By on May 2, 2013

chevrolet-onix-2013-01. Photo courtesy motoresemmovimento.blogspot.com

Soon after TTAC’s article on General Motors’ new model make over, the naysayers were out in force. Commenter jpolicke for example suggested selling GM stock if its future relied on engineering coming from South Korea. However, signs abound that this time around GM is finding its way. Let’s examine some of the pros and cons:

On the plus side:

  • GM South Korea products have been well received in most parts of the world.
  • 70 percent of Cadillac buyers are first timers.
  • Buick has some of the lowest aged buyers in the business in North America.
  • The latest cars (gasp!) are good.

On the negative side:

  • The corporate drama continues with no letup, as evidenced by the latest shenanigans from Dan Akerson and Susan Docherty.
  • No sign of a permanent solution to the Opel question.
  • Insufficient and inadequate brand structuring in Europe, come on GM pick one (Opel? Vauxhall? Chevrolet?) and run with it.

 

The fact of the matter is that I’m no GM lover. I have never harbored a thought of owning a GM car. Then, a funny thing happened. I spent some time in a Brazilian-built, so far Latin American-only, Chevy Cobalt. It made me want to buy one. This car competes in one of the fastest growing segments the world over, that of the B segment-sized, A segment-priced car (think Dacia). I should know, I own one. But I would trade mine in on a Cobalt quite easily. While not the best looking in its class, the car rides well, is quiet, comfortable and offers some of the best interiors this side of a Fusion. Then I drove a Cruze (the hatch is beautiful). I took a ride in a Spin (so practical). GM launched the Onix (the car to buy in its particular market, pictured above). In America, our own Steven Lang has praised the Sonic, while much to the chagrin of haters, TTAC has also positively reviewed the Spark. Yes they have weak points, but they have strong points too. Enough to make this previous doubter, a believer.

The second fact of the matter is that the auto industry is a whole ‘nother ballgame. One Ford (with exceptions) is showing its value. Chrysler is internationalizing its line (Cherokee is proof positive). Buick now comes from Europe. The healthy, desirable, competitive, good as apple pie American Chevies all hail from the Far East. Even pick ups are not developed solely for Americans anymore (global Ranger, Colorado/S10, Amarok). American companies that fail to see this will inevitably fail. Americans are showing they want better-handling, more frugality, tighter packaging, smaller engines. V8s don’t rule the land anymore. Ford is thinking of dropping the Taurus and is concentrating on the Focus and Fiesta. VW’s Jetta is selling briskly. With the exception of the pick ups, most cars in the top 10 sales chart in America are either small or medium sized, and come with inline fours.

The old GM is dead and buried. The old, exceptional American market is no more. Blame it on the government, blame it on CAFE, blame it on the weather if you wish. I for one think American consumers have themselves to blame. With their large scale adoption of import brands, choosing smaller engines, and generally badmouthing anything and everything coming out of Detroit, they have gotten what they were looking for. Detroit has changed. GM has changed. GM’s transformation specially has been quite thorough and the company now offers cars that can compete and, more than that, can be sold because buyers want them. Much like in Brazil, where the model makeover is in full swing but has not yet borne fruit, it takes time. Like commenter 28-cars-later said most consumers (count me in as one) are “a bit slow on the uptake”.

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110 Comments on “In Defense: GM Daewoo’s Small Cars...”


  • avatar
    Summicron

    Afternoon, Marcelo

    We Americans have made our own nest by championing imports, as you say.
    I for one have no problem with Korean product. We own one KIA and will consider the Sedona when I get serious about a minivan next year.

    I think the hate for Korean GM products will be mostly confined to the margins and ordinary people won’t care. But I’ve seen this movie so many times before with so many types of products.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      My hate about the situation, if youd like to call it that, is that Daewoo *was* a decent car company. Then GM bought em and basically shut em down.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        I wouldn’t call it that.
        Never read anything from you that was close to hateful. If anything your beef with GM appears to stem from respect for Daewoo.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        When was Daewoo a decent car company?

      • 0 avatar
        Otterpops

        Daewoo didn’t shut down, figuratively or literally, and GM has owned them for ages. They also had not, up to my last direct experience with them (2006 in Korea) been a decent car company by any standards.

        Daewoo disappeared as an independent company from most markets because they were churning out crap. In virtually every way, their products were inferior, not only to Japanese and German products, but American contemporary products, and their fellow Koreans. And it wasn’t always stuff that isn’t obvious in the showroom. The flimsiness of the interior of the first generation (I presume they’d be up to a 2nd or have abandoned it by now) Daewoo Tosca was starkly obvious.

        They weren’t just so bad that they couldn’t survive in the US market alone; they were so bad that they actually killed Suzuki’s US auto business.

        That said, the Chevy Cruze, which Daewoo was supposed to have had most of the responsibility for developing (though supposedly Holden made sure they didn’t fuck it up, correct me if I’ve got that broad outline of the story wrong) is pretty good; though I have only ridden in a Chinese model. Maybe they’ve turned things around. I mean, even GM’s gotta be able to see the pattern of failure.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Summicron, thanks for the kind words

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      You’ll probably get a great deal on that Sedona, BTW. According to Tim Cain over at Good Car Bad Car, Kia sold a grand total of NINE of them in April, and a paltry 564 this year, with no word on a replacement to the current model.

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        Kia is planning to offer a redesigned Sedona in 2014. I love our 2009, which I bought used in 2010 for a great price ($17k/18k miles). You can’t touch its value when compared to the Big Names.

    • 0 avatar
      car_guy2010

      @Summicron-

      If Detroit hadn’t ignored what customers wanted in the 1970s, we would not be in this situation.

      People can blame the UAW, CAFE, Ralph Nader, etc.

      The bottome line is, the market drives sales of vehicles and as painful as it is to xenophobes, wanna-be enthusiasts and misguided folks that think cars are still 100% American, the rest of us moved on not too long ago.

  • avatar
    08Suzuki

    American Exceptionalism meant you bought the best products. And starting in the 80s, the best products came from Europe and Asia.

    • 0 avatar

      I think that’s part of the reason yes. But a larger part could be (in my evaluation) low taxes, small goverment, lots of disposable income and wide open spaces. All of which are going to more global levels. That is affecting Americans’ purchasing decisions.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    Gee, Marcelo, wasn’t expecting to be called on in class!

    I have nothing against Korean products in general, I just have no respect for Daewoo products in particular. The “GM Korea” rename only demonstrates that GM knows Daewoo has no brand equity. Maybe they have been born again into the quality religion, it could happen I guess, I’ll believe it when I see some long-term statistics.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “The old, exceptional American market is no more.”

    See, I disagree here. Look at what VW has done to get some more traction here.

    I also think you are way underestimating the importance of the American truck market.

    In April 20% of ChryslerCo sales were RAM, 22.5% of GMNA’s sales were from the Sierra and Silverado (29.7% if you count the BOF SUVs). And despite all the “One Ford” talk 27.7% of Ford’s US sales were from the F-series. In fact the F-series outsold the Fiesta, Focus, C-max and Fusion combined.

    Honestly, the V8 Land Yacht era in the US was done by 1985, and RWD full-sizers have been pretty much police/livery-only for the last decade. I don’t feel like the overall offerings are all that different today from ten years ago.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      “Honestly, the V8 Land Yacht era in the US was done by 1985″

      What would you call any top of the line crew-cab pickup?
      Dreadnoughts? Battle Wagons?…staying nautical, that is.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        A very small niche. A profitable one though, for sure, but you see 100 Cruze for every one fully-loaded King Dick pickup. Most pickups sold are pretty ordinary.

        I live right by a HUGE Ford dealer, and drive past the pickup sales lot every day. Probably 1/2 of the stock are plain-Jane work trucks, white (mostly), red, or black. 95% of what is left are the typical mid-line crewcab suburban air-hauler trucks. The number of top-line monstrosities is rounding error – 2-3, all parked right along the road in all their chromed-out glory. Same story at the local Chrysler and Chevy stores.

        Of course, this is Puritan New England, YMMV in TX and other big-belt-buckle states.

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          In WI 4-door pickups (and truck-based SUVs) are as ubiquitous as Camrys. Ask anyone who lives here and doesn’t own one if they’d like to go to the mall. Mental hesitation while they compute..”how packed will the lot be?”

          It’s pure hell to deal with dense traffic or crowded lots if you’re not riding as high as these bloated monsters. At least you could see over & around the old sedan land yachts.

          Now, WI may be peculiar in that we always have to factor in deep snow for 3-4 months every year, and I’m up nort’ here, eh?

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            But how many of them are the super-fancy King Dick chrome wet-dream versions? Plenty of mid-trim short-bed 4drs here too, but those are only $35K trucks. And waaaay outsold by the even cheaper crewcabs anyway.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Yeah, I see plenty of lifted F-250s that haven’t seen mud here in California, but most of them aren’t blinged out King Ranch versions.

            Anywhere near the Sierras, you will see pickup trucks galore, but most of them aren’t the fancy cartoony versions that suburban cowboys drive to the office park.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @krhodes
            I think we’re talking across one another here. My only point was that American desire for V-8 land yachts never dissipated, it was just forcibly channeled into today’s heavy sales of crew-cab pickups as family daily-drivers.

            And even if most aren’t full-boat King Dick versions, the level of amenities even at 35K is pretty sweet and easily comparable to luxury options of 15-20 years ago.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Forcibly by whom? See my note below on Caprice sales:

            http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/05/in-defense-gm-daewoos-small-cars/#comment-2044767

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @controlio

            Haven’t got an answer to that, all I know is Americans seem pretty enamored of *these* particular V-8 land barges. They’re all over the flippin’ landscape here and they’ve made driving anything smaller very unfun.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            You don’t have an answer, but it’s an obvious one that’s not CAFE. Again, you can see a more than 80% drop in Chevy full-size sales between 1972 and 1982, eventually dropping to the point where fleet sales were a huge percentage.

            And that’s despite the fact that the modern minivan (which never had a V8 as far as I know) didn’t exist until after 1982. The Ford Explorer (which didn’t have a V8 for a long time) wasn’t on the scene yet in 1982, nor was the Grand Cherokee (which always had a V8 available, although I don’t know what take-rates are). Hell, the Bronco II wasn’t even around in 1982, nor was the XJ Cherokee.

            Yet somehow you and others are saying that Americans only want a V8-powered full-size car and CAFE prevents this. It just doesn’t fit with the available data. The CAFE thing makes a nice scapegoat, but the reality is that enthusiasts’ interest diverged from typical auto buyers’ interests, and enthusiasts are blaming CAFE for that.

            Whether people are “enamored” of them, hell if I know, but I can tell you that people stopped buying them.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Corn, that argument was kinda… well…

            Cars were getting smaller and losing V8′s etc, all the vehicles you listed were small.

            K5
            Suburban
            Bronco
            Scout
            IH Travelall
            etc
            All had V8′s and were all increasing in sales

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            You have provided no good argument or data that CAFE caused those sales to go up (assuming they went up) and yet are complaining about the quality of my argument that directly contradicts what you and others said with pertinent data?

            Please note that Suburban sales have dropped off quite a bit in just the last 10 years — dropped by more than 67% from 2002 to 2012 — and it still has absolutely nothing to do with CAFE:

            http://www.goodcarbadcar.net/2011/01/chevrolet-suburban-sales-figures.html

            Funny how every car you mentioned, except for the Suburban, is long dead, and none of that is due to CAFE. 2-door full-size sport-*utility* vehicles fairly quickly after 1982 became disfavored due to a distinct lack of utility.

            So I ask again:

            Are you saying that people’s buying preferences never changed? Or are you saying that CAFE changed people’s buying preferences?

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            @corntrolio

            Nothing you’ve said so far acknowledges or explains the fact that from my neighbors to down the street to around the block to throughout my city and state you cannot venture any time of day or night without encountering as many crew-cab pickups or truck-based SUVs as there are Camrys, Accords, Equinox’s, Caravans…whatever.

            So subtract 20-30% of them because WI needs snow buggies. Subtract another 10% for actual work trucks. That still leaves an undeniable, readily observable glut of them as daily drivers for families who, you maintain, want nothing to do with big V-8 BOF vehicles.

            So why are they out there?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “My only point was that American desire for V-8 land yachts never dissipated, it was just forcibly channeled into today’s heavy sales of crew-cab pickups as family daily-drivers.”

            Very much agreed, but you could make the argument a newer generation of buyers (Gen X/Y+) aren’t as fond of the land yachts en masse as much as their predecessors, hence FWD Camcords, small car success, and the current AWD craze.

        • 0 avatar
          SoCalMikester

          In So Cal, the hispanics and bro-hams LOVE their full size Ford pickups. Followed by Rams, then Chevies. Mebbe PepBoys bling and lift kits are cheaper for the first 2?

    • 0 avatar

      Hey ajla! I reference the discussion above. I think the double cab PU has largely substituted the very large American sedan. Hasn’t everybody reported on how PUs are exempted from CAFE? So they can and do offer V8s? How cars face problems with that? How people accwpt the inherent lower quality ride of a PU? It is all connected.

      My point is that maybe, just maybe, the v8 PU is the last hold out of an American market of yore. I think though that when Ford gets around to launching the global Ranger and the Colorado too, the huge PUs will take a hit. I think it’s a long term trend.

      Finally, 10 yrs ago weren’t PUs even a larger part of the market?

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        We have midsize pickups (had) sporttrac, coloroado 4 door, s-10 4 door, none of them sold well at all.

        With little exception most trucks have V8′s, it’s harder to find one with a V6, the Ecoboost Ford being the only big anomaly in the room, but it gets worse gas mileage then many V8′s.

        You haven’t rode in a pickup lately I assume?
        Most pickups of today compete and in many cases blow away the ride quality of cars.
        Take the Silverado, it’s ride is extremely smooth, and has great steering feedback, there is little to nothing lost in ride quality going to a pickup anymore, even 3/4 are becoming smooth, 1 tons, well their getting better, but that’s not the main portion of the truck market. Minimal ride quality loss (if any) is then made up by having bigger tires further smoothening the ride

        The New Colorado an if for some reason the Ranger would flounder just as bad as the current (or past for sporttrac) offerings. They lose what people want in a truck, have you not seen the Colorado concept? It looks like a CUV and loses it’s steel bumper, truck people won’t buy it, it’s market will be a niche market.

        • 0 avatar

          Recent pick ups I’ve ridden: Ranger, F250, Silverado, S10/Colorado (the one you mention), Amarok, Frontier. Ranger is the best. Amarok comes close. In terms of ride. but they are not near as comfortable as cars. Comparing these new trucks with old F1000, Chevy D20 or even older rhan the mountains Jeep/Ford Rural, they are eons ahead. Comparing to cars? No. They still have that high center of gravity, little weight over real axle, relatively slow steering. Can’t compare tocars.

          The S10/Colorado. It looks alright, and the CUV-y looks will only enhance its desirability to those in dout among PUs, CUVs and even a car. Yes, people do cross-shop them.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            2010 silverado I drive at work is smooth to me, I’ve never had a problem with center if gravity on anything newer than 1999, but then again I’m much more accustomed to the feel, which some are not. Also my idea of a curvy road =/= actual curvy roads lol…

            I don’t doubt the Colorado will sell, but it won’t fly well with your average American truck driver.
            If I had to stereotype the Americans with mid size pickups, I would make two groups (with current Colorado offering).
            Young kids with the extended cab or 4 door variants who either offroad them or wish they got a 4×4
            Old men in single cab, who were probably drawn by its simplicity, cheap price, and easier to get into them
            A few companies use them but that’s a small number.

            The new style will be ( if similar as shown) considered much too Girly, none of the young kids will want to be seen in them, and old people will be old people, whatever that means. I do believe however this will increase pickups sales among women.
            Whereas full size trucks appeal to the masses.

            That’s just my opinion, definitely wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong.

          • 0 avatar

            well, you should know better than me ’cause you actually live there and walk the talk. Maybe that’s the point of the Colorado, attract those who balk at the massiveness of a Silverado but still want a truck.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        I mean the market has no idea how a fullsize sedan would do, people can assert it will do this or that, but it’s fluff without the facts. We have no (TRUE) Fullsize (NON-luxury) sedan offered in America anymore, lest I am forgetting…

        The crown vic was the last stand to some although to others even it wasn’t enough, and being the minimal love Ford ever gave it, we don’t know what would have happened if a company had tried to push it.

        Our vehicles have became small, homogenous, cookie-cutter, politically correct, clown cars. (In my opinion)

  • avatar
    corntrollio

    The naysayers are also the people who don’t buy new cars and don’t know what most people actually want (even if it differs from what I personally want). That’s why you hear garbage like “this car will never sell without a V8,” when in reality the take rate for many cars with a V8 is much lower than the 6-cylinder choice (as it has always been), and it’s similar for 4 vs. 6 (think Camry or Accord, for example). For one of my cars with a V8, the used market easily has 3X-5X as many V6s as V8s, if not more than that, and it most likely reflects the purchase rate quite well.

    The reason it’s always been this way is cost. That’s why Hemicudas sell for what they do, and other Barracudas don’t.

    The most misguided are the ones who think Cadillacs (and Lincolns) should only be V8-powered landyachts — good luck selling those, because they died for a reason, and most of the people who bought them new are almost gone too. An elderly neighbor on my block recently traded his bigger Buick (might have been a LeSabre) for a Verano — times have changed.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      It wasn’t always true for all models that the 6 outsold the 8. In the ’60s, there was usually an available I6 in every large and intermediate car from Ford, Chevrolet, Pontiac, Plymouth and Dodge that only existed on the option sheet and in the fleet of Ma Bell. Slant 6s outsold V8s in Dusters, but they didn’t outsell them in Coronets or Furies.

      The Barracuda is an odd example. While the Hemi was essentially a limited production racing engine, the vast majority of Barracudas had V8s.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        The general principle I’m talking about is that the lower cost car has always sold in much higher volume. The reality is that people have always settled for less because the vast majority couldn’t afford the fully loaded top-engine car. I was thinking more recently than the 60s for 6s vs. 8s, but the cost factor is really what I’m talking about.

        The Barracuda is not odd example because, today, cost means you get the V6 instead of the V8 on most cars. On some cars, you can’t even get certain high-level options without the bigger engine.

        Back in the 60s, yes, you could have gotten a cheap V8, but cost meant you wouldn’t get the Hemicuda and would instead get a more pedestrian ‘Cuda.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          I think you’re right about lower-cost cars being more common. I see more Camry LE examples—wheel-covers and all—than SE or XLE, and I see more Altima S examples than SL or SE. The only exception to your rule is when manufacturers offer a stripped-out model that no one carries, with the intention of getting customers into the dealerships to buy much higher-priced vehicles…

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The 60s were 50 years ago, when gas was cheaper than bottled water…

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Isn’t gas still cheaper than bottled water? I find it more likely that there was no bottled water in the ’60s.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            “Hey, Culligan Man!”

            But only that kind, yeah.

          • 0 avatar
            corntrollio

            Depends on the bottled water and the size of its container. If you buy 2.5 gallon Arrowhead containers with a bung that are meant to sit in your fridge, those are cheaper by the gallon, but otherwise maybe not.

            There may well have been bottled water in the 60s, but it may have been fancy furriner stuff (French/Italian?) as opposed to the purified tap water they peddle these days.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          Since you’re a BMW guy, the take rate for the M10 powered E30 318i was low enough once the M20 325e was on line that BMW dropped it. The same thing happened with the M44 powered E36 318i. I guess the turbo 4 is beating the turbo 6 in sales now, but it would be interesting to see how a naturally aspirated I6 alternative would sell in the same body.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            The difference is that back then there was no such thing as a 4cyl that could compete with a 6 outside of such esoterica as Volvo and Saab Turbos. And they barely competed, when gas prices were low. The M10 was a wimpy thing at best, and the M44 was not really any better due to the added weight. And nobody cared about fuel economy in the mid-90s. However, the M42 in a ’91 318is was a thing of beauty, I have owned two. The M3′s baby brother.

            As has been pointed out on here, and I completely agree, for the majority of people buying entry-level BMWs, the fact that the 4cyl Turbo has both more power and gets MUCH better fuel economy far overshadows any smoothness and aural benefits of the inline six. Heck, you can’t even HEAR the six in a stock e90 328i at less than 4500 rpm anyway. *I* would have taken the 2.0T over the six in my car given the choice – I was perfectly happy with the 2.0T in the Saab 9-3 Combi that the BMW replaced. The six IS lovely, especially with $2500 in factory intake and exhaust modifications, but I would have rather had another bunch of HP and torque AND nearly 10mpg better on the highway. Or better yet a 320i and saved some money.

            We are to the point where even a non-turbo 4 in a midsize car provides more performance than the average driver has any use for. I had a 4cyl Verano, which is a tubby beast, in Houston a couple weeks ago and while I would not call it fast, it was certainly waaaay more than adequate. Quiet, smooth, quick enough.

          • 0 avatar

            I think krhodes1 has it right. A Camry I4 has how many horses again? For most people, in their normal driving, ’nuff said.

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          Good somebody raised the issue of the pump price of gasoline. In the US, MPG becomes a big deal when gasoline is around $4+ per US gallon. At $2.50 a lazy, old-fashioned, slow revving V8 makes good sense in most locales. Just in case you are interested the long-term price elasticity of demand for mogas is about 0.55.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            The price of gas shouldn’t be a factor, but it is. When I was paying 32 cents in 1971, my dad mentioned he used 23 cent Esso in 1928 driving a Model T. That 32 cents equals $2.76/gal adjusted for inflation, and even the 23 cents in 1928 is $3.16/gal today. Figure in much better fuel economy today and the cost per mile is actually about the same, but the dollars make people think it’s much more than in the past. That perception and stagnating paychecks are what’s driving the market.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            It’s nice to see some critical thinking, its becoming a rare commodity among the US populace.

        • 0 avatar
          wumpus

          Try factoring in inflation. I suspect that the 1990s* had the cheapest gas, but letting Saudi Arabia dictate oil prices (and US foreign policy) wasn’t worth it.

          * I remember putting in gas for under a buck. Hadn’t seen that price since I was playing with hot wheels in the early 70s.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        A better example in the 60s would have been the take rate of a 320/350/283 block vs the 400+ units. The point being made is only a modest percentage of cars are sold on power. If the numbers were logical cars like the WRX/Evo would just obliterate sales of the Focus. The reality is the other way around with the yearly haul being what the Focus does in a month or less.

        • 0 avatar
          Lorenzo

          Having driven and owned cars back in the 1960s, I can say a lot of those small block V8s WERE sold on power. My ’65 Impala with a 230 straight six would have produced 0-60 in about 18 seconds. The 283 it actually had was good for 0-60 in a breathtaking 10.5 seconds!

    • 0 avatar
      TW4

      If someone trades their 14/19mpg Ford F-150 V8 for a 18/25mpg Ford Taurus V8 or if someone trades a 15/21mpg Chevy Silverado V8 for a 18/25mpg Chevrolet Impala V8, is the American fleet worse off?

      If American manufacturers use trucks and SUVs to spread V8 development costs, and they offer affordable V8s to lure a bunch of luxury-import-zombies back to Lincoln, Cadillac, and Chrysler, are American manufacturers worse off?

      The V8 strategy isn’t particularly difficult to understand. CAFE killed V8 passenger cars and replaced them with less efficient trucks and SUVs. US fleet efficiency declined from 1986 until 2005. Imports conquered the sedan market. The table was set for the collapse of 2008.

      CAFE will be re-evaluated in 2017 to determine feasibility, cost, and necessity. I suggest they abandon the CAFE 2025 requirements for large sedans to avoid a repeat of 2008, and they freeze requirements at 2017 levels (25mpg). The 2017 requirements are not easy to reach with a small block, but it can be done.

      Many Americans like big cars with big engines. When society makes peace with market demand, we will stop enacting stupid legislation that makes the problem worse.

      • 0 avatar
        corntrollio

        “The V8 strategy isn’t particularly difficult to understand. CAFE killed V8 passenger cars and replaced them with less efficient trucks and SUVs.”

        How exactly are you isolating the fact that buyers’ preferences changed from V8-powered big passenger cars to smaller cars + SUVs/CUVs from the effect that CAFE had?

        Even if you look at Chevy full-size purchases from 1972 to 1982, you can see they dropped off a cliff — more than 80% down in those 10 years from over 1 million in 1972 to under 200K in 1982, and the sales didn’t recover that much after that:

        http://forum.imcdb.org/forum_topic-3673-Car_productionsales_figures.html

        The reality is that this segment also wasn’t very popular by the time GM killed it, and a large percentage of the sales in later years were fleet (police departments).

        So are you saying that people’s buying preferences never changed? Or are you saying that CAFE changed people’s buying preferences?

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          CAFE was enacted in 1975 and the manufacturers had to comply in 1978, so that is basically exactly what happened to the V8 family sedan. There were dips due to the fuel crises, just as there still are for trucks. Demand would have recovered, but the manufacturers no longer had the option of building big cars. Why would people have cared any more about the fuel consumption of 16 mpg cars than they did about 14 mpg SUVs during all the years that fuel was cheap?

        • 0 avatar
          TW4

          The reality is that by 1982, CAFE had made a pickup truck (Ford F-150) the best selling vehicle in the United States. In fact, the F-150 has been the best selling vehicle in the United States since 1982, and the Silverado is now the second best selling vehicle. Silverado, F-150, and RAM make up about 10% of SAAR each year.

          I’m not arguing that we should get rid of A,B, and C segment vehicles. You are arguing that fullsize cars and big engines, particularly V8s, should be abandoned b/c no one wants them.

          The burden of proof is on you, but your argument is not strong enough to stand up to even modest statistical scrutiny. My argument, on the other hand, is easy to explain, and can be understood by anyone who has a basic understanding of historical car sales and CAFE regulations.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Technically the CAFE standards are extremely low. The bar is set at a rate that SUVs and trucks should have no problem meeting it. The pressure to get better milage out of trucks is extraordinary because the cost to the system isbhuge and were finding out torque is really the driving force in trucks and thus the big-6 that can be turboed if necessary will win out.

        PS: The collapse of 2008 is generally viewed as a collapse that should have happened several years prior but market pressures combined with conservatives acquiescence created a bubble housing market. But that’s neither here nor there.

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          “The collapse of 2008 is generally viewed as a collapse that should have happened several years prior but market pressures combined with conservatives acquiescence created a bubble housing market. But that’s neither here nor there.”

          If you look carefully at economic statistics, you could plausibly theorize that we never actually exited the recession of 2001, but rather that the world-wide credit bubble that followed masked the fact that fundamentals didn’t get a whole lot better during the so-called “recovery.”

          Credit kept people’s living standards higher, rather than income.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            I could agree with that assertion. The slow drain of GDP upwards created masive problems and really until that trend changes were likely to see a sluggish auto market. Higher minimum wage would be a good start but I’ll stop myself there as the discussion will degenerate shortly there after.

      • 0 avatar

        It wont happen TW4.

        • 0 avatar
          TW4

          Of course not. Ford, GM, and Chrysler will not jeopardize the Silverado, F-150, and RAM nameplates.

          They will; however, agree to new CAFE regulations that force the rest of the fleet to subsidize the inefficiency of their cash cows. According to history, widening the CAFE gap between passenger cars and trucks will only make trucks more appealing, especially if gasoline prices start to ease. I believe these allegations were leveled by several companies during the CAFE negotiations.

          • 0 avatar

            some points, they won’t fight cafe cause they don’t want to alienate lots of their customer based, who think it’s a good idea, and because they helped write it. Second, the price of gas will be elastic in the near to mid term. No growth in europe, no growth in price or investments

  • avatar
    Hummer

    People vote with their wallets, if GM is able to sell the vehicles, then more power to them, I chose not to buy midsize or smaller cars, just not my thing, other may choose the very opposite, good for them.

    But I believe your idea of American values changing is somewhat colluded, the world want to see us change and be just like everyone else, but most of us have little interest in such, most people still want the most for their money and would not pay ridiculous prices such as $25k for a 4 cycl, that much money you expect at minimum a v6. V8 engines are only low in numbers now because the automakers are forced away from them, sure some may opt for the V6, but we all know unless they bought the car for social “coolness” or other dumb reasons, they wanted the V8.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I suspect you live in an alternate reality from “most people”, as evidenced by the fact that you are a fan and collector of Hummers. Which is perfectly fine, more power to ya, but that does lead me to take your opinion of what “most people” want less than seriously.

      Personally, I cannot even imagine wanting a V8, such a waste for no good purpose. With modern technology six cylinders is overkill as far as power goes, though I do to some extent appreciate the smoothness inherent in an inline six. Of which I own two. V6s are lost on me, they generally sound terrible (Alfa Romeo excepted) and are no smoother than a balance-shafted 4, while being markedly less efficient.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I can’t think of one mid-sized sedan where $25K begets a V6…

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        No need to stereotype me based on what I love, I believe you would be very surprised..

        Let me put it this way, my father has a 2010 Mazda 3 with the 6 manual, and the up engine, a 2.5l i4.

        Everyone raves about the handling, yet I would die if I had to live with that much power, it can be fun, but no where nearly as fun as any of the v8′s that I drive, that while slower are much more relaxing.
        That car has no room at all, I also test drove the turbo version, if that is the type of performance everyone wants to rave about with 4 cylinders, well have fun, I prefer my sports cars with V8′s

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          “That car has no room at all”

          You mean, sort of like a Hummer?

          Well, does the re-badged Colorado have space inside?

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            At 6’2, No room applies to what’s above me.

            I have to lean that seat back further then comfortable, have my shoulder right against the B-pillar.
            The vehicle was built as a passenger vehicle, it shouldn’t strain passengers to occupy it’s space (I’m 175lbs, fairly small for my height)
            I assume if your talking about no room in regards to hummers, your pointing fingers at the H1, in which case it has a good reason, It has a transmission and Differentials right beside you, and it’s primary concern was never comfort, I have other vehicles for comfort, as does everyone else who owns one, my other models however have it all.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            You love to use the rebadged this that or the other, It is infact based off of the Colorado frame, But with more crossrails on the frame for support, the interior is nothing like a Colorado. The ride is also totally different.
            I have two H3′s
            Ones an V8 alpha with the front and rear diff locker.
            The other is an H3T with the 5cyclinder 5speed Manual, again with the front and rear diff locker.
            I’ve driven a Colorado, it has little alike. Much more room in the 3.

            I feel your trying right hard to make me feel bad about what I enjoy. I have plenty of room in both with plenty of space, the B-pillar is far enough away, and the roof is high enough for me to be comfortable.

            Since you’ve already attacked two out of the 3, I’ll go ahead and address the deuce, it is also plenty roomy, and it isn’t even based off a different platform, It uses a 3/4 ton front end(some years full ton as there was a run on 3/4), boxed 1,1/4 ton mid section, and HD 1/2 rear(noted as a GMT820).
            3/4 rear axle, 6L vortec, standard rear diff locker, standard 35in tires.
            It has expected GM quality in the 03-07, but a much better interior in 08,09.

            And yes I have way too many vehicles, not all are insured or on the road, mostly saved for my kids, or when I feel like driving something else.
            My garage is also much bigger than my house.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “My garage is also much bigger than my house.”

            Living my dream.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            My house isn’t very big, so not that hard lol.
            Garage is a work in progress, nothing as cool as pictures of garages you see when people are selling classics

    • 0 avatar
      corntrollio

      “most people still want the most for their money and would not pay ridiculous prices such as $25k for a 4 cycl, that much money you expect at minimum a v6.”

      Except that people do exactly that all the time and have been for years. Inflation exists, after all, and a price-point that was once thought ridiculous (and often still thought ridiculous by people who can’t embrace the future) can sometimes become commonplace.

      But that’s okay, some people’s grandmas still hand them 5-dollar bills and tell them to take their significant other out for a nice lunch.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        “(and often still thought ridiculous by people who can’t embrace the future)”

        Is future a synonym for inflation in your book, because it certainly isn’t a synonym for the present?

        • 0 avatar
          corntrollio

          I don’t understand the compound question. In any case, our inflation is quite low presently, despite the predictions by hyperinflationistas for the last 6 years or so.

          But if your point was that I should have said “present” instead of “future” — that’s not a bad suggestion.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      American values are some big words, champ. The ‘muddin’ land of the deep south and west is a far different cry from the east and west coast. Hell it’s a far different place from the mid west and southwest.

      If we look at truck sales without fleet they barely are top-10. The camcord, fusion, small SUvs are what Americans want and to be fair we’re largely a size bigger than the rest of the world still with sub-compacts being a very small market here vs the primary entrance in other parts of the world.

    • 0 avatar

      Hummer, no that’s not it. I’m a big fan of America and the American style. I wish we would emulate you, but it’s not happening. It used to be that America was more unique because you could pay for it. It’s becoming more difficult.

      Don’t think for a minute I think Europe, Brazil, China or Japan is the answer to anything.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I’m honored for the quotation, Marcelo. Ty :)

  • avatar

    Thanks for writing this.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Anyone w/an ounce of sense can at least understand why GM would undertake such a move. Ford is the only domestic brand that can make a decent small car- and that is entirely because of Ford Europe. If people are buying rebadged Daewoos, more power to GM. They got the product w/o the heartache and hassle of the investments and engineering. Smart business to me.

    Now GM can we get a Cruze SS that nobody will buy???

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      You know Ford Europe is Ford right?

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      In an effort to integrate Daewoo into the rest of GM, it has been renamed GM Korea. And what GM is doing is no different than Ford. Also, while the development of such cars as the Cruze and Sonic was led by GM Korea, it was a global effort…because GM, just like Ford, is making global cars. Likewise, Ford of Europe did not develop the Focus, Fusion or Escape alone.

      While some people are frustrated at the change in things, it is cool to own non-luxury cars that are sold all over the world. It’s neat to find someone online who has a Holden Cruze or Ford Mondeo, and to know you’re driving very nearly the same thing….

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        GM offers 1.4 turbo in most of the Korean cars here in the states, who’s got the Zoom-zoom now? And don’t think that Korean content stays only with Korean built cars, wait until you see how much content is in the new trucks.

      • 0 avatar

        It’s true in the sense that people the world over have more access tom the best from these companies. However, I do miss the days when the world was less homogeneous.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    If Kia and Hyundai can make decent cars, I can’t see why Daewoo/GM can’t. Provided the General can keep their bean-counters’ mitts off the product, so they don’t save 50 cents per unit by deleting the brake bleeder valves or some other brilliant maneuver. The lack of any Citationesque disasters so far is encouraging.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    It helps that small cars have gotten bigger. Interior design is vastly improved. Note the Fiat 500 as an example. Small cars are wider and taller than they were allowing a sense of space inside.
    Also as a result of European safety standards small cars have a far stronger structural integrity. That results in vastly better ride and sense of quality in the car.
    It really is about how you feel behind the wheel. If you feel like you are driving a big car then it’s all good except you can park the thing so easily and it does not draw blood at the gas pump…

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Marcello, that Onix thing sure looks interesting. Chevrolet has just experimented with Chevy Brazil product here in Indonesia, the Spin, and hopefully, if it’s successful, there will be more Brazilian Chevrolet products here in the future. Too bad Chevrolet has announced they would not be participating in the new (and being perpetually delayed) LCGC (cheap car) category here, if they do, I bet the Onix would be a prime candidate, It’s about the right size.

    • 0 avatar

      hey Mr Whopee. The Onix

    • 0 avatar

      the Onix is a great little, big car. It has a wheelbase over 2.5m long. Not only that but it is a little wider than most cars in the category. The interior shows some imagination and use good materials, though the fit is haphazard. The seating is good and correctly positioned. The exterior is fine. he drive is comfortable, price is right and content levels are high. In my opinion though the hb20 gets more attention the Onix has more staying power.

      Curious as to how they doin indonesia. Keep us updated

      • 0 avatar
        JLIU

        I have to disagree with you Marcelo. Even though it rides in a relatively modern platform (Opel Corsa D), which is already something to praise about in the Brazilian market, in my opinion the Onix is still lacking behind local competition. GMB continues to use a 20-year-old powertrain, with the horrible 1.4 engine that’s been re-engineered countless times for local application. Although this little 4 pot makes decent power for its displacement (100 something hp for a naturally aspirated 1.4 is still pretty good even in today’s standards), it’s still underpowered when compared to segment leaders, and the numbers hide an unrefined and problematic engine, which uses an excessively high compression ratio that leads to engine misfires and rough idling, specially when running on ethanol.

        I praise GM for finally manufacturing modern platforms in Brazil, as opposed to the terrible Agile, but the Onix is still just not enough. Competition offers decent compact cars for the price, sporting modern platforms AND engines, the latter which the Onix lacks. In my point of view, the newly launched Ford Fiesta and the HB20 itself are examples of better choices, both offering clever equipment package, considerably more powerful engines (almost 20% more power), modern projects and good pricing.
        And, we are not even talking about the design, but that’s just my opinion. =)

        • 0 avatar

          Hey JLIU!

          It’s always nice to have a counterpoint, thanks! However, I just think we’ll have to disagree on this one. I reviewed the HB20 here for this site and suffice to say I didn’t like it. I think they don’t know or didn’t want to make a suspension adapted to Brazilian conditions. I wrote about the 1.6. As to the HB20 1.0, the engine makes weird noises. You could eventually get used to it, but you would have to get used to it. As to Fiesta, it is just coming out and I haven’t had the chance to see it or drive it. From what I’m reading the equipment levels are low and the price is high. The Hyundai the price is much too high buut the content is good.

          The Onix advantage over Gol, HB20, Etios, Palio, Uno is size vs. price. The only one that can compete, but doesn’t offer such a well laid out interior as the Onix is the Sandero. But the Onix, specially its seats are better than Sandero. In the Onix you get a nice design, inside and out, extra width and a modern ride. It rides like a Corsa of old before it was cheapened out.

          As to the sedans, the Cobalt takes my vote pretty much for the same reasons. Very good suspension, quiet, relatively cheap insurance and parts. Plus the Chevy brand is not all that damaged in Brazil. Lots of people who balk at Fiat, Ford, the French, take Chevy in a heartbeat. Plus it doesn1t have as many detractors as VW. Easier to resell.

          SO when I recommend the Onix, I do so for the reader. I probably wouldn’t buy it, specially not brand new. If I were to buy a brand new small hatch, I probably would just buy a Ka, March or New Uno and save the difference. If I was buying a sedan, I would prefer the Cobalt, but would look very hard at the Logan, or, if given a great deal, maybe would take the Versa.

          Anyway what I would really recommend is wait a while. The up is coming as are the new Logan and Sandero. The new Ka could be here until the end of the year. Wait to see how the Fiesta will accommodate in the market price wise. But having to buy today, Onix it would be.

        • 0 avatar

          Forgot to comment on the engines. Here goes: You’re right of course, and I think it is the car’s biggest Achilles heel. The 1.0 and 1.4 and 1.8 have a characteristic I don’t like. They are the least willing to rev. However, in our market… Fiats, VWs, Renault’s 1.0s are better. The Ford is more modern and better. But the Fiat 1.4 and the Peugeot 1.4 are very down on power. I don’t like the VW 1.6 or the Fiat 1.6. I wouldn’t buy the Chevy 1.8 (sorry Spin real shame, read my article on it on TTAC). Renault and Nissan 1.6 are better. But when I buy a car I buy the package. More important than the engine is the ride. In this case the Chevy hit all the sweet spots for me. I like the way Fords, Renaults and Fiats ride (though I didn’t really like the new Palio and Siena). I hated the Hyundai. I haven’t driven Etios yet, but seems competent.

          So design, new architecture, brand, ease of resale, interior, seats, seating position all positives. Engines a big negative. For most folks buying cars I think it fits the bill. Again, for me and for my money, I’m waiting on Renault.

          • 0 avatar
            JLIU

            yeah, those are real valid arguments for the bottom end of its market and for such I agree with you, but when it comes to 35k+ BRL cars, the ancient engine is a dealbreaker for me.

            I can’t trust a faulty engine, and therefore, I can’t live with it.
            Doesn’t matter whether the Onix comes a little cheaper or slightly better equipped, that VHC 1.4 is known for its misfires and rough running, myself having been a former owner of such lump. It’s just the wrong engine in the right car.
            Sorry GM, but it still isn’t the time you got it right.

          • 0 avatar

            Hey JLIU,

            Then I think we agree. The Onix, in spite of engine, is the car for around 30k reais. For 35k closer to 40k, I think the Onix loses a lot of points. For close to 40k, I’d be hard pressed to suggest an Onix. In my mind, Cobalt, Versa, Logan or Grand Siena, any end up offering more than Onix. Maybe Prisma, but that like the Cobalt may not be for everybody because of the engines. Which would you choose for around 40k?

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    I am an enthusiastic amateur when it comes motor vehicles. When it comes to diesel and mogas, the stuff that fuels most of your vehicles, I know a lot. I think more than you or any of your other posters.

    Prices of crude, diesel and mogas have spiked recently. They are destined to go back down quite a bit and fairly soon, imho. In Brazil you won’t have to turn sugar cane into alcohol anymore (almost certain). Global warming, as ever, will remain a wild card.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Why on earth would anyone assume that GM Korea would develop/engineer vehicles separate from GM China, GM North America and GM Europe? Even before the Internet, it wasn’t difficult to exchange CAD/CAM files, and now it’s a breeze.

    Surely GM has the same engineering tools and software available to all their design centers. So why denigrate “Daewoo” products? They meet the same GM design standards as all the rest of the empire.

    To sit around and brood/imagine that somehow Daewoo deliberately sets out to design “Korean crap” is basically racist and/or assumes that Koreans aren’t as intelligent as Americans. It is a totally ridiculous premise.

    That’s why I never got the propaganda, whose source was quite unclear, that GM didn’t want to flog Opel back in 2009, because of the superior brainpower of Opel’s German engineers, a magical breed whose intellect was automatically better than the 9 to 5ers laboriously struggling to design hinges for Silverado pickup tailgates back in Detroit.

    It is a form of intellectual poverty to suggest that engineering is worse or better anywhere in the GM empire based on location alone. It is in fact, stupid and boorish.

    There’s one commenter here, can’t remember who, who freaks out when anyone suggests that the Verano is a Cruze underneath. No, no, no, it’s based on the Opel Astra, not the Daewoo Lacetti, he says. Apparently, he is unable to intellectualize that the four cars are all the same underneath, a global GM design – with specific variations for all four models. The thought of owning a Lacetti is too much to bear! Argh! Jeremy Clarkson makes fun of them. What will my friends say?

    I’m afraid that such snobbery underlies the premise of this article and the reality is totally different, as I mention above.

    I say to everyone, get over it.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Only the race card? Surely Godwin’s Law could also have been brought into play regarding Opel somehow…

      For those who remember Daewoo’s brief attempt to crack the NA market, the Pontiac/Daewoo LeMans, or even the wretched Chevy Aveo of just a couple years ago, I think a certain amount of healthy skepticism about Daewoo’s capabilities is in order. They certainly had shown no signs of being able to compete at the global level like, say, Hyundai Group. And as for GM bringing them up to standard, let me cite (a) the Aveo, and (b) most GM NA passenger cars of the past 40 years, and ask how this is supposed to be reassuring?

      Having said all that, the recent stuff out of GM Korea is light years ahead of what one would expect after the history above. Let’s hope the cars can also establish a positive reputation for durability, and start turning GM’s rep around.

      • 0 avatar

        see my answerbelow. Betcha GM’s approach here is much more hands on than in the past with Opel. I never had much experience with Daewoo, but I do with Opel. The new Onix family is leaps and bounds better than the Corsa family. Don’t know what they’re doing but this time it’s being done right.

    • 0 avatar

      so true. I guess when they say that such car was developed by GM a, b or c, they mean the grunt work. In this cases, things like suspension setup is dependant on sensitivity and experience. In the end, the main Gm is responsible. And that’s the point. I guess they care enough to really oversee and work together with affiliates.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      Intellectual property, experience and patents mean nothing then? Consider how the Japanese were lambasted for their first attempts.

  • avatar
    shaker

    Actually, I think GM is on to something with their new crop of sedans; Malibu, Cruze, Verano and the Encore SUV – they all offer (from what I’ve read and heard) a premium interior/ride/noise experience compared to similar cars of the recent past, and they’re all motivated by 4 cylinder engines. Though down a bit on gas mileage against their foreign competition, they’re a subtle “step up” for refinement, and still get better fuel mileage than V6′s.
    I’ve toyed with the idea of a Malibu with the 2.5, especially when I’m driving my 2008 Elantra on grooved concrete roads where the noise is bad enough that I can’t hear the radio. And CR has rated the (non-eco) Malibu higher than ever – a big jump for GM. Still, CR complains that the Malibu is a bit pricy compared to the competition, but for some, a quiet ride (with reasonable agility) may be worth the difference.

    I think I’m getting old. :-(

    • 0 avatar

      couldn’t agree. It does seem they are getting more refined, quiet. Shame about the consumption. At least in Brazil, the higher prices are offset by higher content levels than competitors. If the competitors have the same, they usually cost more.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    The big question to be answered is durability and long term reliability, with these 72 mo loans that we see every day, will these Daewoo products make it to the end of the loan period, previous Daewoos are dying a premature death in junk yards all over the land


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