidates are Orion Twp., MI; Hamtramck, MI; and Wilmington, DE. Some suppliers with Epsilon contracts that have purchased property near the Delta Twp. site are campaigning for the Orion plant because it is only about 80 miles away and land purchased near Delta Twp. still could be used for just-in-time delivery.
In addition to the plant change, there are other reasons for Epsilon's delay. With an unstable economy, GM may be looking for ways to trim spending. Epsilon also may be undergoing a product strategy shift. GM is over-represented in the midsize segment of the market, and the automaker likely is taking a closer look at what products it should continue developing and what should be dropped.