Chevrolet - Borrego Concept
Chevrolet Borrego Bred For Success
GM taps alliance partner for proven all-wheel drive
The Chevrolet Borrego 2001 concept vehicle is notable for more than just its blurring of traditional market segments.
The architecture of this nimble General Motors sport truck is based on the acclaimed Subaru Legacy all-wheel drive system and turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Unique new vehicle architectures such as the Borrego meld the best of GM and its alliance partners and offer a glimpse at the global future of General Motors.
On the outside, the vehicle’s sporty, swept-back look and athletic stance take inspiration from international rally cars and pre-runner trucks -- spare, customized pickups that are part of the California scene where it was born in GM’s North Hollywood design studio. But underneath is a rugged Subaru AWD platform with a 2.5-liter, horizontally opposed engine that has proven itself on the international rally circuit as well as on American roads and highways.
“With GM’s size and global reach, you will be seeing more concepts and production vehicles like this,” explains Larry Burns, General Motors Vice President for Research & Development and Planning. “We’re going to use the strengths of our alliance partners to create new and exciting vehicles that combine the best of the best.
“Our 20 percent stake in Fuji Heavy Industries, the maker of Subaru, gives GM increased capability to create terrific new concept vehicles like the Borrego that will benefit from having Subaru’s world-class AWD and continuously variable transmission technologies,” Burns said. “Similarly, FHI can benefit from GM’s economies of scale in developing improved safety, emissions, and other advanced technologies. Both partners will gain from this relationship.”
GM has taken a strategic approach to alliances; they are about more than just geography and finances, Burns said. The company has focused on building its global automotive presence by acquiring partnerships with unsurpassed technical proficiency as well, he noted. For example, Fiat and Isuzu excel at diesel powertrains. Saab makes the best turbo-charged engines in the world and is a leader in safety technology. Fuji Heavy Industries is a leader in all-wheel drive and continuously variable transmissions. And Suzuki excels at small gasoline engines and mini cars. Other alliances include collaboration with Honda on internal combustion engines, with Toyota on advanced propulsion, with Renault on medium- and heavy-duty vans for Europe, and in the U.S. with AM General on the brand and distribution rights for the incomparable Hummer.
“Through alliances such as these, GM gains product or technical capabilities it doesn’t currently have, or that it could only develop with significant capital investment,” Burns said. “In return, GM wants to help FHI grow and strengthen the Subaru brand and assist in its further development as a premium niche product.”
Masaru Katsurada, vice president of product planning at FHI, stated, “We take genuine pride in our engineering excellence, and to be recognized as the world leader in all-wheel drive technology by General Motors really motivates our team.”
John Taylor, director of the Advanced Portfolio Exploration Team (APEx) at GM’s Warren, Michigan Technical Center, said the breadth of technological capability created by alliances also will make his job of developing an innovative portfolio of GM vehicles a little easier. “Whatever the concept, we can usually look around the company and the alliance partners to find a technology we need or a platform that would be the right architecture for what we’re trying to achieve,” he said.
GM’s alliances give the company a firm presence in eight key markets that will account for almost 60 percent of the auto industry’s growth over the next decade: China, Brazil, India, South Korea, Thailand, Mexico, Poland, and Russia. In 1998, GM accounted for 8 percent of the under-$10,000 vehicle market in these eight key countries. But with affiliates, that total market share is 34 percent. Alliance partners allow GM to grow in developing markets faster than it could on its own and at a lower cost.
GM’s leverage will also help grow those businesses. GM’s size and global reach will create tremendous advantages in this new global automotive market, Burns said. “As the automobile industry becomes more global, the key to success will be managing GM’s alliances and acquisitions most effectively to find the best efficiencies and synergies. Again, we’re looking to blend the best of the best.
“By adopting Subaru’s architecture for the Borrego concept, GM is able to bring this sort of vision to market much more quickly and at lower cost than if it were to develop the necessary technologies itself. I think the styling and performance of this vehicle make that argument beautifully.”