By on October 29, 2009

Cruze like a bumblebee...

The Detroit News reports that GM is delaying the launch of the Chevrolet Cruze. The nationalized automaker’s next big—I mean small thing will now hit U.S. showrooms in the third quarter of 2010. In theory. GM’s explanation for the delayed denouement: it wants to ensure “a flawless launch.” Given GM’s on-again, of-again product planning chaos, and their failure to get enough Buick LaCrosses on the ground, you’ve got to wonder why they would set themselves up for failure with talk of perfection. Oh right; the automotive media has the memory of a goldfish. Meanwhile, the company’s camp followers can take heart in New GM’s new determination to get things right—while those of us who’ve heard it all before sigh, shake our heads and say “Flawless. Yeah right.” No matter how you slice it, the Cruze’s failure to set sail by the advertising for-sale date isn’t news to gladden investors’ hearts. After all, the ur-Cruze (the Korean Lacetti) debuted on October 30, 2008. The EU-Cruze has been plying European roadways since February. The delay means the Cruze will not arrive before GM’s kinda maybe sorta I know we said we would but tempus fugit mid-2010 IPO. Between now and then, stand back! GM’s predicting a sales spurt!

GM said it anticipates its October vehicle sales will rise compared to a year earlier, the first such increase for the automaker in 21 months.

Mike DiGiovanni, GM’s director of global market analysis, pointed to improving economic conditions, including a return to more normal credit markets, increased manufacturing and demand for new GM vehicles such as the Chevrolet Camaro and Equinox, as reasons for being cautiously optimistic.

October sales will be released Tuesday. GM sales dropped 45 percent last month and have fallen 36.4 percent this year.

“We know we are not out of the woods yet,” he told reporters during a conference call.

And there’s your new media meme: things are bad, but they’re getting better and they’ll be more better later. Eventually. Hang on; isn’t that the old meme?

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37 Comments on “GM Delays Cruze for “Flawless” Launch, Sees Sales Spurt...”


  • avatar
    sitting@home

    I’ve just got back from Oz where I was surprised to see the Holden Cruze was already on sale. I only saw a few on the road and they looked very bland at best and much like a Sebring at worst.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Maybe GM can use the extra 3 months to learn how to spell. Or is the “z” a mark of quality the way it was for predecessors like the Prizm and Monza?

    Maybe that’s why the Cobalt, Cavalier, Nova, Citation, and Vega all failed. No “z”.

  • avatar
    carve

    My God- it looks worse than a 10 year old Malibu. It looks like a 10 year old Malibu with the front 1/8 cut off and the proportions made all grotesque. Could they possibly have made that thing blander? I suppose spelling it “cruise” would’ve made it a tiny bit blander, but other than that their bases seem pretty well covered.

  • avatar
    folkdancer

    Maybe that’s why the Cobalt, Cavalier, Nova, Citation, and Vega all failed. No “z”.

    To think how close GM came, the Cobalz would have been a winner.

  • avatar
    basho

    What car is in the pic? This is the Cruze: http://www.fireblades.org/motors/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/2010_chevrolet_cruze.jpg

  • avatar
    Highway27

    I’m not positive, but the picture looks like a Chevy Lacetti, sold in European markets. That’d make sense given that it’s mentioned in the text.

  • avatar

    Apologies, the original picture was of a previous-generation Lacetti. Picture updated.

  • avatar
    basho

    “I’m not positive, but the picture looks like a Chevy Lacetti, sold in European markets. That’d make sense given that it’s mentioned in the text.”

    WOW! Hard to believe that thing was just released in 2008. I thought that pic looked 10 years old.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Sales were amazingly lousy last October (because, you know, the economy crashed the month before), and although I doubt GM will improve from those numbers, it is reasonably possible.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Well, we’d criticize them if they botched the Cruze launch, so I’ll give them a chance to get it right.

    However, launching the Cruze just slightly ahead of the mythical Volt seems like a bad omen for the Volt. Given the choice between those two new cars in the showroom, I’d go with the Cruze. Or 2 of them for the same money.

    And I don’t think the Cruze is a bad-looking car. It’s just not distinctive from its Cobalt/Cavalier roots, which is what people will think it is.

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    However, launching the Cruze just slightly ahead of the mythical Volt seems like a bad omen for the Volt.

    GEEZ !

    You’re gonna fall for the “Launch on Time” joke again?

  • avatar
    dwford

    I thought the old Lacetti pic was part of the editorial content of the piece. (outdated by the time it gets here, Daewoo rebadge etc…)

  • avatar
    brettc

    Why is it taking Ford and now GM so long to launch the Fiesta and Cruze? The Fiesta is apparently coming sometime in 2010, and now the Cruze in 2011 (yeah, I know they say 2010). The cars are already in production and available elsewhere, so it doesn’t make any sense. Ford’s been hyping the Fiesta for 2 years now? Fuel prices are starting to go back up, so these cars need to be available now if they have any interest in capturing any moeny from people that can afford to buy a new small car.

    Meanwhile the 2010 Golf is here and finally available with a TDI option again. I think Ford and GM might want to speed things up a bit.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Anti-GM whine, circa 2008: “They always put out cars that aren’t fully developed, so they fail!”

    Anti-GM whine, circa 2009: “They put a car launch on hold to give it some additional development time – so they fail!”

  • avatar
    jkross22

    FreedMike,

    Anti-GM whine post bailout circa 2009: When are the taxpayers going to get repaid the “loan”, instead of loaning more money to GM and/or its subsidiaries?

  • avatar
    Lokkii

    Hope they get it right….

  • avatar
    Bunter1

    Lokkii- big+1

    I had to smile.

    “Anti-GM whine, circa 2010: “They put a car launch on hold to give it some additional development time AND put out cars that aren’t fully developed”

    I predict your prophecy will run true.

    Bunter

  • avatar
    Potemkin

    Another delay? I have been involved in many new car launches. If the engineers have done their job and the plant people theirs then the car should not take more than a few months of in plant tooling tuning. Obviously someone dropped the ball again. This is an old story with GM. Their all show no go managers have screwed it up again. The people in charge from the plant to the top did not get there on their performance so what can we expect. GM has spent the last 3 years getting rid of anyone with experience because they refused to drink the kool-aid. Now all that’s left are a bunch of MBAs good at telling you what they know but unable to deliver on their imagined skills. The only way to save GM is to put real experienced car guys in charge. Oh ya they pensioned and bought out those people.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    jkross22 :
    October 29th, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    FreedMike,

    Anti-GM whine post bailout circa 2009: When are the taxpayers going to get repaid the “loan”, instead of loaning more money to GM and/or its subsidiaries?

    Well, I can guarantee you this much: if GM fails, you’re 100% assured of NOT getting back any of your tax money, are you?

    Given that, what makes more sense: constant whining and bashing, or having some patience and letting them get their act together?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    @ Lokkii:
    However, launching the Cruze just slightly ahead of the mythical Volt seems like a bad omen for the Volt.

    GEEZ !

    You’re gonna fall for the “Launch on Time” joke again?

    Not at all; just making a point based upon Chevy’s schedule claims. :)

    The Cruze’s undemanding simplicity will stand in such stark contrast to the Volt’s complexity and cost, I can’t imagine anyone buying a Volt, except those who want alleged ‘green’ bragging rights.
    It’s bad enough that the Volt will have to compete against the Leaf, Prius, and a host of ‘normal’ excellent econoboxes (Elantra, Corolla, Sentra, Versa, Fiesta), but to compete against the Cruze sitting a few feet away in the same showroom is a rough deal for the Volt, especially considering the price difference.
    I would expect Toyota considered this problem with the Corolla and Prius, but the Prius doesn’t have a suicidally-high price point, which makes the consumer also consider features and benefits. I don’t see Chevy customers getting past the price difference between the Volt and the Cruze, so the Cruze’s presence will crush the Volt.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    It’s been well detailed here on TTAC that the #s with which GM would need to build, sell and make a profit enough on it’s cars to pay back the loans is an impossible # for them to reach. Ever.

    No. They’ll just wait till the current batch of cash is burned, the loan ‘forgiven’ like the last one and re-up for more of the same from Uncle Sugar.

    You’re dreaming if you think that money is ever going to be paid back.

    Bought your new GM car at full MSRP yet, FreedMike? you know, to give them a chance to get their act together. Let us know when you do.

    The only way we’re 100% sure of ever getting money back from GM is to buy one of their cars and take a rebate. Courtesy your neighbors and co workers. Remember to say thanks.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    weezilSFV :
    October 29th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    Bought your new GM car at full MSRP yet, FreedMike? you know, to give them a chance to get their act together. Let us know when you do.

    Hmmm…well, what manufacturer is selling ANYTHING at MSRP anymore? None that I’m aware of. Why is GM wrong to do this? Oh, I forgot…it’s GM.

    By the way, there are several GM products that I’d consider putting in my garage. You see, unlike the anti-GM ranters, I’m not going to let my anger over the bailout make me do something stupid like cut off my nose to spite my face.

  • avatar
    Ron

    If GM has any more months like October, they might as well fold their tents and go home. GM virtually gave the store away with incentives. Look for sales to fall in November (although they might be up year over year).

  • avatar
    therealtruth

    “Flawless Launch”… Oh yes, I’ve heard that term before in the consumer business I work for… It is used by executive suits on a frequent basis. Any person with ‘an ounce’ of sence knows perfection is impossible. Why can’t the ‘suits’ figure out people appreciate honesty over B.S.? When will they learn that yes, lies work in the short term. BUT, take you broke in the long term. When will business give bonuses based on long-term success, and not quarterly (or even yearly) results?

  • avatar
    therealtruth

    P.S. – Yeah, I meant to mis-spell it….

  • avatar

    I’ve seen a couple here in Wellington, NZ. Would probably be more if the large Holden dealer in Wellington hadn’t gone tits-up a while back. Precipitated by something to do with GMs finance arm.

    Nothing special looking.

    OTOH, I saw a Panamera yesterday. A fine looking car!

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    Judging by the photo, I think this post should’a been filed under “What’s wrong with this picture.”

    Just sayin’.

  • avatar
    Walter Foreman

    I live in Korea and I’ve driven the GMDaewoo Lacetti Premier (what the Cruze is called here). It’s a good car. I almost bought one. The price point was GREAT. $13,500 MSRP for leather interior (heated front seats), 17-inch rubber, push-button start with smart key, six disk in-dash CD player, rain-sensing wipers, one-touch auto up/down on ALL FOUR power windows, rear parking sonar assist, and so on. Probably could of bought it for $11,400!!! Great price!! Stylish car for that class and that price. Nice interior, although it feels a little cramped and some of the plastics are too hard for my liking.

    Why didn’t I buy it? Well, little things really, but a few big things too. First, the little things. It didn’t have a USB jack. Not a big deal, but since the export model did, I was pissed that they didn’t put it in the domestic model. Second, it didn’t have cruise control. Keep in mind, not many cars in Korea have cruise. In fact NONE in this class do, heck not even the Sonata or Grandeur (Azerus) have cruise in Korea. But the export model of the Lacetti does have cruise, so again I was pissed that they didn’t take the initiative to be a class leader in Korea and offer cruise on the domestic car.

    Now the big things. The 1.6 liter engine in the Korean domestic model is rated at only 114 horsepower and 30 MPG combined. A Hyunda Avante (Elantra) is rated at 124 (+10 over the Lacetti) and 37 MPG combined (+7 over the Lacetti) So, as the saying goes… you get what you pay for. Less money for the Lacettia (Cruze) means less power AND less mileage.

    Also, the rear torsion beam suspension makes for a terrible ride. It’s hard to explain, but on some roads in Korea, if there’s a sharp curve, the road will have these 2-foot wide strips of rough ashphalt (they’re supposed to increase traction). Don’t get me wrong, they are not speed bumps or rumble strips or anything like that. In fact, I’d guess that they’re not even a 16th of an inch high. But driving over them in the Lacetti while talking to my wife, my voice literally sounded like an opera singer… my voice was literally shaking (vibrato) from these stips of rough ashpalt. I’ve driven over that road hundreds of times in my Hyundai Avante (Elantra) and never had anything like that, mind you it has an independent rear suspension. So again, you get what you pay for.

    They’ve made a good car in the Lacetti, but not a great car. It has a fantasic price point, but they had to cut corners in the two areas that matter most to me: the engine and the suspension. I’d have a traditional key ignition (not push-button) and skip the heated seats and rain-sensing wipers if it meant I could have a better rear suspension and an engine with at least as much power and fuel economy as the competition.

    I’ve read that GM (and/or GMDaewoo) put BIG money into developing the structure of this car so that it would get good crash test rating. Well, it did get good crash test results (5 stars I think), but you know what… I really don’t give a rat’s ass about crash safety. Again, I’d rather have more power, better fuel economy, and an independent rear suspesion and a 4-star crash rating, than not have those things but have a 5-star crash rating. I can use more power, better fuel economy, and an independent rear suspension every single time I drive the car, but how often will I benefit from a 5-star crash rating? Never!!!!

    In summary. Good car. Great price. Lots of equipment and a safe car if you’re the type of person who crashes a lot. I’m not and I want a great car at a good price. Not the other way around.

    Reply

  • avatar
    Greg Locock

    gslippy +1

    The way product development is timed these days assumes that there are no major stuffups. That is, the integration prototypes are expected to bear out the performance that the earler prototypes (mules as you guys seem to like to call them) and the computer modelling predicted.

    If however the IPs reveal unexpected big issues there is no ‘flab’ in the development timing.

    Worst case is that you miss say the start of winter for ABS testing, that means building more cars so you can ship them round the world, (which takes time) and you have to wait an additional 6 months. Crash can be similarly ugly, often requiring an additional build or repurposing of other departments protos, and then having to book extra time in overloaded facilities.

    The knock-on effects of delaying J1 are pretty ugly in themselves – supply contracts that were terminating have to be extended, contracts that were about to start have to be suspended, and of course every month extra your PD guys are working on the Cruze is a month they aren’t working on its successor or another program.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    W. Foreman, nice review. While agree with a lot of what you said, I think a lot of people at this price point will put up with the crappy suspension, power, and fuel mileage. This could be a hit for GM. But am I the only one who think the front looks like the spawn of a Malibu and a Caliber?

  • avatar
    Via Nocturna

    Another delay? By the time they put this car in showrooms, the next Civic/Corolla will be prepping for launch. It’s the same old song — playing tag instead of leapfrog.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    Chevrolet has got to ditch those tacky, over-sized, brassy-coloured bow tie emblems. Talk about low rent. Make them a bit smaller, change the finish to piano black … or stainless steel … or just chrome. Or use different ones on different products, as appropriate. Hell the shape alone is sufficient for branding and IP purposes.

    Whenever I see a newer Chevy, my eye is drawn immediately to that damn fool’s gold bow tie on the grill … and usually my first conscious thought is about how its sickly hue clashes with the body colour, cheapening the whole car. (Against the yellow of the car above it’s probably the least offensive, but with other shades the effect can be horrid).

    They got brave enough to kill the ironic “Mark of Excellence” badges; it’s time to off another sacred cow.

    /rant

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ ZekeToronto

    Like the Pontiac G8 before it, the Holden nose is a more pleasing treatment.

    @ sitting@home

    Hope you enjoyed our country! Come back any time.

  • avatar
    rnc

    ZekeToronto

    +1 on the giant golden bowtie, honestly just based on that I wouldn’t consider a Chevy (it bothers me). Smaller and in Blue or as you said, it’s the shape not the color so change it depending on model and color and it would be much nicer.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Given that, what makes more sense: constant whining and bashing, or having some patience and letting them get their act together?

    Neither. We’re just observers: there isn’t much any of us can do that will allow GM to “get their act together.” It’s not as if my patience, trust and good vibes would make one lick of difference for GM.

    GM had a management problem before the bankruptcy, and for the most part, it still does. (Wagoner’s departure was welcome, but it wasn’t enough.) That management problem fed a cultural problem, which in turn drove a product problem, so it’s tough for an objective observer to be hopeful for the future when much of the old status quo remains.

    There are obviously a few people who wish to be negative for the sake of it, but the gratuitous angry types are few in number and can’t affect the outcome, anyway. You can’t blame GM’s failure on them, nor will you be able to blame them for what happens next.

  • avatar

    The thing that makes me nervous about the high content levels is wondering how much GM has cut corners elsewhere to pay for it (GM cut corners? Say it ain’t so, Joe!). I’m thinking of stuff like, oh, the 1990s H-body cars (Bonneville/Le Sabre/Eighty-Eight), which had every electronic toy known to man at that time, but brakes apparently borrowed from a Cavalier.

    Add to this GM’s usual affection for small cars, and this doesn’t exactly seem like a confidence-inspiring choice in a market filled with competent rivals.

  • avatar
    ZekeToronto

    rnc: Thanks–glad to hear I’m not the only one put off by the ugly treatment of the logo!


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