General Motors is pulling away from the performance genre, with plans to disband the company's High Performance Vehicle Operations (HPVO) unit effective immediately. While that internal designation may not resonate with many folks, the HPVO group was the team responsible for the SS and V-series performance cars and trucks in the GM line up.
Speaking to Automotive News on Feb. 19, GM Spokesman Vince Muniga said the decision was part of the company's restructuring plan submitted to the Treasury earlier in the week. Per that agreement, the company will instead focus its efforts on efficiency, churning out a planned 26 hybrid models by 2014 with more than half of them coming in the next three years.
"All high-performance projects are on indefinite hold," said Muniga. "The engineers are moving into different areas of the organization, and they will work on Cadillacs, Buicks, Chevrolets and Pontiacs."
HPVO was responsible for such cars as the popular Chevrolet Cobalt SS as well as the HHR SS. The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V -- currently the world's fastest production sedan -- was also the product of HPVO engineers. All total, the decision will affect six vehicles in the GM lineup, including the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR SS, the Chevrolet Colorado Sport, and the V-Series editions of the Cadillac CTS, STS and XLR.
General Motors enthusiasts took the news pretty hard, as GM faithful from around the globe initiated a digital tidal wave of soap-box speeches and expletive-laden one-liners barely minutes after the story broke. GM had to jump into damage control after being flooded with calls, explaining that the company wasn't abandoning its performance intentions all together. In an interview with the New York Times, Muniga confirmed that the decision eliminates future development of performance products but not the current line of SS and V-series cars. Those models will remain on sale for the duration of their normal product life cycles, which could likely be a couple more years at least.
"These models are going to stay in the vehicle pipeline," said Muniga. "They are regular production cars. The design and engineering are already done."
Muniga also clarified that the decision to dissolve HPVO only affects regular production cars that undergo HPVO treatment. Specialty high-performance models such as the Chevrolet Camaro and Corvette are purpose-built for performance by their own specific design teams and do not fall under the umbrella of the HPVO.
"This does not affect those cars," said Muniga.
General Motors won't rule out the possibility of returning to a broader performance line up in the future, saying that the team has not been officially disbanded and could be reinstated when the financial crisis has passed.