Given what it’s been through over the last several decades, GM is lucky to have any hard-core fans left at all. And yet sites like GMinsidenews.com [full disclosure: GMI is owned by TTAC's parent company, Vertical Scope] have thrived as havens of near-unadulterated GM pride, bankruptcy and bailout notwithstanding. So when true-believer sites like GMI run works subtitled GM Annual Feature “Deletions” Continue: 2011 shows that not all of Old GM’s habits are dead–yet, TTAC sits up and takes notice (as soon as we come sniffing around and find it, anyway). The piece opens:
Just the other day, we posted the product changes for every 2011 General Motors product in the United States. This has become an annual feature on GMI, as it is always interesting to see what tweaks or screw-ups GM is adding to the next model year. The main problem we find in the annual model year changeis is the practice of removing content from products. After glancing at the 2011 stuff, I was surprised to see “New GM” continuing the trend of deleting content.’
To be fair, the 2011 changes show fewer content “deletions” than previous model years; however the fact that any content is being entirely deleted from a product is almost laughable considering GM’s dire attempt to win back U.S. customers. Perhaps other OEM’s delete features as well (trust me, they do), but they also don’t have a perception problem to deal with. GM, you’re building great products now…stop deleting content off of them every year.
So, what’s being deleted? GMI’s ire focuses on Chevy’s much-vaunted Malibu, which loses:
(UG1) Universal Home Remote
Auto-dimming feature from LTZ driver-side outside mirror
Front door pull cup back-lighting on LS
(NW5) 18″ 5-spoke, bright finish aluminum wheels (Part of 2LT V6 Package)
17″ wheels with bright chrome on 1LT
None of which is drastic, but as GMI’s Nick Saporito point out:
For 2009, the Malibu lost power-adjustable pedals and the front side markers that GM made a big deal out of at launch. 2010 was no different, when Malibu lost the beautiful electroluminescent LTZ instrument cluster and trunk cargo net. I am left wondering why anyone would bother with an LTZ; they have cut the most content from it, dwindling its advantage over LT models.
In effort to tell the “whole story”, I will say that GM has added some features to the Malibu. Since launch, Bluetooth and USB connectivity have been added. That is still not justification for removing other content though.
If that’s what they’re writing at your fan site, it’s time to start opening your organization to the concept of tough love. On the other hand, decontenting Chevy models could also be seen as the price you pay for keeping Buick around (expiring Lucerne excepted, Buick remains largely unmolested by the bean counters). But the Chevy decontenting doesn’t stop at the ‘bu. The Traverse is being slowly bled of content as well:
In 2010, the Traverse shed its projector beam headlamps (they were standard on LTZ), 110-volt power outlet (also standard on LTZ), the owner’s manual pouch was deleted from all models and its power rear sunshade was replaced with a manual one. In the upcoming 2011 model year, the Traverse is giving up its power-folding mirrors with built-in turn signals. Yet again, it seems that the high end LTZ trim gets smacked by GM cost cutting.
GM apparently hasn’t posted ordering information for the 2011 Equinox yet, but if that gets hit with the accountant’s stick, much of Chevy’s passenger vehicle volume will have been touched by decontenting. Considering that the 2011 Aveo’s claim to fame is “Standard cabin air filtration” and the 2011 Impala will be available in both “1FL (comparable to 1LS) and 2FL (comparable to 1LT) Fleet equipment groups,” that doesn’t paint a pretty picture for GM’s volume brand (new Cruze notwithstanding). But let’s not hate… let’s give the fans the last word:
I have little doubt in my mind that GM puts a tremendous amount of thought into these feature deletions every year. Truth be told, it is probably a rather complex issue to contend with, which is likely the problem. In GM’s condition, feature cutting should not be happening — rather feature additions should be happening. I understand that some features are removed from specific trim levels (which is why I noted the LTZ-only deletions), but when they are removing the content entirely from the vehicle, there is a problem.
Perhaps GM does this to the high end Chevrolet models in an effort to help their Buick/GMC siblings? If so, I just lost some hope for New GM. The upcoming product from Hyundai is telling us that Chevrolet had best continue pushing up-market a bit on the mainstream side or face becoming seen as the inferior goods of mainstream vehicles. Chevrolet should stand for value; cutting feature content every year—and raising the price—does not reek of value to me.