Faced with the need to restructure in order to survive, General Motors has disbanded its High Performance Vehicle Operations unit - the team of engineers behind some of the company's most critically successful cars.
The disbanded group, according to Motor Trend, "Produced low volume tuned machines ranging from various V-Series Cadillacs to the 'SS' badged Chevrolet HHR and Cobalt."
In recent years, automakers have invested heavily in building high-performance variants of production cars. These cars often win heavy press coverage and serve to boost an automaker's reputation for engineering prowess, but are far more expensive than the cars they are based on, sold in much smaller numbers, and result in little profit for the company.
GM's High Performance Vehicle Operations team built some of the best. "The group's recent hits include the surprisingly good Cobalt SS and HHR SS," Edmunds Straightline Blog notes, "and some true ass-kickers such as the [Cadillac] CTS-V." The CTS-V, a version of Cadillac's entry-level luxury car that featured a modified Corvette engine and an adjustable magnetic suspension, set the record for the fastest lap ever recorded by a four-door car on the famous Nurburging test track and bested the vaunted BMW M3 in some comparison tests.
Vehicles already designed, like the CTS-V and an upcoming Camaro SS, will reportedly still be produced. However, no new high-performance vehicles will come from GM companies, at least until the automaker has recovered from its current financial crisis. Autoblog reports, "Once (if?) GM is in a better financial position, the team could be reinstated."
And at least one high-performance GM vehicle has been spared. Drivers Republic notes that high-performance Corvette variants like the recently-released ZR 1 "are developed independently so, in theory, won't be affected by the end of the HPVO department. However if this additional financial bail-out comes with more strings attached, it's possible the decision to put a stop to high performance versions of The General's 'regular' cars could also pose a serious threat to the future development of the expensive niche versions of America's most credible and capable supercar.