By on December 17, 2012

 
General Motors had idled its Fairfax, Kansas plant where the Chevrolet Malibu is built, as slow sales hamper the brand’s mid-size sedan.

A GM spokesman confirmed to Automotive News that GM ”is taking idle time in December,” to “make sure we are aligning our production with demand.”

But a statement released by GM was evasive regarding the Malibu’s impact on the idling“We have strategically built Chevrolet Malibu stock levels based on scheduled downtime and a strengthening vehicle market…This idle time gives us an opportunity to conduct scheduled facility projects aimed at improving the plant’s future competitiveness.”

As of December 1st, GM had a 106-day supply of Malibus, higher than anticipated. The Malibu has endured a barrage of negative criticism since its introduction, and the car will get an early mid-cycle refresh after just 18 months on the market.

 

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79 Comments on “Chevrolet Malibu Plant Idled...”


  • avatar
    Secret Hi5

    The rental fleets must have gotten their fill of the new Malibu. There were three in the Emerald Executive Aisle in Houston. I was tempted, but chose a Kia Optima instead.

    • 0 avatar
      dumblikeyouTu

      I see an article just like this for the new MKZ in the near future.

      • 0 avatar

        The new MKZ has a polarizing design, but people who want something different are gonna buy it.

        Frankly, I loved the Malibu, but hated the lack of engine power. GM should have offered “special incentives” to Hurricane Sandy victims. That’s what I’d have done. The Lexus nearby sold a record number of cars after Sandy.

    • 0 avatar
      threeer

      Just got done renting one over the weekend…full LTZ trim. After driving it for several hundred miles, I like my mother’s Verano much, much better (maybe not an apples/apples comparison, I realize). While I liked the graphics of the MyLink interface better on the Malibu, the car itself was noticeably louder on the road and didn’t (to me, anyway) feel anywhere near as planted as the Verano. Not seeing a ton of new Malibus on the road, either.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Too many good entries in this class of car for the almost identical Maibu redesign to make a big splash in sales.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    Unless the MCE can fix rear seat leg room, I don’t see this working. They would need a medium wheelbase car to do this because the new Impala is on the LWB. Good luck.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      +1 I think the Malibu is a reasonably attractive car as-is and it’s not like the competition is beautiful. Maybe they can do something clever with the interior packaging and seats to get more legroom. I’d like to see a little weight reduction too.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    They should have tried aligning supply with demand by supplying a midsized sedan with a roomy back seat, having the competitive volume engine option available at introduction, and offering optional engines that are remotely as good as those in the Camry.

  • avatar
    wsn

    “As of December 1st, GM had a 106-day supply of Malibus, higher than anticipated. The Malibu has endured a barrage of negative criticism since its introduction”

    From what I have observed from this site (considered anti-GM by many), the Malibu had received generally positive reviews. It’s the Honda (any model) that gets bashed every time. I guess people who paid their own money know better.

    Again, I have said it a million times:
    If GM (or anyone else) wants to convince me that their products are good, show me a 10 year old car that’s considered the best in class. Can a 2002 Malibu be compared to a 2002 Camry/Accord? I have absolutely no reason to have faith in their “this time it’s better” hype, without that kind of evidence.

    • 0 avatar
      BrianL

      Not trying to defend the Malibu here, but are you only buying 10 year old cars?

    • 0 avatar
      Volts On Fire

      Your observation skills need some improvement. The 2013 Malibu has been soundly drubbed by every publication that matters, as well as — most importantly – the retail public. It’s an absolute failure.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        wsn – npt all Honda’s are panned. The CRV gets a good press on here, deservedly so.

        VoF – it has been a relative failure but then most companies can cite at least one model that fails against expectations (Insight, CRZ, Mazda 2, Dart, Routan etc).

      • 0 avatar
        Volts On Fire

        True, but none of those examples (with the possible exception of the Dart) represents such a colossal failure as the Malibu, in as critical a market segment for its manufacturer.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        And IMO, the failure of the Malibu seems to have hit GM by surprise. I think the others were known risks, except maybe the Dart–everyone seems to have expected it to be a home run–but that was a new product in a segment in which Chrysler wasn’t used to success.

        But prior Malibu models were a hit with critics, and IIRC, they sold well.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Just to put it all in perspective. I spent 36 at GM, as an hourly employee. Through the seventies, and eighties,and good part of the nineties,we built some of the biggest sellers GM ever had.

    Want know some facts,or more anti GM garbage? Its called ” balancing new car inventory” It happens, just about every xmas, at just about every car factory in North America.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    The meme about the new Malibu being soooo much smaller than the outgoing one is ridiculous. The same issue with the switch to four cylinder engines. I’ve had some experience with the Eco model, it’s a perfectly fine car.

    It *IS* slightly shorter than the previous one, but it is wider. If you look at the actual specs, you’d see that it falls within an inch or two of the segment leaders:

    Wheelbase: Malibu 107.8 in. / Accord 109.3 in. / Camry 109.3 in. / Passat 110.4 in.

    Rear Legroom: Malibu 36.8 in. / Accord 38.5 in. / Camry 38.9 in. / Passat 39.1 in.

    Rear Hiproom: Malibu 54.3 in. / Accord 54.7 in. / Camry 54.5 in. / Passat n/a

    These figures are all from Edmunds; if you take the time you can see that all of the cars are within inches of one another. There’s no huge advantage between them. I chose to compare Malibu, Accord, Camry & Passat, I’m sure if we were to include Optima, Sonata, Fusion and Chrysler 200, we’d see similar numbers. No one drives their car from the back seat.
    GM follows Hyundai (at least chronologically) to an all four cylinder line up, Hyundai never gets dinged for the switch. GM is castigated as clueless and being out of touch with it’s clientele.

    As it happens, I have an Ecotec 4 cylinder/6 speed Pontiac G6, and short of using it for drag racing, there’s really no need for the V6. Four cylinder engines power the vast majority of the world’s autos, we can do it here. There’s no reason not to.

    I’m glad GM is adjusting production to demand, although it sucks for the assembly plant workers. I don’t know if the MCE was already planned to keep the car fresh or if it’s truly in response to criticism.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I agree with a lot of what you said but 2 inches is quite a bit to be off in rear legroom and although you don`t drive from the back seat it is the class of car where back seat room is an important consideration.
      I agree about the four cylinder issue, the take up rate for the V6 Camry is something like 20% so that is why V6 are dying out (including the upcoming Mazda 6).

      The MCE is because of criticisms, no-one plans an 18 month MCE, just ask Honda with the Civic.

    • 0 avatar
      DPerkins

      Sit in the back of a Passat, then a Malibu. HUGE difference, the Malibu is lacking in a key area (for its segment).

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        I have sat and spent time in them. Not in close proximity to one another and admittedly, I had a lot more time with the Malibu than I did with the Passat. Maybe for me, being 6’0″ ~270 lbs.(at that time), it should have been a problem, as it was, it was not an issue.

        Part of my routine when evaluating a car is to see if I can sit behind myself with the driver’s seat adjusted for me. I don’t think I was any more limber than any other fat guy at the time, but I had no issues on either car with ingress or egress.

      • 0 avatar
        BrianL

        Honestly, I think too much if made out of rear leg room. How often do adults take a decent sized trip in the rear of a car? Kids, all the time. If you want it to make the difference between buying car A vs buying car B, it is your choice to make.

        A bigger problem I have with the Malibu is the fuel mileage. Its portly weight make it a problem. Honestly, I think that is the real fault with the new Malibu.

      • 0 avatar
        mcarr

        Forget the Passat, sit in the back of a new Sentra. I think the Malibu’s biggest problem is the Altima and Sentra. The old more for less ploy. The Malibu isn’t compelling in it’s segment. It might be, though, with enough cash on the hood.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “if you take the time you can see that all of the cars are within inches of one another.”

      And those inches count.

      I know that you’re a GM fanboy, but get real. For some time, the back seat has become a critical selling point in the midsize sedan class in the US.

      Honda began to design the Accord and Toyota made the Camry differently for the US market precisely because of this issue.

      Ford failed with the Contour because it attempted to sell a car with a back seat designed for Europeans. The Europeans will accept those dimensions, but Americans will not.

      The Mazda 6 long lagged in the US market because they failed for years to follow Toyota and Honda’s lead in providing more rear legroom.

      I don’t know what GM was thinking. I believe that the design of this car began prior to the bankruptcy, and GM may not have had a suitable platform to offer, so those constraints may help to explain it. But regardless, this was still a mistake.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @PCH: I generally agree with a lot of your opinions. You generally have pretty good information on a wide range of subjects relating to our hobby. You’d be one of the few I’d like to have a drink with.

        The Contour failed for a number of other reasons, especially from Ford’s questionable ideas about how/where to slot that car in the line up. The Contour was *much* more expensive than the outgoing Tempo, and at that price level competed with the well-established Taurus. When the nearly same sized, yet less expensive Focus was released in 1999, the Contour’s fate was sealed.

        Were it such that wheelbase sold cars, the Mazda 6 should be in the running for higher sales, but the sales haven’t materialized. Maybe this next update will do it.

        Regardless, I’ve never understood the criticism of the Malibu, while the Eco model launch was less than effective, the other models are really now just getting out into the general population in any real numbers. I guess it’s a good sign they feel they should do a MCE, but I’m curious to see how the next several months unfold.

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        Contour – European mid-size cars have gotten larger (i.e. Mondeo and Fusion are same size, where as (you said) the original contour (mondeo was about the same size as the american escort, while the focus size cars have taken thier place.

        And regardless, if the contour had been larger Ford’s ovaloid design theme, along with thier upmarket plans/prices (and the abandonment of the Fox T-Bird, mk VIII) would have killed them regardless. the ovaloid mess has to be one of the worst automotive decisions of all time (also why you don’t let focus groups dictate car design (All those GM focus groups who said they wanted trucky interiors, GM better hope they buy trucks), they said it looked european and luxurious, Ford took this as a positive (or heard what they wanted), but there is good euro look and bad euro look and ford didn’t ask that question or study whether people would pay for the upscale). That decision took a company that had 6 of the 10 best selling cars and trucks with increasing market share in the US down to 2 (F series, not sure if explorer was top 10, but would think so) and the basic abandonment of cars except as a cafe tool (cost-cutting specials, moved via subsidization from trucks and SUV’s). Add the great Nasser into mix and you have a case study of how to turn the most profitable automaker in the world into a broken basketcase.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Japanese and European vehicles are known to be less troublesome and longer lasting than the American brands. Canadian consumers are rewarding them with an ever increasing share of new car sales.

    Detroit held almost 80 percent of the 1990 car market. It still dominated in 2000, but its share had dropped almost ten percentage points to 72 percent. By 2010, the U.S. brands were down to less than 60 percent. Japanese and European imports grew from a 1990, 22 percent share, to 28 percent in 2000, to 43 percent in 2010. The trend continues: GM, Ford and Chrysler all lost market share in 2012.

    • 0 avatar

      Not any more. You are comparing old school Mercs to malaise era ‘Murcian Iron. The reality is all cars are now much more reliable than they used to be, and delivered defects are nowhere near what buyers used to see.

      In 1969 my dad bought a Plymouth Roadrunner, Burnt Orange, 383 motor. Rearend shattered a few miles past the dealer-in normal traffic. The “good old days” just didn’t have the internet. The only person who knew what broke was the service manager and the execs in Detroit…now we all know. Recalls ? Hah !

      I don’t think there’s any difference any more-Quality of lines varies quite a bit, but for most users Caddy v BMW is a question of style, not “quality”. There’s a heck of a drop from either one, down to the base lines of GM or Toyota, though. I had more problems with my Acura than my BMW. Darn Canadian cars.

  • avatar
    mikey

    European vehicles less troublesome,and longer lasting? In Canada? You got to be kidding! Seen the rust on a five year old Merc? A VW that stay out of the shop?

    Send me some of what your smoking.

    • 0 avatar
      Gardiner Westbound

      Eighty and 79 percent respectively of 11- 15 year old Japanese and European cars are still on provincial registration rolls. Slightly less than 50 percent of Korean cars the same age are still on the road. American brand cars are mid-pack: 64 percent of General Motors, 57 percent of Fords and 56 percent of Chrysler 11- 15-year old vehicles are still running. The domestic automakers insist their cars are the equal of the import brands, but the numbers prove them wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        That would be the Desrosiers report? I wish I could find one of those for the US.

        While I think the Desrosiers study is, generally, a good guide to long-term reliability, I would think that some of the “vehicle longevity” has to do with the owner’s calculation of whether or not the car is worth any given repair. For a 15 year old Malibu, a bad transmission is almost certainly the death knell. For a 15 year old Mercedes… maybe not. VW owners, in my experience, tend to pour resources into their VW long after I would have written the thing off.

        No, I’m not impressed with GM/Ford/Chrysler longevity but I would like to see a report that could control for some of these other factors.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I can’t speak for Canada, but in the USA, European cars are no way the longest lasting. Why do you think high priced BMWs and Mercedes are so cheap when they are 10 years old? Because the price of repairs will kill your bank account. Even cheaper versions of say, BMWs are notorious for brittle plastic underhood. Hit Bimmerfest and look at the pattern failures. These guys are true fanbois and will make every excuse for their cars, but the reality is there are too many problems. I have old cars…the oldest being 20 years old and in regular use with few problems and minimal rust. Not that one owner makes for a good sample size, but everybody I know with older BMWs wish the cars they love to drive were more reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        I am not familiar with the study mentioned above, but I can comment on a Toyota ad that ran in the States a year or so ago. It stated that 80 percent of all Corollas that were built in the last 20 years ago were still on the road. Sounds good, right? And it would be mighty impressive if they sold the same amount of cars for each of the 20 years. That would imply that 80 percent of all Corollas would still be road worthy at the 20 year mark. I could not easily find the earlier production numbers, but I found a major bump in sales from 2003 to 2008. So, this stat is distorted by markedly more sales in the latter half of the 20 year period. So much fewer will make it to the 20 year mark than the ad implies…

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        g2h,

        Desrosiers adjusts for that. They evalutate cars in age ranges with the number originally sold.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        It’s pretty surprising that the Europeans did so well when you look at just how bad their offerings were during the period in question. BMWs received body computers, turning battery replacements and aftermarket radio installs into expensive ordeals. Their ‘pioneering’ work on making their cars recyclable a few year earlier produced many components that recycled themselves prematurely. How many other cars of the past 80 years have radiators that are maintenance parts? Then you’ve got VW-Audi, which is VW-Audi. Many people consider the MKIV Golf/Jettas to be the most troublesome of their mainstream models. Mercedes-Benz used biodegradable wire harnesses to sabotage their costed-out products of the period. Volvos were hit and miss during the time frame too. Even Porsche got involved in the post-reunification disposable German car trend with the Boxster and 996. Saab? Jaguar? Land Rover?

        German cars were once very long-lasting, but that was basically from when they discovered rust proofing in the late ’70s until they discovered recycling in the early ’90s.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        Does the Desrosiers report account for the number of miles driven? Most Mercedes models that I see are driven by older people, and I doubt that they are putting many miles on them per year.

        At the various Carlisle Collector car events, it is not uncommon to see 1980s Cadillacs in mint condition for sale in the car corral. Why? Because they were bought brand-new by a 60-something as his or her LAST car, and then hardly driven (and kept in a garage when not being driven.) A buyer snatches up the car at the estate sale, and brings it to Carlisle to sell (at a fat profit).

        I doubt that anyone would call a 1980s Cadillac a quality car.

        Consumer Reports and other surveys have pretty much demolished the myth of superior European reliability, as compared to their Japanese and American counterparts.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        Yet I still see far more cars from American manufacturers from the 80′s and 90′s on the road in salt belt Upstate, NY than any Toyotas, Hondas, BMW’s and Mercedes or VW’s. Tons of Panthers, H-body Bonnevilles/LeSabres, A-body Century and Ciera’s, Taurus/Sables, loads of older Caravans and hordes of 90′s GM/Ford trucks/Suv’s. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a 90′s Asian truck that wasn’t ready for the scrap yard driving around.

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        Guy I worked with bought a ten year old top of the line, eveything included 7 series, his first repair was more than he paid (and I know he paid around $15k), found it to be rather funny myself as he seemed to enjoy ragging on my saturn.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        That’s a bit pricy, do you recall the repair?

    • 0 avatar
      jeffzekas

      Ditto on the comment vis a vis BMW: my son spends $4,000 a year on maintenance for his BMW 328i- horrendous, compared to my Ford or Subaru! But, because it is an “enthusiast” car, he and his fellow Beemer owners keep their cars running longer, fueled by fervent fanboy-ism and a love of German motorcars. The same goes for my other son’s Jetta: constant repairs, but it WAS 20 years old! Here in Eugene, folks keep Volvo 240 sedans FOREVER in spite of insanely expensive maintenance costs- after all, “Volvos last forever”– but then, ANY car will last forever, if you keep rebuilding it, and pouring money into it!

      • 0 avatar

        It works out to $2500 per year, assuming “normal” maint. BMW is what it is due to a fanatical love of bushings. Big ones. They are great when they are fresh, and are actually cheap to do, but only if you do it. Aftermarket parts can be gotten for “normal” prices (not Panther prices :) ). With the web and aftermarket parts, it’s not too bad if you are OK with DIY, and two or three months of “no payments” and then three months “payment”.

        I love mine and my new car would have been BMW but for no new diesels…..and I did buy a diesel.

        BMW engines and trannies are pretty good, and if you change the oil and drive them hard but with a gentle touch, they last forever…..

        They drive like no other. The E90 is probably the high point as you had hydraulic steering, current electrics, and as Car and Driver said “The E90 would probably win in a comparison test”.

        Fanboi love…oh yessss

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Win WHAT comparison test? “But for no new diesels…” What does that mean?

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        We aren’t spending anything close to $2,5000 (or even $1,500) per year on either our 2005 Focus SE or our 2003 Accord EX, and those cars have 158,000 miles and 188,000 miles on the odometer, respectively. And we follow the recommended factory maintenance schedule.

        A problem is still a problem, regardless of whether the owner repairs it, or the dealer does. At any rate, most people don’t work on their own cars.

      • 0 avatar
        Onus

        Thats crazy. I’ve spent a fraction less then that on my 22 year old f250. That is at 348,000 miles everything is worn out.

        I even just replaced the whole fuel system, and I’m still a fraction of the cost.

        I notice that too on German car forums. They think maintenance means having to replace everything.

        Not it means changing to oil and greasing the suspension. I shouldn’t have to replace much anything other than brakes, and suspension wear parts as it get old. Probably change other fluids after many years in service. Thats about it.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        $2500/year sounds a little high to me too, but I’ve only had other German cars, not BMWs.

        For domestic vehicles, I would estimate at $500-1000/year, and for German, I would have estimated maybe $750-1500, depending on which car exactly (if you have an S-Class, I’d imagine higher than a C- or E-class). Obviously if something big happens, like a transmission, then it’d be more, but that gets amortized over many miles or years. Also, if you have to do timing belts, that could be $1000 in a shot, but you’re good for 6-7 years at least, if not longer.

        Still, $2500 actually isn’t that bad, considering the cost of vehicle replacement.

  • avatar
    mikey

    So using your numbers, the spread between euro garbage and GM is 15 percent? So how many Euro cars were registered in the same 11-15 year old period? How many GM?

    15 percent of F.A..is still F.A.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      mikey,

      That’s per cent of the original volume of cars sold. It strikes me as a pretty good evaluation of the long term worth of a car. It is likely skewed, somewaht, by the brand’s perceived value but if GM doesn’t have that brand value, whose fault is that?

      And don’t go all El Lutzbo on us here, denying reality. Yes, you were building some of GM’s biggest sellers but they were being discounted out and half were being sold into rental fleets, losing retail share every year. We had salesmen threaten to quit if they were given an Impala over a Toyota (the new guys couldn’t do that but the senior guys could).

      There is, as yet, no solid evidence that GM builds them as good, and El Lutzbo’s braggadocio back in 2003 just hurt GM’s credibility in the long run. And even when GM does build them just as good, erasing a lot of bad memories is going to take time.

      The ’08 Malibu was considered a big step forward (especially by GM FanBoiz) but everybody (except maybe the FanBoiz) knew it would be an uphill battle. I don’t have the figures in front of me but it was selling somewhere in the vicinity of 20K/month for a while. As of November, 2011, it was back into the neighborhood of 10K/month. And the big problem, right now, is that the ’13 hasn’t moved the needle.

      Yes, they’re “balancing new car inventory” but it’s not a good thing that they must do this with a brand-new car.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        KixStart…As soon as a read “Desrosiers report” all creds were gone. Thier/ his predictions have been wrong so many times,I’m suprised he is still in the buisness.

        Yeah, I can’t help but to agree with your points. You would be one of the few here I actually give credability to.

        My point was, Xmas shutdowns are not that uncommon.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    People are drawing analogies between the 2013 Malibu and the 2012 Civic. Both were poorly received by the press, and both manufacturers promised a quick refresh to address.

    But here is the difference — the Honda has INCREASED sales of a poorly reviewed model, while the Malibu is failing. Why? Partly that Honda has upped the incentives, but mostly because consumers trust Honda enough to overlook a few cheap interior bits and a drivetrain with older technology.

    The market if less forgiving of GM, because it simply doesn’t enjoy the same degree of trust.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The marketing may be a big part of it, but I think its more the drivetrain than anything. People just accept the cheapened bits because perhaps in their price class they don’t have much of a better choice. Leasing something is one thing as its temporary, but if the average consumer is committing to “buy” a Civic, chances are he/she intends to put 100K on it over ten years or pass it down through the family. I am in this school of thought, and when I buy something I prefer ‘old’ proven tech, I’m not in much of a mood to be a guinea pig for the General’s wacky technology or have my Nissan CVT transmission blow up prematurely.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Even in the unlikely event the American brands are at last building superior cars it will take 11- 15 years for the statistics to confirm it, and even longer for consumers to believe it so many have been burned so badly and so often.

  • avatar
    wmba

    The 2013 Malibu? The 2013 Dart? Haven’t seen one of either on the road yet. Of course, they’re anonymous looking, so that may be a factor. Darts, however, are piled up on the Chrysler dealer’s forecourts, all of them with misaligned trunklids, as I scanned around looking at Abarths.

    Mind you, my pal the old Chrysler salesman who owns a new Focus(!) (we’re part of that almost extinct breed – the hifi nut) says that car sales are in the tank round here right now anyway. He related a hilarious tale of the new sales manager berating the staff about lack of sales. I’ve visited a lot recently because of the Abarth, and have been the ONLY customer in the place on every occasion. Apparently, the sales manager believes lack of sales is not due to lack of customers, but they’re nuts like that anyway.

    It will be hard for the Malibu to fight back with a refresh due to the back seat problem, not like the Civic where an extra 50 bucks on interior plastic and stiffer springs pretty well fix the problem.

    Yup, the brilliance of General Daniel Akerson is being exposed. I have no beef with GM employees below executive grade because they’re trying their best and yet getting kicked in their shins by His Majesty for their efforts.

    Well, as for Sergio, the Dart is his problem. He fathered it. More worryingly, everything I read suggests Fiat never implemented modern quality assurance methods, including not doing comprehensive R&D and durability testing, just to save a few bucks. And his Italian executive minions make life a living hell for Chrysler engineers, because they know better. Explains why Fiat 500s have almost completely random rather than systemic faults. So maybe no Abarth for me.

    Fords don’t strike me as being particularly well-assembled either. Car and Driver point this out time and time again.

    So, I don’t believe Detroit has a lasting renaissance on its hands.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I’ve long believed that to really change a company, you have to root out the old culture and replace it. GM looked quite good for a while, but they seem to have backslid into old habits, and if so, their history will repeat. I haven’t seen anything that tells me things have changed for Chrysler. I do think Ford turned a corner, but I’ve noticed their corporate philosophy on user interfaces sucks. My friends who are car shopping have tried out the latest Fords, and they agree. Now, with the Fire Escape recalls, MFT, and plummeting survey scores, Ford may have turned another corner–for the worse.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Ouch.

    Well I’ll just say, while waiting for a bus last night, I saw a black one go by…it really didn’t look that bad until I saw the profile, which is almost indistinguishable from a Camry in the dark when it’s foggy.

    • 0 avatar
      MeaCulpa

      Isn’t that on of the major problems with domestic cars (and the built for the US exclusive imports)? They are bland as hell, sure some (ok most) Audi’s have had less then desirable driving dynamics but at least you know by looking at it that it is an Audi, the domestics usually have no common design across the range and the same model might change appearance completely when the latest iteration is presented. The lack of continuity results in the old car looking horribly outdated as soon as the new model drops and the ever changing design confuses the “casual” buyer. Say “Audi A8″ and most people knows sorta what it looks like, or “golf”, or “3 series”, if you say “chevy malibu” well, who knows what year you’re talking about.
      Knowing sorta what things look like helps people relate to the product and the brand, obviously American engineers has gotten a grasp on this whole building reasonably seized cars by now (interiors still looks or feel sub par thou), if american designers could get a hang on designing things that ages with some dignity America might be back in the game for real.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        The designers aren’t the problem – I know, I am a designer – of paperboard packaging – but the issue is the same – the beancounters – and cost.

        I read a few years ago when the Dodge Challenger debuted that the interior was so subpar and plain. A designer replied that they didn’t design it that way, but the beancounters took over and that was the result.

        It appears to be an American problem, which kinds of explains the domestic industry as a whole, and why the OEMs are continually out-classed by most everyone else.

        Ingrained culture, perhaps?

  • avatar
    Rday

    Seems to me that all the mid sized cars are copying the Camry from a profile view. I guess if you can’t beat them, join them!!! Customers are just not willing to spend the money on cars that have questionable reliability and longevity. These cars/trucks are really expensive anymore and are really an investment for many families. So if you were treated well by your current supplier, you will most likely buy from them again. That is why it is so hard for GM and others to tear Toyota and honda customers away from these import brands. Until Toyota and Honda screw over/rip off their customers, these guys are not going to go back to Detroit.
    And While i was hoping that Ford had found religion, not sure now. Seems like Detroit is slipping back into their old corrupted ways.

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      I agree Rday. It’s not that the US carmakers cannot build a good reliable car. You just feel like you are taking a greater risk. You don’t know what you are going to get and you don’t want to gamble all that money. If you want a basic family car you can drive for many years without excessive maintenance, you tend to play the odds and go with Toyota or Honda (or, increasingly, Hyundai).

  • avatar
    dumblikeyouTu

    Funny how today an article was put out defending the MKZ against an article from Inside Line that more or less bashes it and most of the comments agreed with Inside Lines position. And now here’s a nice anti-GM article to counter act the failed pro-Lincoln(LOL)Motor Company article.

  • avatar
    dwford

    The Malibu launch reminds me of similar GM vehicle launch debacles. I remember back in the late 90s when they launched the new Regal, Grand Prix and Cutlass as coupes first when they should have launched as sedans. I remember when they launched the Pontiac G6 with only a V6 when the Grand Am it replaced sold mostly as a 4 cylinder – killing sales. Now the Malibu launches with an expensive and ineffective mild hybrid when the market wants a regular 4 cylinder, then on top of it makes the car smaller than the competition. Good luck GM.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I think you may be a decade off, the W body coupe (but not sedan) launch occurred in the late 80s… in the late 90s there was no Regal or Cutlass coupe, both were sedan trim only.

  • avatar
    prndlol

    I disliked it inside and out when I first saw it, and after it placed dead last right out of the gate in two comparos I’ve read already I’m beginning to really hate this Malibu.

    The new, new, *NEW* GM pushed out the competitive Cruze, then fell on its ass once again with this? You just can’t keep the old GM down.

  • avatar
    Spartan

    I like the old one better. It’s quite the looker in LTZ trim. The new one is just frumpy and ugly.

    I just don’t understand how these decisions are made to produce a car this unattractive compared to the previous one. It’s as if they’re trying to fail intentionally.

  • avatar

    the rear seat room is a problem and the Eco only launch was a poor choice. granted the product is crucial. my point is that today most products in general are equivalent in terms of features and price. the biggest factor IMO is image and perception. in this area the marketing makes the difference. were GM able to overcome the Gov’t Motors moniker and the negativity over BK while driving traffic into the showrooms, we would be adding shifts not cutting them.

    Return to Greatness is the answer.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Agreed but I won’t be holding my breath.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        @28

        You’ve read ‘Return to Greatness’ and think this is the solution?

        http://www.generalwatch.com/editorials/editorial.cfm?EdID=2

        Looks like a big giant Cash on the Hood giveaway. Its Buickman’s plan to sell more Buicks GM Employees and Retirees.

        GM Retiree gets:

        GM Employee Discount
        $1000 GM Loyalty Bonus
        $500 AARP Discount
        Free Maintenance
        Probably a few $100 from his referral Savings plan

        Oh yeah, this is after he’s already reduced the price of the vehicle by $900 or so by eliminating the Destination Charge.

        But, hey…according to Buickman! it will increase market share and ‘won’t cost a penny’

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I missed his capitalization, I was referring to a “return to greatness” in a metaphorical sense as in “not sucking”.

        However thank you for the link, I am perusing it now. I can’t speak to the business particulars outlined here, but I’m not seeing any suggestions or descriptions of improving product or the direction to go with product.

        I personally as a consumer don’t care much for marketing gimmicks such as Santa Claus or $500 off being in AARP, what I want is value for the money. This is not a Daewoo, this is not a sad Opel clone, and this is not an overly small and unnecessarily ugly F117 as my fake luxury car du jour. Its one thing to say we need smart entry level cars, and in truth I am impressed with Verano and ATS as entry level cars. But if I decide “I want the ‘big Buick’ or ‘big Cadillac’” (in a metaphorical sense) Catera and Regal are meh and XTS/Lacrosse are laughable. So you go from decent entry level to “meh” as you go up the chain?

        GM may at heart be a truck company, but they need to not fire blanks at the car market as well. I think the last new GM I would have been interested in was the outgoing Malibu, but if had I been a buyer I would demand a V6 which is nearly impossible to get in Malibu as it was only offered in LTZ trim (something like 27K+ msrp). This is incomprehensible and it shows how GM is out of touch with its traditional customers (dyed in the wool Buick/Pontiac/Chevy people).

        Maybe I’m just delusional but I think GM has the resources to build a superior product, they could return to greatness. Just have to get their heads out of their asses first.

    • 0 avatar

      sunridge you miss the whole idea. the first twenty steps released years ago were just for starters and applied at that time. RTG is more than you are aware. many industry experts who have seen the specifics agree it is exactly what is needed. so throw your stones but you really don’t understand what you are talking about.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        They’ll be out of money by the time they get to Step 21.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @Buickman

        Most of your proposals related more to business/marketing to which I am not formally educated however I think this point in your proposal is worth its weight in gold:

        “STEP NINE: Day at the Dealer. Each month, every salary member of VSSM would be required to spend one day in a randomly selected dealership service department, preferably in write up. This activity would build tremendous goodwill, and give our employees valuable insight into the customer’s needs and wants. Actually getting to know GM employees would give customers a sense that GM has a face. They would begin to see us as human beings, rather than an impersonal Corporation. The dealers would benefit by having additional support in their service lanes, and be able to offer quicker, more responsive service on those days when executives were there to assist. Customer satisfaction would increase, as would repeat and referral business.”

        This is so simple yet ingenious. I work for a company owned and run by I/O Psychologicts, they make tens of millions of dollars annually selling these sorts of ideas as product, sometimes the best ideas are the most common sense ones.

      • 0 avatar

        thank you sir.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    GM really, REALLY screwed up the Malibu refresh.

    It is a bit of a jolt given the Spark is doing better than anyone expected, the Sonic is darn good, and the Cruze has solid sales. All of these vehicle launches went well, and met the segment needs well. The Spark is top in A segment sales, the Sonic is second in B segment beyond the maligned but much cheaper Versa. The Cruze is class competitive.

    The Malibu is a wreck – the decision to go smaller was flat out bad. For whatever reason compared to the Cruze and Sonic in particular, the bean counters apparently got a lot to say about the Malibu.

    The refresh can’t come fast enough – and screwing up the D-segment is a bad thing – it is crazy competitive between Accord, Camry, Fusion…

  • avatar
    sketch447

    The sad thing about GM is that it can never do right in some peoples’ minds….

    The Malibu is very competitive with its competition. But its competition is just too extraordinary. So why cast aspersions on GM for offering a conservative yet competent offering??

    I don’t hear people trashing the Corolla for being outdated, even though it is dorky looking, underpowered, has an ancient 4-speed tranny, and handles like a WonderBread truck. Toyota is piling discounts on it, yet no one mocks Toyota…..

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      In the case of Malibu my only thought it when your new model is essentially inferior to your outgoing one, something has gone wrong. Otherwise post-bailout GM has done rather well, people seem to love the trucks/SUVs despite their design age and Verano and ATS seem well done as far as new product goes.

      Personally I mock Toyota Motora Corp. daily but I concede your point… its usually the people who blow Toyonda that condemn GM and the like.

      Successful marketing can sell ice cubes to eskimos, or dated dorky looking junk to the lemmings…er masses.

    • 0 avatar
      rnc

      No GM can do things right, but when they do them wrong, they have this tendency to do them really, really wrong. The malibu is a bread and butter car (aka fusion, accord, camry) and they completely dropped the ball. The worst part is the fumble was from a 1970′s or 80′s GM game, build a decent product, push it out before its ready, every pissed of customer tells 20-30 people how crappy it is (while a happy one tells 5-7). It’s just like every time GM tries to do something fancy regarding engines, the designs weren’t flawed, they were just pushed out before the flaws were fixed to meet some deadline or save $10 (hell Range Rover was still using a GM designed early 60′s OHC engine in the 90′s). Aluminum blocks with silica coated sleeves, bomb. 8-6-4, bomb (and it could’ve been made to work, doing it mechanically was a bitch, but mercedes had mechanical direct injection in the 50′s). The Quad-4, leave off one $10 part, bomb. Northstar was pushed out before the issues were taken car of (and the fixes were simple on that one, just didn’t want to spend the money). Thats one of the reasons I think GM still hangs onto OHV, they’ve got taurus shock, if they build something new and special they are scared people will stay away because everytime they’ve done something special it was a disaster. And this is were the next problem comes in, if Ford can really get the next F150 down 700lbs and use EB 3L and 4L engines, they are going to eat GM’s cash cow, while GM will do what with thier OHV’s? (and they are great engines, problem is, no one else uses them, so the other makers, the improvments they make to thier 1.4′s can be transferred to thier 6.2′s and vice versa, GM can’t). So GM needs to ditch the OHV, add 2 cyl. to thier (from my understanding) great 3.6 and move forward quickly. GM was given a lease on life (I don’t see the urgency that Mulully or Ghosn incited and instilled), everyone braggs about the $9 or so billion they’ve made since exiting BK, most of that was interest payments not made on cancelled debt.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    In my personal life, I like Hondas and Acuras. I have owned a Honda or Acura from 1980 through 2011. I never had a major problem with any of them. For work, I have had Ford or Dodge trucks, and have mostly been pleased with them. I had to do one transmission rebuild on a F350 with a box body at 225,000 miles. I have no complaints about it. The Dodge Sprinter cab chassis with box body blew a transmission with less than 100,000 miles. Still no complaints. I paid for the Dodge with the reduced fuel bill. When I was running two Ford trucks, the fuel bill was nearly $3000 per month. The Sprinter used less than half the fuel of the Fords. My current personal car is a Chrysler, bought in 2005. It has had a water pump and timing belt replaced and that is all, except for tires and other wear items. I like Honda products, but I don’t think that Detroit vehicles are terrible. I have had good luck with Ford trucks, my Chrysler is doing fine. My late father had a Malibu “Classic” that was not really bad. The actual reliability of all cars has improved so much over the past few years that I would not hesitate to buy any name brand vehicle. Being in Mexico, there a quite a few that I would not consider, Renault, Peugeot, Seat. I may, however, try a Chinese motorcycle to see how they hold up.


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