Advertisement

GM's Plug-In Hybrid: Not a Saturn, Not a Buick, Will Try Again

Follow John

2011 Buick crossover plug-in hybrid

2011 Buick crossover plug-in hybrid

Enlarge Photo

Just two weeks ago, we reported that GM's first plug-in hybrid vehicle--originally meant to be a Saturn Vue before GM decided to sell Saturn to Pennske--would become a Buick crossover.

My, how quickly things change in the new Internet world.

As GM said Wednesday on its Fastlane blog, "not all the feedback was positive."

Twitter: #Vuick #Fail!

In fact,  the idea of quickly renaming the former Saturn Vue as a Buick--by changing the grille and some trim--"received consistent feedback from large parts of all the audiences that it didn’t fit the premium characteristics that customers have come to expect from Buick."

Translation: People thought we were crazy to go right back to the badge-engineering that we'd just recently said we'd never do again.

Much of the criticism could be found on Twitter under the #Vuick hashtag. That was the term coined by some of the first consumers to attend two days of GM consumer and media previews that showed off its current and upcoming products.

For GM, pros and cons

GM vice chairman Tom Stephens said, "Last Friday, reaction to the Buick crossover was discussed at the meeting of our Executive Committee, the newly formed group that steers product decisions, and it was decided that if it didn’t belong, it didn’t belong."

So the unnamed, badge-engineered Buick crossover (nee Saturn Vue) will be killed before it's even born. Which is almost certainly a good thing. Here's how we view the whole episode for GM:

PRO: GM showed it could react swiftly to consumer sentiment, especially from the important "influencers". You know, the people who consistently get asked, "You understand all about cars; what should I buy next?"

CON: GM should never have entertained the idea of warming over the Vue and turning it into a Buick, since that brand is slated to face off head-to-head with Lexus--and the Vue ain't in the same arena as any Lexus.

We welcome your thoughts, pro and con, in the Comments section below.

So it'll become...we don't know yet

Meanwhile, the plug-in version of the Two-Mode Hybrid will move to ... well, they're not saying yet. Stephens again: "We decided that the important plug-in hybrid technology would be applied to another vehicle, at no delay, that we’ll discuss in the very near future."

We agree with Twitter user @merritr, who says: The PHEV should be the Equinox and be done with it.

The 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is a newly refreshed midsize crossover built in high volumes; what better vehicle to offer the front-wheel-drive Two-Mode Hybrid option, and then the plug-in?

After all, if you're selling your first extended-range electric vehicle as the 2011 Chevrolet Volt (which is not a hybrid, by the way), then surely an actual plug-in hybrid suits the Chevrolet brand too. Right? Let's get on it, General Motors!

Yeah, but ...

Though for a slightly more cynical take, from Twitter user @kurtfliegel: The yet-another-revelation department: it took Twitter for marketers to realize that customers have opinions?

Vue Plug-In Hybrid Concept

Vue Plug-In Hybrid Concept

Enlarge Photo

GM could have Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid by 2009

GM could have Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid by 2009

Enlarge Photo

GM testing Saturn Vue plug-in hybrids

GM testing Saturn Vue plug-in hybrids

Enlarge Photo

2011 Buick crossover plug-in hybrid - battery pack

2011 Buick crossover plug-in hybrid - battery pack

Enlarge Photo

2010 Chevrolet Equinox Exterior taken at Chevrolet Press Event in Plymouth, Michigan. Photo by Rex Roy

2010 Chevrolet Equinox Exterior taken at Chevrolet Press Event in Plymouth, Michigan. Photo by Rex Roy

Enlarge Photo

[TheCarConnection]

Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (4)
  1. YES! Although we don't like the badge engineering, since Saturn is now gone from GM it's almost forgivable. The new Equinox is a PRIME candidate to become the first plug in hybrid, ESPECIALLY since the Volt is also a Chevy. This would fit in very nicely and allow Chevy to further develop it's electric portfolio, which had a Hydrogen fuel cell Equinox test fleet as well.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  2. Car makers will no be able to ignore customer opinions. The bigger the outfit (car making industry has only big outfits), the less they will be able to escape customer opinions.
    This could or could not accelerate green car development, depending on whether the majority opinion on twitter would come from green people or from people who were being previously educated by the car industry advertising network to purchase large gas guzzling expensive cars that boost shareholders income the most.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. @Mario: Errrr, what? In English, please?
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. GM BETTER NOT SIT ON ITS ARSE! PEOPLE WANT LOW COST OF OWNERSHIP AND THAT MEANS BOTH LOW PRICE, LOW MAINTENANCE AND HIGH MPG BUT THEIR NOT READY TO SACRIFICE UTILITY, SPORT OR LUXURY.
    THE MAJOR CAR MAKERS FROM FORD AND CHEVY TO EUROPEAN AND ASIAN CARMAKERS ALL HAVE HIGH MPG SEDANS AND HAVE ANNOUNCED HIGH MILEAGE LUXURY CARS, SUVS AND CROSSOVERS.
    GM CANNOT BE LATE TO MARKET WITH HIGH MPG CHOICES OR IT WILL HAVE A FRAGMENTED BRAND AND CONTINUE TO LOSE ITS MARKET SHARE...AS PEOPLE CANT FIND THE FEATURES THEY WANT SKIP OVER TO AN ALTERNATE BRAND AND MANUFACTURER.
    ITS ALL ABOUT MPG THESE DAYS! AND PEOPLE WAY IT LIKE THEIR GOING TO BE UNEMPLOYED NEXT YEAR.
    Its official. The 1930s to the 1990s where cars are measured by horsepower are dead.
    We are back to the beginning of the cars in the 1910-1920s when buyers looked at low cost of ownership but dont want to give up: utility, sport, luxury
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement

Find Green Cars

Go!
Advertisement

Advertisement

 
© 2014 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by Homestar, LLC.