yea the article from Autoweek was posted over on the Grand AM boards last week.
Top troubles plague G6 convertible; parts fail on key Pontiac product
ROBERT SHEREFKIN | Automotive News and JASON STEIN | Automotive News
Posted Date: 8/15/05
DETROIT -- General Motors' problems with the Pontiac G6 convertible continue to mount.
Engineering problems already have forced GM to delay the launch of the retractable hardtop from next month until January 2006. Now those troubles threaten to push the start of production further into next year and could lead to cancellation of the program.
The G6 convertible is important to GM because the division desperately needs exciting products. Like the Solstice roadster, the convertible is meant to be a halo vehicle for the brand.
But four supplier and industry sources familiar with the program say the car's hardtop, which is supplied by Karmann USA Inc. of Plymouth, Mich., has flunked durability tests.
The top is supposed to survive two life cycles of openings and closings, for a total of 16,000 to 20,000 cycles, supplier sources say. But a supplier close to the program says the roof has failed after fewer than 10,000 cycles.
A poor fit between the deck lid and rear fenders is another problem, the source says.
'Damaged from the start'
"The whole program has been damaged from the start," one industry analyst says. "There has been a lot that has gone wrong."
Oliver Wehage, a Karmann vice president, insists the top meets GM specifications. He would not provide details of testing, except to say that Karmann in some cases created "overloading situations" for its internal research.
GM spokesman Jim Hopson said the convertible's top "meets and exceeds" all of the automaker's current life-cycle requirements, but declined to say what those requirements are.
"I've never been involved in a vehicle program that didn't have some problems," he says. "Our intention, at this point, is to have the vehicle available in the first quarter of 2006."
That's a slight shift from GM's position of Feb. 28, when it said the convertible would launch in January. Supplier sources say the launch originally was scheduled for September 2005.
GM has thrown two dozen engineers at the problem in a bid to keep the program on track. But GM has minimal experience with the technology. The only recent examples are the retractable hardtops on the Cadillac XLR and Chevrolet SSR.
The tops for both come from outside suppliers.
A GM insider says the automaker needs to begin volume production by March. If that target cannot be met, he says, the program could be shelved because GM would not be able to amortize the vehicle's cost by the time the G6 is redesigned.
The automaker has not disclosed the planned sales volume for the convertible G6, which it has touted as one of the most economical retractable hardtops in the industry. The sticker price has been targeted around $30,000.
Pontiac had planned to bring out the G6 in waves. The sedan debuted last year. A coupe came out this month, and the convertible is next.
To create the convertible, the basic G6 had to be re-engineered because it was not designed to be an open-air vehicle. The convertible needs a stiffened underbody, and the interior must be redesigned to store the hardtop.
In February, a UAW official and a supplier source confirmed that GM had delayed the launch of the convertible four months, to January 2006, because of lingering engineering problems.
Miles Thompson, sales manager at Thompson Sales Co. in Springfield, Mo., which sells GMC, Cadillac, Pontiac and Saab, says his dealership will not order any convertibles until he has a better idea when they will arrive at dealerships.
"I'm not sure when we are going to get them," Thompson says. "We have no idea on allocation."