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Leftlane discusses the future of GM with Ed Welburn

General Motors has finally cleared its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing, leading us to wonder what is on tap for the "˜new' GM. Nobody knows the future of GM better than Ed Welburn - the automaker's head of design - so Leftlane decided to sit down with Mr. Welburn to discuss what we can expect from the new automaker in the coming years.

Small cars, the future of Buick
With the Obama administration now technically in the driver's seat of GM, many have wondered if the Detroit automaker will see a new push towards small cars. While Mr. Welburn says GM may have a "surprise of two" in store, the automaker will continue to work on a balanced lineup of cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers.

However, Mr. Wleburn says GM is "very interested" in producing a premium small car in the coming years. While no brands were specifically named, Mr. Welburn heavily hinted towards the possibility of a premium small car from Buick. "There is room for expansion in the Buick lineup," he said.

Giving more credence to a possible small car from Buick, Mr. Welburn revealed Buick's design studios in Detroit and China are working closely on future endeavors. The Chinese market Buick Regal has been rumored to be U.S.-bound, and it could be just the first of many jointly developed vehicles earmarked for the U.S. market.

Whatever the case, Mr. Welburn says GM is working on a number of different type and size vehicles for Buick, so expect a vehicle renaissance for the brand in the coming years.

Cadillac flagship
Mr. Welburn confirmed work is ongoing on a Cadillac DTS/STS replacement, but it doesn't sound as if the new model will be based on the Chevrolet Camaro's Zeta platform. Although the new model will likely be built alongside the Camaro at GM's Oshawa plant, Mr. Welburn emphasized that the Oshawa plant is highly flexible and that vehicles built there "don't have to come off the same architecture." Expect the Cadillac flagship to ride on GM's Epsilon II platform.

As far as styling goes, look for the DTS/STS replacement to build off the CTS' looks and include some styling bits from the Converj concept. Although the flagship model won't blaze a new styling direction for the brand, Mr. Welburn says the new Caddy will be "dramatic and contemporary." Mr. Welburn also said the new model has spent plenty of time in the wind tunnel, so expect an extremely sleek look, possibly in the style of a four-door coupe.

GM logo going green?
As it turns out, GM was considering a number of logo changes - including a switch from blue to green - but Mr. Welburn says it was ultimately not a high priority. Although the new-look logo was intended to convey a leaner and faster GM, Mr. Welburn says changing the culture at GM is much more instrumental in reaching that goal.