General Motors Death Watch 80: No OCD = RIP

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
general motors death watch 80 no ocd rip

My name is Robert, and I’m an obsessive. You may have noticed. You may have returned to an article on TTAC and clocked the fact that our writing evolves post-post. That’s down to me. If there’s a better way to say something, if there’s a single sentence with passive construction or a word that’s not pulling its weight, the text must die. If a reader spots a factual inaccuracy or logical inconsistency, it must be corrected. I’m not looking for credit; it’s just the way I’m wired. But if you want to know why GM deserves to die, why GM WILL die, there’s your answer. They lack obsession.

You’re car guys. You don’t need me to tell you this. You’ve encountered a GM product and seen, heard or felt cheap, lazy-ass design, engineering and manufacture. A rough-revving four, a removable seat that slices your skin, a button that feels nasty to the touch– some detail where you shake your head and think to yourself, if I was building a car, I wouldn't let that slide. I recently opened the trunk of an Impala SS and discovered an electrical cable hanging in air like a loose intestine from a hernia operation gone bad. The wire was wrapped in duct tape whose end was already starting to unfurl. As an owner, that would drive me nuts. As a builder, I’d spend my own money to put it right. It’s unforgivable.

I’m serious. Don’t talk to me about building to a price. I’d rather not build the damn car than know that I’d participated in something so obviously crap. The next time you look at a modern GM product, take a mechanic and/or an engineer and have them show you the dozens of ways GM fails to go the distance. Even when they get it right, they get it wrong. The Chevrolet Corvette is an interior [and properly bonded roof] away from greatness. Why?

Suffice it to say, GM has too many brands, too many models, too many managers, too many dealers, too much union interference and a CEO who counts beans. GM apologists point to JD Power’s awards and tell the world that The General’s whips are good and getting better. Bullshit. Their cars, trucks and SUV’s are only “good” in isolation, or in comparison to the junk they produced ten years ago. Examine a comparable Toyota, and you’ll instantly understand that there's a reason GM has been losing market share for decades, and it ain't the media.

So now we hear that GM will live. That's the conclusion many pundits have reached since The General has finally fulfilled our prophesy and bailed out bankrupt parts supplier Delphi. Of course, Friday’s announcement that GM would pick-up the tab for extending the buyouts of Delphi's union workers, welcome 5k Delphinians back into its own operations and “top-up” the remaining workers' paychecks (so that Delphi can pay them less without paying them less) arrived without a price tag.

The Detroit News (DTN) reported the deal in full “historic agreement” mode (NB: the last time that happened, GM set up a $3b health care fund for the UAW and the DTN called it a “historic union health care giveback”). GM will supposedly pay 50% of the cost of the more extensive Delphi buyouts, which now include “up to $35,000 and full benefits to workers with at least 27 years on the job and cash buyouts, ranging from $70,000 to $140,000, to lower-seniority workers.” For some strange reason, GM, Delphi and The Detroit News all failed to a put a number on the new plan. Our best guess is about $1.2b, not including another $4b – $5b or so for pensions and health care benefits (for some but not all of Delphi's union refugees).

Delphi also revealed that it’s assuming (yes, assuming) that GM will provide a $50k payment per remaining worker, so Delphi can cut union pay from $27 to $22 to (eventually) $16.50 per hour. If 5k union workers remain, that arrangement would cost GM an additional $250m or so. If GM doesn’t stump-up the cash, Delphi still says it’ll play "how low can you go?" In that case, they're still talking $12.50 per hour– a number that has UAW strike written all over it. And even if GM stumps up 50 large per, will the UAW wear a $5 per hour reduction? Deep Throat says yes. I say no.

We both say it doesn't matter. Unless GM’s products sell for a profit sometime soon, the company can’t afford any of this. And they won’t sell at a profit, because, in the main, in detail and relative to the alternatives, they suck. To wit: a commentator on Autoblog named D recently said "I can throw a dart at a board covered in every new car offered by Honda, Mazda, Subaru, Toyota and I would be happy with whatever I get. Do the same with Ford and GM and the odds are I will be disappointed with some fleet car piece of junk." And there you have it.

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2 of 9 comments
  • Camp6ell Camp6ell on Jun 19, 2006

    oooh, the white collar gm workers have been waiting for the day they'd be allowed to comment on the death watch, haven't they!

  • Dwyka Dwyka on Jun 20, 2006

    To clarify my earlier posting about the first hand experiences that I had with my Civic, Cabrio, and Legacy: Honda, Volkswagen, and Subaru had a shot at convincing me to become a loyal customer, and each of them failed of their own accord in their own unique way. I won't repeatedly buy a product based on other people's experiences, I buy repeatedly based on my own experiences. I'm glad that other people are enjoying their Hondas, Volkswagens, and Subarus but I, unfortunately, did not over the long haul. I wish that I had because the selection out there is so mind numbing it would have been nice to narrow the field. Good day.

  • Redapple2 I d just buy one already sorted. Too many high level skills (wiring, paint, body panel fitment et. al.) that i dont have. And I dont fancy working 100 s of hours for $3 /hour.
  • 28-Cars-Later I'm actually surprised at this and not sure what to make of it. In recent memory Senator Biden has completely ignored an ecological disaster in Ohio, and then ignored a tragic fire in Hawaii until his handlers were goaded in sending him and his visit turned into it's own disaster, but we skipped nap time for this sh!t show? Seriously? We really are through the looking glass now, "votes" no longer matter (Hillary almost won being the worst presidential candidate since 1984 before he claimed the crown) and outside of Corvette nostalgia Joe doesn't care let alone know what day it happens to be. Could they really be afraid of Trump, who AFAIK has planned no appearance or run his mouth on this issue? Just doesn't make sense, granted this is Clown World so maybe its my fault for trying to find sense in a senseless act.
  • Tassos If you only changed your series to the CORRECT "Possibly Collectible, NOT Daily Driver, NOT Used car of the day", it would sound much more accurate AND TRUTHFUL.Now who would collect THIS heap of trash for whatever misguided reason, nostalgia for a much worse automotive era or whatever, is another question.
  • ToolGuy Price dropped $500 overnight. (Wait 10 more days and you might get it for free?)
  • Slavuta Must be all planned. Increase price of cars, urbanize, 15 minutes cities. Be poor, eat bugs