Almost exactly one month after TTAC first broached news of a possible compact rear-drive Chevrolet, TTAC commenter and GM North America vice-president Mark Reuss is still dropping hints about such a product.
Tag: Mark Reuss
Over at Jalopnik, Patrick George discusses the recent trademark filing by General Motors for the Chevelle name. After a brief discussion regarding trademark procedure, George makes a logical conclusion; the Chevelle name may end up attached to something less than worthy, similar to how Dodge’s C-segment car ended up with the Dart moniker. But there is a potential ray of sunshine here for enthusiasts.
GM will have two new mid-size pickups out in 2015, just in time to steal the spotlight from the all-new Ford F-150. And according to TTAC Commenter and GM exec Mark Reuss, the two trucks should have fairly different missions.
Selim Bingol, GM’s PR bigshot, may not “negotiate with terrorists”, but he nearly wound up working for a terrorist sympathizer who was active on terrorist message boards: Bingol’s former client Ed Whitacre recommended the man as GM’s next leader.
A couple of years ago, I attended my last General Motors press event. It was the debut of the Cadillac CTS-v Coupe and it was held at the Monticello country-club racetrack. I recall being impressed with the car, and I recall being impressed with Mark Reuss, the second-generation GM executive who brought his own helmet and his Grand-Am license to the event. Like Bob Lutz, Reuss is a big, handsome, improbably wealthy fellow who travels with a personal assistant, speaks in a no-nonsense tone, and carries himself with impervious confidence.
My attitude to the superstar dudes of the industry closely parallels that of O’Shea Jackson (warning: listening to that song at work will GET YOU FIRED) so I didn’t bother to chat Mr. Reuss up until we found ourselves side by side in the airport terminal. I asked him his opinion of the handling differences between the various CTS bodystyles, listened to him tell a couple of stories about road racing, and received some mild chastisement for turfing “his” Cadillac at high speed. It wasn’t until my flight home was halfway over that I realized: Yeah, he’s a great guy, but his company is failing miserably and he really isn’t doing anything to stop it. GM is chock-full of likable, even admirable people who are nevertheless collectively part of a great tragedy. It really doesn’t matter how “cool” a guy like Mark Reuss is. He’s being beaten out of his socks by “uncool” people at other companies, and as automotive journalists we’re not serving the truth if we don’t remind our readers of that simple fact every time it’s necessary. Every single time. Even if nobody else is willing to discuss the enormous elephant in the room — you know, the one with “18% Market Share” and “Bailout” and “Worst Product Line In the Industry” tattooed all over its wrinkly bottom.
So with that in mind, let’s talk about the new “Chevrolet SS”.
With ‘ring times back in the news thanks to a new feud between Dodge’s Viper ACR and Lexus’s LFA, GM took its forthcoming Camaro ZL1 to the Eifel Forest to record its own time. The best lap time of 7:41:27, according to Motor Trend, was set by lead development engineer Aaron Link (some outlets are reporting the time was actually set by GM NA President Mark Reuss himself), although Reuss does have some his own impressions to add, telling MT
“It’s power all the time, capability all the time, and the steering and tractability of the car is just phenomenal,” he told us. Reuss also told us that this Camaro easily (and often) hit speeds of 170 mph on the ‘Ring’s back straight, and that even from those speeds the ZL1 exhibited, “Some serious braking power.” Reuss added, “We never faded the brakes on it… It’s one of the easiest cars I’ve ever driven to drive fast and hard. Everybody’s going to have a good time with it.”
Thanks to congressional arbitration, GM’s dealer cull has been steadily downsized since The General made the decision to axe nearly 2,000 dealers during last year’s bankruptcy. Going into bankruptcy, GM had about 6,000 dealers nationwide, and it culled nearly 2,00 of them in an attempt to lean out its distribution channels. But now the Detroit News reports that GM’s North American boss Mark Reuss has said that about half of those culled dealers will have been reinstated by this July, bringing GM’s dealer count back to the 5,000 ballpark.
In a recent Fastlane livechat, GM’s North American boss Mark Reuss revealed that:
Chevrolet re vamp in ads is well under way with Susan Docherty–you will like it a lot–shows the car, and uses “excellence for everyone”….you will really like it.
When asked if he was saying that “Excellence For Everyone” would be the new Chevrolet tagline, Reuss replied in the negative. Which makes it… a pickup line? Just a line? With “May The Best Car Win” having failed to make much headway, and “American Revolution” a pre-bankruptcy artifact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see this “Excellence for Everyone” briefly become Chevy’s main tagline. If only to give Reuss and Whitacre an excuse to fire Docherty when the campaign collapses under the weight of its own vacuity.
Motor Trend reports that former PT Cruiser stylist Brian Nesbitt has been relieved of his duties as the head of Cadillac, ending GM’s post-bankruptcy experiment of putting a stylist in charge of an entire division. But MT figures that Nesbitt’s ouster isn’t as simple as a failure to perform; according to their sources, the firing was political.
The shakeup has major implications for Bob Lutz’s future at GM. He hired Nesbitt away from Chrysler earlier last decade and made sure there was a place for the PT Cruiser designer at post-bankruptcy GM. Nesbitt’s departure would indicate Lutz’s role as one of three GM vice chairmen has diminished to almost nothing… Clearly, [recently-promoted sales boss and President of North American ops Mark Reuss] is putting his own team together, and it doesn’t include Nesbitt, who was posed as the aesthetic face of the Cadillac luxury division.
Shortly after emerging from bankruptcy last July, when GM’s sales were still showing few signs of recovery, then-Sales and Marketing boss Mark LaNeve had his marketing responsibilities stripped about a week before monthly sales came out. In a matter of months, LaNeve was out the door. Sales and marketing were rolled together again when Susan Docherty took over for LaNeve, but over the weekend it was once again stripped away, in one of the first signs that Docherty’s star is no longer rising at GM. And lets go ahead and start assuming that February sales must be looking fairly grim, because the only real explanation given to Automotive News [sub] is that
The shakeup shows that Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre is impatient to boost sales and for consumers to appreciate what he believes is the high quality of GM vehicles. When he became chief executive in December, Whitacre said his sales and marketing team would need to show results quickly.
The perception gap claims another victim! But Docherty’s downgrade is Mark Reuss’s gain. The former Holden boss, now GM’s President of North American operations, will assume the sales responsibilities, leaving Docherty time to focus on the marketing side and polish up her resumé.
A large part of TTAC’s mission is pulling aside the curtain on the industry, exposing the humans behind the cars that make up our everyday lives. Automobiles have always reflected something of the individuals and cultures that created them, so it’s fascinating to see the different personalities that go into running the world’s automakers. Still, as paid executives, their performances are usually polished to a high sheen; the folks behind you favorite car blogs on the other hand, not so much. The interplay between the two is often as revealing as it is entertaining. Can’t get enough? The complete session is available at joelfeder.com.
GM’s Australian Holden division has been developing the kind of big-bore RWD vehicles we tend to think of as being quintessentially American for quite some time. But every time GM hints at repatriating one of these old-school machines to its spiritual homeland in the states, something goes terribly wrong. One classic example of this disfunction was the offshoot of GM’s last effort to bring Holdens stateside as the Pontiac G8, the G8 Sport Truck, a rebadge of Holden’s Ute. The travails of the G8 have been well documented, but the Sport Truck was killed before it even had the chance to lose GM money and be cut along with the Pontiac brand. Now, just as the memory of that savage tease was fading, GM’s Mark Reuss reveals that the El Camino could be back after all.
GM has a tough row to hoe in 2010, with the launches of key products like the Cruze and Volt going on sale, an IPO to worry about, and a sales slide (down 30 percent for 2009) to reverse. Still, according to GM’s new North American boss Mark Reuss, navigating the congressionally-mandated dealer arbitration is the top challenge of the coming year. At a speech last night, Reuss told reporters from Automotive News [sub] that:
I welcome this as an opportunity for GM and the dealership network to go through a change in our network with integrity,
As opposed to the arbitrary bankruptcy-era dealer cull?
GM’s New CEO Ed Whitacre made his first appearance at the Fastlane blog in a webchat that represented the first access GM has given reporters to Whitacre. Needless to say, journalists do not like sharing their access with the general public, and they let GM know. Thedetroitbureau’s Paul Eisenstein asked “like many of my colleagues, I wonder when you will address us in the media directly, even if by telephone conference. To be honest, a webchat is quite a bit different and doesn’t carry the veracity of seeing or at least hearing you directly.” To which Whitacre responded:
I’ve been on the job for four days. I’ll do it as soon as I feel comfortable and have enough clear air and time. I promise we’ll talk soon.
No worries though. Whitacre didn’t actually say anything newsworthy.
From here on out, GM’s success in the US market comes down to two people: Susan Docherty and Mark Reuss. The two fielded their first joint sales conference call last week, and it was clear that they were still settling into their roles. Listen to the whole hour of awkwardness here, or, for a quick summary check out the final questions of the session (from the WSJ’s John Stoll), and the prickly, defensive answers from Docherty and Reuss. When Stoll asks how Reuss and Docherty expect to change a culture when they’re a product of that culture, the tension is palpable. Then, when Stoll accuses Docherty’s sales organization of buying market share with incentives, the pair’s non-answer is “I guess that’s what you feel.” Meanwhile, Edmunds reports that GM has by far the highest incentives of any automaker, with a True Cost of Incentives of $4,270, over a thousand dollars more than number two Chrysler. Good thing we’re tackling those problems head-on then.