By on January 15, 2013

In 2007, our founder Robert Farago wrote this piece. It is still bouncing around on Facebook. It never stopped being true, and it became extra pertinent with the launch of the new Corvette. People often accuse us of being “biased” against GM. My answer in private, today for the first time uttered in public, always was: “Not true. GM is biased against TTAC.”

In May 2011, with Ed still at the helm, I dragged him to Detroit, and up the escalators of RenCen to make an end to the useless war, and to make peace with GM. Sitting in Selim Bingol’s office, I explained that their old antagonist Farago is gone, replaced by young Niedermeyer and old warhorse Schmitt. New people at GM, new people at TTAC, let’s go forward. As an answer I had to hear from Bingol that at GM “we don’t negotiate with terrorists.” The meeting froze. I could unfreeze it. Former advertising people know how to talk their way out of a bad meeting, current PR flacks should have similar capabilities of instant insincerity. Smiles, handshakes, contradicted by body language. GM promised that all is good, it wasn’t.  TTAC remained toxic at GM. The cold war continued. I did not know that Farago had tried before. Read this story from 2007. He sure did.  - Bertel

Our 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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169 Comments on “New Corvette, Same Old GM. Or: How The General Fails At The Fourth Wall...”


  • avatar
    Maintainer

    “Once the Tundra was finished, ToMoCo then made sure all their dealers’ staff– right down to receptionists– spent seat time in the new vehicle.”

    Out of curiosity, are you speaking of the first gen or second gen Tundra? I was selling Toyotas when the first gen arrived on the lot and that statement is not true if applied to it.

    • 0 avatar
      Buzz Killington

      By “new Tundra,” I believe he meant the curent model, which IIRC came out around 2007 when the original piece was written.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “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.”

      Bully for them. Did it work? 2012 sales:

      *Tundra: about 101,000

      *The no good/awful/no-one-should-ever-buy-’cause-it’s-a-GM Silverado/Sierra: well over 550,000

      Whatever Toyota did, it ain’t working. Let’s not call them on it, though…and not one word on why the new Corvette is emblematic of “old GM.” Ironically, “old GM” made the outgoing Corvette, and some cheap plastic interior bits aside, that car kicks butt, and has for a long time now.

  • avatar
    BMWnut

    It’s always nice to apply hindsight to a piece like this. Things have really gone well for Pontiac since then, haven’t they? Even the G8 made no difference. Score one for TTAC. Keep up the good work, guys!

    • 0 avatar
      ott

      Don’t blame Pontiac, blame the General for mismanaging Pontiac.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      The G8 came to market way too late to even establish itself, let alone help PMD. I firmly believe that had Pontiac continued to exist, it would have become an excellent seller. Even more important than the G8 was the G6. Had that car been what it should have been it would have been a clear indication that a real renaissance at GM had taken place. Instead we got another bean counted committee car. I never realized that most GM folks have never spent much time in competitor’s machines. That just blows my mind…

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      The G8 hit market March 2008 with a limited production run in 2008 of about 12K units. The economy imploded in September of 2008, GM was bailed out by the Bush Adminstration in December 2008 and the word was already out Pontiac was a dead brand walking. The G8 never had a chance.

      Here is a hint, if the G8 was that much of a failure. A 2008 G8 GT had two options, leather and a sunroof. The base price was $29,995. That was five model years ago. Good luck buying one today for under $19,500 that isn’t a salvage title. No one wants them fodder doesn’t sell at 70 cents on the dollar five years old and with 70K miles on the odometer.

      Will happily buy any non-salvage G8 GT with under 100K miles at 50 cents on the dollar new – just provide the link.

    • 0 avatar
      meefer

      If Pontiac had survived and gotten half the cool stuff that Buick has with some styling to match it might actually be interesting. Now it’s just GM trying to inject the excitement into its version of Mercury. And we all know how well that turned out.

  • avatar
    ChesterChi

    Some of the writing in the introduction is a bit unclear. For example, there is a link to a 2007 article by Farago, but apparently it’s then re-posted in this article ?

    Also, what does the final sentence of the introduction mean: “Read this story, from 2007, he did.” Is this Yoda grammar ? Is it supposed to mean “He did read this story from 2007″ ? Or is it supposed to mean “You should read this story from 2007, because he, too, read it” ?

    After re-reading the intro for the 3rd time, now it seems that perhaps the last sentence means “You should read this story from 2007, because it explains that Robert Farago had tried before”. Although it’s not very clear what exactly Farago had tried before, I assume you mean “had tried to get GM not to hate TTAC”.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    “Meanwhile, GM’s importing yet another Australian RWD sedan”

    Just as true in 2013 as it was in 2007.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    So two wrongs make a right? Quit your whining and get back to work as your job/hobby as a journalist(ttac)!

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    I don’t blame GM.

    A recent review of a Jaguar rhapsodized at length about the aroma and quality of interior leather (interior porn!) and TTAC’s current fetish about soft touch garbage…..yet said ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about the probability that the future owner of this pos will spend many hours in this gorgeous interior waiting for tow trucks.

    The newest Corvette is instantly demonized by the amen chorus of GM hatred for real and imagined flaws. It only gets 26 mpg. It only has 450 horsepower. It is not DOHC. And so on.

    No matter how awful prior GM cars were, and there were plenty of awful cars produced by GM…..Jaguar has an actual libido for making awful cars.

    • 0 avatar

      As per usual the Vette ends up borrowing styling queues from Ferrari about a product cycle behind. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing bargain and I’d love to trash one around the track, but it isn’t cool. Being awesome for the price isn’t the same as simply being awesome. Aside from us performance geeks most people who see it for the first time will say, “Oh neat a new Vette,” and then forget about it.

      The next Camaro will be a more critical show room draw.

      GM makes really good cars, just not the right ones at the right time.

    • 0 avatar

      Now while I’ll agree that Jaguar/Land Rover’s reputation is less than stellar, the company has improved its reliability in recent years. But in anything short of a long-term review (like the big magazines do) how are you supposed to know how reliable a car is? Apparently it didn’t throw up errors and stop in the middle of the road, or have a spontaneous satnav crash-and-reboot, and that’s about all you can get from a short review like this…

      • 0 avatar
        Lumbergh21

        “Apparently it didn’t throw up errors and stop in the middle of the road, or have a spontaneous satnav crash-and-reboot…”

        In other words, it’s not a Tesla?

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        I haven’t heard of any issues with Teslas.

        A Fiskar bricked for CR, and MFT is famous for making a car undrivable unless its fuse gets pulled to reboot it.

      • 0 avatar
        Lumbergh21

        @redav
        Top Gear UK had a famous test drive at tehir track with a Tesla roadster. And, I could swear Consumer Reports had problems with a Tesla as well.

      • 0 avatar
        GiddyHitch

        @Lumbergh

        It seems like TG might have been playing fast and loose with the facts. But then again, I’m an admitted fan of Tesla.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Roadster#Top_Gear_controversy

      • 0 avatar
        niky

        Top Gear TV is pure entertainment. Period. Shouldn’t take anything said or done on air seriously. They even admitted that the car was not pushed into the garage because it ran out of charge, as the Roadster has reserve charge below the allowable 20% limit.

        And Consumer Reports had issues with the Fisker Karma, not the Tesla.

    • 0 avatar
      c5karl

      > the probability that the future owner of this pos will spend
      > many hours in this gorgeous interior waiting for tow trucks.

      To quote Henry Graham, “Carbon on the valves!”

  • avatar
    ant

    sigh.

    some old tired meta rubbish.

    are ya all gonna write something up on the toyo concept/corolla thing?

  • avatar
    philadlj

    GM’s “FastLane” Blog (“a forum for GM executives to talk about GM’s current and future products and services”) is rarely used, posting an average of four times a month in the last four months. Which I think is a shame.

    The one time I commented there was to point out that the Chevy Silverado in the blog’s background image was flipped, and its bowtie badge was backwards. It took weeks for them to fix the error.

    Seems like a little thing, but when a blog claims it’s a forum for GM executives, and they don’t notice that their OWN LOGO is BACKWARDS…?

    • 0 avatar
      Omnifan

      Manufacturer blogs (doesn’t matter which industry) are often used to show that “We’re hip, we’re into social communications, the customer is #1″ etc. When it starts to eat up real time, they start to get ignored. Just look how many folks have burned out over TTAC in the last few years. It’s still a great site, but takes a lot of time and effort to support with articles etc.

    • 0 avatar

      Try Twitter or Facebook, they are on there all day…

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    GM releases a new ‘vette that for all practical purposes looks pretty damn nice (save for some Eco nonsense) and we get an article about how they’re incompetent ‘tards who live in a vacuum.

    Ford, meanwhile, drops a uninspiring pickup truck from the ceiling and it’s another “game changer.”

    I’ll take this GM demonizing more seriously if you put Ford up to the wall for their agonizingly worsening QC.

    • 0 avatar
      Zewspeed

      Three years ago at the NYIAS, Ford had a drivetrain engineer running around their setup, answering questions from any and all. With my old man (mechanical engineer) in tow, we went up to him and started pressing him for answers regarding Ford’s recent turnaround in reliability. Was it the Mazda influence? Did Mulally come in and make it a priority? No, he said, it was due to the fact that they eliminated some of their suppliers and only kept the top few around. That’s why their cars are doing so well all of the sudden.

      Fast forward a couple years, and they’re back in the outhouse again. What happened with those suppliers? Why are things such a mess with the transmissions (among other things) in their small cars?

      Quite frankly, even if they had someone at the show this year to answer those questions, I don’t care to ask anymore. Detroit flirts with competence from time to time, but all it’s ever been in my lifetime in a mirage (and not the good little Mitsubishi kind).

      • 0 avatar
        Omnifan

        Ford cars are the products of others. Taurus = Volvo, Edge = Volvo, Escape = Mazda, Fusion = Mazda. Yes, they design the sheetmetal and the powertrains (mostly), but the basic layout is someone elses.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        The transmission is fine. The flash has fixed any “issues” folks have had. Same with MFT – the update almost a year ago has fixed most “issues”. Having a laggy UI may make it not a great multimedia center, but it certainly doesn’t taint the ENTIRE VEHICLE.

        Get over it.

  • avatar
    jaybird124

    What’s wrong with the new Corvette?

    • 0 avatar
      Crabspirits

      While many things are subjective, I think most people can agree it has very little vette DNA in it’s appearance. It looks JUST like a Ferrari. The Corvette is an American icon. It angers me to look at it. You could say the same about the new Viper to a lesser degree. They could be the most impressive supercars on the planet, and it wouldn’t matter to me.

      When I look at the new vette, I just imagine a bunch of designers sketching it out with a Ferrari in the room, taking measurements, and figuring out how to do it cheaper.

      • 0 avatar

        Exactly, but this isn’t a new thing. Vette’s have been biting off Ferrari styling queues for generations.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        The Vette was orininally created as a response to European roadsters, so it’s not too surprising when they take some cues from notable European cars. I don’t think it’s a bad thing in this case as it proved to be a fairly successful formula, euro-like body and chassis dynamics with an American powertrain.

      • 0 avatar
        Lumbergh21

        we ask for domestic manufacturers to give us something sleek and beautiful like the Europeans get and then complain about how the Corvette is a Ferrari rip-off? Isn’t that what we wanted? European styling? I’m awaiting an opportunity to go check one out and see if it looks as nice in real life.

      • 0 avatar
        dan1malk

        The new C-pillar is the only thing similar to a Ferrari.

        Oh wait… it’s red too. You’re right! It is exactly the same!

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        “It looks JUST like a Ferrari”

        To paraphrase Katt Williams, “the f&*^ed up part is that it ‘do look like a Ferrari, until a Ferrari pull up…”

      • 0 avatar
        Stumpaster

        Could you please answer the question? DNA blah blah blah blah doesn’t cut it. The new Vette has composite construction, composite leaf springs, v8 with stonking power, and a 2-seat front engine layout. That’s Corvette alright! There is no such configuration in a Ferrari, not at all. Lexus L imitated previous gen S class – sold a crapload. Good investment, Chevy.

        I can understand when Jack B drives a Porsche and complains about it – he actually has some experience with it. But to bag on the new Corvette without even an attempt at driving one, by someone who probably can’t get the Vette to 5/10s of its capacity…that’s just insane, and inane beyond recognition.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “While many things are subjective, I think most people can agree it has very little vette DNA in it’s appearance. It looks JUST like a Ferrari.”

        …and this is a BAD thing?

    • 0 avatar
      FJ60LandCruiser

      I think the new Stingray (not new Corvette, because at least to me the Stingray seems to be a halo model of the ‘vette–and I’m guessing will be drastically different from more pedestrian models) will be an excellent car. I’m hoping GT-R giant killer territory, but without the retarded Playstation styling.

      I think the new CORVETTE regular joe showrooom AT model will look and perform compared to the Stingray in the same way Sandray Fluke and Kate Beckingsale look and perform the same way in regards that both are (probably?) female.

      • 0 avatar
        Spike_in_Brisbane

        I love it when an error in vocabulary still makes sense or is even better than the intended word. “Styling queues vs styling cues”.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        . . .Did you mention Sandra Fluke, the very nice and attractive georgetown law student? I fail to see how relevant that is other than you just sounding a bit like an ass.

        To be on topic: The Corvette looks like something on the street again, finally. The last 25 years of the Vette has been in a bubble as it has aged piss poor and is a real super car in most ways it has been taken to the cleaners by much more expensive cars that are expected to compete with it.

    • 0 avatar
      Larry P2

      It doesn’t look like a Vette, which is good, unless it isn’t. But if it looked like a Vette, it would be “tired and pedestrian” and so on.

      Plus, you can’t smell the leather like in a Jaguar.

      And lastly, it is not a Volkswagen.

      • 0 avatar
        kuponoodles

        Anyone remember the stingray concept from michael bay’s transformers crapfest? It’s not boring or pedestrian.

        http://www.google.com/search?q=corvette+stingray+concept+transformer&hl=en&safe=off&tbo=u&tbm=isch&source=univ&sa=X&ei=B_z1UI69DY3D0AGEzYHIAQ&ved=0CDYQsAQ&biw=768&bih=929

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      …..What’s wrong with the new Corvette?…..

      Frankly, from what we see and what we know, not a damn thing. Styling is subjective and while it is a bit radical, it is growing on me – fast. And regarding the poster who had an issue with the “Eco crap”, what’s wrong with features that help mileage as long as they don’t dilute the driving? Until we get real driving reports, I say kudos for a job well done.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      jaybird124…

      I am not sure “wrong” is necessarily involved, but, from a post I placed on TTAC, 13 Jan 2013, (“Chevrolet Corvette Stingray Worthy of the Name”) there are certainly some thoughts I could share again:

      “I am not an overwhelming Corvette fan, but I must say, this “bankruptcy”, “catch-up” car is doing a lot of things right. When the C-8 comes out with rear-mid engine, as Tadge started working on in 2007, they’ll be doing everything right.

      But I still have some concerns about even this admittedly very nice car:
      1) Can the rev-matching be turned off? I’ll do my own, thank you very much.
      2) 0-60 in under 4 seconds is passé. All cars in that echelon do this. I was looking for 3.3-3.5 sec.
      3) The side-slash vent bothers me esthetically, but that may be just me: I wanted better integration.
      4) What happened to the manual hand brake? Where did it go? I use that for driving, not just parking.
      5) Did they finally get to a 48 (F) / 52 (R) weight distribution?
      6) 26 mpg? Doesn’t the current C-6 Corvette get 26 mpg? Where is the progress there? I wanted 30 mpg, considering they now have variable valves and cylinder deactivation.
      7) Will they be doing right-hand drive for the UK and Australia? That would be a real sign of confidence.
      8) The rear spoiler looks liked it was a glued-on afterthought. Not cool. Looks cheap. Isn’t there a more majestic way to handle that? And the BIG BLACK BUMPER section is a bit overwhelming for me. It is all too much Camaro-esque in feeling…”

      ———–

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Its not a volkswagen

  • avatar
    rpol35

    I have a tough time imagining that GM could give a flip about TTAC. All big corporations are targets for various & sundry groups and this is no different. There are always supporters and detractors and many are blind in their enthusiasm or criticism. Farago was no different, he was tempered by the results that occurred from a critical piece he wrote in a west coast newspaper years ago.

    GM will continue to do what it thinks it should do regardless of what a website does or doesn’t say about them. Maybe they’ll get it right and maybe not but I doubt they’ll lose any sleep over TTAC or any other media outlet.

    • 0 avatar

      PR departments are supposed to effect positive coverage. It’s their job description. I know from long experience that they can get quite upset about negative coverage, especially when people at the top read it and blame the PR folks.

      Good PR people know that there are supporters and detractors and that many are blind in their enthusiasm or criticism. Nevertheless, they tend to take them by the hand and try to guide them. Same job description.

      Good PR people know that freezing the media out, be it with ads or access, is known to be counter-productive. It is much easier to hate someone you don’t see, much harder to spew vitriol over someone you see and talk to every day. Good PR people know that. Trying to withhold information creates a vacuum that is filled with negative information.

      Someone who starts a meeting with “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” is not a good PR man.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Is that what Toyota did when they let you go around their secret Lexus LF-A facilities?
        Maybe GM should copy Toyota in this respect and get better coverage.

      • 0 avatar
        rpol35

        Bertel – I get your point, but I have to ask, is GM’s umbrage aimed at a variety of different media outlets where they think that they don’t get a fair shake or is it only concentrated on those that they are convinced are relentlessly negative such as TTAC?

      • 0 avatar
        dan1malk

        Are you seriously trying to say that TTAC’s bias against GM is GM fault??

      • 0 avatar
        rpol35

        “Are you seriously trying to say that TTAC’s bias against GM is GM fault??”

        I don’t know how you interpreted that but absolutely not! What I am asking is does GM give the bum’s rush to a media outlet(s) that they are convinced are consistently negative (as in, “Why bother, they’ll never say anything positive”) as opposed to being open to ones that they believe display objectivity i.e. criticism when due and praise when earned.

      • 0 avatar
        dan1malk

        Sorry rpol35,
        Was meaning to respond to Bertel. I agree with your statements. :)

        “Trying to withhold information creates a vacuum that is filled with negative information.”

        Bertel makes it sounds like since GM’s PR department isn’t guiding TTAC by the hand, then GM deserves bad press from them.

        Quit the whining.

      • 0 avatar
        rpol35

        dan1malk:

        Thanks for the clarification.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        “Bertel makes it sounds like since GM’s PR department isn’t guiding TTAC by the hand, then GM deserves bad press from them.”

        I think Bertel is saying that you aren’t worth crap as a PR department if you aren’t engaging with everyone who writes about your products and has an audience… and he’s 100% correct. I work in marketing/sales/PR at a not-insignificantly-sized company, and we know that a blogger in his mom’s basement is often more impactful than the writer from the trade rag you just shared a $300 dinner with.

        GM’s PR/marketing/sales organizations are near the bottom of the barrel, partially because they live in their own little world up in Detroit (and yes, this is from firsthand experience). The fact that none of their decision makers has to live with any GM product for longer than 12 weeks was quite an eye-opener for me.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Robert Farago nailed it circa 2007.

    But since then:

    -Numerous top managers have been replaced, particularly Rick Wagoner
    -The balance sheet has been restructured
    -The size and cost of the labor force has been reduced
    -The number of North American sales channels has been reduced
    -The size of the dealership network has been reduced
    -Overlapping brands and redundant models have largely been eliminated
    -Interiors have generally improved
    -Most of the antiquated technology, such as 4-speed automatics, have been replaced by competitive, more modern alternatives
    -The company has gone from generating losses to becoming modestly profitable

    The transformation hasn’t been free of error. There have also been some notable missteps along the way, and the management could probably use some more purging.

    But to claim that nothing has changed for the better is lazy at best, and disingenuous at worst. The fanboys and haters are equally inaccurate.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      This article showing up now has the same look and feel of a once great country artist now performing as an opening act on a Thursday afternoon Branson, Missouri show in front of a half-empty audience of chain smoking grandmothers.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      Sure GM has changed, but as of 2011 they still weren’t willing to make nice with a blog that has, one presumes, a significant number of readers. That kind of arrogance isn’t good for business, and it’s worth noting in a company who’s systemic arrogance very recently nearly destroyed it.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        “as of 2011 they still weren’t willing to make nice with a blog that has, one presumes, a significant number of readers.”

        I certainly won’t applaud GM for its defensiveness. But let’s face facts — the TTAC brand is now wedded to selective criticism for the sake of it.

        What was once prescient has morphed into a legacy cost, and there isn’t a thing that a GM PR flack is going to do to change that. (Presumably, GM would have to be acquired by Volkswagen in order for that tone to change.)

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        “Sure GM has changed, but as of 2011 they still weren’t willing to make nice with a blog that has, one presumes, a significant number of readers.”
        Given that the blog in question still suffers from the same issues that caused the rift in the first place, why would they make nice?

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      To reduce weight and cmoplexity in your note, you can replace all these:

      -The balance sheet has been restructured
      -The size and cost of the labor force has been reduced
      -The number of North American sales channels has been reduced
      -The size of the dealership network has been reduced
      -The company has gone from generating losses to becoming modestly profitable

      with:

      - fully and finally went bankrupt and threw lots of other interests under the bus.

      Reducing weight and complexity is usually a good thing.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      $50 billion of the taxpayers’ money is still on hold. GM’s progress hasn’t been totally self-funded. I could clean up my house pretty nicely if someone else paid for it.

    • 0 avatar
      ect

      I neither love nor hate GM. But, notwithstanding whatever benfit came from wiping out debts and culling brands and dealers in Chapter 11, and the infusion of government money from the US and Canada, GM’s fundamental market issue has not changed. From the mid-70′s through 2008, GM lost 1/2-1% of the market pretty steadily, going from around 50% market share to 21-22% by 2008. Since then, they have continued to lose share at about the same rate, to a current run rate of something around 17-18%.

      Again this week, senior execs loudly proclaimed that GM is focusing on “profitable sales”, not “chasing market share”. Well, when market share is dropping, that’s what execs say. The brutal reality, though, is that a continuing slide in market share will make profitable sales harder and harder to achieve. If GM cannot reverse this trend, Bankruptcy #2 is a certainty within 5-7 years.

      • 0 avatar

        If the whole US automotive market would not have drastically changed from the 80′s until now then I would have been worried about GM’s loss of share, but the reality is, it did change. The Japanese, and then the Germans and then the Koreans, started putting up Assembly plants in GM’s back yard. Face it, no one will ever have 30% market share anymore with the kind of competition, the variety and the fickle buying public in the country.

        You have to applaud GM for realizing that, cutting cost and complexity and being able to turn a profit even at 18% share when in 2007 they couldn’t do it with 24%. And they have done it while at the same time putting out well received and technologically advanced product. That is real progress and shows that there is real change going on.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Why is it necessary to be so self-congratulatory? Feels like wasted space that could be used to talk about the new products at the biggest auto show in the world taking place right now.

    Yeah, yeah, I know it’s against the rules to question the content. But if the editors refuse to accept cricism about content, they’re no better than the GM PR flacks they’re chastising.

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    I can’t say I am surprised by the response by GM. You spit in their face for years, and then wonder why they don’t want anything to do with TTAC. And if anyone thinks there is no anti-American car bias, especially against GM, by TTAC, then you need to reload your crack pipe. I do not have the time to research the past articles of GM products by TTAC, but of what I have read, has at times bordered on yellow journalism. (By the way, I do not own a GM product, so I have not dog in the fight.)

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      An alternative explanation is that there’s a lot more to criticize in GM cars and in GM’s business model.

      Nowhere is this more apparent than in their approach to Advanced Tech drivetrains.

      Toyota built the Prius way back when, in a time of relatively low gas prices and kept at it until they had a car selling a the 100K/year level without significant government incentives because it was a decent value proposition (even if there was no payback, it was a hedge against skyrocketing gas prices) and had a high degree of utility.

      Then GM swung and missed on hybrids 3 or 4 or 12 times, depending on how you count it. Their hit, relatively speaking at < 3K/month, is a low-utility car that was designed, from the get-go, to be unsaleable on its merits. They arranged for a per-unit $7500 bailout before they even brought it to market.

      They still offer, even "improved," the proven worthless BAS vehicles, which continue to fall flat in the market.

      What's wrong with those people? GM does have some unique and interesting tech and some good products but they overwhelm the good news with WTF? decisions.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Kix – some valid points, but other companies have screwed up on hybrids. Honda is a great example, they bring to market, ahead of the Prius, the Insight and then let it wither until a Prius clone comes out a decade later and sells 1/10th of the volume because it is universally derided. Or we could talk about the CR-Z, heard anything about it lately. Or we could talk about the Accord V6 hybrid which never sold well and missed the point about fuel economy. Honda seem to have got it together with the current Accord and its hybrid and plug-in plans but lets not make it out that GM was the only fool with hybrid technology.
        As for the tax credit, all companies can benefit from that – Nissan certainly has. Toyota did with the previous tax credit regime for their Prius. So this is not GM only.

        “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.” – that led to a great sales success!

        As for the suggestion of why not have a GM person come on here and correct “misinterpretations” or errors. I thought it was frowned upon to have a company rep come on and make posts. I haven`t seen any other companies reps come on here either, so not just GM.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        @mike978:

        I recall a GM “flack” lady commented on here for a brief period a few years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        mike978: “Kix – some valid points, but other companies have screwed up on hybrids.”

        As relentlessly as GM? I really don’t think so. I can’t explain the V6 Accord hybrid, nor can I explain the V6 Highlander hybrid but I’m quite sure neither of those particular projects cost them as much money as GM has sunk into either the two-mode or the Volt. And the V6 Lexus RX hybrid sells decently well – I am certain it’s profitable.

        mike978: “As for the tax credit, all companies can benefit from that…”

        True. But GM couldn’t sell the Volt at all without it and they were the driving force on this. Toyota didn’t have to push for a tax credit on the Prius, it was already selling fairly well. It was just a bonus for people who already wanted a Prius and probably helped Toyota make a little extra money.

        Nissan would certainly be almost completely unable to move the Leaf but they probably would have built it, anyway and without the tax credit, there’s be no Volt competition. And the Leaf has a 24KWH battery. If GM didn’t lobby for the 16KWH rebate cap (the size of the Volt battery), the Leaf would be even less expensive and would likely sell somewhat better.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Kix – I agree with you on some points and GM did screw up labeling their earlier attempts as hybrids when they gave minimal improvements (like the Saturn Vue “hybrid”). The Volt is regarded as technically advanced and beat Toyota and others to the technology implementation by 1-2 years, so that is not really a screw up.
        GM has sunk money in, but then you go on to say Nissan would have made the Leaf without subsidy and sold very few. Wouldn`t that be an equally boneheaded business decision?

      • 0 avatar
        rudiger

        There was a ‘per-unit bailout’ (otherwise known as a federal income tax credit) back in 2006 that applied to all hybrids. It began at $3150 and declined, depending on how many had been sold. The Prius sold far and away the most, so those owners were the biggest beneficiaries of it.

        Likewise, the current ‘per-unit $7500 bailout’ (that always rears its ugly head whenever GM gets mentioned on TTAC) applies to all electric vehicles, with the credit dependent on battery size. The Volt meets the criteria for $7500, as does the Nissan Leaf, Focus Electric, Mitsubishi MiEV, etc. The new C-Max ‘Energi’ doesn’t have as large a battery, so the credit for it is, likewise, not as large.

    • 0 avatar
      cargogh

      Yesterday, one of my facebook friends posted she needed a new car and was looking for suggestions.
      There was, “Subaru, or nothing.”, “Toyota”, “Toyota Yaris”, “Camry”, two for Hyundai, and a lone domestic shoutout, “We love our new Taurus.”
      Sadly, there was also, “Go with a foreign model. More reliable. Sorry, America.”
      My friends are not more stupid than the average American car buyer. I’m just not sure where they are getting their information.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        rudiger: “There was a ‘per-unit bailout’ (otherwise known as a federal income tax credit) back in 2006 that applied to all hybrids. It began at $3150 and declined, depending on how many had been sold. The Prius sold far and away the most, so those owners were the biggest beneficiaries of it.”

        That rebate was available on a per-manufacturer basis. Toyota ran through its quota pretty quick, because the Prius was the most effective hybrid on the market, and then when it expired the Prius kept on selling.

        The Prius sold at the 100K level PRIOR to the introduction of that ‘per-unit bailout.’ This is not the situation with the Volt.

        As regards the current rebate, if the rebate increases with battery capacity because more battery is a good thing, why is the rebate capped at 16kwh? If someone wants to take a chance on a breakthrough 60kwy battery the size of a fish tank… a true leap forward in EVs, there’s no added incentive to do that. So, why the cap? Hint: 16kwh is the precise size of the Volt battery.

    • 0 avatar
      KixStart

      mike978,

      Nissan is in a different place. They could have built the Leaf for the JDM and Europeans and then sent it here besides. I suppose GM could have tried that but I don’t forecast success for GM trying to break into the JDM with a “high volume” BEV.

      I disagree about GM beating Toyota. You can’t “beat” the others with a car that is fundamentally unsaleable. Four seats is a killer limitation. To wit, GM’s #1 Volt Booster, Lyle Dennis, abandoned it on just that account. The Prius was a hard sell… but it was saleable and Toyota did produce a version that sold decently without significant aid. In between G1 and G2, Toyota was able to make changes to the vehicle that allowed them to cut the price while enhancing the utility.

      GM’s fundamental problem here is that there doesn’t seem to be as much cost to squeeze out of the Volt and it remains unsaleable until battery prices come down; which is entirely beyond GM’s control.

      This situation was entirely foreseeable. Also foreseeable was the likelihood that an HSD-type product (the Prius or the C-Max) could be adapted with a larger, 4-10kwh battery to get significant enough range to sell in this space and would cut away the Volt’s market from the underside (Prius-PHV sales are at 1600/month, C-Max Energi is not far behind). You can argue that the Prius PHV isn’t as good an EV as the Volt and you’d be right… but it cost Toyota almost nothing to develop, the powertrain is identical to the Prius Classic.

      I must give GM some credit, here. The Volt is actually a pretty good idea. It’s much more practical than a BEV but it suffers from low utility, the EV range is compromised by the weight of the other components, it has poor Range-Extended fuel economy and it’s very, very heavy and costly. And it was inevitable that we’d see other entries in this space; independents were modding the Prius in this direction before GM got rolling.

      • 0 avatar
        Wirey1

        I’ll bite. What is “good” range-extended fuel economy? Is it “Prius numbers or bust” the first iteration out of the gate?

        The 2013 Volt is rated at 37mpg combined when running gas only with a 35/40 city/highway split.

        For reference, a Cruze ECO with automatic is rated 31 combined with a 26/39 split, and a Prius Plug-in is 50 combined with a 51/49 split.

        Personally, I think the Volt’s range-extended numbers are pretty decent. And if I wasn’t in a rental property, I would consider a used one when my current ride finally dies. I fit the 40-mile round trip commuter profile GM was targeting.

        I’m with you all the way on the compromised rear seat, though. And I’m not a fan of the haptic center stack from my one sit in a show floor model. Hopefully I can get an actual ride now that a friend has one (and really likes it) to have more of an opinion that the first impression.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Wirey1: “I’ll bite. What is “good” range-extended fuel economy? Is it “Prius numbers or bust” the first iteration out of the gate?”

        The car is $40K and GM talked it up for 4 solid years; it should approach 50mpg (in fact, “50 miles EV, 50mpg, 600 miles range” was the original claim). The DBFE should certainly be impressive by hybrid/compact standards and fuel economy anywhere in the 30s is not.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      I guess I’ll be needing some of this crack you speak of. It sounds enlightening. Care to share your source?

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Interesting read, but I don’t see how this relates to the new Corvette. I’ve noticed some anti-American car bias from Bertel, but I figured he’s mostly comment-trolling. I’m cynical that way.

    As for the General’s preference to use their own blogs, I’m usually not one for masturbation metaphors, but Jesus Christ! I guess they thought the didn’t need to sell cars to anyone who didn’t read their blog. That worked out well.

    Journalists make mistakes. All the time. I’d love to see manufacturers reps show up here to set the record straight or provide more information. Sure, they’d try to spin at first, but after getting slapped around a bit by the B&B the smart ones would stop with the game playing.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    As a flack myself, I have to ask if it was clear your conversation with the GM PR person was on-record? Did she ask to speak off-line at any time? Not defending her or GM, just asking what the rules of engagement were.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    “GM… they don’t understand the automotive landscape in which they work. They are, quite literally, lost.”

    That was definately true then, but now they are closer to the action. Are they at risk by putting so many eggs in the Chinese basket?

    I spent a summer driving both a GMT800 and a GMT900. The 900 was a vast improvement in my experience. I think they really, really tried with this new Corvette.

    I know this though, when someone reaches out, it is a mistake to reject them. The brass hats at GM would do well reach back.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I agree with you, GM should have reached an accommodation with TTAC. But as PCH mentioned above “selective criticism” is here, but hopefully not to stay. A recent example was the whole GM sales cars in China, is it now too dependent upon Chinese sales. When VW makes a greater % of their sales in China than GM does. Also I could easily see GM being criticised if they, like Ford, entered the largest market slowly. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

      • 0 avatar
        KixStart

        Yeah, except Farago called GM’s bankruptcy way back in ’05. When I find someone with that kind of vision, I keep him on speed dial, I don’t cut off communication.

  • avatar
    Travis

    I got really excited seeing RF post. I wish the content had more depth than this. We can always hope or talk about a revolution, but we know it isn’t going to happen :(

  • avatar
    carguy

    I think a headline with “new Corvette” and “fails” is premature.

    Few would disagree that GM has its problems but its way too early to be dissing the new ‘vette before anyone has even driven it. This is GMs valiant attempt at a genuine supercar at a Boxster price and, at first glance, they seem to have done well. Let’s hope it drives as good as it looks.

    As for the charge of “derivative styling” – if that is true then all cars from Japan, Korea and China are guilty of that too.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    I’m trying to see where TTAC slammed the new Corvette? I’ve only found one article, DK’s on the release of the pictures, and while he wasn’t gushing in his praise, he also didn’t throw it under the bus. The comments seem to be very mixed. I have no doubt the car will be a mechanical masterpiece and a performance benchmark that will show its (unfortunately unattractive) tail to cars costing 3 times as much.. However, I personally think the styling is a disaster, not because it’s necessarily ugly, but it abandons Corvette design hallmarks to the point that if you covered the badges, I wouldn’t immediately identify it as a Vette. I also think it suffers from the styling excesses of other GM vehicles like the Camaro. A look that works well on a Cadillac (like the CTS-V, Escalade, and XTS) is not necessarily a look that will work on a Corvette.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I just read the entire article and every comment beneath it. I still don’t see what ties the new Corvette to the subject of “PR hacks versus anti-GM web journalists”. WTF? Just trying to generate page hits by dredging up some old divisive article? Looks to me like you are just doing what Baruth calls “The Wobble”: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/03/clarkson-burgess-the-wobble-and-the-chrysler-200/

  • avatar

    Those who accuse TTAC and even Farago of yellow journalism sicken me. What was great about this site is that it pulled no punches. As the punch pulling has increased it has made fewer enemies, but it is now slowly fading into the general landscape of automotive press. Once again I find myself looking for voices who aren’t afraid to hurt a few feelings in pursuit of the truth.

    Modern folks have such a sense of entitlement. If something upsets their delicate egos they demand change rather than simply changing the channel.

    • 0 avatar
      cognoscenti

      Where’s the truth in “The new Corvette sucks and if you don’t like our opinion then you’re wrong because GM got in a fight with TTAC in 2007!”?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Straw_man

    • 0 avatar
      dan1malk

      But now they “…hurt a few feelings in pursuit of the [mouse clicks].”

      The punches they throw are much more strategic/money-grabby now.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      The only time I cry “yellow journalism” is when the ‘If you care about mpg, don’t buy American’ articles pop up–because, you know, those *are* on par with yellow journalism.

  • avatar
    mike978

    “People often accuse us of being “biased” against GM. My answer in private, today for the first time uttered in public, always was: “Not true. GM is biased against TTAC.”
    I agree that GM should have come to some accommodation but from what has been said it sounds like GM doesn`t like TTAC but that is their opinion. I don`t see them saying to people don`t read TTAC. Whereas TTAC is a journalistic endeavor and as such should aim to be fair and balanced. I just hope TTAC doesn`t have a grudge against GM, like it seems GM has against TTAC. GM’s grudge doesn`t matter because it is not in the business of recommending or stopping people reading auto publications.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    As a GM hater who purchased a 2005 C6…I am here to testify that it was an excellent machine. Never got below 22 mpg (yup, that’s not a mistype) and got upwards of 28 on the highway. It was scary fast, and nary a squeek or rattle during my three years of ownership.

    However, when the Obamadork decided to bail out what is arguably the worst batch of MBAs and assorted (mis)managers in the multiverse, I sold the machine.

    Ain’t supportin’ gubmit motors again.

    Evah.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    Oh yeah, here we go…..Government Motors. What GM received in its oft-derided “bailout” (The European car companies benefit from “concerted and focused government industrial policy” which are not the devilish American-style “bailouts.”) really PALES in consideration with what both Japanese and European car companies get, every single year…..not just once in a generation.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      You of course can provide us with details of this European and Japanese government largesse, can you?

      You know, in publicly available documents. Or is it all a big secret under the table stuff doled out by bankrupt governments?

      Gormless tripe but good for conspiracy theorists.

      • 0 avatar
        Larry P2

        You HAVE heard of the British Car Industry? You know the one that virtually was on government life support for thirty years? That built cars that still can get an unbelievable pass here, notwithstanding they are some of the most atrociously unreliable and expensive-to-fix cars ever built, but have wonderfully odoriferous soft-touch interiors befitting this site’s interior porn fetish?

        You have read Fiat’s president’s incessant calls for ever more aggressive industrial policy?

        And how about the Japanese subsidies? http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-08-19/toyota-faces-20-drop-in-japan-industry-sales-as-aid-ends.html

  • avatar

    Mr Farago’s final offer to General Motors just happens to be my favorite of his many fine contributions to the world of automobiles.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/10/general-motors-zombie-watch-18-hire-buickman/

  • avatar
    makuribu

    GM is an old school “drink the KoolAid (or FlavorAid, if you must split hairs)” corporation. You either suck up to them and give their shitty cars “Car of the Year”, or they cut you off. Ask the Car Talk guys at NPR.

  • avatar
    sunridge place

    It would be nice if Bertel or someone could describe what the ‘freeze’ and ‘cold war’ really is.

    Is it not getting access to press fleet cars?
    Is it not getting invited to events? (hey, jalopnik got invited and we didn’t)

    Didn’t one TTAC writer get unique access to the performance engine building center in Michigan?

    Otherwise, this sounds like stuff I dealt with and moved on from after Junior High.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    The return of the Australian car must be debuting at the Chicago Autoshow?

  • avatar
    Oren Weizman

    I’ve been deep within the car business for almost 10 years now, the main ache with GM is their inability to make a segment leading product that people will reference when shopping.

    As good as the Cruz is, people don’t immediatly connect to any of it’s content being class leading, Cruz commercials are just a Janelle Monae music clip that won’t end.

    What is the one thing you get from a Chevrolet you can’t get from any manufacturer ? I get reliability and comfort with a Toyota, Sportiness and fuel efficiency from a Civic, The Elantra and Mazda 3 give me good looks and affordability. The Cruz ??? Last time most customers stopped in a GM dealership, they couldn’t even lease a the cars.

    Why isn’t GM Bold ? Hyundai was so bold they GUARANTEED buybacks, offered cheap maintenance plans and even offered to take the car back if you couldn’t afford it, people flocked to the cars and when they came back within 4 – 5 years the cars looked so damn good they had to have another one.

    Toyota’s cars were recalled for being unable to stop and they came back with a car no one wants to get out of ( the FR-s) People flocked to dealerships and stocks and sales soared.

    GM needs to make an affordable segment breaker, something everyone wants to get their hands on, it may sound obvious and simple, but it doesn’t seem obvious to them

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      I guess the Cruz just can’t beat the Coroll

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      “Why isn’t GM Bold ? ”

      Good question. Why isn’t Toyota bold? Why isn’t VW bold? Is there anything bold about the new compacts or midsize cars either company builds? I think you’d have a really hard time making that case.

      Meanwhile, we have Hyundai and Ford, who did swing for the fences styling-wise on their latest offerings. Have the Elantra or Sonata come to dominate the segment? No. Jury’s out on the Fusion, but it’s pretty clear the Focus is a good seller, but not the segment leader, even though it’s the best-driving compact you can buy.

      Moral of the story? Dull sells.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Rush Limbaugh:Democrats

    TTAC:GM

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Wait. Erh mah gawd you guys. Is TTAC, like, biased against GM?

  • avatar
    wmba

    I fail to understand the point of this article.

  • avatar
    Acd

    Apparently I read a different article because I thought Farago was spot on the money about GM then and his words still ring true today. Look at the Malibu compared to its competition. Is it better than previous GM efforts? Yes. Is it anywhere near class-leading? No. What GM car leads its class today? The previous Corvette was let down by a cheap plasticky interior and if the decision makers at GM actually knew what a Porsche or an Audi interior looked like or why that was even important they would have insisted on a better one for the Corvette.

    Farago had a way of grabbing on to an uncomfortable truth and where others might let off out of politeness or some other reason Farago went for the jugular that tended to put off some but was accurate for the most part. I miss his intense style and passion for cars and the industry. If you’re looking for sunshine and roses every day there’s always Motor Trend.

    For the past 35 years the formula has been the same: GM shows off the new car, the press raves about how great it is in the preview and then a few months after the launch in the six car jumbo comparison test it comes out in fifth or sixth place as not up to the standards of the class leaders.

    If GM is upset that people look at their new products skeptically they have been responsible for much of it through over promising and under-delivering for years.

    Maybe the GM flacks are still upset about the GM Deathwatch series. What really pisses them off was that he as an outsider had a better understanding of their business than they did.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      If the new Malibu cured cancer and gave you a handjob while you drove it…it would still sell behind the Camry/Accord/Altima etc.

      Why try too hard?

      Design a mid-size car you can sell 180,000-200,000 units a year. Set your factory capacity at that level. Price it where you can make money at that level.

      Take the profits and move on.

      Why is it ok for Toyota to make Tundra’s and be 4th place….and its not ok for Chevy to make mid-size sedans and be 4th or 5th place?

      As long as its profitable….isn’t it ok to build a car and not be #1??

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    One of the problems with telling the truth (which is what TTAC is all about) is that negative truth can hurt. And, whether we like it or not, we do live in a truth-avoidant society.

    While I doubt that TTAC had started with an overt anti-GM bias, any more than Chrysler deserved pre-2008, I do realize that if any company continues stubbornly to ignore and disregard customer or blogger complaints, it is only asking for repeated reminders of its failures. And that is what has been construed as bias. And of course, the recipient of criticism resents it, which is only human nature. Surprising as it may seem sometimes, corporate executives are people too.

    This like my ex-wife telling about all my faults, Again. And again. And again…you get the idea. Yes, she was probably right the first time. It was the 47th time that created the resentment.

    But for GM to maintain a warfare mode against TTAC after the hand of truce was offered is unconscionable and counter-productive. It just does not make good business sense. And GM does have the opportunity now to make a fresh start with its culture, not only its products.

    I certainly realize that corporate stubbornness is not unique to GM. How long did it take, after years of pleading, for BMW to provide cup holders in their America-destined cars? Cup holders of all things! Reason: that single request required a shift in German corporate thinking, in which it needed to be realized that the American driver would actually not want to give 100% of his/her attention to driving while sitting on pins and needles during an autobahn run at 100 mph. Horrors! And it was also the fact that BMW had to come to grips with America being larger than a 4-hour trip in any one direction.

    ————

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Most people’s anti-GM bias comes from the same place as mine, experience with GM cars. If you get bitten by a dog enough times you will flinch whenever you hear barking. GM has been a big friendly looking dog that sunk it’s teeth into me one time too many.

    • 0 avatar
      tikki50

      I can agree with that, its quality quality quality that sells cars in the end, and GM’s issues are more about money money money, hence you’ll never end up with quality.

      • 0 avatar

        GM’s quality has improved dramatically, to the point that they have 8 out of 10 vehicles in the Consumer Reports most dependable survey…

        http://www.autoblog.com/2012/11/02/consumer-reports-announces-top-10-most-reliable-american/#aol-comments

        And the #3 most reliable in JD Power…

        http://www.jdpower.com/content/press-release-auto/Q5wPftR/2012-u-s-vehicle-dependability-study.htm

        So, never end up with Quality seems like an unfair assessment.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        TCBRacing..

        Everything you said is true. The problem is often “reputation lag”. It’s kind of a momentum of opinion that simply takes years to change. If GM can continue to keep up this good stuff for 5 or so years, then the reputation may be “cemented” as favorable.

        This effect can happen with “brand cachet” in the positive direction, too. Take a look at BMW: they can now make an “average” vehicle, (e.g., new FWD versions), and people will still flock to it like lemmings just because there is a roundel on the hood.

        ———–

  • avatar
    oldyak

    Sorry but I dont understand why a manufacturer needs to be ‘class leading’ if they make enough varieties of product.
    Look at VW.Can anyone here say that ANY of their models are that……
    Or Toyota….or Honda.
    Hyundai maybe since they have few models and a tenth of the dealers..same for Kia.
    Make a big enough variety of good,reasonably priced cars and things will work out.
    I’m by no means a G.M. lover but their overall offerings through their divisions is pretty damn good!
    TTAC tests can attest to that..’some gripes but overall pretty good’ is what I have read over the last year or so.
    Everyone nowadays needs someone/something to hate…
    and Farago chummed the water at TTAC for G.M.
    Lets move on.
    just my 2 cents…

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      Jetta TDI is class leading. Camry is class leading. RX is class leading. Civic is class leading. Umm, what was your point again? Oh yeah, “pretty good is good enough”. No, it’s really not good enough. If you don’t shine anywhere, the customer base walks away and never looks back.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Camry is class leading in sales, but not in reviews. It comes just about the same position as the Malibu (remember Camry is only 1 year old). Accord is probably the class leading mid-size. Corolla is not class leading (just in sales, but nobody says it is the best compact).

  • avatar
    drivelikejehu

    As some others have alluded, whether or not TTAC is “biased” against GM is really beside the point. From a business perspective, GM would just be better off with magnanimity. This is a company that has fallen from the pinnacle of industrial civilization to mediocrity and bankruptcy. They are on course to ultimately vanish altogether.

    Who knows, maybe a positive, humble attitude would help a little here and there. If not, at least sink with some class.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    This was a serious letdown. I got all excited thinking RF had posted something new, and then read below the byline.

  • avatar
    probert

    A few of things that may have led GM to not be too interested in TTAC:

    Constant referral to the loan/ bankruptcy in demeaning pejorative ill thought out manner.

    Constant demeaning of union workers. Who, for giving up wages and benefits during the bankruptcy, are now part owners of GM.

    Some of this from an editorial staff that comes from countries that have heavily union workforce, social democracy, and have benefitted from the higher standard of living these have provided.

    Just off the top of my head.

    • 0 avatar

      Please read TTAC’s commenting policy, especially the part about hate speech: http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/faqs/#commentpolicy

      Also, please leave our Canadians alone.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Out of curiosity, is making reference to a person’s point of view in relation to the nature of the society they are from hate speech? Because I’ve known people who think that any comment about race/sex is instantly racism/sexism, even if the comment is: “Blacks have a greater chance of developing diabetes than whites,” or “Men are taller and heavier than women.” Or does “hate speech” actually require some sort of “hate”?

  • avatar
    olddavid

    And you think GM has thin skin?

  • avatar
    Volts On Fire

    If GM considers TTAC to be “terrorists,” then be terrorists. Terrorize the hell out of them. Take the fight directly to the doors of the RenCen. Proudly display “We should have killed GM and the UAW in 2009, and we’ll do all we can to see justice finally served” in the masthead.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      “we’ll do all we can to see justice finally served”
      They could do that, but TTAC is a journalistic endeavor, not a political party or grouping. So it would be inappropriate for them, through TTAC, to do that.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yeah, justice would be served by throwing hundreds of thousands of taxpaying Americans out of jobs because they are in unions, all to give Party 1 some kind of political edge. Keep waving that flag…

  • avatar
    ABankThatMakesCars

    If you work for GM and scream that their is an issue with one of their cars and trucks you are labeled as a loose cannon. Why would they listen to outsiders if they don’t listen to their own employees?

    I miss Farago. It’s too bad the Obama Admin. chased him away from TTAC. He denies this, but I think it’s true.

  • avatar
    ABankThatMakesCars

    If you work for GM and scream that their is an issue with one of their cars or trucks you are labeled as a loose cannon. Why would they listen to outsiders if they don’t listen to their own employees?

    I miss Farago. It’s too bad the Obama Admin. chased him away from TTAC. He denies this, but I think it’s true.

  • avatar
    cRaCk hEaD aLLeY

    I have a new GM truck product at home. The interior and the small details are finished clearly to a cost factor. I do not need to read an online blog or be a mechanical engineer to know that.

    From the way the windshield washer fluid tank is barely loosely kept in place via gravity and a single bolt, to glove compartment hinges showing plastic barbs from injection molding not seen since Revell made its first plastic model. It’s all there.

    This is the crap that annoys me and that I do NOT see on my 13 year old BMW. And on my kids dirt bike made plastics for that matter. Hell not even the current Revell models my son assembles have that much plastic inattention.

    That stated, the mechanics are very, very, solid. Zero issues. Smooth as silk where it counts and I sincerely do not feel ripped-off when I’ve had had no malfunctions or trips to the dealer other than a $60 oil change every 8 months for the past year and a half.

    I can not say the same about the BMW. I cant say the same about the wife’s V8 4-Runner. I can not say the same about my past VW’s. Nor my past Mondeo SHO. Nor our old ML 320. Gosh that was a bad one.

    But if I go way back in time, circa 1989, I can certify I had a GM truck in Brazil powered by a stovebolt 6. Zero mechanical problems. But its windshield washer tank was made from procured plastic out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, held in place against the inner front wheel well by gravity alone. No bolt. No nothing.

    So, in my books, GM has improved. Or perhaps they only use bolts for the semi-discriminating North American market. Whatever. Maybe someone in Brazil can let me know if things have changed. I doubt.

    My point is: I have learned my lesson long ago. If I ever feel the need to be awed by a car I would just lease something brutally powerful and nice and beautiful for a short term and wait for the novelty to wear off. RS6? Check. S4? Check. C63? Check. M-3? Why not? Hell, even CTS-V if I get divorced and never need to date again.

    But when the CEL and the maintenance BS shows its ugly head, when by
    then it is someone else’s problem. All I’m paying for for is the privilege of experiencing nice sensations for a while.

    The rest is just car transportation and GM at least does not try to hide cost cutting behind engine covers like some other manufacturers do these days.

  • avatar
    NMGOM

    The title of this story is, in part, “…Same Old GM. Or: How The General Fails At The Fourth Wall”

    Here (link) is a good example of all the sports car concepts from various divisions that were stifled or canned by the Corvette Protection Squad.

    If GM had been allowed to undergo a structured dissolution during its bankruptcy proceedings, and the half-dozen resulting separate companies allowed to stand on their own, maybe by now we’d see a huge surge in real innovation, and would not have to say “Same Old GM”….

    http://jalopnik.com/5976458/lets-celebrate-the-corvettes-60th-birthday-by-remembering-its-two-long+lost-gm-cousins

    —————-

  • avatar
    MBsam

    Was this article written under the influence of a heavy amount of adderall?

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    My family has owned American and European cars for over 40 years. We loved our Ford and Pontiac station wagons. The VW van was fun but unreliable. And the Jetta had constant mechanical problems. Every Toyota (three Corollas) were amazing for their reliability and longevity. Our Pinto and Celebrity were horrible, with terrible reliability and poor construction quality. The Jaguar was beautiful was absurdly expensive; same for the Austin Healey and Alfa Romeo.

    I make these statements to get across this point: our family LOVES cars, loves automobiles with character and style, but, in the end, they are just transportation. A vehicle needs to get me to work, every day, for ten years, without breaking down. Period.

    I am not “anti GM” or “pro import”- I am pragmatic, and will buy whatever car will LAST AND RUN with the lowest cost, and least number of visits to a mechanic.

    For these reasons, I love TTAC: it is one of the few HONEST blogs out there. All the car magazines lie.

    TTAC was one of the first blogs to discuss the “IMS bearing problem” with Porsche motors, a problem hidden and lied about, by both owners and by the company (my son owned a Boxster, so we have personal experience with this issue).

    It is my contention that OPEN DISCUSSION and HEALTHY CRITICISM will make a better product. Unfortunately, most large corporations, both automotive and other, do not feel this way.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    Postscript: my son owned a Corvette- nice car, but it had a horrible, cheap interior for a $45,000 sports car. His Porsche Boxster, a similarly priced car, had a wonderful interior, but the motor gave up at 50,000 miles. My daughter and other son owned BMW 3-series: beautiful interiors, but both had horrible maintenance costs. All my kids have owned Toyota and Honda products, which had cheap interiors, but were easy to maintain, and had few mechanical issues. My conclusion: GM should build drivetrains, whilst having the Japanese do their quality control, and requiring that their interiors built and ergonomics designed by the Germans.

  • avatar
    russty1

    The kind of contempuous anti-customer attitude exhibited by mega car companies like GM drives me batty. Especially these days as a taxpayer I am also a bail-out investor/government incentives investor who has no say when they keep repeating the same mismanagement errors. Are they just too big and bureaucratic to do something bold like completely embrace modern media and seek out active feedback from car-loving customers? What the heck are they afraid of? If thousands of car fans felt that their input was directly affecting finished GM products rolling off the assembly lines wouldn’t we buy *more* of said products? And then proudly attend new model launch events in our local communities? The Powers That Be have a “we know best what’s good for you” corporate climate that is dinosaurish, isolated, self-important and self-fulfilling. It’s continued for decades and has enough history they should have learned by now. What’s to lose for them to try something different? I suggest for the heck of it that they get with it and embrace TTAC and many other modern grass-roots car appreciating sources and use them as a way to build rapport and benefit from tires-on-the-tarmac input. They should embrace ALL feedback good and bad and work with folks. I’ve seen the nice new Enclave among other domestic products, I like the Volt, and I see glimmers of hope that good things can be done. But it could be so much better. Maybe they’re just too big? Was it product quality or lack of corporate vision that killed Saturn? Maybe over time folks will trust the reliability of Cruzes and GM can win their trust back if they make continously reliable cars from now on. I know they *can* do it, I just wish they’d do it sooner and let us as potential customers be a part of the solution instead of some necessary bottom-line annoyance they have to deal with in order for the corporate types to have a peachy annual shareholders meeting.

    • 0 avatar

      Just because GM doesn’t particularly care for TTAC doesn’t mean they don’t embrace customer or potential customer feedback. I work at GM and have visited the Customer Support Center in Saginaw where there are literally hundreds of people scouring discussion boards, running Twitter and Facebook accounts, monitoring Google Alerts and responding REAL TIME to customer complaints and suggestions. What other automaker does that? I can tell you because we did the research – NONE. So don’t let a spat with one obviously Ford favoring site represent the attitude of the entire company. You are being heard. Guess what? Even on this site…

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    GM is definitely missing something.

    What it is? I can’t really say. The products are almost always “almost” very rarely do I see a GM car as a must have.

    something in the process of GM prevents GM from making cars that people aspire to. Capturing the heart of America (ie Red States) isn’t that difficult for an American manufacturer. But let’s face it, in the increasingly greater income disparity this has, those states are falling further and further behind in buying power.

    Somehow GM needs to create cars that Suburban and Urbanites want. Currently they don’t. However that being said, the Spark, Sonic, Cadillac ATS are all good moves in the right direction. Only time will tell for sure though if GM can sustain this.

    Time will tell, but I do think somewhere in GM’s management there is a disconnect, too often many people in the car industry are not car guys from accountants to pr people. This doesn’t bode well for the understanding of what people want.

    Cars are made from commodities but cars in the end are not commodities and cannot be treated as such by management. I think in the end that is too often the case at GM.


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