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Report: GM's Alpha platform development in dire straits, overweight

GM's highly touted upcoming Alpha platform has reportedly been the cause for much concern, disagreement and now challenges for the automaker.

For the better part of a decade General Motors has been working on developing a rear-wheel drive platform for small cars that has come to be known as the Alpha platform. It is that very platform and its colorful history (despite not yet debuting in a single production vehicle) that has landed said platform at the center of controversy today.

According to "five or six independent sources" both within GM and working at suppliers involved in the development of the Alpha platform, the entire platform is currently at a crossroads of sorts as it has deviated so far from its original intents that its weight and list of requirements are putting the entire platform at risk, according to a GMInsideNews report.

As GMI explains, due to the Alpha platform's $1 billion price tag, its development was met with many speed bumps along way, with one being the late acceptance by Cadillac that ultimately led to a thorough re-engineering of the entire platform in order to accommodate additional technologies such as a V6 engine, as well as all-wheel drive. Those changes have ultimately pushed the alpha platform's total final curb weight to nearly 4,000 lbs, or roughly 300-500 lbs more than originally intended.

The main problem stemming from the weight gain, as well as changing of the platform itself to accommodate different vehicles, has reportedly thrown off the originally purpose-developed multi-link suspension that at one point delivered "near perfect geometry." But as weight and changes were added, the original geometry was no longer usable and GM has reportedly decided to use chassis tuning rather than redeveloping the geometry for optimal results.

The Alpha platform was also faced with the challenge of being adapted to accommodate larger vehicles like the next-generation Cadillac CTS as well, which led to the long-wheelbase Alpha+ platform, which was even heavier. As a result, GM is reportedly working on ways to shed as much as 500 lbs from the total vehicle weight, looking at all possible weight savings avenues in order to achieve the mass reduction.

Look for the Alpha platform to debut first with the 2013 Cadillac ATS sometime in 2012.

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