General Motors Company Plans to Broaden Use of its New Alpha Platform

General Motors Company’s new rear-wheel-drive Alpha platform, which was originally designed for the 2013 Cadillac, will be used to underpin a number of new designs. GM has found the new platform to be flexible enough to allow its use in the 2014 Cadillac CTS, which is expected to measure 195 inches in length, as well as the next-generation, 2015 Chevy Camaro and a smaller Buick or Chevrolet sedan.

GM is designing its new bodies to accommodate a variety of engines, including four-cylinders, turbocharged V-6s and small block V-8s, whether they will initially offered with all these engine options or not. In instances where smaller four-cylinder engines are offered, active engine mounts must be accommodated to account for their inherent lack of refinement.

Among the future premium engines under consideration for the Alpha-platform Camaro is a turbocharged V-6 similar to the 2.8-liter V-6 currently available in the Cadillac SRX.

Turbocharged engines require blowers and intercoolers must be accommodated by the engine bays and make designing for a small block engine much easier since dual overhead cams feature four valves per cylinder and are not as compact at the engine’s top. So-called “breathed-on” V-6 engines are inherently more difficult to fit into the engine bay.

The 2015 Chevrolet Camaro, which will be smaller and lighter than the current model, will undoubtedly offer the Alpha four-cylinder engine option. Premium engine options may include the turbo- or supercharged V-6 or possibly even a lightweight, small block Z/28.

The Cadillac ATS, designed to compete against the BMW 3 Series, will no doubt be equipped with a naturally aspirated or supercharged V-6 similar to the current 2.8- or 3.0-liter configurations. A 2.0-turbo or 2.4-liter four cylinder engine are also likely options. Mercedes-Benz is planning to sell four-cylinder C-Classes in the U.S. BMW has indicated that it intends to offer a four-cylinder 3 Series here, and Audi already offers the A4/A5 2.0-liter TFSI as an engine option for U.S. buyers.

The Alpha-based Cadillac CTS will be available with a 3.0- or 3.6-liter engine, but GM may also offer a turbocharged four-cylinder option to compete with rivals in the sector. The Cadillac Mk III CTS will be available only as a sedan. The automaker has indicated that no wagon or coupe versions are in the works. The ATS will be available in a variety of body styles.

GM is still undecided as to whether or not the new eight-speed automatic transmission it is designing for use with its V-6 engines will be rear-wheel-drive or front-wheel-drive. Both BMW and Lexus currently offer eight-speed automatic transmissions for rear-wheel-drive configurations only. Although adapting the transmission to accommodate both RWD and FWD would likely double development costs, it would also allow it to serve a much broader array of models. By increasing production scale to include trucks and SUVs, the proposition might be economical for GM.

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