By on February 12, 2007

chicagopontiacg801222.jpgOur man Mehta recently ran into a GM PR flack at an industry event. When Sajeev revealed TTAC as his spiritual home, the GM underling shook with rage. Still, it being the South and all, pleasantries were exchanged. After sweet talking the spinmeister, Sajeev promised I’d call and oil the troubled waters. During the ensuing conversation, I [once again] offered GM the right to reply– unedited– and promised to correct any factual errors. And then, quite out of the blue, she lost it. “Why do you hate domestic cars so much?” she demanded.

I asked my antagonist if she’d read our reviews of GM products. She admitted that she hadn’t visited the site “in about a year.” I pointed out that we’ve praised many a domestic product, and eviscerated plenty of imports and transplants. I also reminded her that several "foreign" cars have a higher domestic content than GM's wares (e.g. the Honda Odyssey) and mentioned GM's Canadian Buicks, Korean Aveos and European Astras.

I also told her I'm a patriotic American who’d love to see General Motors build a vehicle– any vehicle– that stands head and shoulders above all comers. “What about the Corvette?” she interjected. Yup, the ‘Vette offers unparalleled bang-for-the-buck. But clock that plastic craptastic interior. Could she honestly say a Corvette's cabin was even half as welcoming as a Porsche Boxster's? The silence was deafening. Not because she’d been trumped; she simply didn’t know.

“Have you ever been in a Porsche?” I asked, succumbing to the knife twisting urge. Faltering slightly, she admitted she hadn’t been in “one of the new ones.” An Audi? “My neighbor has one, and she’s had problems with engine sludge.” Volvo? Viper? Mustang GT? Clearly, the GM factotum had never spent seat time in much of anything that wasn’t sold by GM.

Although I find ignorance, arrogance, defensiveness, paranoia and aggression an unappealing combination, I blame nurture, not nature for the spinmeister’s ‘tude. Any automaker that doesn’t expose its front line workers to their competitors' cars gets the representation they deserve. Is it any wonder that GM makes a huge range of “nearly there” cars when even the people charged with their public promotion do so with their eyes wide shut?

When Toyota developed the new Tundra, they based it on information provided by a research team that traveled America to see how "real" pickup truck buyers use and abuse, love and loathe their vehicles. Once the Tundra was finished, ToMoCo then made sure all their dealers' staff– right down to receptionists– spent seat time in the new vehicle. And now they're organizing the Mother of All Ride and Drive Events, inviting anyone who so much as glances at the big rig for an extended test drive.  

Meanwhile, GM's importing yet another Australian RWD sedan, re-badging it a Pontiac and sticking it on the showroom floor. The fact that they've done this before without success (GTO), the fact that the G8 has no visual connection to Pontiac's hit Solstice, demonstrates the company's profound inability to learn from mistakes AND capitalize on success.

Car Czar or no, GM lacks Fingerspitzengefuhl: an intuitive sense of what's happening on the battlefield. Put another way, they don't understand the automotive landscape in which they work. They are, quite literally, lost.

Of course, GM's uninformed and misguided executives could simply read The Truth About Cars. I’m serious. If GM wants a road map back to reality, they could do a lot worse than ask TTAC for directions. Our writers are deeply immersed in American car culture. They call it like they see it, without fear or favor. And our commentators add invaluable perspective.

Better yet, GM could actively engage TTAC and its audience. They could provide us with press cars and then publicly address our criticisms. Hell, what’s to stop The General from participating in ALL car enthusiast sites? Why not assign a team of literate, experienced and open-minded experts to demo the metal, confront critics, answer problems, correct mis-impressions, quash unsubstantiated rumors and, yes, toot their own horn?

Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot: all statements must be approved by GM PR. And GM PR's too busy whining and dining beating up the buff books for “unauthorized” new product leaks to monitor a fast, frank and open exchange of ideas. 

Anyway, for some reason, Sajeev's PR contact called me back. She told me Flack Central had declined my invitation to post on this website. “They prefer to use their own blog,” she announced, with no small amount of smug self-satisfaction.

And there you have it. GM will not “break the fourth wall” (as theater folk call it). The General’s majordomos will continue to hold tight to the reins of power, sheltering inside The Kremlin The Renaissance Center, relying on their toadies, spies and consultants to tell them what’s going on in the real world, and then communicating pre-approved responses through "official channels." Thus empires do fall.

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165 Comments on “General Motors Death Watch 109: Fingerspitzengefuhl...”


  • avatar

    Indeed they do fall in that manner Robert. You called it dead on again.

    I hate this knee-jerk generic response to any criticism of a domestic product with “why do you hate domestics”… it isn’t that I hate Domestics… I LOVE CARS and they keep making cars only they, or a rental fleet manager can love.

    I want better than rental-fleet quality when I go lay my money down thank you.

    –chuck

  • avatar
    Jim Boyd

    Excellent article; the comparison of GM to Soviet leadership is definitely apt.

    What bugs me most about GM’s (and other domestic) management attitude is the notion that they think they can convince people to buy their crappy, second-rate vehicles by waving the flag around and doing nothing else.

    The Japanese win because they deliver what Americans want.

  • avatar
    tsofting

    What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they have any clue about anything? Were they absent from their b-school classes when they were supposed to learn about what drives companies into the ground, and what keeps companies happy and smiling, and their customers likewise? Are they so engulfed in their (sick) notion about “everybody’s-out-to-get-us” that they don’t dare open their eyes and ears to the real world and to what is going on in the marketplace where real people put down real money to buy real cars? Are they so smug and self confident that they STILL think they are right and the rest of the carmakers just sell “imported junk”? Jeez…they say the world moves ahead, but to me it seems that the geezers at GM (and to a certain extent at the other 1.5) are still stuck in 1970, when the Vega was the solution to all threats from the furrin’ brands! It was just a question of time before they were run back into the Pacific, and by G.. – I think they are telling each other that this is still the case. Come on guys (and gals) – if you don’t know how to do your job, at least have the courtesy of vacating it for somebody who can! The other option is to make a PowerPoint presentation of some of the great GM cars form the sixties for your next department meeting. The title should read:” GM – It Was Fun While It Lasted”!

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Yet another great article. Sad to see, but that’s not TTAC’s fault!

    Wasn’t it last year that there was a piece in one of the auto news sites online, stating that TATA’s capitalization exceeded General Motors’?

    For those not in the know, TATA is a small, Indian truck and SUV maker.

    Therein lies the core of GM’s eventual epetaph.

  • avatar

    There seems to be a pervasive Detroit mind set and attitude that negative media coverage has turned people against their cars. I find that whole mind set sickening and in many ways the big 2.5 are getting exactly what they deserve. Their arrogance and ignorance is mind numbing

  • avatar
    cbrjim

    Makes one wonder if the small 2.5 arent throwing the fight. What with globalism and outsourcing being the disease that it is to our once great country. C’mon, you cant be this stupid. Even if GM flipped coins in the boardroom, half of the decisions made would make sense. Does anyone really believe the G8 (the first ever I assume) will be around in 5 years, much less more refined each year, as the decades old camry’s and accord’s are? Nope! It will be pull the plug, on to THE NEXT BIG THING! Perhaps a diesel powered terazza with 4 moonroofs and a built in fax machine.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Surprise, surprise! GM doesn’t want to upset the insular thinking processes that brought it to ruin’s doorstep.

    Chrysler’s Tom LaSorda, in a revelation heralded like the Second Coming, ordered 250(!) top executives to drive a meticulously maintained three-year-old Chrysler product annually for two 10-day periods, “to put themselves in the customer’s shoes.” They would better appreciate why Chrysler’s customers are fleeing if they bought and drove a Chrysler FOR three years and experienced first hand the horse pukky salesmen and service departments routinely dish out.

    Last week we learned Ford CEO Alan Mulally will spend a couple of days selling cars at a dealership sometime this year. It’s a start, if the flacks don’t turn it into a public relations stunt.

    There is a glimmer of hope! Advertising Age reports Ford, GM, Chrysler and Toyota have started monitoring their Internet reputations. Not directly, of course. They hired BrandIntel to study Internet traffic for related chatter.

  • avatar
    gunnarheinrich

    Have you challeneged Ford to boldly move into conversing on TTAC?

  • avatar
    blautens

    I’m guessing that I drive a better (certainly larger) cross section of cars than the GM PR flack, and I’m not in the automobile business.

    Fire that person. If I ran GM, I’d want every employee (CERTAINLY a mouthpiece) to be so $%&#* passionate about cars that somehow that passion would contribute to a better product, a better company building the cars, a better company marketing the cars, etc…people who are passionate about cars figure out ways to get seat time in every ride that comes along.

    Fire that person. If you have to follow it by firing thousands of others, do it. Get people excited about what you do, from engineers, to PR, to accountants, all the way to janitorial services, and you’ll get better.

  • avatar
    ash78

    Might I recommend “The Discipline of Market Leaders” by Tracy and Wiersema(sp?) as recommended reading for everyone at GM.

    As an American driver, I want nothing more than for our cars to be the best in the world. But at this point, I’d much rather align myself with the Odyssey and ML500 and Santa Fe and Sonata, which are built right here in my home state (these are WINNERS). I feel much closer to them, from a patriotism standpoint, than some also-rans living in an ivory tower in Detroit. The badge means little to me, and I look around and I see its brand erosion among even the most grizzled “buy American” codgers.

    By the way, does the importation of Holdens and Opels strike anyone else as a last resort? It does to me, no matter how great the cars are…because it raises the question “Why did you wait so long to do this?”

  • avatar

    denial |diˈnīəl| noun
    the action of declaring something to be untrue : she shook her head in denial.
    • the refusal of something requested or desired : the denial of insurance to people with certain medical conditions.
    • a statement that something is not true : official denials | his denial that he was having an affair.
    • Psychology failure to acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion or to admit it into consciousness, used as a defense mechanism : you’re living in denial.

    Been there. Seen that.
    A shame, really. GM has the resources, the talent, the smarts, the know-how. They just don’t have the willingness to face facts.
    There is no way a brand can force its customers to ignore reality – thus the brand ends up in denial.

  • avatar
    blautens

    Gardiner Westbound -

    Close, but not enough. Mulally should drive a typical 5 year old Focus for a couple of days, and a typical 5 year old Civic for a couple of days. Then move up the scale until he completes the model line up.

    Same for DCX, and GM.

    (I say this as I’m shopping for used car for my teenager…the experience has been enlightening – domestic quality may have gotten better, but Honda & Toyota weren’t standing still – and while new versus new is always interesting and more relevant to me previously, far more telling is the used versus used comparison.)

  • avatar

    GM and the domestic carmakers can solve this perceived bias problem with product. The goal should be that any car introduced should be the segment leader for one year. Example, the Mazda3 was the best small car for a year (maybe two) until the Civic came out. The Cobalt was never considered the “best in class” by any reputable source. The Camry and Accord trade “best in class” honors back and forth in their years of new model introduction with Nissan maybe slipping an Altima in there when not up against another all new model.

    You can’t stay in the lead forever but if you can’t put out a segment leading product on it’s year of introduction then you are going to ultimately lose. Why doesn’t GM understand that? I have a feeling that Lutz just might “get it” but he’s not breaking up the bureaucracy enough to make a real difference.

  • avatar
    mikey

    In my position at the bottom of the employee food chain we are not privy to much inside info.I do know that the culture at G.M.is one of the “you don’t question the person/persons above you”The lady from PR was just conveying her bosses view.
    One of TTACs most popular ongoing pieces is infact the GM deathwatches.
    I’m sure it won’t come as a shock that this isn’t gonna win you a lot of friends at the upper end of G.M. management.
    The products being produced today are as good,some cases better,than any of the import/transplants.
    Its gonna take a long time for the media,and more important the buying public to catch on,but it will. My self and the thousands of other employees,dealers,and stock holders are counting on it.

  • avatar

    Lutz is the problem, not the solution. From today's Automotive News, re: the decision to import the Astra: "We just had to tell ourselves this (car) avoids a ton of investment," Lutz said. "It gets us a highly competitive car into the Saturn showroom with minimal delays for the easy federalization that we had to do. "The profitability isn't great," he admitted, "but profitability is there, which is a tough trick to do on a small car. The reason it is profitable even at a low margin is because of the investment avoidance." In its last sales call, GM officially admitted the Astra will not make a profit. Period. Is Bob lying, did he fail to get the memo or just plain ignorant? Anyway, if you think about it (a painful exercise for all concerned), Bob's kinda saying the car will lose LESS money than a theoretical small car started from scratch– especially if GM had to build it in Belgium and Germany (like the Astra set to enter Saturn's orbit). Bottom line: GM better hope that the Astra isn't a hit. The more they sell, the more money they lose. I guess what I'm trying to say is that denial is a form of insanity. And GM's got it BAD.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I wonder how Nissan is doing (profitability) on their Renault Versa. That would be the real apple-to-apple with the Astra.

  • avatar
    Luther

    denial |diˈnīəl| noun

    1. Default to mental laziness.

    What bugs me most about GM’s (and other domestic) management attitude is the notion that they think they can convince people to buy their crappy, second-rate vehicles by waving the flag around and doing nothing else.

    See #1 above.

    Patriotism just bugs the heck out of me. It is primative like a bunch of pack-wolves or Nazis or something. When somebody waves the flag in my face, it just reveals to me that they are lying. The last refuge of a scoundrel and all.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    I got an interesting view of Toyota’s full-on assault on the domestic truck market this January at the National Western Stock Show in Denver.

    As you can imagine by the name, the NWSS is truck-customer nirvana (or should be) to any truck manufacturer. Interestingly, only two were represented: Dodge and Toyota. Dodge had a nice lineup of all their products, including not only their oversized “dooley” diesel crew cabs, but also their mid-sized Dakotas and even a Caliber and a Nitro.

    Toyota, however, dominated the show by placing huge Tundra ads on virtually every available surface. The Tundra “T” logo (completely different from Toyota’s car logo) likewise seemed to be plastered everywhere. And they staked out a prime corner in the main display hall to show every possible variation of the new Tundra. Two things struck me about the display:

    First of all, the new Tundra bears more than a passing resemblance to the 1997-2003 Ford F-150. So much so, in fact, that from a distance they’re hard to tell apart. And the second thing that struck me was the absolute, utter, and complete absence of any mention or image of any other Toyota product in the display. These displays were all Tundra, all the time. No cars, no minivans, none of their SUVs (there was a duded-up FJ cruiser in a different part of the hall, but it was being displayed by an aftermarket accessories dealer, not by Toyota), not even their new-ish mid-sized Tacoma truck. And don’t even ask about their hybrids (to this crowd “hybrid” means a kind of corn.)

    This full-on focus on the Tundra showed Toyota’s determination to break in to the heart of Truck-buying America. Whether they will succeed or not remains to be seen, but there was certainly a lot of interest generated by their mega-displays.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    I wonder how Nissan is doing (profitability) on their Renault Versa. That would be the real apple-to-apple with the Astra.

    You would have to compare the EU built product (Clio? Tiida?) vs Astra; NA market Versa is built in Mexico. The Euro to dollar exchange ratio that makes it tricky to sell EU built vehicles in the US.

    I read somewhere VW has lost a few billion $$$ this decade in the US market and that those German built Rabbits are also losing money.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    GM, was cutting apart ML500s, dissecting Priuses and Corollas (claiming that Toyota made no money building economy cars that kind of manufacturing tolerance). I remember reading about how GM cut apart a liquid-filled bushing from a Jetta and copied that into the Cobalt. You would think they’d do as well as Japanese companies who copied their designs back in the 60s and 70s.

    Maybe they’re so obsessed with building a better product to the point where they forget that humans operate them and that competitors constantly come out with new things.

  • avatar
    ash78

    starlightmica
    It’s called the Renault Versa over there, too. Nissan just changed the marque…

    Isn’t VW still building cars at the huge Puebla plant in Mexico? I just don’t see how you can hit a $15k US price point coming from the Eurozone. Ouch.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Could she honestly say a Corvette’s cabin was even half as welcoming as a Porsche Boxster’s? The silence was deafening. Not because she’d been trumped; she simply didn’t know.

    Had she ever sat in a Corvette ? Did you ask her that RF ?

  • avatar
    tones03

    In the part of your article about not having been in a competitions car is that persons fault. I see more competitors cars then GM’s when at the Tech Center in Warren or the Proving Grounds in Milford (not in the employee parking lot either). There are bulletins saying what car will be on display where and when. You can not wrap all of GM into that blanket, there are plenty of opportunities to drive, get in a competitors car.

    I will agree with you on GM needs to get out of the old school way of you can not speak your mind about anything, but at times it is also a good thing, because of the way society is today. They may say something and some group complains and sues GM (the robot add during the superbowl, GM pulled the jump scene because some group complained) so i would say GM is taking the easy road and not saying anything that way they dont affend anyone.

  • avatar
    MRL

    Howz about that wonderbody designer of the Solstice pictured over at Jalop? Gosh! The curves, the headlights!

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Well, if you really wanted to have fun with that PR’er, you could have asked her why the new Saturn Opel has the Vauxhall name? She might have spontaneously combusted however.

    I believe the old dot-com mantra was to sell things at a loss but make it up on volume. How did that go anyway? The Astra actually looks pretty good, but it should be a Chevy complete with a hot-hatch upper end (in other words, what the Cobalt line should have been), but given how badly Ford fubar’ed the American Focus, it would be asking too much for GM to get it right. The old saying was that generals are always fighting the last war, GM is fighting at a level of 3 wars ago.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    “For those not in the know, TATA is a small, Indian truck and SUV maker.”

    – Glenn A.

    Tata is an Indian conglomerate, it’s steel subsidiary just purchased Corus (itself containing the bones of British Steel, pretty ironic, eh?) which will make it the 2nd largest steel company in the world, behind Arcelor-Mittal. Small Indian truck and SUV maker, indeed….

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    “Bottom line: GM better hope that the Astra isn’t a hit. The more they sell, the more money they lose.”

    - RF

    If the Astra is a hit, they will start building them here, just like the G8.

  • avatar
    sitting@home

    So GM have their own blog then. I must remember that next time I want an honest and unbiased opinion or review of one of their products.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    As a GM loyalist, for a variety of reasons, I had a similar reaction as the referenced GM PR person when I first started reading TTAC-GMDW. It’s certainly strong medicine, and often, though not always correct. And after reading enough of the DW, I’ve concluded that i don’t think it’s personal. (but not absolutely sure about that). GM execs could do worse than sitting back with a stiff drink and reading it…

  • avatar
    tech98

    GM has the features of many sclerotic, command-driven, centralized, extremely heirarchical bureaucracies.
    Organizations like this don’t do “fast, frank and open exchange of ideas”, they issue tightly-controlled edicts approved through multiple layers of management and expect them to be believed without question because they are the mighty GM.
    They are pathologically intolerant of criticism.
    They don’t want their PR people to experience competitors’ products because that would be ‘disloyalty’ in their neurotic, conformist mindset.
    Organizations like this breed mediocrity, and the results are all around you.

    The products being produced today are as good,some cases better,than any of the import/transplants.

    And here we see the latet version of the “We can push the imports back into the sea” delusion. Unfortunately, I’ve heard this stock PR cliche so many times and they have yet to deliver. GM has sold its credibility cheaply proclaiming so many ‘false dawns’ that few but the terminally gullible believe their PR spin anymore, but the company apparently has no awareness of this.
    GM skated on its reputation for decades after it started building junk, and it may take an equally long lag time of building decent cars for them to get a good reputation back. When GM cars start delivering a quality driving/owning experience surpassing those of its competitors AND shining in Consumer Reports reliability surveys, the customers will return. But the company has burnt a lot of people through the years substituting the cheap sugar-rush of marketing and flag-waving for the hard slog of product development, and they’re going to have to earn their way back with real results instead of PR spin.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I think it’s a mistake to interpret the reactions of a PR person as indicative of the entire corporate culture over at GM. She can’t compare the interior quality of a competitor’s vehicle because it’s not her job. These are the questions that you should be asking a chief engineer, or the head of a design department, not somebody who generates press releases. If they haven’t been looking at what the competition has to offer, then there’s a problem.

    To be honest, I thing the G8 has a greater chance of success than the GTO. For one thing, it doesn’t have the legendary nameplate to live up to. For another, it’s not ugly. And for a third thing, American enthusiats have looked across both ponds for a long time at what GM and Ford offers to the European and Australian markets and they were not happy that they sold more interesting cars over there than over here. Commodore, Monaro, second-generation Focus, second-generation Mondeo, Falcon, it goes on.

    I think GM has been listening. The most desirable cars have been sold down under. I hope Ford has been listening. Their most desirable cars have been sold there and on the other side of the pond. It’s not going to fix everything, but it can help shake the stigma that Detroit has going against them.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    ya, as soon as anyone starts waving a flag in my face (or a religious symbol, for that matter), I know they are covering up SOMETHING.

    Good for you all to call them on this. No wonder they keep making bewildering decisions!

    Bravo to you!

  • avatar

    @ quasimondo

    Let’s trust GM to change.
    They’ll have to — but there’s no reason to think that this PR person’s reaction was a one-off. GM is pathologically leary of criticism (anyone remember the ads they cancelled in the LA Times over a bad review? And they have an elephant’s memory).

    I know from personal experience how unwilling they are to hear their products criticized! :-)

  • avatar
    Eric_Stepans

    Looks like GM is doing “Groundhog Day” all over again.

    As previous comments have noted, GM is ignoring the problem, blaming their workers and proclaiming that the Next Big Thing will fix everything.

    I wrote an article about GM’s 30-year+ history of doing this over and over for TTAC, but that was right before RF announced the site redesign, so I think publication will be delayed until things settle down.

    Clearly the crew here ‘get’s it’ (and GM PR does not) about GM’s continuing problems.

  • avatar

    I think the core concept of this article is a bit flawed. PR flacks are paid to be tireless cheerleaders of the official company line. This is true of all car companies and all corporations. Those people have no power or influence in the organization. They are just paid mouthpieces like Tony Snow is for the White House.

    The people that matter are the product design heads, the upper management, and the accountants. The accountants cut design and development budgets so much that good product designs are bastardized and ruined by the time they reach the public. Upper management could change that but they are so focused on stock value and such that they can’t act for the long term success. I imagine that GM execs feel like fireman stomping out brush fires. Little do they realize there is a forest fire just behind them.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    Captain Tungsten:
    And after reading enough of the DW, I’ve concluded that i don’t think it’s personal. (but not absolutely sure about that).

    On the other hand, I believe it IS and NEEDS TO BE personal. Anyone who loved the US car industry in its heyday is saddened by what it has become. Yes, mikey and others, it’s on its way back. But, until the results are in the showroom and in the sales figures and in the resale value, they have a long row to hoe.

    Obviously, from this article, all the right pieces haven’t been implemented just yet at GM.

    That’s why I appreciate reading the DW and SW series. We’re looking at you, Lutz, Mulally & Zetsche. Now, what are you going to DO about that? Roll up your flag and get busy. We’ll be watching.

  • avatar
    John Williams

    @ tech98

    GM has the features of many sclerotic, command-driven, centralized, extremely heirarchical bureaucracies.
    Organizations like this don’t do “fast, frank and open exchange of ideas”, they issue tightly-controlled edicts approved through multiple layers of management and expect them to be believed without question because they are the mighty GM.
    They are pathologically intolerant of criticism.
    They don’t want their PR people to experience competitors’ products because that would be ‘disloyalty’ in their neurotic, conformist mindset.
    Organizations like this breed mediocrity, and the results are all around you.

    Large organizations that exhibit most or all of these traits usually cannot be reformed by any way other than a complete, systematic collapse. Which is why I’m not waiting around for GM to suddenly rise from the ashes like some corporate phoenix. Too many people with the old bureaucratic mindset around — and they’ll fight to the bloody death against change (and the eventual loss of their jobs).

    Most of GM still assumes that the average American customer is a total dunce who’s easily swayed into buying their less-than-adequate vehicles by feigning patriotism and nationalistic guilt trips, never mind that most of the cars are built in Mexico and Canada.

    Assumptions tend to make an a$$ of the people who make them. Thus, I won’t shed a tear when GM declares bankruptcy. I know they can do better — but how can you convince a corporation that can build better products when they don’t want to?

  • avatar

    duckfat:

    I think the core concept of this article is a bit flawed. PR flacks are paid to be tireless cheerleaders of the official company line. This is true of all car companies and all corporations. Those people have no power or influence in the organization. They are just paid mouthpieces like Tony Snow is for the White House.

    I don’t expect GM’s PR flacks to be open-minded (God forbid). But I DO think they should be informed.

  • avatar
    Luther

    I don’t expect GM’s PR flacks to be open-minded (God forbid). But I DO think they should be informed.

    Especially when SHE said:

    “Why do you hate domestic cars so much?” she demanded.

    You better be a bit informed before asking for it…..

    Large organizations that exhibit most or all of these traits usually cannot be reformed by any way other than a complete, systematic collapse.

    You may be right. I hope you are wrong. One would think the shareholders would revolt before…. Ahh… never mind…..

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    OK Captain Tungsten, point taken about TATA being a conglomerate.

    But you’ve got to remember, too, that before GM started selling off the furniture, the family silver, the china, and lastly the only profitable thing they had going in North America (GMAC), they were the largest conglomerate Corporation in the world.

    Busses. Trains. Automobiles. Computers. Radios. Televisions. Refrigerators. Spark plugs. Diesel engines. Air conditioning systems. Etc etc ad nauseum.

    Now, their brightest star is a 50% owned operation in a communist nation?!

    How the mighty fall.

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    I was reading in the Free Press this morning. A short little blurb about the Toyota Tundra’s icy reception (clever). Apparently they trudged out a new Tundra between periods at the Red Wings hockey game. Not a brilliant marketing move by Toyota but the crowd reaction tells you everything you need to know. They boo’d it. Loudly. If they weren’t worried, it would have been ignored.

  • avatar

    OK there are a few problems with this DW.

    1. which PR person was it? Is she regional to the South? meaning she’s not in Detroit/higher up.

    2nd. I bet somewhere in 108 other GM Deathwatches RF asked GM to bring over more global products. Now we get “the camry is built more in America” line. Sheesh.

    3rd. There’s nothing wrong with the G8. GM NEVER said the Solstice was the brand’s new styling direction. The G6 is a handsome car, not mindblowing but attractive. The G8 shares a similar look to that. Also it is different than the GTO. It is replacing the Grand Prix, an already decent seller. It will most likely be priced like the GP too. So all those problems the GTO had (too expensive, didn’t fit in the marketplace) theoretically won’t exist. And as someone that saw it in person, I thought it was pretty damn hot.

    4. As someone that has spent a lot of time with the flak armies none of them are product managers. If you want to get in depth on product the PR person will say “would you like to talk to a product manager about it” then those guys with the hands on expertise of building the product can talk intelligently to the reporter. The PR person is there to help the reporter get access to the information they need, they’re not all spokespeople.

    5. GM is spending a lot of time with bloggers, meeting with them, greasing their palms so I hear. Don’t think that’s good it’s just what I hear.

    6. And RF I’d take a Vette over a Boxster any day of the week especially the Z06. I’d guess that next gen will finally have the interior you desire as every other GM platform that has been redesigned lately certainly does.

  • avatar
    GMinsider

    The Pontiac GTO (base price with automatic gas guzzler tax $34,590.00) was way overpriced compared to the Mustang GT and other similar cars!
    What will the imported G8 cost with the V8 and automatic w/guzzler tax??? Probably more than the GTO! Nobody is going to buy an overpriced Aussie buggy with a dated design and bare bones technology.
    Why does GM continue to shoot itself in the same “bullet- riddled” foot???

  • avatar

    Not to rub salt into the wound (much), but here’s an update on the GM inventory situation, in reference to GM DW 108 (again from Automotive News):

    GM had a whopping 107-day supply of vehicles as of Feb. 1, up from 81 days. Most of that inventory was in trucks, where GM showed a 117-day supply. But GM’s car supply isn’t light, either, at 94 days.

    Ford Motor Co. had a 93-day supply of vehicles as of Feb. 1, compared with 69 on Jan. 1. The Chrysler group is carrying the lightest load, with a 78-day supply of vehicles as of Feb. 1 vs. 74 days a month earlier.

    Among the top Japanese carmakers, American Honda Motor Co. started the month with a 62-day supply, Nissan North America with 78 days and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. with 53 days.

  • avatar
    charleywhiskey

    That flackette, like so many others currently infesting American industry is doubtless another byproduct of the recent and perhaps ongoing fascination with brand management, wherein a kid with a degree in French medieval history or Women’s Studies gets a job out of college placing ads for Cheerios or Tampax and thereby becomes a marketing specialist, eventually to be hired by one of the 2.5 for that blip on their resume and perhaps to satisfy the multicultural cravings of the HR department. It fits right in with a management that sees their offerings as a portfolio of brands, rather than as individual products. If one is just in the brand business, no product knowledge is required.

  • avatar
    carguy

    The lack of media savvy is tragic but not surprising. The 2.5 are huge corporate institutions which do not change direction very readily. It should also be noted that the maximum rate of reform for such commercial monstrosities is limited and no CEO, no matter how talented and committed, can make it happen in a year or even two. And not all is doom and gloom – from a product point of view, GM has definitely made improvements and it looks as if they have focused their energies to improve their offerings. To some extent that goes for Ford too.

    The company that I am most worried about is DCX. While they are busy brand badging a bewildering variety of slow selling SUVs they have also just unveiled the new Sebring/Avenger as the their weapon of choice to take on the rest of the mid-size competition. When comparing the Aura/08 Malibu, Fusion/Taurus to the Sebring/Avenger it becomes very obvious who is still in denial.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    I was reading in the Free Press this morning. A short little blurb about the Toyota Tundra’s icy reception (clever). Apparently they trudged out a new Tundra between periods at the Red Wings hockey game. Not a brilliant marketing move by Toyota but the crowd reaction tells you everything you need to know. They boo’d it. Loudly. If they weren’t worried, it would have been ignored.

    That’s nothing new. They tried it before at Detroit Lions game and got the same poor reception.

  • avatar
    tones03

    They boo’d it. Loudly. If they weren’t worried, it would have been ignored.

    I disagree they boo’d it loudly because toyota is the other team, as in any sporting event if the visitor team is a “threat” or not they are going to get boo’d.

    Also seeing all fullsize trucks i put the Tundra ahead of Nissan and Dodge (barely) but still behind Ford and GM, the percieved quality is terrible. Slam shut the tailgate and it sounds like you are throwing a beer can at a brick wall. The inside is laid out terribly and horrifying ugly. Looks like 2 people design it and never talked. The quality of the nobs and buttons are late 90′s GM standards.

    The only thing that GM and Ford should be worried about is the 5.7 and 6-speed. Other then that they tried to morph the Ram with the F-150 and got ass ugly. Nothing on this thing is break through, even the big breaks and huge tow hitch you get.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    Robert,

    Easily the GMDW in ages! The course of the conversation you describe is very accurate when you try to tell anyone at GM anything. That being said, this is the standard reponse you would get from any company if they perceive you to be the enemy.

    To be honest, GM looks at all of their competitors very carefully. Do you think the C6 team did not have a Porsche 911 or two when they did the design and engineering work? Do you think GM doesn’t do consumer styling clinics and ride and drives?

    Do you think GM designers and engineers don’t wince when they’re told to cut corners?

    But this site and others have said it, GM builds cars to a dollar figure and each car must at least come in around those figures?

    I would say that at some level, GM is listening to the criticism. New designs are attractive, new engines and transmissions are at least as good as the competition’s. Interior designs and materials are getting better (not superb but better). Finally, build quality is also improving.

    The PR person’s responses and lack of competitive knowledge is very disappointing but she would not be the first person who worked at a company that could care less about what he/she was building or selling.

    My guess is after this post, her performance review will not the best.

    Again, great editorial!

    CJ

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Instead of the performance review of the PR flack suffering, it should be the management of GM’s performance reviews that suffer. IMHO. She’s just doing a job, trying to get by in a dying company and probably wishes upon the nearest star, that she’d gone on-board with Nissan, Toyota, Hyundai, Subaru or Honda.

  • avatar

    I’m very much in synch w/ RF in my opinions about what’s good and bad in the world of cars. Back in the early ’90s, before I bought my ’93 Saturn, I was not particularly enthusiastic about domestics. Several people convinced me to be more open-minded. The Saturn’s styling excited me, and so I tried it, and liked it. It weighed less than 2500 lbs, and handled better, I thought, than a comparably priced Integra, which was the leading competitor for my purchase. Unfortunately (as I’ve said here before) the General dumbed Saturn down in ’96, and what had been a very distinctive, sporty car became something I couldn’t distinguish from a Hyundai or a Tercel, that handled like a row-boat. Now Saturn is just another fake brand.

    It’s a damn shame the big 2.5 aren’t a bit openminded to the constructive criticism on this website.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    “Large organizations that exhibit most or all of these traits usually cannot be reformed by any way other than a complete, systematic collapse.”
    – John Williams

    I don’t know if I buy that. Certainly there are large corporations that blow up, but more often than not, when they start to underperform they go into that nebulous process of “restructuring”. Pick an industry, say steel; of the major mills, only a few actually shut down, e.g. LTV (for a short while until Wilbur Ross bought and restarted them), and McLouth, and you can find certain facilities of steel companies that have shutdown (e.g. Youngstown Sheet & Tube closed everything in Youngstown, OH, but their mill in Indiana Harbor lives on today as part of Mittal Steel). Same for airlines; Eastern and PanAm died, but TWA, and Republic were purchased and integrated into other carriers.

    In fact, off the top of my head, I can only think of a couple complete collapses of large companies. Enron comes to mind, and I think you could classify Studebaker as one as well.

    Lots of private equity $$ these days going into finding the value in underperforming companies and unlocking it.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    “Nobody is going to buy an overpriced Aussie buggy with a dated design and bare bones technology.”
    – GM Insider

    Overpriced it may be, we will see when pricing is announced, but it is a clean sheet, state-of-the-art design, first one ever done by Holden (before globalization, they would tinker with Opel designs)

  • avatar

    David Thomas: Sorry your comment got held up in the spam filter. 1. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You can't dismiss diss miss because she was a regional rep. 2. Man, that's lazy! If you want to call me a hypocrite, at least have the courtesy to put in a little effort. Jeez. 3. The Solstice SHOULD HAVE BEEN Pontiac's new styling direction. (The "first ever" G6 should have also been the last.) People LOVE the look. You say the G8 will replace the Grand Prix (GM says… nothing). The GP starts at $22k (or less). Are you thinking GM can import G8's from Australia, sell them for the same money, and make a profit? How many RWD Aussie tanks have to tank before GM gets the message? The company has committed to 30k imported G8's per year. Once upon a time, Pontiac sold that many GP's A MONTH. Clearly, Pontiac thinks there's something wrong with the car. 4. The PR person is there to help the reporter get access to the information they need, they’re not all spokespeople. Did you REALLY mean to write that? Surely every single GM employee is a spokesperson for the company.  5. You say GM is meeting with bloggers? That's news to me. And if they're greasing bloggers' palms, that even bigger news. Email me the details and we'll chase it up. I mean, unless we can get to the truth of the matter, I consider it nothing more than a rumor– which no responsible journalist would repeat. 6. Choosing a Vette over a Boxster is an entirely defensible decision. But my point is that the Vette's dash is a disgrace. As is any management team that would allow rental car chic to blight their best car.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    GM is clearly on the road to Abilene. Their employees are riding in the car turning deaf ears and blind eyes to what has become obvious to all outside the car – the rest of the world.

    Very few big companies are great, big companies. Most are mediocre, big companies and a fair sampling are poor, big companies. We know where the 2.5 are, they are the 2.5 blind mice.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    I went to the Baltimore car show with my almost 4 year old son this past weekend. It’s nothing special, current models and some old concepts like the Chrysler ME412 (or whatever) and the Dodge Hornet. The one thing it allows you to do is compare almost every car from every manufacturer all in one day at the same place. Now while I didn’t get a chance to really look as much as I’d like I did get the chance to sit in a lot of cars as my son opened and closed things, pushed and prodded. Everything from a BMW M6 convertible to a Kia Mini-van, the boy doesn’t care what he gets to open and close just that he can. While I strolled through every manufacturer I focused mostly on interiors as I’ve seen the exteriors of most cars but haven’t had seat time in all of them. By far the DCX (300c/Charger/Magnum just look cheap) and Ford interiors seemed to be the cheapest feeling (no amount of red leather is going to make the dash design of a Mustang look good). Whereas I found GM’s in their newer cars/trucks (Outlook, Aura, Acadia, Solstice/sky, Saab 9-3) to be pretty good. Not so much in Chevy or Pontiac. The best were BMW and Audi (every car in BMW and Audi’s space was mobbed While Cadi, Jag and MB had the usual traffic).

    If GM wants to change people’s perception then they need to really look at competing product one level higher and match or exceed them for less money. Then get a program to get the word out. Take your critics head on and show them why you think your products are better. It’s put up or shut-up.

    On a side not, I tended to know more about the cars, most any of them than the people manning the show. Especially when it came to the Mazda products. I felt it my duty to hang around the RX8 and provide knowledge on its virtues and its limitations.

  • avatar
    boatschool

    Great article in last Friday’s WSJ – “Big Dealer to Detroit: Fix How You Make Cars”.

    Commenting on current inventory levels ” ‘It’s not like we have some crisis.’ says Mark LaNeve, GM’s head of North American sales and marketing. GM has more than one million unsold cars in the pipeline. By contrast, Toyota Motor Co. has 320,282″.

    There you have it from GM’s top marketer – nothing to see here…move along…move along. Unbelievable !!!

  • avatar
    jackc100

    “Last week we learned Ford CEO Alan Mulally will spend a couple of days selling cars at a dealership sometime this year.”

    I hope he does it somewhere outside of Metropolitan Detroit and away from buyers with employee and supplier discounts.

    Metro Atlanta would be a good place. Lots of Ford Dealers and retired Ford Taurus builders around.

    Then he should sell at a Toyota or Nissan dealership for a couple of days. Maybe that might get his attention.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Not to rub salt into the wound (much), but here’s an update on the GM inventory situation, in reference to GM DW 108 (again from Automotive News):

    GM had a whopping 107-day supply of vehicles as of Feb. 1, up from 81 days. Most of that inventory was in trucks, where GM showed a 117-day supply. But GM’s car supply isn’t light, either, at 94 days.

    Ford Motor Co. had a 93-day supply of vehicles as of Feb. 1, compared with 69 on Jan. 1. The Chrysler group is carrying the lightest load, with a 78-day supply of vehicles as of Feb. 1 vs. 74 days a month earlier.

    Among the top Japanese carmakers, American Honda Motor Co. started the month with a 62-day supply, Nissan North America with 78 days and Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. with 53 days.

    Shocking, to say the least. Nissan holds a same level of inventory as Chrysler. To be fair though, Chrysler has been getting rid of a large amount of inventory through fire-sales.

    Even at the lowest point of the year (January), and even with thousands of Tundras in inventory being shipped, or waiting to be shipped to dealers, Toyota still stands below 60 days inventory.

  • avatar

    I’m sending you the GM blogger info soon.

    I think trying to translate the solstice design to the entire lineup would’ve been unsightly and I’m glad they didn’t. I think Pontiac has actually designed to the center quite well, it’s generic yes but the G6 can hold up to scrutiny from the outside. Inside is another matter.

    Yes the G8 is meant to replace the GP even if the GP sticks around/overlaps for awhile. Compare pricing of the base G8 with the GP GT and the G8 GT withe the GXP and that’s a good comparison. Obviously I’d add a grand or two. But the base G8 will be well under $30.

    As for the publicist the only thing she did wrong was not understand you’d repeat everything she said since you were talking to her as a journalist. I’m not really understanding the negativity towards the PR flak at all. So many have been let go I’m surprised there even is a south representative that isn’t outsourced. You could honestlys ay the same for regional people and even national people of a lot more companies I won’t name but they’re products you really like ;)

  • avatar
    Bob Elton

    Captain Tungsten,

    Actually Studebaker did not collaps, they only went out of the car business. They are still in business today, in differing forms.

    But there are lots of large companies that have disappeared. Think of most of the railroads, New York Central, Pennsylvania, etc.

    And lots of car companies have disappeared. Hudson, Hupp, Auburn, Kaiser and Fraser, to mention a few.

    Bob

  • avatar
    audirs4man

    I don’t see what the problem is, the GTO has an 6.0 LS-2 engine with 400ft lb's of torque and 400 ponies which is the same engine as found in the corvette. The body style (opinion) and interior design is much better than in a Mustang GT. The refinement, fun and driving experience is much better than that of a Ford Mustang GT and I would know because I have driven both of these cars. Jeremy Clarkson on top gear loved the Holden Monaro which is the same as the GTO except for he drove the slightly older model which has the 5.7 LS-1 motor. Everybody is complaining about the G8 but it's just what every enthusiast wants from GM. A RWD V8 muscle car for cheap and that's just what the G8 offers. It has awesome styling (for a domestic), cheap price, around $27,000 for a good V8 with 361hp and 391ft lb's of torque, and RWD!!! I also drove the Charger and 300c with a hemi and the GTO was way more fun. Consider this, the Charger with a V8 costs a minimum of 32.5k and the G8, which is close to a GTO, should cost around $27,000. I don’t know, but to me it seems like the G8 is a start to what GM needs.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    1. If trucks are sitting at 117 days, then GM either blew $2 bil. for no reason getting the new 900′s to market, or trucks would be sitting at 180 days and the DW series would be over. Is anyone in mgmt. asking this question?
    2. What is the point of your icon car (Solstice) if it has no relevance to the rest of the car range?
    3. 30k annual sales for new Aussie? Why even bother? Why do I keep getting this whole s*** on the wall and sticking sensation?
    4. The GTO is a heck of used buy, 400bhp, 5k mileage for late models at the barely $22k level.
    5. I spoke to a GM flack once. About the Cobalt. She wasn’t real sure what a Scion was. Deep sigh.

  • avatar
    Sajeev Mehta

    Well I tried to bridge the gap between GM and TTAC. Heaven forbid GM fights back, challenging our analysis of their financials. I asked them to start there…and I got nada.

    We’ve presented a lot of content…it wouldn’t take much to give a rebuttal on a single DW subject. Is that really too much to ask for?

    The worst part is I like everyone I’ve met with a GM name tag on their shirt, even if we disagree about most everything. But every time they question TTAC, I’ll remind them of the open invitation for a rebuttal. If they ever accept, its gonna be one for the history books.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Sherman Lin: There seems to be a pervasive Detroit mind set and attitude that negative media coverage has turned people against their cars. I find that whole mind set sickening and in many ways the big 2.5 are getting exactly what they deserve. Their arrogance and ignorance is mind numbing. I have observed this EXACT SAME THING. And there's no way I can get people that I know to even listen. They just think that the press and the whole world are against them, when really, it seems to me that the press is just as mentally-dysfunctional; an "enabler" of the worst sort.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    “How many RWD Aussie tanks have to tank before GM gets the message? The company has committed to 30k imported G8′s per year. Once upon a time, Pontiac sold that many GP’s A MONTH. Clearly, Pontiac thinks there’s something wrong with the car.”
    – RF

    G8 will follow Camaro into Oshawa. Don’t take my word for it, go talk to some suppliers. Importing from Holden just uses some of their excess capacity to get the car on the street faster in the U.S. (this is one of the big benefits of GM going to global platforms, moving iron around the globe isn’t as big a deal anymore). Pontiac is counting on this car.

  • avatar
    blue adidas

    Simple minded people say things like “well, it hasn’t worked so far so it never will.” The GTO failed for a couple reasons and none of it had to do with where it was produced. It looked like a bloated Cavalier and should have never had a GTO sticker on it. Because everyone knew that wasn’t the truth. Merkur failed because it didn’t define what the heck it was. Mer-kur-rey??? It was a dumb and clumsy name and horrendous marketing. They were very nice cars for their time but they didn’t develop the brand properly at all.

    The G8 doesn’t look like a rehashed Grand Prix or anything else in GM’s stable. It’s pretty clear what it is and it makes total sense that Pontiac, GM’s “Excitement” division, has a RWD V8 performance sedan. It won’t take people long to get the idea. I expect them to sell every one they can build.

  • avatar
    kjc117

    Audi engine sludge!!!!! It must be the 1.8T!!
    I know because I have a VW 1.8T and received the sludge letter from VOA. LOL

    For all you domestic lover’s, so it doesn’t matter where the car is actually built as long as it has a Ford, GM, or Chrysler badge on it then it’s ok??

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    If GM wants to change people’s perception then they need to really look at competing product one level higher and match or exceed them for less money. Then get a program to get the word out. Take your critics head on and show them why you think your products are better. It’s put up or shut-up.

    And exactly how do you do that? You’ve said it yourself that at the car show you went to, the top grades for interiors went to Audi and BMW, those are pretty pricey cars.

    If Pontiac were to improve the quality of their interior to something beyond what Audi offers, would we all grumble if they were unable to keep the price below $30K and label the high price as another reason why GM is heading down the toilet?

    It’s one thing to complain about material quality in a $60K Corvette, but when you bring those same complaints to a $18K Malibu, you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too.

  • avatar
    NinerSevenTango

    The Tundra is being sourced in North America. Maybe it gets booed at the hockey game, but the few suppliers left who can make the cut are damned glad to have a customer who doesn’t consider it a feather in the cap to bankrupt a supplier.

    General Motors has walked away from their supplier base, resulting in a string of bankruptcies and deeply cutting into their strongest and most loyal customer base.

    General Motors is literally doing investment avoidance in North America, as outlined in a post above. Meanwhile, every spare dollar gets invested in China and elsewhere.

    General Motors can see the writing on the wall, too. They have not been able to make money on cars in the U.S. for a long time. Their costs keep climbing, and they have a huge wall of retirement costs approaching.

    They have made a strategic decision to walk away from the North American market and let the government handle the retirement costs. They are shipping all available capital out of the reach of the U.S. government (read bankruptcy judges) and the unions, so that when the time comes to declare bankruptcy, they still have assets and operations outside of the country.

    The Detroit Free Press today had a glimpse of where things are going for the U.S. auto industry, coverying the front page with two prominent articles.

    The center one is a puff piece about how Ford is hiring Gen X’ers who know nothing about cars to inform them about style in California. (Translation: They are rudderless.) If you delve deeper, you see a picture of a kid designer with a model of a crossover that looks like a butt ugly baby shoe. “CALIFORNIA DESIGNIN’ | DAY 2: Meet the oddest employees at Ford, a small, self-described A-team of nonconformist designers who, by design, are not automotive designers.” http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070212/NEWS05/702120327

    The other half of the front page is devoted to the Democrats dancing in the aisles over their triumph in the elections, with a serious examination of just how much higher the CAFE standards are going to be beyond what the president proposed. (Translation: Torpedo inbound, broadside hit imminent!)
    “Mileage rules harsher than Bush plan may hurt automakers”
    http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070212/BUSINESS01/702120326

    If that’s not enough nausea, there’s another feature: “Steve Laube stood under a canopy at the union hall in Detroit today, sheltered from the snow, wondering if there’s a future in making cars.” I think DCX is trying to give him the answer.

    These teetering bureaucracies bought some time with import restrictions in the 70′s, and when the money was flowing they gave in to union demands and governmental restrictions that guaranteed their demise. The management team in place at the time were not playing with their own money, had no incentive whatsoever to act in the best long-term interests of the companies, and had their millions to retire on. The end game is on now, and the fix is in. The union will not give in, the management is still playing with someone else’s money, the innovators are weeded out, the government is going to keep tightening the noose while paid-for global warming alarmists in the universities and the media keep the alarm bells ringing for the politicians who pay them.

    Meanwhile it is business as usual. Hot on the heels of announcements of job cuts and tremendous losses, the lobotomized idiots at the Big 2.5 still run ads on TV showing EMPLOYEE DISCOUNT PRICING. As if there are going to be very many employees left. What makes them think I will buy their product if they advertise that I can’t have it for the price they show? Do they think I’m going to walk in there and ask, “How much more will it cost me than what you advertise?”. And they are still running ‘concept’ ads, at a time when they need to be telling you about their product. Someone needs to throw a rock through the window with a note attached, “advertise the cars, stupid!”. Not that it would be enough to save them, it’s just irritating and it shows how little has changed inside the ivory tower.

    –97T–

  • avatar
    kablamo

    Very good DW…

    It’s interesting how often “American automotive scene” is confused for “domestic automotive scene”. Just because the 2.5 produce “American” cars obviously no longer means they give direction to trends, styling or preferences of consumers in the US.

  • avatar
    jp3209

    RF –

    Yet ANOTHER good GMDW piece.

    Points to consider:

    1. In the military, we have ‘reading lists’… this is a list of books that we are ‘encouraged’ to read. Some commanders will make certain books mandatory, but that’s at their discretion. Some of these books have been written by our enemies and are tough to stomach, for instance, ‘How We Won the War’ by General Giap of North Vietnam. The ENTIRE GMDW series should be required reading for every single employee of GM, along with many of their suppliers. Every review of a GM vehicle by TTAC should be required. I’ll toss in every Autoextremist.com column which has relevance to GM.

    2. There should be competitor cars throughout GM. There is one group of engineers that I saw a TV program on which works on looking at the competition’s product. This should be expanded.

    3. I am sure that there are several GMers reading TTAC. I know they run gmblogs.com, and have taken the time to respond to some of the posts there. I wouldn’t doubt that many GM execs read this blog. If anything, you are doing them a service. I do believe that many magazines have a bias, and I take some issue with your opinions in this series (which is why I respond!) and I post such disagreements, which anyone is free to do, provided they conduct themselves with class. I look forward to the day when someone within GM finally decides they have the stones to speak.

    4. I will disagree with you regarding the G8. All we ever hear about is how Toyota became so powerful by making a mistake, learning from it, and coming back stronger the next time. The new Tundra is try #3 at the full size segment, I believe? So why do you bag on GM for making a second attempt. Why did the GTO fail? Because it didn’t look like the original GTO, and the GTO die hards made a load of noise about how it wasn’t a REAL GTO. Overpriced? Yeah, I’ll give you that one. Would it have suceeded as something other than a GTO? I think it would have had a much better shot. Plus, the G8 is a sedan, which is a layout that I think some of your truck/suv guys might be moving towards, but that’s a personal gut feeling that I have no facts to back it up with.

  • avatar
    NinerSevenTango

    I would have bought a GTO if it didn’t look like a Cavalier. (It’s not just noise, it’s a TON of lost sales.) And I didn’t like the fact that GM closed the Camaro/Firebird plant and brought the GTO in from overseas, either.

    –97T–

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    See, I think that the big 2.5 are beginning to get it, but they seem to trip over their own shoes. My question has always been, why would someone buy a GM. I can’t think of a reason. I’m not knocking their cars, it is just that they have no selling point. For example, I was reading a sport compact comparo at Inside Line. The cars – Cobalt SS, Civic SI, GTI, Mazdaspeed 3, WRX, Cooper S. for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out a reason to buy the Cobalt, but I could find a reason for every other car.

    1. GTI – Best interior, DSG, most refined

    2. Cooper S – Best driving dynamics, most character/personalization

    3. Civic SI – Cheapest, best 6 speed, best controlled handling, highest-revving, sportiest looking (my opinion on that one), best nav/stereo, reliability, gas mileage

    4. WRX – All wheel drive, wide powerband

    5. Mazdaspeed 3 – most engine, most practical (or a tie w/ wrx, civic si, gti), most car for the money, nav, HID lights/ power accessories

    6. Cobalt SS – ??? one of the least practical and beaten in some way by all the other cars.

    It’s not that it is a bad car, it just doesn’t have anything that competition does not. I can see a buyer picking any of the first five based on the preference for certain things in a car. That simply isn’t there for the Chevy. Same goes for the impala, gto, mote carlo, etc. It might be a fine automobile, but I’d rather be seen in a 300c than an impala or G8. At least it has some style. The solstice has style, hence it sold even if the MX-5 might technically be the better car. Those who wanted style and more masculinity went for the solstice. Yet nothing from the 2.5 moves in that direction. Why isn’t the focus ST here? I’d buy that.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    NinerSevenTango,

    It’s not just the fact that GM now has to import and perform badge-engineered surgery on what “typically” WAS an American icon…a muscle car. It goes well beyond that.

    As has been pointed out now, the Saturn division, which was supposed to send the yellow man back to Asia …well, now that Division too is being imported…from Germany.

    In other words, GM NA only does pick-’em up trucks and Suburbans. That’s it. That’s their soup du jour.

    If per chance they were tasked to to anything else, and do it well….well, they become tongue-tied and helpless.

    GM NA truly has become nasty. I mean, when I bring up all the junk GM has sold my family over the years to a GM relative, he gets all defensive too. It’s pathetic…and truly a sign on weakness.

    “You just HATE GM”. I’ve heard it many times.

    Now Hate is a mighty strong word, and to feel the whole world is out to get you and that they Hate you…it’s not too confidence- nspiring, now is it?

    Now the Duke, old John Wayne…we need to bring him back. Now HE would simply say “Bring Em On…I make no Excuses whatsoever. And dammit if my product isn’t the Absolute BEST money can buy, bar NONE”.

    Instead we get this sniveling, whimpering, excuse-ridden nonsense.

    Yes, GM, we just HATE you. It’s all a conspiracy. There’s absolutely NO truth to the fact(!) that you have screwed the very people who pay your salaries…the customer.

    Uh HUH…

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Sanman11:

    I have one. Bang for buck. Same principle that Dodge used when they created the SRT-4.

    (all prices via carpoint.com)
    Volkwagen GTI: $22K, 200 hp
    MINI Cooper S: $21.5K, 214 hp (this is the newer turbocharged mini, not the old supercharged one)
    Honda Civic Si: $21K, 197 hp
    Subaru Impreza WRX: $24K, 230 hp
    MazdaSpeed3: $22K, 263 hp
    Chevrolet Cobalt SS: $17.5K, 205 hp

    Now, you may say this doesn’t count for much, but again, Dodge was quite successful when it applied this to the SRT-4.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    That argument only holds water if the quality is comparable.

    Will the Cobalt provide you with 200K miles of “happy” driving?

    …or will your gem of a Cobalt make you cringe every time you get behind the wheel?

    Honda owners SWEAR by them (in a good way!).

    GM owners SWEAR *AT* them.

    @$#%^#$^#%&$%^&@$#

    …know what I mean, Vern?

  • avatar
    NICKNICK

    To me, the first ever G8 looks pretty hot. I’m not so sure about the hood scoops and taillights, but everything else looks to be in place. It looks more BMW than any current Bimmer. Lovely proportions and presence.

    However, that’s the *show* car that looks hot. According to GM, the ride height will be raised, so there goes the low-slung stance. Those wheels will not be available–there goes the only really nice OEM wheel i’ve seen in a while (porsche not withstanding). That color paint will not be available. And how much you wanna bet that airdam only comes on V8 models?

    So what GM has done is the opposite of Dodge and Toyota. Love the Viper and FJ concepts? Good–because they’re coming to your neighborhood in six months. GM says enjoy the show now, because you cain’t never have it.

    GM finally shows they can do something great for the regular working stiff, and then yanks the rug out. The bulk of these G8s are going to be as lame as the lily-white 6cyl 300Cs with 16″ wheels that dollar-short-and-day-late QVC fiends tend to sport.

    It’s almost like they *try* to suck.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    I think Pontiac needs to create a “Metrosexual G8″ package (in the true sens of the word “package” :). It would go over well with the pinklins of this world, yet demonstrate how “manly” they are with a V8.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    …you see, *THIS* is your average GM / Ford / Dodge owner:

    http://www.local6.com/news/10991469/detail.html

    …always catering to the lowest common denominator…the “McD’s” crowd.

    But I think if they put a little gel in their hair and put on some red parachute pants, …and climb behind the wheel of a G8, then HEY, they may actually go somewhere in life.

    hahaha

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Will the Cobalt provide you with 200K miles of “happy” driving? Can the same be said for any of the other cars? My brother has a 2002 Jetta GLI that was fun for the first 15K miles, then he hit a pothole in Brooklyn and broke the engine mounts. He's also had the driver's side window come off of the tracks. e's had constant problems with the 'check engine' light that the dealer couldn't track down. Hes had problems with the engine overheating when the air conditioner was turned on. He hates working on it because every bolt requires an allen key of some kind, even the oil pan drain bolt, and heaven help you if you get the heads of any of those bolts stripped out. I think you guys have Cavalier on the brain. I know it's tough to shake that horrible memory, but the Cavalier this car is not.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    Aaahhh folks. I think we’re taking the 18th tangent to the sun.

    First off, GM does make a lot of good powertrains and has done so for a very long time.Their primary problem is that they simply have too many brands. A few of these brands (Saab, Buick, GMC) really don’t offer anything unique to the public at this point and should be deep-sixed in North America ASAP.

    Second, I really don’t understand the anger and angst with the Cobalt. Yes, the exterior design is boring and the steering wheel looks like it was made by Rubbermaid. But other than the Civic, Elantra and Mazda3, I don’t really see anything else that stands out as a good car. The Yaris is an ugly plasticized P-O-Anime-S, the Focus is four years behind the eight ball of the marketplace, the Versa was designed by the same folks who gave us the ‘Picasso on an acid trip’ Quest, and virtually all the other models are on the short list at the neighborhood Avis or Enterprise.

    Now if we’re talking about GM failures, the ION, GTO, and HHR are much stronger grist for the mill. The ION was a car so ugly that not even a dog would pee on it. The GTO’s design was as bland as the… um… Cobalts, and the HHR is so uncompetitive that GM is trying to sell these flying bricks for their fuel efficiency (30 MILES PER GALLON!!! PLEASE BUY ME!!!).

    The Cobalt’s bland. No doubt about it. But bland cars with simple interior designs sell well for the most part. That’s what makes the Impala (best selling American car), Camry (best selling Import car) and Corolla (best selling car in the world) so appealing.

    They stand out so much that they blend in.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Quasimodo, You just proved my point. A Cobalt SS stickers for more than a Civic SI. The only reason that the Cobalt is cheaper is due to GM price slashing because the car is not moving. MSRP band for the buck goes to Mazda. The result of your calculation is that you get the most bang for the buck and the GM deathwatch continues. The company cannot have selling the car at a loss as its only reason for purchase, that leads you to where we are today. The SRT-4, much like the mazda, was the most bang for the buck at MSRP prices and could be sold for a profit. As a side note, DCX followed that success with the caliber SRT, why? Nothing appeals less to a sport compact enthusiast than a small truck like thing.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Don’t worry, people, Charron Ungar from Calgary will set a new trend for the G8!!! ”

    http://www.calgarysun.com/cgi-bin/publish.cgi?p=79646&x=articles&s=lifestyle

    You see, the “lifestyle” of a metrosexual DICTATES a G8!!!

    Those manly nostril flares are SUCH a turn on as even John Amos can attest to.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    The problems at GM (and Ford and DCX) can be summed up in a single sentence somewhat reminiscent of PT Barnum’s famous ‘There’s a sucker born every minute’ quote:

    You can’t polish a turd, but if you spend enough on marketing, advertising, and discounts, you can sure sell a lot of them.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    GM and Ford import parts and designs to the US and the flag wavers think that’s OK. If a Japanese company builds a model here using American parts and labor, they are ruining our economy. Funny, isnt it ?

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Okay, I looked at the wrong listing ($17K for the non supercharged SS, $20.5K for the supercharged SS).

    I still think you guys have Cavalier on the brain, though.

  • avatar
    peejay44

    Here is one more piece of anecdotal evidence that GM lacks the head-to-toe corporate culture needed to sell good cars. I liked the Caddy CTS when it first showed up in 2002. Chalk it up to rooting for the underdog. The upcoming 2008 caught my eye again. Hated the corporate maw, but the rest looked tasty. Simple formula: Offer up 5 Series luxury for 3 Series pricing. A rare chance to root for the home team. Looked at the pictures, read the press kit drivel, felt the knees imperceptibly weakening. Was this love? Naw. Not like when I bought my BMW coupe. But hey, I will never see the south side of 60 again and I needed to find something more appropriate to my age. GM does have heritage. First good automatic transmissions, first OHV V-8’s, world-class air conditioners. The power steering pump in our 1980 Volvo was GM (Chevy Vega). The vaunted 5 speed automatic in the last BMW 5 Series cars was a Hydramatic. When it comes to world-class quality components and sub-systems, GM has creds. It’s just when they try to put it all together atop four wheels that, um, the wheels come off. But I digress. Caught up in the hype, I decided to drop by my local Cadillac/Hummer dealership. I made my way through a sea of unsold Hummers, Escalades, and the occasional orphaned STS and entered the showroom. A salesman greeted me. Never mind my Levis 501’s and sweatshirt: I immediately focused on his cheap wrinkled suit and bargain rack tie. Inauspicious start. “Tell me what you know about the new CTS”, I asked. With a knowing look, and absent any reference to a very nice page on the Cadillac website, he proudly produced a copy of a magazine; not AutoWeek, not any trade or enthusiast’s mag that I had ever heard of, but a rapper’s magazine, for God’s sake, pages desperately clinging to staples like a rumpled and abused copy of Hustler at a Boy Scout convention, opened to reveal a BLING-BLING rendering of just how Cadillac’s most cutting edge ride might look when appropriately pimped out. He breathlessly encouraged my admiration of the side vents. Can tonneau covers be far behind? Ah, my faded ardor.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    I'm not thinking of the cavalier, my dad ownedone in the earlt 90's. Worst car ever. I don't think the Cobalt is a bad car. Reliability-wise, it will likely fall in the middle of the pack. However, honda vtec engines have been proven rock-solid. Compared to them, all the forced induction motors will be more expensive to maintain in the long run. However, I still can't find a reason to buy the car. I buy the Honda to rev it to 8000 rpm and have the most precise handling and shifter (and better resale value), if I want the torque, I could spend $1500 more on the mazda and get a better interior, 80 lb-ft more torque, and more pwer amenities in a more convenient package. So, we are still left with my original question of why to buy it. GM might have had a hit if it looked like a bigger solstice coupe, but it is blah to boot. Competent just doesn't cut it unless you're offering hyundai prices or a toyota-like reputation for reliability. GM can't price it lower or they won't make a profit (like right now) and a rep like toyota's takes decades to prove. Thus, GM needs best in class something (interior, style, power, etc.) to have a model that makes a profit, which it doesn't have.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    I would disagree too with your opinions on G8. I recommend you read Australian reviews and road tests about the Holden Commodore VE SS-V – the car on which G8 is based.

    Interior has amazing quality:

    http://images.leftlanenews.com/content/3-2008-pontiac-g8.jpg (copy/paste)

    Quotes from some of the aussie reviews:

    In as-tested 6-speed auto form it comes in at AUD$53,990 – an amount which is simply astonishingly good value for money. Include sat nav on the standard colour LCD (and nav is a relatively cheap option), glue on a Euro badge, and in nearly every aspect the Commodore could be a $100,000 car.

    For us the most remarkable aspect of the car is its poise on the road. The steering is superbly weighted, has excellent on-centre feel and a directness that is a good compromise between sports twitchiness and lethargic limousine. The suspension is extremely well sorted, with linear body roll (and not much of it) and a beautifully engineered match with the stability control system.

    At the end of the day, the SS left me mighty impressed as a performance car. It held its own through the vigorous testing I did and didn’t manage to leave me disappointed at any point over the drive. Holden have really engineered a driver’s car in the SS, its ability to row through each gear right up to redline left me with a smile from ear to ear. And just like any true Aussie muscle car, it could rip a very mean burnout.

    Let’s be honest. I’ve driven a fair whack of Euro cars and quite often, the Aussie competition is quaffed at when it comes to comparative build quality and performance. The former is certainly true, but the latter…not so much.

    ‘Twas a gorgeous summer’s day as I set off for the hills. I wasn’t expecting too much from the SS in terms of handling and composure. It wasn’t until I got to the twisty stuff that I was totally blown away. I came into the road test thinking this would be your typical Aussie barge. Holden went on and on about how much time and effort has been poured into the VE – and in particular the sports models – and I honestly thought it was just your typical marketing hype. Although the SS weighs in at around 1.8-tonnes, manoeuvring the car through the twisties is remarkably easy and confidence inspiring. It’s on the tighter sections of road that the SS excels – who would have thought. The SS’s brakes are very confidence inspiring. Sharp and snappy turn-in to a corner proved to unsettle the car in no way. Generally such aggressive driving delivers understeer, the SS on the other hand remained quite composed and literate, kicking up little fuss. One of the most impressive traits was the level of weight centred over the rear tyres. With 270kW on tap, it’s not uncommon to drop the rear end out when aggressively exiting a slow corner. The SS had the amazing ability to simply drill that power into the tarmac and falter in no way. The short throw between gears is fantastic and the tight nature of the gates makes transitioning through the gears that little bit easier. The pedals also provide enough room for heel-toeing, catering for the more enthusiastic drivers.
    etc etc.

    I think GM has a real gem in their hands. When I read the aussie reviews, look at the interior… I would choose the G8 any day over the 2x more expensive BMW 550i.

  • avatar
    HawaiiJim

    Robert,

    I think it’s unrealistic to expect an open, nondefensive response to you from a representative of a company that you have put on a ”death watch. ” You’re expecting saint-like behavior in a situation that has already become adversarial. Re-title your GM critiques “GM Suggestion
    Box Part ——-” and you might get a warmer reception.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    noone learned from your mistakes…. you had that look upon your face, advertizing space… and another homebred car is gone- the average homebuddy- pontiac grand prix. and replaced by aussie tuned up opel omega. seem you didn`t learn much, when shoving opel omega exterior parts on GTO. i imagine that you are naughty and inept to create a platform, but if you even go as far as to take omega fenders, front doors, hood, lamps unchanged from year 1994 model, then it is over the top. Guys how much time is left for you to live/? how long you think you will receive 6 and 7 in fit-and-finish column for premium caddies in major car magazines, and still hoping to fight imports? can you find today any reason why americans should buy gm , or any 2,5 products? the only reason they were fighting imports – was because they were domestic, that was automatically associated with supporting local economy. today gm imports, and imports, and soon there will be no single car left manufactured here in america. and americans desperate to renovate the once superb pride of her achievements, grabs to the last straw like a drowning man- to home- made associations. like- if toyota is designed in Calty, it must be american, or if opel shares belong to gm, it must be american. it `s wishful thinking. I loved american cars so much, like father loves his son. and every time i opened a journal with a column with new cars, there was a dagger in my heart. whenever i read a sweet story about new chevys or pontiacs, it was all spoiled by some little tiny sentences, like- based on mitsubishi, uses opel engines, borrows sheetmetal from daewoo. i spit and fumed, and was harsh, because i considered american cars like my sons, my blood, my soul. today i won`t even read about g8, it`s not my kin, not my blood, even if it carries the same surname. I am too tired to scrutinize what your american cars are made of and get little heart attacks every day. I am just 20. so when you columnists report on a new car, don`t add at the end of story that the car is based on holden or whatever. put that damn sentence in headline, so I would not bother reading that column at all. Lunatics@inbox.lv juris. Latvia

  • avatar
    tom

    This just might be the best Death Watch ever. It points right at the root of all evil over in Detroit.

    If you’re not even aware of what the competition is doing (better) then how are you supposed to ever match them, let alone surpass them?

  • avatar

    HawaiiJim: I think it’s unrealistic to expect an open, nondefensive response to you from a representative of a company that you have put on a ‘’death watch. ” You’re expecting saint-like behavior in a situation that has already become adversarial. Re-title your GM critiques “GM Suggestion Box Part —” and you might get a warmer reception. I don't expect an open, nondefensive response. But I do expect a rational, well-argued response. As for the Death Watch title, well, they're in the business of selling cars, we're in the business of telling the truth. If GM wants to condemn our position as extreme or unrealistic, the floor is theirs. But make no mistake, TTAC will not pull its punches or kiss anyone's ass. Ever.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    And, don’t let the lack of competitive product awareness of one GM PR person (disappointing as that is to me) be confused with the same lack of competitive awareness in the corporation as a whole. You would cry if you saw the number of beautiful new cars lying in pieces on tables in industrial buildings all over Detroit. And most product and manufacturing engineers know exactly where the systems and components for which they are responsible compare favorably (and unfavorably) with their competition.

  • avatar

    Captain Tungsten:

    Oh for Pete’s sake. You know as well as I do that I’m decrying the lack of situational awareness throughout GM as a whole.

    Analyzing a deconstructed Toyota tells you everything about its engineering– and nothing about its relative merit and appeal in the real world.

  • avatar
    kasumi

    And why can’t GM respond to a DeathWatch? Cetainly a group of writers could get together and write a well-reasoned response over a few hours. Read all the DeathWatches and comments – that would only take a day or so. I bet they are saying something like, “Responding would give Mr. Farago’s arguments credibility.”

    On the Mulally car sales stunt. Remember the Curb Your Enthusiasm where Larry David sells Toyotas? The only way this will have any credibility is if he just shows up at some random dealer with no fanfare and starts working. However, I am sure Ford will have some big banner “CEO DEAL EVENT!” or something.

    Onto interior quality- sure BMW and Audi are premium brands. But can’t a Malibu have the interior of a Jetta, Civic, Rabbit or Altima? This will open it up to the inevitable, my brother had a Jetta and its steering wheel fell off and then the windshield fell out. So, whatever, I would much rather have a car with a great interior that may have occasional problems than the cheap feeling of my mother in law’s new Malibu.

    K.

  • avatar
    Glenn A.

    Just for clarity’s sake, Hudson, Graham, Kaiser and Frazer companies are still in business (in a sense). Even still building cars in the United States. It is the Daimler-Chrysler organization, and prior companies and names also include Willys and Nash, which became American Motors when merged with Hudson in 1954. Graham merged into Kaiser-Frazer, then this combination bought Willys (Jeep) in 1953.

    American Motors bought Kaiser-Jeep in 1970 and then American Motors was itself bought by Chrysler in 1987. Chrysler was absorbed by D-B in 1999.

    Studebaker (which had previously been bought by Packard, with the Studebaker company bleeding it’s host white and killing it off by 1958) got out of the auto biz, which was 50% of their business in early 1966 when they shuttered their (profitable) Hamilton, Ontario automobile factory. They had shuttered their (unprofitable) South Bend Main plant just after Christmas day, 1963 and closed out their own engine production about 8 months later, buying 1965 and 1966 model year engines from GM (big mistake). Studebaker merged with Worthington of Canada in 1967, then got absorbed into a conglomerate, which was absorbed by another conglomerate and I’ve lost track now.

    Hupp remained in business after discontinuing cars (for how long, I don’t know; it may still be a predecessor company to one of the still active companies “out there”). My “Encyclopedia of American Cars” states: “Hupp recovered somewhat with military contracts during World War II, but elected not to return to the car business when peace returned. Eventually, Hupp began making accessories for other auto companies as well as kitchen and electronics equipment.”

    Peerless, one of the “Three P’s” of luxury American car fame (Packard, Peerless and Pierce-Arrow) was destroyed by the depression, along with many other car companies, but according to my “New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Automobiles” Peerless continued in business after 1931 “After the repeal of prohibition, Peerless re-emerged as the brewers of Carlings Ale”. Apparently it was more profitable to brew beer than to make luxury cars in Cleveland!

    The bottom line is – General Motors “MAY” survive as a company, just in a different form – and “MAY” survive as a car manufacturer.

    But then again, it may NOT survive and if it does, it may not survive as a car manufacturer (though if it collapses, there aren’t a lot of other business propositions left except the core business, now).

    Seen any Montgomery-Wards stores lately? No? Well, a few scant decades ago, it was a BIG player in the retail industry. Nothing is left now except one independent one time spin-off, a small emergency roadside service.

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Onto interior quality- sure BMW and Audi are premium brands. But can’t a Malibu have the interior of a Jetta, Civic, Rabbit or Altima? This will open it up to the inevitable, my brother had a Jetta and its steering wheel fell off and then the windshield fell out. So, whatever, I would much rather have a car with a great interior that may have occasional problems than the cheap feeling of my mother in law’s new Malibu.

    An annoying rattle when you drive over railroad tracks is an occasional problem. Parts falling off of a car isn’t. The idea that a car that feels so well built would have those kinds of problems makes it even more of a dissapointment.

    Maybe my automotive priorities are loopy here, but I think I’ll go with a car that won’t break despite the feel of inferior materials over a car that does even when it uses superior materials.

  • avatar
    ash78

    quasimondo
    Or you could have both, but imagine a car like a Jetta that costs $50k, but lasts 20-30 years and doesn’t have all those minor failures, like window regulators. Even if manufacturers opted for the most durable parts available, the consumer would never be willing to absorb that cost. Consumers are too fickle to make that kind of long-term decision on a car. I believe Mercedes used to take this view on cars, but how does a company stay in business when their product has such a long useful life? The car biz would begin to mimic the housing industry.

    A good case in point is the London Taxi. They cost around $50k+ in the US for a mediocre 5-cyl diesel car…but their service life is 500k miles with basic services, IIRC.

  • avatar
    rainking

    Here's the problem: GM doesn't care about websites like this. Nor should it. Nor should any automaker. Nor should any company for that matter. This site doesn't generate enough traffic for a company to waste its time worrying about it. 

  • avatar
    doctorv8

    Great article overall, RF, but…

    …But my point is that the Vette’s dash is a disgrace.

    The ridiculously overstated comments about the Vette’s dash, IMHO, give the GM folks unnecessary ammunition to shoot down your otherwise strong arguments.

    We all know GM cars have plenty of flaws, but the C6 interior is not one of them. While not perfect, the materials are not bad, with one or two exceptions, and the excellent gauge layout, ergonomics, and heads up display are the equal or superior to its rivals.

    Sure, I would spring for a premium leather covered interior a la Porsche if it were available. But a “disgrace”? Hardly.

  • avatar
    ash78

    rainking
    They should care about sites like this, regardless of traffic. It’s all about WHO you are influencing. In marketing, it’s about reaching the mavens and opinionmakers rather than just the mass market (who might only influence 1-2 decisions).

    I think it’s safe to say that most visitors and commentors on this site are the people among their families/friends that everyone comes to with car questions. That means that for every TTAC’er you effectively influence, there is a ripple effect or a multiplier. However, if GMDW continues unabated, you can clearly see the direction of all of the influence.

    This is not to create a false sense of our own importance here, it’s just the way it is. People who take the time to write about this stuff, mostly just as a hobby, obviously take it pretty seriously.

  • avatar
    craigefa

    Here’s the problem: GM doesn’t care about websites like this. Nor should it. Nor should any automaker. Nor should any company for that matter. This site doesn’t generate enough traffic for a company to waste its time worrying about it.

    You’re right, rainking, they shouldn’t care about this site and it’s readers. We’re just people who buy and drive cars. What can be gained by paying attention to customers?

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    GM is preparing for fire sales on new cars. i wish i liked one of them, probably get a good deal.

  • avatar

    Rainking lets see GM Ford and Chrysler had about 70 per cent of the market for cars 20 years ago and about 90 percent of the market for cars 20 years before that. They are curently hemmoraging money because they are not selling cars at the quantity and price point needed for their business model.

    Your comment and this article on TTAC is a perfect example of why the big 2,5 are where they are at facing bankruptcy.

    If someone has a problem and it is not addressed well you have lost a customer and GM and the others have been doing that losing one customer at a time for fourty years. Now they need more of us to buy their cars. The problem is the attitude of well screw you, you are only one person and we have millions of satisfied customers is what got them here, This article and your post reflect the attitude by GM that well you the customer and the TTAC are not important enough for us to address your concerns.

    The only way for the big 2.5 to turn it around is to sell cars to people who no longer have GM Ford or chrysler products on their list let alone short list of cars to consider for purchase. Unless they address the concerns and criticisms of such people they will fail.

    I constantly read on other forums comments like F**K California or other markets where domestics do poorly. The problem is the domestics already sell like 90 percent market share in Detroit and the mid west. In order to get back to where they need to be they need to sell to the rest of us, many whom have all but given up hope for a domestic product.

  • avatar
    86er

    comments re: validity of TTAC:

    I do feel that websites like this are an excellent way for auto enthusiasts to get together. It might just be me, but it seems like we’re a dying breed.

    I happen to live and breathe vehicles. So few of the people I know do, so it’s quite nice to join up (even in this cold, impersonal manner) and discuss vehicles, or even just to read the banter.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    rainking – whoa! such harsh words! Of course, check the “hit” tallies and responses…..

    It’s the ripple effect. Not to blow my own horn, but over the past 15 years hundreds of people at my company have sought my opinion and assistance in buying a new car. And I steer them away from crap.

    Although I don’t always agree with Farago et al, I REALLY appreciate their take on things and the food for thought it provides.

    And the fact that I can count on NO interference or ass-kissing in their reviews….

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    > And exactly how do you do that? You’ve said it yourself that at the car show you went to, the top grades for interiors went to >Audi and BMW, those are pretty pricey cars.

    >If Pontiac were to improve the quality of their interior to something beyond what Audi offers, would we all grumble if they were >unable to keep the price below $30K and label the high price as another reason why GM is heading down the toilet?

    >It’s one thing to complain about material quality in a $60K Corvette, but when you bring those same complaints to a $18K >Malibu, you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too.

    Audi and BMW are 2 levels higher. I’m saying look at Acura and Lexus and don’t use the same grade of leather but use soft touch plastics, good design and good assembly. The interior on my RX8 isn’t lavish in the least but the quality is good, the controls are well laid out and the plastics while not as nice as my last car don’t have a cheap feel. Mazda takes this approach all the way to their lowest model the Mazda 3. Whereas the HHR, Mustang and 300c/charger/magnum just exuded cheap.

    If American car companies want to win back customers they need to offer comparable quality for less money or better quality for the same money. You need to show me why you vehicles are better than Toyota, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru and VW. Why is it that the Japanese and Germans know their American customers better than the Big 2.5? Who better to understand the buying habits of Americans better than Americans? It boggles the mind.

    Hopefully GM is reading this if so here is a suggestion:

    Your bureaucracy is too big and there are too many layers of approval. Establish some small independent components that can design vehicles that go directly to top management for approval. This will allow for speed and innovative design.

  • avatar
    jp3209

    Rainking – I have to totally disagree with you. This site is for auto enthusiasts. GM did not used to listen to auto enthusiasts and look where it got them. I've said before my father worked for years at GM (mid-level engineer)… he was actually in meetings where people asked execs "How good to we have to make this car?" And the exec reply was "Just make it good enough," Now, do you think that type of reply came from reading too many enthusiast outlets (this was before the internet)? No. It came from too many focus groups, where you end up with the lowest common denominator – something which is inoffensive to everyone involved. So, now, the question becomes, if a Chevy Impala and a Toyota Camry are both totally inoffensive, but also unengaging, why buy one over the other? Well, because one has a lower price, or better quality for that price… man, no matter how I approach this subject, I keep coming back to Quality. I thought about this a little since my last post, and many of these threads run dangerously close to a debate over the concept of Quality, as what's-his-name describes it in Zen & Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. I think that's part of the problem with GM, is that they have a reliance on metrics – measurable metrics. They can measure panel gaps, mpg, horsepower, braking distance, etc. But they don't (or didn't in the past) have a good way to describe how those measurable numbers translated into a 'feel'… I for one, honestly don't care that my dashboard (on my 07 Colorado) is made of hard plastic. I don't sleep on it, nor do I snuggle up with it while watching Must Love Dogs. Back to the point of the article, how much time have I spent in a Toyota Tacoma (one of the new ones)? None. I wanted to test drive one, but the salesman was a jerk, and I left. My buddy has one, and I really want to see if he'll switch cars for a week, to see what all the hoopla is about. Of course, that would be getting to know the competition. The fact that I, a mere observer in all this, would think of doing this, seriously, everyone in GM and Delphi at least should have spent serious quality time in Toyotas, Hondas, etc. There should NEVER be a salesman/woman who doesn't know what a Toyota Sienna is if they're trying to sell you a GM Minivan.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    When an engineer with GM is asked to solve a problem at a manufacturing site or with a design flaw that comes up in testing, he must always keep in mind what do my bosses want to hear when preparing his recommendations. This is why GM can not produce market leaders, and always end up with cars that have good points but are not quite good enough. I loved some of the features of the Saturn Vue that I bought the year they came out; however, I didn’t love the cheap manufacturing and excuses/denials from the Saturn dealer (and my brother-in-law, who works for Delphi). Eventually, my brother-in-law experienced some of the same problems I had and in essence admitted that it was the car not me. If they had taken the design ideas that they exhibited in the Vue and actually incorporated them into a solidly built car, they would have had a real winner. As it was built, they made a real dud.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    “Oh for Pete’s sake. You know as well as I do that I’m decrying the lack of situational awareness throughout GM as a whole.

    Analyzing a deconstructed Toyota tells you everything about its engineering– and nothing about its relative merit and appeal in the real world. ”

    -RF

    Honestly, I’m not trying to agitate you with comments like the one that prompted this response, but I feel it is important to the story for people to understand that even if a company behaves incompetently (in someone’s opinion), it doesn’t directly follow that the thousands of people that work there are, by definition, incompetent. I think YOU get that, I’m not so sure about the rest of the population around here.

    And if you are going to truly understand the appeal of the product with an eye towards improving it, you better damn well have a firm grasp of the engineering behind it (among other things)

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    Another thing folks should realize when they compare, interior quality of European cars to North American ones: The European makers get more $$ for a car with a given size, level of features, and quality in Europe than they do in the US or Canada. Compare transaction prices for BMW’s Audi’s,etc. in Europe to their equivalents in the US, and you will find they are much higher in Europe. Their market demands higher quality, and are willing to pay for it. So when European cars are marketed here, they have already paid for the investment and piece cost of the higher quality bits based on the business cases in their home countries. More volume helps their bottom line.

    This is the main reason the all new Focus is not sold in the US. It’s also the reason folks will be pleasantly surprised (if not shocked) by the interior quality of the Astra.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    CT, RF

    It is true her actions are in the minority, (she is a corporate cheerleader after all) it does exist but humble pie is slowly filtering into all department cafeteria. As an employee we are aware of other products (some people drive and buy them as has been pointed in previous articles) and there are a pool of vehicles that are driven regularly, particularly in design so that standards can be achieved. Especially when a new project is undertaken, we get relevent regular drive time in competitor vehicles. Quality is changing, and improving dramatically and i do hope humble pie won’t be forgotten over the next few years. Many bridges need rebuilding, but as new product emerges that will keep narrowing the gap between the competition and ourselves, i think they will. If GM can keep going, i think you’ll all be pleasantly surprised over the next few years, we’ve started with interior quality, its better and is getting better all the time. The futures bright and Harley Earl WILL be proud of the General again.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    The Tundra is being sourced in North America. Maybe it gets booed at the hockey game, but the few suppliers left who can make the cut are damned glad to have a customer who doesn’t consider it a feather in the cap to bankrupt a supplier.

    General Motors has walked away from their supplier base, resulting in a string of bankruptcies and deeply cutting into their strongest and most loyal customer base.

    Well said 97T, so true, so true!

  • avatar
    Aussie Shaun

    “Nobody is going to buy an overpriced Aussie buggy with a dated design and bare bones technology”

    G’day TTAC Readers;

    I’m not a fan of any GM products in a broad sense but, as an avid all-things-automotive-industry-tragic (oh, yes, also an Aussie sitting in Sydney) I feel I must take issue with the above comment. It is trite to say that regular readers of TTAC will know that the G8 is a very mildly re-styled version of the Holden VE Commodore (GM Holden being our local arm of GM) but the car is in my view neither “dated” nor “bare bones.” A quick summary:

    * Holden took about six years to develop the VE;
    * The 3.6 litre V6 is the same base unit as used in other GM owned products (e.g. Alfa Brera);
    * Total development cost was about (US)$775 million;
    * VE is the highest selling large passenger car in Australia;
    * It is fitted and sold standard here with ESP, ABS, EBA, Traction Control, side airbags, bluetooth etc;
    * It has won all the major industry awards in the last six months or so;
    * The V8 is the 6.0 litre L98 producing 270kw (362 bhp);
    HSV (Holden Special Vehicles) produce a version that has a worked L98 with an output of 307kw and will get from 0 to 100kmh in 4.9 seconds;
    * GM Holden has been exporting previous models for years, with the Middle East being a large market for the LWB versions, and the UK for the VXR Monaro (your old GTO);
    * It is envisaged that most Commodores built will be sold O/S;
    * We can buy a 6 speed, fully loaded HSV Clubsport for about (US) $48 grand.

    I remind you that I’m NOT a fan of GM products, but I drove a VE recently and was impressed with its ‘solid’ feel, handling and overall ride. I normally drive either an ’04 Audi A6 or ’06 Ford Falcon (VE local rival with 6speed ZF Auto as a (US) $175 option!) and both are surpassed by the VE when you consider the cost – we can get one on the road here for about (US) $27grand. To compare – a new 3.2 A6 is about (US) $83 grand on the road.

    I’m not one to pfaff on about local products, nor am I saying that the G8 will be a great car for your local conditions, but it is certainly not ‘outdated’ nor ‘bare bones.’

    Of course, I will resist the tempation to give locally sold examples of US brands that fit the above description; save for observing that we must surely get the worst of US brands and/or the superseded models. But I’ll leave that for another day…

    My simple request to of all of you (and TTAC in particular) is to please test drive/review a G8 when the opportunity presents, and evaluate objectively. I am certain that you’ll find it much better than anticipated. And if you get a hi-po version (turn off the traction control) you will be guaranteed to have a smile on your face too.

    I’m not going to buy a VE, and there are much better cars out there. But comments like ‘outdated’ and ‘bare bones’ are a tad bit unfair.

    But these are just my humble thoughts.

    (Thank you TTAC for a great site, and to all those who contribute comments – it makes for an intelligent and enlightening regular read)

  • avatar
    tones03

    The Tundra is being sourced in North America. Maybe it gets booed at the hockey game, but the few suppliers left who can make the cut are damned glad to have a customer who doesn’t consider it a feather in the cap to bankrupt a supplier.

    General Motors has walked away from their supplier base, resulting in a string of bankruptcies and deeply cutting into their strongest and most loyal customer base.

    They didnt “walk away” they found another price that is competitive. Supplier goes bankrupt because they can not compete. GM overpaid on many of parts supplied by Delphi to keep them alive, but you can only do that for so long. This is a business, you should know this, people now think twice before buying a GM and a Ford because of bankruptcy and wondering what it means for them and their car. GM is being smart, going with some one that is stable, that can give them the product they asked for with out worrying that they might go out of business or say in the middle of production that GM needs to find another supplier because they are not making x-parts anymore, because it is not profitable.

    When I first joined this forum or whatever it wasnt the same as all the others, which seem to turn everythign negative ont he big 2.5, no matter how good it is, and turn eveyrthing positive on everyone else no matter how bad it is. Now the readers here are doing the same thing. GM can not build a toyota, toyota will never build a hunk of crap like GM, GM is firing people while Toyota is hiring, boo GM hail Toyota…go ahead and do this. I have family that works for both companies so I TRY to not be prejudice hwhen driving cars. I have driven many cars from both companies, Toyota does many things well, GM also does many things well, no one here seems to see that.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    Also every other site reviews the new G8 with baited breath, they can’t wait to get behind the wheel, mainly for teh reasons that AS gives. TTAC is the only site so far to provide negative vibes towards the vehicle, and you haven’t even driven it yet?!

  • avatar
    mikey

    I think people are confusing the G8 situation with the GTO
    blunder.If the g8 is a sucess were gonna build it with the Camaro in Oshawa.We hope

  • avatar
    FunkyD

    Using the GTO as a whipping boy is getting really old. If you guys passed on it for the styling (which isn’t distinctive, but way far away from ugly), you missed one heckuva ride. Powerful, agile, and reasonably frugal. Almost a year on, I still smile when I climb into the Bright Red Billy Goat. Sneaking up and whupping Mustangs and even SVTs is an added bonus.

    With the exception of the HVAC controls, the interior is first rate. If GM used the same materials and quality of build that Holden is using, then the General can put one of its biggest bugaboos to rest. The mechanicals are already solid.

    The fact that the GTO and now the G8 are Australian only reflects the fact that GM in North America has unfortunately forgotten how to make a quality RWD performance car and can’t afford the time or money to reinvent the wheel. At least Holden has a quality package to offer. And it’s not as if a repackaged foreign platform can’t sell well (300C, anyone)?

    To address the original point of the article, I agree that GM looks inward way too many times, and that has come back to haunt them (as exhibited by the auto show PR-droid. But don’t use the G8 as the poster child. IMO, that is one of the few bright spots for them.

  • avatar

    tones03 I am not disputing anything you have posted but what are some of the things that you think that GM does particularly well

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    By all accounts the Holdentiac and the opurns are great drives and if it means that these small fill in steps brings back the customer until GMNA can produce their own great cars again then so be it. I for one can’t wait for them, and if they bring the Zafira, corsa etc even better. That for one is a sign that the humbleness is working at GM the realisation (finally) that cars are done better around the rest of the world than in NA, its been painful to learn and admit that. But they have, and aren’t the first steps to recovery, admission of a problem before you can move on and deal with it?

  • avatar

    BostonTeaParty I tend to agree with you that I don’t think the car should be judged until it has been released. However, if it does turn out to be a sales dud perhaps GM should listen more closely to TTAC and what RF has been writing and if it is a hit then RF should also acknowledge that as well,

  • avatar
    tones03

    Sherman Lin

    Production cars…Aura is a great buy. Missing some of the options other have but a great design and would drive one of those before an Camry or Accord.

    I like the HHR, its different and the panel one they are producing is good, they wont sell many but shows GM still has some balls. Plus the turbo is coming and will be awsome.

    The new trucks are great. Everyone complains about no 6-speed. I really dont care, I have had 150k miles on a tahoe and silverado, no problems, that 4-speed is great. I have not driven a Tundra but checked them out extensivly at the autoshow and it was no where near what the 900′s are, but I do like the 5.7 on the tundra.

    The Esclade is sharp, interior is beautiful, same with the SRX.

    The crossovers are little heavy, but still very nice, loaded up are little expensive, but buy one of them before a full size SUV and much better then a Pilot or Toyota equivalent.

    New mailbu and CTS have great potential, cant wait to drive them.

    Their motors are nice too, critics say that the 3800 is to old and non-modern not smooth. Everyday jo-shmo cant tell the difference between a pushrod or an modern DOHC motor, what they can tell tho is that they have power below 2000RPM.

  • avatar
    mikey

    What does GM do well lets see cars that hold up well in tough climates GMs don’t rust as much as others.
    Properly maintained vehicles that will run great for years.
    Full size pick up trucks, though Ford runs a close second
    Engines that don’t sludge.Some of the nicest paint in the buisness.
    The list could go on forever but I don’t have time.

  • avatar
    tones03

    Mikey

    Some of the nicest paint in the buisness.

    You really think so? i know they are better then the early 90 mis haps, but their pearl white on some cars is horribly done.

  • avatar
    mikey

    TONES03
    I know what your saying about the pearl white .I was looking at the 5 or 6 year old cars, and thinking GM paint is holding up better.I got an Arctic white Firebird it not the best paint either.
    My 6 year old Grand Am looks great after nearly 7 winters

  • avatar
    tones03

    mikey

    Yeah, harsher climates GM does seem to do better, but i really cant compare to much because it depends on how people take care of their cars.

    Plus GM has taken huge steps forwad, even though no one likes to admit it.

  • avatar

    tones03, I saw an Aura on the road recently, Very nice looking car very attractive. I would disagree about the 3.8 I understand that it is reliable and that it gets good mileage, but when I test drove I believe it was a regal in 2000 the driving dynamics and powerband of that car put me back to Honda. A lot of people are now use to how the Japanese High Reving engines are and are use to how cars with those kind of engines drive. I know the new aura has a OHC multi valve engine. (Finally GM)

  • avatar
    tones03

    Sherman Lin

    Used to the high revving engines…maybe but I for one do not like it, i do not like having to rev high to have any power, Honda makes some of the best V6 engines in the world and are much smoother then the 3800, but I would take a 3800 because of the low end power and I know their reputation for being bullet proof. Give me low end power anyday, you can have the high revving japanese motors.

  • avatar
    MR42HH

    ash78:
    It’s not the Renault Versa. Renault doesn have a Trafic Versa – that’s a minivan with a wheelchair conversion.
    The Versa is coming to Europe soon. As a Nissa Tiida, like it’s called in Asian markets – I saw some in HK about a year ago.

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    They didnt “walk away” they found another price that is competitive. Supplier goes bankrupt because they can not compete. Y GM's relationship with it's suppliers has little to do with normal market economics and everything to do with extortion and extremely unethical behaviour. The supplier/OEM relationship in Detroit for the big 2.5 is best described as POISON. Oshawa isn't much better either.

  • avatar
    tom

    Another thing folks should realize when they compare, interior quality of European cars to North American ones: The European makers get more $$ for a car with a given size, level of features, and quality in Europe than they do in the US or Canada. Compare transaction prices for BMW’s Audi’s,etc. in Europe to their equivalents in the US, and you will find they are much higher in Europe. Their market demands higher quality, and are willing to pay for it. So when European cars are marketed here, they have already paid for the investment and piece cost of the higher quality bits based on the business cases in their home countries. More volume helps their bottom line.

    Actually this is only partially true. When you look at the prices you also have to compare VAT which is substantially higher in Europe. In Germany it’s 19%, in England I think it’s even more. So it’s no wonder they’re more expensive there.

    True, the reason why we won’t see a lot of cars from Opel or Ford Europe is the price, but it’s mostly due to currency exchange rates. The Euro is just too strong compared to the Dollar for them to make a proft (and the FED is doing everything it can to keep it that way). That on top of the high costs of producing in Europe just makes it virtually impossible.
    That’s why you only see the European makers of luxury cars in the States as those can be sold at higher prices. But to compete against Japanese econoboxes, European cars are not it. I mean the Yen is even weaker than the Dollar (and the Japanese are doing everything they can to keep it that way).

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    A (US)$14,900 VW Golf has superior fit and finish, outside and in. GM should be embarassed. VAT, euro exchange rate adn all.

  • avatar
    Adrian Imonti

    It’s a shame that the our friends at GM can’t appreciate the amount of wisdom provided in this piece, which is one of the more insightful Death Watch commentaries to date.

    Sadly, this one article incapsulates many of the mistakes that GM has made, and continues to make:

    -A lack of appreciation for competitors’ products, and how the products themselves (not just their marketing, promotion and branding) encourage buyers to defect from GM to those alternatives

    -An inability to accept outside criticism as valid, or to incorporate those critiques into the company’s product development

    The canned responses from the defenders of the Big 2.5′s business practices are sadly predictable: we critics apparently either don’t get it (“We’re as good as the competition, you’ve been fooled!”) or else are anti-American, as if being critical of the Malibu was something akin to flagburning.

    What the PR department needs to realize is that General Motors is ultimately a business, one that makes a considerable number of mistakes with its US customers that are reflected in its declining market share and ho-hum reputation. It’s just a business, just as WalMart, Enron and numerous other companies are businesses. Patriotism has nothing to do with it.

    While marketing is important, it will be impossible for GM to launch a comeback if the product isn’t there to back it up. If anyone at GM believes that the Cobalt is on par with a Civic or that a Malibu is superior to a Camry or Accord, that would be their first two mistakes.

    Getting angry with Mr. Farago may be momentarily satisfying for GM’s Spin Doctor, but it will not generate one penny of revenue that could help to ultimately make GM profitable. No joke — you could hire a management consultant at $400 per hour to develop an assessment plan, and it would ultimately offer a lengthier version of many of the very same criticisms that you can read at TTAC, free of charge.

  • avatar
    zcommando

    I read the DW posts for the clever writting and for insightful ideas about how to run an organization. I do not read it with any sense of hope for the 2.5s future. For me there is none. I don’t even look at them when shopping for a new vehicle. They might as well be invisible. Am I in danger of missing something? Possibly but I doubt it. The Nissans and Hondas I buy are not going to stand still. The 2.5 are now beset by children of the 70′s who remember the crap our fathers brought. Are they better now? Sure. Am I going to take the plunge and see? Not a chance.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    while Gm makes steps forward nippon makes leaps forward.A small step for America, and a giant leap for Japan! gm must realize that their new chevy impala is assembled much better than the current cadillac cts. and cts exterior is assembled worse than let`s say hyundai getz. while america considered a huge achievement to fit fenders gaplessly to bumpers, they forgot that so should be headlight blocks( cts headlamps have huge gaps fitting to bumpers), and interior parts. and whenever you improve, japanese improve a step ahead. in details. let`s say your new cts, looks good, but the chrome line on back doors is cut in the corner- something germans would accept on their bimmers, but not the latest lexus, that have a single cast piece of metal trim around the door frame outside, and it is not cut in corner, and does not stand out as if cut by a jigsaw. so do air- conditioner buttons. on new cts they look not immersed into panel, and look as if were holding the front panel to dashboard like screws. replace that with digital screens, please. american car companies must start working on details, and kings of detailing are japanese, not germans. germans put interesting nice textures, but often fail in interior logics, sculpture, and logical assonance. lunatics@inbox.lv

  • avatar

    God I love this site.

    I only wish we in the UK had had such an informed commentary as we watched our vehicle manufacturing industry slide into the toilet. Maybe we’d still have one…

  • avatar
    fahrvergnugen11


    Quasimodo:
    Can the same be said for any of the other cars? My brother has a 2002 Jetta GLI that was fun for the first 15K miles, then he hit a pothole in Brooklyn and broke the engine mounts. He’s also had the driver’s side window come off of the tracks.

    Hitting one of those Brooklyn potholes will break the engine mounts on a Sherman Tank…:-)

  • avatar
    blautens

    mikey -

    GM has the nicest paint? Uhhh, browse on over to any GM- centric forum (where there are people who bought and loved their GM vehicles) and ask the owners of silver metallic vehicles about the high quality spray job they’re enjoying…even they’ll tell you how bad it is.

    Paint quality is more than “does it flake off every 5 years?”…there are thousands of variables, and GM is certainly NOT known for “nicest paint”.

  • avatar
    bestertester

    the news says the Dieter is currently in talks with Rabid Rick about selling Chrysler to the General. what a crock!

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Honestly, the more this banter continues, the more I feel that the biggest thing lacking in the big 2.5 is a goal and the passion required to achieve that goal. It doesn’t seem like they have that, while many companies do. I can’t think of a single successful company that doesn’t have a goal. While there is no perfect car, there are many that speak to me. Barely any of those cars is from the big 2.5. With the exception of the 300c, the mustang, and the solstice, what do these cars say. A vw gives a luxury feel, a toyota gives me the security of a reliable car, honda give s me a bot of both. Hyundai gives the feeling that I got a great bargain. What does a malibu or a cobalt say to me? Nothing, that is what. That I’m a good American? I don’t really care. The big 2.5 continue to shoot in the dark. Even when a glimmer of light comes through, they won’t follow it to see where it leads. Say what you want, but the big 2.5 need to find something else. They are still producing cars like they did in the 50′s. They can’t do that because they are not on top. Toyota can and does. Why? Because they are the first option when the average buyer looks for a car. When I want to say that I have arrived, I buy a lexus now not a cadillac or lincoln. So, these companies are now alternatives that need a hook. They don’t have one.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    “A (US)$14,900 VW Golf has superior fit and finish, outside and in. GM should be embarassed. VAT, euro exchange rate adn all.”

    Wanna try $16,660?

    And that’s a 19,000 Euro car in Germany (with the equivalent motor), which is about $24,000. I don’t know if that’s before taxes or not.

    And that kind of money buys you a little nicer interior, even after stripping out 10-15% or so to adjust for taxes, dontcha think?

  • avatar
    86er

    We shouldn’t have this banter as if the full-size trucks GM produces do not exist. In that respect they are class-leading. They need to return to being class-leading in all categories, although I would say that that probably isn’t a likelihood.

  • avatar
    M1EK

    Are they better now? Sure. Am I going to take the plunge and see? Not a chance.

    You don’t even need to take the plunge; just hit the rental car counter, where you get to learn that No, the Cobalt isn’t within an order of magnitude of the Corolla or Civic, and No, the Impala isn’t worth buying; etc.

    Until GM stops selling cars to rental car companies, there’s no need to even bother going to the dealers – we all get to drive them, and we all know they suck.

  • avatar
    boatschool

    Sanman111 states that he feels the biggest thing lacking in the Big2.5 is a goal and the passion to achieve it.

    I beg to differ. The lack of a goal is symptomatic, not a root cause.

    In my view the single biggest thing that is lacking is, in a word, leadership.

    Believe me, if GM actually had leadership RF would not have had the experience he had with the PR flack. Leaders communicate (clearly and crisply) the organization’s vision and insist that the organization live the vision. Rick Wagoner’s inability to get off the dime (unless Jerry York has got him in a half-nelson) and actually move out aggressively on decisions that should have been made decades ago. Likewise, go back and read his (many) vague, ambiguous statements and ask yourself do they want to make you ‘take the next hill”. Look at some of the key folks he’s surrounded himself with and ask if they inspire devoted followership. (Mark – “We don’t have a crisis here” w/ a 100+ days of inventory – LaNave comes to mind.

    Until Alan Mullaly’s recent appointment, Ford clearly had no leadership. Time will tell if AM can do for Ford what he did for Boeing. However, given his track record I’m willing to give him some time.

    Tom LaSorda says that Chrysler is (re)learning lessons that the company swore they learned back in the ’70s ! Is that leadership ?

    Finally the Boards of Bystanders in these companies ought to send back whatever remuneration they’ve received. They’ve sat by and let these executive teams flounder for years and years.

    All the discussion about which model among the 2.5 is the best-appointed, has the nicest paint job, or is the best in durability is interesting but doesn’t get to the essence.

    The long-running decline in fortune of the Big2.5 and their reluctance to meaningfully and timely address them (except to whine to the politicians in Washington) means leadership is needed.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    Boatschool,
    I certainly agree that the leadership is lacking in the big 2.5. It is simply, imo, that this is what leadership needs to address in order to have a company that will be successful. Will the leadership of the companies do so? I don’t think it is likely. GM, in particular, has built cars and even acquired and maintained divisions without a clear focus as to what their purpose is. That needs to stop. For example, what is Saturn? A company that builds sport (sky) or luxury (Aura). Toyota has it down with its three brands. It developed Scion for a reason and it was a success.

  • avatar
    guma

    And which one will break and fall apart first? Now you can say VW.

    And which one will I buy? It’s the VW. If I am gonna put down $16K on a car, I want to buy a car that will put a smile on my face, and not a car that will put to me to sleep.

    Who cares about minor problems? They are covered by warranty anyway.

    I’d happily put up with occasional trips to the dealer rather than driving a mediocre (at best) garbage day in and day out.

  • avatar
    brokenvw

    A 3-dr Rabbit is $15,600 MSRP w/ destination. Stability control is offered for a less than 500 bucks. Essentially, you get a car for $16K with ESP, ABS, Traction Control, side impact airbags, 170 lbs torque, a hell of a nice interior, a 4-yr B2B warranty, and a decent resale value to boot.  Can a Chevy match that?

  • avatar
    peckwell

    Robert,

    Maybe it’s due to lack of space, or possibly lack of scope (or too broad a scope) or some other issue, but the pan you give the G8 in your effort to support your arguement that GM is brain-dead is a bit troubling. Look at a couple of positives:

    - It’s a wicked, 4dr RWD V8 machine
    - It looks damn good (saw it in Chicago)
    - It appears to be made with some measure of quality (couldn’t sit in it, so don’t know)
    - They dropped the dreaded Grand Prix name, which at this point is fairly synonymous with “Avis, et al”

    Yes, the GTO was a bit of a flop (I don’t know what was forecasted vs. what was delivered) but I think the fact that GM is wiling to have another go with a new girl from Down Under at least speaks to a high level commitment to “getting it right”. The new global platforms does seem like a strong idea, at least from a product differentiation standpoint.

    If they have gotten it right and actually sweated the details, the G8 ought to be a hoot. Give ‘em SOME credit where it’s due.

    Otherwise, I agree (and am appalled) by the rest of your article. What the hell are those people doing if not testing the competition? What could be more fun than spending a month test driving everything in the greater Detroit region?

    GM (and Ford) needs to start hiring “car people” at all levels. If you can’t name all of the major competitors and contrast each ones traditional strengths/weaknesses, NO JOB FOR YOU.

    Thanks for the article. Keep the fire burning!

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    "A 3-dr Rabbit is $15,600 MSRP w/ destination. Stability control is offered for a less than 500 bucks. Essentially, you get a car for $16K with ESP, ABS, Traction Control, side impact airbags, 170 lbs torque, a hell of a nice interior, a 4-yr B2B warranty, and a decent resale value to boot. Can a Chevy do that for that price? " – brokenvw Thank you for making my point for me.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    "A 3-dr Rabbit is $15,600 MSRP w/ destination. Stability control is offered for a less than 500 bucks. Essentially, you get a car for $16K with ESP, ABS, Traction Control, side impact airbags, 170 lbs torque, a hell of a nice interior, a 4-yr B2B warranty, and a decent resale value to boot. Can a Chevy do that for that price? ” – brokenvw Thank you for making my point for me.  " Hmmm…. How about a 3 year old Buick with an extended warranty…. ;P

  • avatar
    blowfish

    I guess I have one more reason to tell friends why i am still driving a quarter century old Merc 300SD, because they really build solid cars.

    So sad is very much blind leading the blind.

    In the land of the blind the one eyed man is the King.

    Or what a fatal mistake Gen McArthur did to help out Japanese automotive industries!

  • avatar
    jurisb

    Somebody said that if Mullaly could turn around boeing, so he could ford. but look at what position is boeing now. their product diversity is close to anorexia. boeing has played with empty promises to shareholders for years, at first it was a single deck superjumbo airplane in beginning of 2000-2002, then the project was turned down, and a new savior was offered, supersonic passenger cruiser. where the hell is it now? boeing can`t get over more than nice pictures in aviation week and space technology, when it comes to real tangible projects, nothing.now all the company`s stake is on 787 dreamliner. boeing also was prohibited from missile projects after paying 1 billion penalty for stealing blueprints from lockheed martin. while airbus plans to add new a350 after bringing a380 out. the same goes for russians- they crank out new products one after another.(tu334., tu204, etc) while boeing sits on old 60ies 737, and rebadged mcdonnell-douglas md-80 into an all- new boeing 717. the latest product you had was 90ies 777. boeing is a paradigm of american manufacturing principles- to squeeze out money till the last drop without investment. boeing also said they would not build new superjumbo( something like md12 in mid90ies), because there was no market for them. actually there were no guts for boeing to build it. no tangible engineering potential. so mullaly will do the same to ford. rebadging, renaming, diversity imitation, global bin using, etc. here are my predictions for bankruptcies of the following companies-
    ford-2016
    gm-2019
    chrysler-2011
    boeing- 2024( as civil passenger aircraft manufacturer)
    the dollar will have collapse probably by reaching magical 10 trillion national debt that will turn the whole usa into non- manufacturing service driven agricultural country. so to say a proving ground for japanese and chinese banks. sorry for being so pessimistic. but a pessimist is a well-informed optimist. lunatics@inbox.lv

  • avatar
    guma

    A Rabbitt? Please! Guaranteed to fall apart, no start, electrical nightmare. No, I can’t name a Chevy with similar qualities… You don't get it, do you? (And I guess GM does not either). To us enthusiasts, it does not matter that a car might have 2 or 3 or 4 trips to the dealer in a year. Again, I'd rather drive a Rabbit than drive a mediocre car like a Cobalt day in and day out. The fact that VW can make a car with dubious records and still make it attractive is a testiment to ze German engineering. The fact that GM produces a competent car with "good" quality and yet only people who buy them are the fleets and the coveted "Where is my rebate!? I don't care about residuals, I drive my car until the wheels fall off" clientele is one of the reasons for their marketshare decline. IMHO.

  • avatar
    marko

    Yes, there is a lot to overcome to again have GM products as part of the buying consideration. This is recognized at the highest level of the company. I read your comments almost daily, and use it to motivate myself and others to no longer provide just another entry in the market or parity. I can tell you that competitive benchmarking is alive and well for the product development technical community. More important, taking the available benchmarking data and anticipating the competition and beating that anticipated position is how we can win. There are a lot of talented people in the company. Unleashing the talent, believing we can win, and executing flawless products—over a long period of time—and going to battle everyday is the key. Beating the pants off the competition, day by day, product by product is the only way to earn back consideration. No incentive or campaign will provide the product integrity needed to win. This is not meant to be a defensive position, but rather a personal committment that I have made to myself to see GM win, and really more important our customers want winning products.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Way to go marko I hope everybody else is on the same page.
    I’m one of the hourly workers that is not taking the money and running ,and theres thousand of us that think the same.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    Marko, that is how so many people feel at GM, my studio is full of them. It can be great again, we have the passion and the will. The means is getting better so i believe the future is rosy despite the doom and gloomers on here. It’s just a shame that people can’t see whats in the pipelines, they would believe too.

  • avatar

    Due to the uncilvilized discourse, I am now prohibiting the use of the acronym “POS” on this thread.

    Meanwhile, brokenvw has been warned for his completely disgraceful flaming. One more such outburst and he will be permanently banned from posting on this site.

    NOTE: there is no second chance on TTAC. And there is no coming back. Ever.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    To the gentleman who commented was comparing Boeing to Airbus…Do you realize what a debacle the A380 is? Boeing was able to modernize an existing product (747) extensively to meet the demands of their customers. So what if it’s not “all new”. It meets the demands and expectations of the Airline industry with a much smaller investment than going to the A380. And as for broken promises…When are those who actually bought A380′s going to get them. And talk about a labor relations nightmare…GM is downright streamlined when compared to Airbus.

  • avatar
    noley

    GM operates under Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity:
    Doing the same think over and over and expecting different results.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Marko, I admire your spirit but I don’t think that is enough now. If I were you I would be looking for work at one of the new Toyota or Honda US developement centers. They have shown evidence of just the kind of determination you speak of, but that have been doing it for decades now. How exactly do you expect to leapfrog in front of them?

    Decades of mismanagement at GM, Ford and Chrsyler are almost impossible to overcome at this point.

    I don’t believe that the beancounters are going to let you do what you want to do …. build market leading products. Outside of it’s trucks and the Corvette there is no evidence of GM putting out anything better than “competitive”. Simply being competitive isn’t good enough. The company which put out millions of early failing V-6 intake manifold gaskets and recently shocked many of it’s OnStar users with the news that their vehicles are about to loose service because of the antiquated, non-upgradeable cellphone technology they were built with has lost faith with it’s customers. Those of us with longer memories still remember the Vega, the GM Diesel cars, the Cadillac 4-6-8, self-destructing paint jobs of the 1980s and more nightmares.

    GM regaining trust with customers who feel they have been badly treated is going to be as hard as it is for a cheating spouse to regain trust at home. Good luck with that.

  • avatar
    marko

    jthorner—As I stated before it is not easy. Nothing worthwhile doing is easy. I do not give up easily, especially when others depend on my efforts. It would be easy to go work at some competitor, and relieve anxiety and stress for me and my family. However, in the bigger scheme of things, I am very interested in seeing GM succeed and work for a company that produces great products for our customers. More stress-free money somewhere else is not what I am after or what motivates me. What I do want is the satisfaction of turning this deal around with integrity—nothing less. Sorry for long response, but for GM to really no kidding turn around and erase the pain, significant drive and will is required. Thanks at least for the wishes of Luck—it cant hurt.

  • avatar
    blowfish

    Vega, the GM Diesel cars, the Cadillac 4-6-8, self-destructing paint jobs of the 1980s and more nightmares.

    A fnd had a Vega all it lasted was driving from Ontario to Vancouver, the trip just ate the engine. GM said Na, Na to giving him a new engine nor repair, he said US customers got looked after by GM. So for 30 some yrs he never bought another new GM.

    Is like some of us had real tough head, after hitting the wall enuftimes is going to hurt.


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