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Pontiac Solstice to be produced in 2006!

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13:19:43 Jan. 05, 2004)

2004 Detroit: GM developed architecture just for Solstice

By DAVE GUILFORD | Automotive News

GM broke development rules to create the Solstice.

To build the Pontiac Solstice two-seater, General Motors created a rear-wheel-drive, small-car architecture called Kappa.

And to do that, says Lori Queen, vehicle line executive for small cars, GM "blew up the entire vehicle-development process."

Queen's team:

Scrapped the traditional "alpha build" of a rough "mule" vehicle, testing ride and handling by computer simulation.

Used many components from other GM vehicles, eliminating validation time.

Used new hydroform stamping, cutting tooling costs and time.

Kappa was scheduled to debut at the Detroit show Sunday, Jan. 4, with the 2006 production Solstice plus two concepts, the Chevrolet Nomad sporty wagon and Saturn Curve.

GM needed to produce Kappa quickly to capitalize on the buzz created when Vice Chairman Robert Lutz drove a Solstice concept onstage at the 2002 Detroit show. Striking as it was, the concept was far from production-ready. It was a rwd car jimmied onto GM's Delta front-wheel-drive platform.

"We needed a small, flexible, rwd architecture," Queen says. "We knew that a modified Delta was not going to work for the production car."

There was another hurdle. Lutz wanted the car to attract young buyers and mandated a sticker price of $20,000, if not less. GM has not set the sticker for the Solstice, but Lutz says it will be close to the target. Hitting cost objectives took discipline and the ability to say no, he says.

"People said, 'Wouldn't it be nice to have a power top?' Yes. 'Oh, let's have a power top.' No. 'Wouldn't it be nice to have power windows?' Yes, of course it would. But you're not going to get them. At all of those junctures, you have to be able to say no."

Analyst Jim Hall of AutoPacific in Southfield, Mich., says Lutz had to hit the price target or lose young buyers.

"It's going to be 100 percent price-dependent," Hall says. "If it's even a little too expensive, it's going to be a tough sell."

The frugal development process offered some advantages. The new stamping technique, which uses one die along with high-pressure water, allows much deeper stampings.

Anne Asensio, executive director of advanced vehicle design, says designers exploited the capability to create the deep clamshell hood on the Saturn Curve.

"We think this technology will enable very unique shapes that design always wanted to do, but that manufacturing has struggled to do," Asensio says.

Mark Hogan, group vice president for advanced vehicle development, says GM expects Kappa to be profitable at a volume "north of 100,000 units" when other vehicles join the Solstice.

"It's a challenge," Hogan says. "But working all the pieces of the equation - the capital piece, the engineering piece, the material-cost piece - we're going to make money at that volume."

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Originally posted by replicorexxx

Its a nice car, But it only comes w/ 170 hp. Come on ponti we need more than that.

considering that its main competitors, the Miata and MR-2, have only 140hp standard, 170hp is plenty.

the Solstice's engine even almost matches new Mazdaspeed Miata's turbo 4 in terms of power

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You cant just look at hp. If the car weigs less than 2500lbs(not likely) it could be pretty damn fast. Not to mention the transmission and gearing. And its also about handling. Mr2 is insane on the twisties. Real racing to me is not just straight power, but how you can apply the power you have. This car is ment to compete with mr2 and other cars alike. Mr2 may only have 140hp but i bet its faster than you think. And not much can touch it on a track.

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