General Motors Vehicle Platforms Explained from the Gamma to the All-New GM Omega Platform

As an automobile manufacturer, General Motors is well aware of the building blocks to production success - lesser vehicle platforms than before. In addition to that, GM higher-ups also know that to be competitive in this day and age, they need to offer the neatest platform technologies currently available without increasing production costs.
C6 Corvette platform 1 photo
Photo: GM
Back in October 2014, General Motors CEO Mary Barra declared during an investor briefing a pretty interesting detail about the company’s future. By 2025, General Motors intends to use only four vehicle platforms instead of the 26 it used back in October.

Of course, the C7 Corvette is utilizing a standalone platform, as will the C8 Corvette that may spawn a mid-engined variant. Furthermore, Chevrolet and GMC-branded trucks and commercial vehicles are and will be using specially developed architectures.

Cutting down the number of vehicle platforms isn’t just a cost-efficient solution, but also serves as a good way to fasten the R&D of future models. It all depends on a highly important element: modularity. The Volkswagen Group proved time and time again that modularity is the answer and GM took notes.

Due to the fact General Motors LLC is currently in the middle of refreshing its entire vehicle platform lineup, it’s necessary to talk you through them. Our guide to understanding them all includes the current crop of platforms, as well as the architectures of the future. Without further ado, let’s get started with the lexicon.

GM Gamma platform (aka Global Small Vehicle architecture)

- Description: the smallest of them all, this platform is a transverse front-engine layout architecture that can accommodate front-wheel and all-wheel drive. It was introduced as a replacement for the GM4300 in the year 2000.

The current generation of the platform is known as the Gamma II platform while the next generation is expected to adopt the GM Gamma G2SC moniker.

- Features: independent front suspension coupled with semi-independent twist-beam rear suspension/torsion-beam rear suspension. As for engine choices, the platform supports three and four-cylinder motors, as well as electric powertrains (Chevrolet Spark EV).

- Most important applications (discontinued, current and future models): Opel Corsa (C), Opel Tigra TwinTop (B), Opel Meriva (A), Chevrolet Montana, Chevrolet Spark, Chevrolet Sonic, Holden Barina, Opel/Vauxhall Mokka, Buick Encore, Chevrolet/Holden Trax, Chevrolet Cobalt, Chevrolet Spin, Chevrolet Onix and the Chevrolet Sail supermini.

The next-gen Chevrolet Sonic and Opel Corsa will reportedly use an enhanced version known as the G2XX/Global Gamma platform. The Chevrolet Bolt EV is slated to use a variant called Gamma G2SC.

GM Fiat Small platform (aka SCCS, Small Common Components and Systems platform, Small Wide and Small US Wide 4x4 platform)

- Description: in production since 2005, the SCCS is used predominantly by Fiat-Chrysler vehicles, not automobiles wearing GM-approved badges.

- Features: This architecture was developed for transverse front-engined vehicles, with front-wheel or all-wheel drive. The high-strength steel frame gets MacPherson struts at the front, joined by a torsion beam, semi-independent strut suspension at the rear.

- Most important applications (discontinued, current and future models): Fiat Grande Punto, Opel Corsa (D and E), Alfa Romeo MiTo, Opel Adam, Fiat Linea, Opel Meriva (B), Fiat Doblo, Opel Combo, Fiat 500L, Jeep Renegade, Fiat 500X.

GM Delta platform (aka Global Compact Vehicle architecture)

- Description: this compact front-wheel drive car and crossover SUV platform debuted on the 2003 Saturn Ion. It replaces the old-school platforms like the GM T, GM J and the GM Z platform of the Saturn S-Series.

- Features: the GM Delta platform can accommodate front, transversely-mounted engines in both front and all-wheel drive guise. At the front, Delta-based cars use independent suspension, while the rear makes do with a twist-beam/torsion-beam suspension system.

- Most important applications (discontinued, current and future models): Saturn Ion, Opel/Vauxhall Astra (H), Opel/Vauxhall Zafira (B), Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR, Pontiac G5, Pontiac G4 and Pontiac Pursuit. The Delta II version is employed by the Chevrolet Cruze, Holden Cruze, Daewoo Lacetti Premiere, Chevrolet Volt, Opel Ampera, Opel Astra (J), Buick Excelle XT, Chevrolet Orlando, Buick Verano, Opel Zafira Tourer (C), Cadillac ELR and Opel/Buick Cascada. The General Motors Delta and Delta II platforms are going to be replaced by the GM D2XX/D2UX.

GM Theta platform

- Description: introduced in 2002 for compact/mid-size crossover SUVs. What is known as the GM Theta Premium is a variant of the platform that was used by the 2010 - 2015 model year Cadillac SRX and the 2001 Saab 9-4x compact luxury crossover SUV.

- Features: the GM Theta architecture was developed for unibody welded steel bodyshells. It uses a four-wheel independent suspension system. All vehicles use a front, transversely-mounted engine placement. Speaking of which, four and six-cylinder engines are the only powerplants you can get on with the Theta.

- Most important applications (discontinued, current and future models): Saturn Vue, Opel Antara and rebadged models (Vauxhall/Holden Captiva), Pontiac Torrent, Chevrolet Captiva, Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Suzuki XL7, Cadillac SRX, Saab 9-4X and two concept vehicles (the Chevrolet S3X and T2X). This platform is expected to be replaced by the GM D2XX/D2UX vehicle platform, starting with the third-gen Chevrolet Equinox (2017 model year).

GM D2XX/D2UX platform

- Description: this is where it gets interesting. The GM D2XX/D2UX architecture replaces the GM Delta II. It was introduced in August 2012, and it allegedly cost $220 million to be developed. This metal skeleton is also replacing the crossover-only GM Theta platform.

- Features: highly modular, lightweight, developed for front, transversely-mounted engine applications. As was the case with the Delta II and Theta, front-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles will be underpinned by it.

The D2XX/D2UX architecture introduces independent MacPherson strut-type suspension with side-loaded strut modules, hydraulic ride bushings and a direct-acting hollow stabilizer bar for the front axle. At the rear, the second-gen 2016 Chevrolet Volt uses an adapted compound crank (torsion beam suspension) with a double-walled, U-shaped profile. The steering system of the D2XX/D2UX platform is a rack-mounted electric system co-developed with TRW Automotive.

- Most important applications (current and future models): 2016 Chevrolet Volt, China-spec 2015 Chevrolet Cruze, China-spec 2015 Buick Excelle GT, US-spec 2016 Chevrolet Cruze, 2015 Opel/Vauxhall Astra K, the second-gen Opel Ampera, China-spec 2015 Buick Envision and US-spec 2016 Buick Envision and more.

Possible candidates for the D2XX/D2UX architecture are the upcoming 2017 Chevrolet Equinox, 2017 Chevrolet Orlando, all-new Opel/Vauxhall Antara (slated to be launched by the end of the decade) and sister model Chevrolet Captiva, 2017 GMC Terrain, 2017 Buick Verano, as well as the model that will replace the Cadillac ELR.

GM Alpha platform

- Description: put simply, the GM Alpha platform was developed to replace the old as socks GM Sigma. It was reportedly engineered to be as light as possible in order to deliver “world-class driving dynamics.”

- Features: GM Alpha is meant for compact/mid-size, rear and all-wheel drive applications. The Alpha has been developed to accommodate front, longitudinally-mounted powerplants. Aluminum and high-strength steel were employed to make the GM Alpha happen.

Thanks to its four-wheel independent suspension and flexible wheelbase configurations, this baby is and will be used for anything ranging from Chevrolets to Caddys.

- Most important applications (current and future models): 2013 Cadillac ATS, 2014 Cadillac CTS, 2016 Cadillac ATS-V and 2016 Cadillac CTS-V, as well as future products such as the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro. It’s still unknown if General Motors will use the Alpha architecture for potential models such as a convertible Cadillac and wagon derivatives of the ATS and CTS, joined by an upcoming compact Cadillac crossover, an upcoming subcompact Cadillac sedan and the long-rumored Buick Grand National/GNX.

GM Zeta platform (aka Global RWD architecture)

This platform is used by the fifth-gen Chevy Camaro and the Chevrolet SS sports sedan. Introduced nine years ago on the Holden VE Commodore, the Zeta will be phased out by 2017. Until then, the GM Zeta will live on the Holden VF Commodore (HSV F) and VF Ute, as well as the Chevrolet Caprice PPV police vehicle. Not much is known about what platform will underpin the next-gen Commodore full-size sedan.

GM Epsilon platform

- Description: from 2002 to this day, the GM Epsilon played the role of compact, mid-size and large car platform for the Detroit-based manufacturer. Certain reports suggest that Opel developed it in Germany.

Both the GM Lambda and Theta Premium platforms are derived from the Epsilon I and II architectures. The GM Epsilon replaced the GM N and GM2900.

- Features: accommodates four to six-cylinder mills mounted transversely at the front of the vehicle, it’s good for both front-wheel and all-wheel drive cars.

- Most important applications (discontinued, current and future models): Opel Vectra (C), Saab 9-3, Opel Signum, Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac BLS, Pontiac G6, Fiat Croma, Saturn Aura, Opel Insignia, Buick Regal, Buick LaCrosse, Saab 9-5, Roewe 950, Chevrolet Impala, Cadillac XTS. The GM Epsilon is slated to be replaced by the upcoming GM E2XX architecture.

GM Lambda platform

Introduced in 2006, this architecture is GM’s full-size crossover (CUV) platform. Derived from the similarly old GM Epsilon architecture, the Lambda is or was used by the Chevrolet Traverse, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook. The upcoming GM C1XX platform is expected to replace it in the near future.

GM E2XX platform

- Description: currently under development, the E2XX will replace the GM Epsilon II architecture. The GM Lambda platform will be phased out in favor of the GM C1XX (Chi) platform, believed to be derived from the E2XX. The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu (and next-gen Opel/Vauxhall Insignia) are underpinned by the E2XX.

- Features: nobody really knows what’s in store for us with the GM E2XX. General Motors declared that the 2016 Chevrolet Malibu has a wheelbase that is “nearly four inches longer than the ongoing model.”

Additionally, the front-wheel and all-wheel drive E2XX will improve the Chevrolet Malibu by a huge margin. In GM’s own words, the 2016 Malibu is “expected to be 300 pounds lighter than the current model, which benefits the sedan’s fuel economy and handling,” due to a high-strength steel structure and other goodies.

- Most important applications (current and future models): 2016 Chevrolet Malibu, 2016 Opel/Vauxhall Insignia and the next-gen Buick Regal. A derivative known as the GM P2XX architecture is rumored to arrive in the future as a stretched variant of the E2XX. The P2XX could be used for future full-size vehicles.

GM P2XX platform

The longer variant of the GM E2XX is believed to be the backbone of the 2016 Buick LaCrosse, as well as the next-gen Chevrolet Impala full-size sedan. All that is known at the present moment is that it will be lighter and more rigid than the GM Epsilon II architecture.

GM C1XX platform

In a nutshell, the C1XX is believed to be the mid-size and full-size crossover architecture derived from the GM E2XX. Allegedly highly modular and engineered to be oriented towards world-class driving dynamics, the GM C1XX “Chi” replaces the Theta and Lamba architectures and will support a 3-row seating layout.

Vehicle applications include the 2016 Cadillac XT5 (it replaces the 2015 Cadillac SRX), second-generation 2017 GMC Acadia, and a possible mid-size Opel CUV. Additionally, word on the street is a long wheelbase variant of the C1XX will underpin future models such as the 2017 Chevrolet Traverse, 2017 Buick Enclave, and a much-rumoured full-size Opel crossover model.

GM Omega platform

- Description: Introduced at the 2015 New York Auto Show on the 2016 Cadillac CT6 full-size luxobarge, some voices claim that the GM Omega platform is an extension of the GM Alpha platform. The platform is modular enough to be adapted for full-size SUVs.

- Features: The all-new GM Omega architecture was engineered for rear and all-wheel drive applications. Of course, the engine sits up front and the placement is longitudinal. The 2016 Cadillac CT6 is dubbed by GM as “a vehicle structure with the highest torsional rigidity of any Cadillac while achieving one of the most mass-efficient vehicles in the segment.” Pretty neat.

The Caddy’s mixed-material structure utilizes 64% aluminum (including all exterior body panels), while the rest is mostly made from high-strength steel. In terms of suspension technology, the CT6 will get an updated version of the Magnetic Ride Control system.

Engine choices? A 2.0-liter turbocharged four-pot, a 3.6-liter naturally aspirated V6, a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 with 400 HP and probably an all-new LT5 twin-turbo small-block V8. A PHEV variant of the CT6 is expected to be launched sometime in the near future.

- Most important applications (current and future models): 2016 Cadillac CT6. The rumor mill hints towards a GM Omega-underpinned full-size Cadillac crossover SUV and a possible Buick flagship sedan.

GMT K2XX platform

The GMT K2XX architecture replaces the old-school GMT900 platform. It is currently used by the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks.

This isn’t officially confirmed by General Motors, but some people claim that a shorter, mildly modified K2XX platform underpins the 2015 Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup truck and its sister model, the GMC Canyon.

Full-size SUVs also ride on it. We’re referring to the 2015 Chevrolet Tahoe and Suburban, 2015 GMC Yukon and Yukon XL, and 2015 Cadillac Escalade. The front-engined, rear or rear-biased 4WD K2XX architecture accommodates body-on-frame vehicles.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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