By on August 28, 2006

ostrich2.gifMotor Trend just reviewed the new Saturn Aura. Reading between the lines, it’s clear that GM’s mission critical mainstream motor is another in a long, not-so-illustrious line of “almost” cars. It’s “no sports sedan” with lots of “corner cutting” powered by a “crude” engine with “some looseness in the drivetrain.” The Aura is a “step in the right direction”– that leaves the badge-engineered Opel at least two steps behind the competition. Anyway, does it even matter? I reckon GM’s car business is beyond repair. 

For the first time, the California Motor Car Dealers Association published new car registration data listed by brand. In the second financial quarter, Toyota captured 24.4% of the Golden State’s automotive market. Honda scored second place, at 12.4%. Then it’s Ford at 9.6%; followed by Chevrolet, at 8.2%. If national sales follow California’s lead, GM is toast. There is no way The General can support its vast infrastructure, overhead and labor costs, there’s no way the company can downsize quickly enough, to survive on that kind of market slice.

The automaker’s California conundrum: the resale market. There isn’t one. Hundreds of thousands of California immigrants, first-timer buyers, commuters and elderly consumers swear by used Hondas and Toyotas. Their preference creates a vicious circle: buyers shun new GM products because they can’t unload them. In the mass market, big depreciation is a kind of living death.

Never mind the BS about GM’s products being torpedoed by left-leaning, import-loving— I mean, “foreign-owned automaker”-loving journalists. GM shot itself in both feet and both arms for decades, building rental fleet fodder instead of competitive product. Even if you accept the dubious notion that GM now makes automobiles that match Toyota's and Honda’s (on some levels), even if you swallow the argument that GM is suffering from an indefensible “perception gap,” there’s only way to reverse this death spiral: "must have" products.

Not decent cars. Not reasonably competitive cars. Not cars that only make sense because they’re so damn cheap and no other new car dealer (except Ford) will give me a loan. Not the new Saturn Aura. I’m talking about cars like the Saturn Sky— only with room for four adults and a trunk.

Saturn’s new motto– “Like Always. Like Never Before”– says it all. Here’s a company, indeed an entire corporation that needs to sever its ties to its mediocre, vainglorious past and build spectacular products. It just… can’t… do it. I know; Saturn’s motto supposedly reasserts their user-friendliness. But what does “Like Always” say to people who dismissed Saturn as a boring, out-of-date brand?

By the same token, what does “Like Never Before” say? It’s a po-faced claim that Saturn is better than it was, not better than the rest. It’s that inwards-facing commitment to relative improvement that defines the vast majority of GM’s products and condemns them to also-ran status. Not that GM knows it. The General’s complete obliviousness to the average non-customer’s opinion of their products is one of the most disturbing aspects of GM’s fall from grace. Well that and their failure to acknowledge their competitors’ achievements and beat their best-in-class benchmarks.

Detroit’s unjustifiable arrogance towards the imports in the 70’s is well known. But few people appreciate the fact that this holier-than-thou attitude is still in effect, informing everything the company does– and doesn’t do.  I recently received an email from a GM insider containing a memo from Ed Wellburn, GM’s Vice President of Design. After proclaiming “GM’s turnaround plan is truly working as witnessed by our 2nd quarter results”, Wellburn issued a new edict:

“Design Center is host to journalists, ‘celebrities’ and senior management up to and including the Board of Directors. The confidence we have in our products and people should be evident to anyone who drives on the Technical Center site, especially in the vicinity of the Design buildings and adjacent roads. 

“As such, I am directing that ONLY GM products be parked on the roads around Design and in the parking area in front of our building. Any employees or suppliers/vendors who are not driving GM products may use the west and north parking lots.

“Effective August 15, 2006, this policy will be in effect. After this date, any non-GM vehicles parked on the roadways or in designated parking areas in front of the Design building will be ticketed. In the case of multiple offenses, the vehicle will be towed at the owner’s expense.”

And there you have it: GM management’s desire to shelter in their own little universe, quarantined from the realities of the outside world. Think about it: Wellburn's directive sends both employees and visitors driving non-GM vehicles to the back lots. It also means that GM-driving designers who enter the building upon which their company’s fate depends only encounter GM products. In short, what you can’t see… can kill you. 

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236 Comments on “GM Death Watch 88: Almost Doesn’t Count...”


  • avatar
    radimus

    Only GM products can be parked in front of the building? Hm. Sounds similar to the edict handed down by the UAW concerning their parking lot in front of Solidarity House.

    With both the UAW and their employers are living in a fantasy world this should prove to be interesting as it plays out.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    RF,

    Chevy was 8.2%, but what about the other 7 GM brands?

  • avatar
    WV14

    The same principle is in effect at other car companies in europe and the states, so this is nothing new and to be honest makes sense. You show you are being faithfull, you set an example even if other cars maybe better than your own. The shop window always shows your own products, not the pair of shoes your staff bought down the road. Are we scarpping the barrell Mr. Farago, we think you may be.

  • avatar
    WV14

    Ok ok meant to say scrapping the barrel…doh.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    Great post, RF. Thanks for maintaining the watch.

    To the inevitable naysayers about the Death Watch strings, my $.02:

    I don’t believe anyone here WANTS to see the downfall of the 2.5. Indeed, if it weren’t for this criticism, we’d all have our heads in the sand. I fear the economic impact of a major GM convulsion like I was back in a “duck and cover” drill.

    If you have ever lusted after Detroit iron in your lifetime you are probably passionate about the survival of the 2.5 essentially because you believe they can do better and simply can’t understand why they won’t. And we’re pissed off about it. It’s like parenting a teen who needs to clean their room before a family of rats appear. At GM and Ford, we’ve been watching the rat scat collect for years – in the middle of the showroom floor, not the corners.

    Saturday, I pointed out the first Saturn Sky I’ve seen on the road to my wife – a nice, pretty red one. Her response: “Ick – Saturn. I rented one of those once, and I couldn’t believe how CHEAP it was on the inside.” Here was one of the shining examples of GM’s potential turnaround, and they still have a perception hill to climb that rivals Mt. Everest.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    Of all of GM’s brands I think Saturn has the best chance of significantly increased sales. The Sky while not better than an MX-5 is at least prettier and not expensive. The Aura looks better than a Civic, Accord or a Corrola and seems by early reports to be comparable. I agree that GM need several bust out cars to remain afloat but Saturn is no long the brand to point at for bringing GM down. Once they bring over the Astra and some others I think Saturn will be in good shape.

    Too little too late? Probably but at least GM isn’t completely braindead.

  • avatar
    andyinsdca

    The entire CMCDA report can be picked up here.

    GMC is the only other GM brand in the top 10 (2.6%). What’s interesting to note is that Hummer registrations are up a staggering 55%! I’d bet that the H3 is the reason for that increase.

    Another interesting factoid from this report is that new car registrations are forecast to be off 3.1% for 06. Lots of stuff in here that makes you go “Hmmm….”

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    OK,

    So just because Motor Trend has posted a questionable review of the Aura means the car is bad? I’ve read two other reviews of the Aura claiming this is the car that will help GM win back some of its car biz! I think it is a tad hypocritical to have spent the last year or so claiming that the reviews in so-called “buff books” and newspapers are biased and conflicted and then use one of them as the basis for a GM Deathwatch article.

    As a university prof once told me, the best research is primary research, anything else will reflect the bias of the author. Perhaps TTAC could wrangle an Aura and generate a completely fair and untainted review (perhaps I could help find one) before we put nail #89 in the GM coffin?

    How many nails in a coffin anyway?

    CJ

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    If he has an issue with non-GM product alongside GM product in his parking lot (just as it exists in the marketplace), Emperor Wellburn “has no clothes.”

    His lack of confidence in GM product is the only thing that’s evident here.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I can’t understand why everybody thinks the Sky is such a shining example of what GM can do. It’s one of the worst cars I’ve ever driven, and I put 600 miles on a carefully prepared press example. The engine is dreadful, somebody pulled the gear ratios out of their ass, the turbulence in the cockpit beats you up worse than a TC (which the Solstice/Sky community admits–searches for aftermarket windblockers are constant on their forums), the top and trunk are kludges, it sounds like a UPS truck and there’s one minor but shining–literally–flaw that makes it obvious this thing was pushed out the door. The Sky is a perfect example of a GM not-good-enough car, though we car writers have been bending over backward to be kind to it (and the Solstice).

    I went into this in an earlier post on a different editorial, but for those who didn’t see it:

    There’s a two-inch-square, bright red-and-silver Saturn logo in the middle of the “waterfall” between the seats at the rear of the cockpit. With the top down and sun from any direction, it reflects spang in the middle of the rear-view mirror (which is caused by the mirror’s night-dimming feature). It’s not a huge deal, but it’s dumb, and you know the first test engineer who took out a production car came back and said the logo had to be moved. And that somebody higher up said don’t bother, too expensive, ship it.

    Would those furrin’ companies–dare I say Toyota, or VW–have done that? Nah.

  • avatar

    We have an Aura reviewed scheduled for next week. Meanwhile, while the majority of reviews are favorable, GM needs rave reviews.

    The Car Connection's conclusion illustrates the point. The Aura is "certain to connect with buyers who are looking for alternatives to the imports." Who's looking for an alternative to the imports? And since when is a Toyota or Honda an "import?"

    Point taken Stephan. I was a victim of my desire not to appear utterly, unremittingly bleak. I wouldn't buy a Sky, but, um, a lot of people would.

    And as for GM's parking lot "window dressing" being a sign of corporate loyalty, well precisely. What about their loyalty to GM's customers?

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    Stephan,

    Sorry, I was being facetious, but I couldn’t find the appropriate HTML tag.

    Meant: “what is supposed to be one of the shining examples…”

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    The death watch articles used to be interesting to read but now they just seem like rants. At death watch… what is it up to now… oh 88… You have to grasp at obscure California statistics as if California has anything to do with the overall North American picture. California might as well be on another planet when it comes to being a sample of American habits and culture.

    If you could put 4 seats in a Sky let’s face it, you would all bitch about the weight or how much you hate the way it looks… bla bla bla gas mileage and power… whatever. The Sky looks and performs like the Sky because it HAS TWO SEATS. IF IT HAD 4 SEATS AND DOORS IT WOULD LOOK LIKE AN AURA

  • avatar

    CSJohnston:
    >>Perhaps TTAC could wrangle an Aura and generate a completely fair and untainted review (perhaps I could help find one) before we put nail #89 in the GM coffin?

    TTAC is not putting nails into GM’s coffin. GM is putting the nails into its own coffin. If GM could pay attention to criticism like that from TTAC, it would have a prayer of turning itself around.

  • avatar
    NeonCat93

    Maybe the question that Wellburn should ask, considering that GM is supposed to make a model for everyone, is why there are non-GM cars on the lot at all. If the people that work for you don’t want the product they themselves have a hand in, maybe that means there is something wrong with the product.

    Maybe GM should ask its employees why they don’t drive GM vehicles.

    Unfortunately, they would probably remedy the situation by firing them.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    gearhead, why do you think just about every manufacturer of any consequence has its design studios in California? Because it has “nothing to do with the overall North American picture?”

    And yes, the Sky looks fabulous. Unfortuntely, it performs like an 80-percent Miata.

  • avatar
    nweaver

    a: The Sky is another ALMOST car. We were going to get one! But the awful trunk (A bloody ELISE holds more!), baroque (and broke) top, and hideous “giant squid” ergonomics vetoed it.

    b: Who cross shops Toyota and GM these days? Unless its cheaper than a Sonata (with its 10 year! warantee), why would anyone looking at “foreign” nameplacets even bother giving this rebadged Opal a chance?

    GM is already in “Mortgage the future to (attempt to) save the present”. So why not do a 5/50k bumper to bumper and 10/100k powertrain warantee?

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    GM showed a “4 seat Sky” a couple auto shows ago, it was the concept Chevy Nomad. Anyone know why it wasn’t added to the product plan?

    And, FWIW, the big parking deck behind the Vehicle Engineering Center at the GM Tech Center is GM product parking only as well.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    gearhead455,

    Yeah, God forbid Hollywood, San Francisco or Silicon Valley has had any impact on American habits and culture in the last 50 years.

    Sorry, being facetious again.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Left leaniing, import loving, auto writers no argument here. Lousy resale? yea I will give that one.Also rans? maybe its a little subjective.
    Non gms in the parking lot?Dead wrong on that one R.F I agree with wv14
    you are scrapping the barrel.If you worked for PEPSI an brought in a case of of COKE how would that go over?
    Anybody salary,hourly.supplier,contract worker,ANYBODY! who makes a buck from G.M, in these tough times should buy and boost GM products period.

    MICHAEL H BROWNE SHIPPER/RECIEVER OSHAWA METAL CENTER G.M. CAN

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    California is not relective of the future of North America and to say otherwise is just plain arrogant.

  • avatar

    People should buy GM products because they WANT to, not because they HAVE to.

    Besides, the practice creates a dangerous feeling of complacency.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    gearhead, I disagree, and I don’t think I’m being arrogant (subject to argument, I’m sure).

    Imports (certainly the Japanese, but maybe VW,too) first gained a foothold in the US in California and gradually made their way into mainstream America. I’m quite sure there’s documented history to support that.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Rob,

    The parking in front of the VEC was reserved for visitors. GM just thought it would be nice to have its guests closer to the entrance. But the view from Van Dyke looked as if no one from GM had a GM car… so it got moved. It has nothing to do with people working for GM not buying a GM vehicle.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Saying California is reflective of North America is like saying Michigan is reflective of North America.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    David Holzman,

    Right. Throttle back on the indignation a tad. My point was, let’s get TTAC’s POV on a GM product before a declaration is made about whether this is another GM failure or at least, a step in the right direction.

    GM is a corporate supertanker and change will not come with JetSki agility. It will be incremental and I think one of the underlying themes of the GM Deathwatch columns is “how much time does GM have to effect change?”

    Rob Farago has his opinions and a solid basis for them, others have theirs with their own grounds.

    GM will do what GM will do (always have, always will… just like every other large corporation). GM and Ford and VW and Porsche, etc have been down and out a number of times over their corporate history. Now Porsche can do no wrong (this week) and VW… well, it proves that you can build sexy cars and have a great, desirable brand alongside lower-than-average reliability, a crappy dealer network and sky-high out of warranty repair costs.

    Are the Sky and Solstice great cars? Beats me, but the plant building them is running flat out (they’ve probably got another 12-18 months of boffo biz in them before the next new and hot thing takes over). GM has recognized some of its key deficiencies (interior materials quality, exterior design) and is making gains…will they be fast enough, will they be good enough? Again, I don’t have a clue, I can guess but that’s it. The consumer will decide and a more fickle beast does not exist.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    We wouldn’t be known as “the land of fruits and nuts,” if that were true, gearhead.

    What Farago writes is, “If national sales follow California’s lead, GM is toast.” That’s a premise based on supportable automotive market historic data. It doesn’t insinuate that what happens in California necessarily happens across the US.

  • avatar
    miked

    mikey – I agree with you that it’s private property and that GM should be allowed to dictate where cars park. What I get from this article isn’t that GM is bad for saying “only GM cars can be in a certain area.” But rather the fact that they NEED to say this is a sign of big problems.

    You say: “Anybody salary,hourly.supplier,contract worker,ANYBODY! who makes a buck from G.M, in these tough times should buy and boost GM products period.”

    Obviously these people who make money from GM aren’t buying GM products. What GM should be doing is asking “Why don’t our own people buy our products” especially people who’s jobs depend on it. Maybe if GM figured out why THEIR OWN employees don’t want their cars (even when they can get the employee discount), they could turn the ship around.

    But rather than asking why and attempting to fix the source of the problem, Wellburn decided to hide the problem and make it look better. But isn’t that what GM (and to be fair just about every big company) has always done? Make things look better rather than solving the real problem.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Michigan has more automotive engineering facilities than California by a long shot.

    GM
    Chrysler
    Ford
    Nissan
    VW
    Hyundai-KIA

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    What Farago writes is, “If national sales follow California’s lead, GM is toast.” That’s a premise based on supportable automotive market historic data. It doesn’t insinuate that what happens in California necessarily happens across the US.

    Then why say it?

    Automotive market historic data of California. Let’s do Texas next.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    When I was at Car and Driver in the mid-1970s, it fascinated all of us that the important people in Detroit, the decision-makers, never drove. Never anywhere. They were chauffeured, and only the proles actually steered their own vehicles. I remember once hearing that a major GM VP sat in a Mercedes-Benz once, for about 30 seconds, around this time. He pronounced the seats “too hard” and declared that Mercedes-Benz would never be a contender in the U. S. I’m sure things are solewhat different now, but Detroit has a long history of ignoring the competition.

  • avatar
    imageWIS

    gearhead455,

    What are you talking about? First of all, Cali has the largest state population in the nation, and by a whole 14 million more people than the number 2 state (Texas), at that! Secondly, Cali has a diverse population, which reflects the different walks of life in the US, which is more than I can say about a state like Alabama. I think what you are posting is ignorant.

    http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0004986.html

    Jon.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Bob Lutz flies his own hellicopter to the GM Tech Center and the Ren Cen. Then he get’s picked up in a black Tahoe “secret service” style.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    important California engineering/design facilities:

    Acura/Honda
    Hyundai
    Nissan/Infiniti
    Isuzu
    Kia
    Toyota/Lexus
    Mazda
    Mitsubishi
    Suzuki
    Volvo

    And I’m not sure about Aston Martin, Jaguar and Land Rover, though their main offices are in Irvine.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    Why say it? Because there’s market-driven history to the premise.

    Where are the Chinese automakers planning to market first? Why? Where did the Koreans start first? Why? It could just be that this is where the ships can most easily make port, but it’s also been a welcoming market to import car makers, too.

    I’m not saying CA is better than any other state. I am saying that I believe RF has an historic statistical basis on which to make his premise.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Fine I don’t care, keep thinking that California is the representation of American culture. I never claimed my home state was reflective of anything. What sounds more arrogant to you?

  • avatar
    imageWIS

    How’s this for ignorance? I don’t live in California! Nor, have I ever lived there. But, if you think players like Toyota and Honda didn’t put their design centers in Cali for a good reason…well then that’s your prerogative.

    Jon.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    Bob Lutz flies his own hellicopter to the GM Tech Center and the Ren Cen. Then he get’s picked up in a black Tahoe “secret service” style.
    LOL! Don’t we all get to work this way?

    Stephan, maybe things haven’t changed at all….

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Yep, California is friendly to imports 50 years ago and is now… that proves what? The other 49 states will become California because… what, why, how? You are not explaining anything. How is California going to influence places where the people are really not that particularly keen to the Californian way of life? Tell us all why you guys are so enlightened (you know you want to!).

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Gearhead, nobody is saying California is “the representation of American culture” any more than Kansas, North Dakota or Manhattan are. They’re simply saying that whatever the cause–perhaps in part our culture’s fascination with the entertainment industry and how it chooses to represent itself, perhaps in part California’s long-time status as a kind of pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, perhaps in part the ditzy acquisitiveness of Californians, for better or worse–as California goes, eventually other parts of the country will as well. Not all of it, but an important part of it.

    Nobody ever dreams of growing up and moving to Michigan, or Oklahoma, but California still holds that place in our consciousness. (For what it’s worth, I live in rural New York and you couldn’t pay me to move to California, though I travel there probably once every two months or so.)

    It’s hard to deny. Just as a lot of pencil-necked New Jerseyites buy pickup trucks because they see themselves as bowlegged Texas cowboys, people will eventually buy what’s hot in California because they see themselves as “California car guys.”

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    Without beating a dead horse until it’s road meat, here’s my last word (I know you’re happy now):

    Maybe, just maybe, California has become known as the first automotive market to ask GM, Ford and Chrysler the same fatal question:

    “Is that all you got?”

    But we weren’t the last.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Stephan,

    So what you got in California is Toyota and Honda. The steering wheel for everything else on that list is mostly in Michigan.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Poor gearhead, can’t stand the truth? When confronted with facts, you quickly try to obsfuscate the issue then go running tail between your legs.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Really, why waste your time in California if you are GM? It’s a lost cause. Did you ever fathom the possibility that they just don’t care to have California back?

  • avatar

    Sour grapes.

  • avatar
    craigefa

    Obviously these people who make money from GM aren’t buying GM products. What GM should be doing is asking “Why don’t our own people buy our products” especially people who’s jobs depend on it. Maybe if GM figured out why THEIR OWN employees don’t want their cars (even when they can get the employee discount), they could turn the ship around.

    GM employees are loyal and do drive GM products but that is part of the problem. GM seems to pay more attention to the wants and needs of their employees here in Michigan than they do to potentially full paying customers in the rest of the country. GM can’t seem to grasp the idea that there are actual people out there who will never haul a trailer or who buy a small car for themselves to drive and not their college age daughter.

  • avatar
    clearance42

    No Gearhead, no one has fathomed that possibility because it is utterly unrealistic. With a population of 37 million and a GDP greater than all but the 7 wealthiest nations, I’m fairly certain no major US industry can afford to completely ignore California.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    Like it or not, California – and more specifically, Southern California – has historically been where a lot of automotive fads and trends came from. The Asian imports first came ashore there and found their first market there while the rest of the country wondered why those Californians would want those “little tin cans”. A lot of custom cars came out of that area in the 50s and 60s, and a lot of movies romanticizing the car were produced there. Almost any automotive trend can trace its roots to Southern California. Now all the major companies (and some not-so-major) have styling studios in California.

    Sometimes it takes a decade or more, but almost any automotive trend that starts in Southern California eventually spreads to the rest of the country. It may take a few years, but the sales trends noted for that area will spread to the rest of the country just as the import brands did. GM and Ford have been warned and for some reason just dismiss the warnings and continue plodding along on their road to self-extinction.

  • avatar
    cman321

    while i love reading the articules here at TTAC, i often disagree w/ many of the points of the writers.

    CA is one of the most liberal states and surely will shun american cares no matter how much cheaper or improved they are. As someone already said, they do not reflect all of america.

    GM has huge problems, but they have improved the horrid cars (grand am, cavalier, etc) by leaps and bounds. They are closer to quality of the japanese than ever, and represent a better overall value (after rebates) and usually have better styling.

    The aura surely looks better in and out than the camcords/sonatas of the world. I thought its 3.5 Dohc from the Caddy CTS was a very good engine, no? Perhaps they tested the base model (which still is a fine engine for everyday driving).

    Sure domestics are not a great deal at MSRP which typical toyota/honda products sell for, but be a bit patient and the discounts leave a buyer with a much better value and decent resale.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Yep, it’s the “truth” if you go into this article knowing you already agree with things you think are true.

    Besides, you guys like me here. It’s no fun when everyone agrees. What is the point if no one else sees anything outside your domestic hatters club?

  • avatar

    Trends often spread from the coasts inwards. The domestics don’t do a whole lot better on the East Coast. Few people buy domestic cars where I’m from in Virginia. But import share has even bee rising in suburban Detroit.

    I fully expect the Aura to drive much like the Pontiac G6, as they share a great deal under the skin. The largest difference appears to be the interior. I’ll test one next week, but my review will be posted elsewhere as it appears someone else has dibs on the TTAC spot.

  • avatar
    SD987S

    Some facts about California:

    1. California has the sixth largest economy in the world. If California were a country, its economy would be surpassed only by the economies of the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France

    2. California’s agricultural sector is the largest in the nation. Californians obviously buy sports cars, family sedans and SUVs but they also buy alot of F-150s as well.

    3. California is home to more Fortune 500 companies than any other state. Its populace represents a fair cross-section of American social demographics.

    Frankly, your underestimation of the California market comes across as provincial.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    GM is not going to take the small car market in California, you know that. So why bitch about a car that you want (California) that will never sell anyway (because all you want is imports no matter what) just to abandon the rest of the nation? California will still buy a crapload of American SUVs as the SUV of choice for people that would prefer to do so over imports. Any portion of 30M plus people is a lot of trucks.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    If California is the self proclaimed end all be-all trend setter than where did all these damn SUVs come from? Or did you guys create the very thing you hate so much?

  • avatar
    NamDuong

    Btw, nice article, Sir Farago.

    To the rest of you, give me a break. The statistics about the Californian market (which is probably bigger than all the Southern states put together) isn’t void just because Cali isn’t “representative” of all of America.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    Robert: which model of the Aura are you testing?

    I don’t subscribe to Motor Trend, but I’m guessing that they tested the XE with a subpar engine and its antiquated 4-speed transmission, which is definitely a major disappointment. The XR’s drivetrain is significantly better.

    The Aura’s drivetrain can’t save the rest of the car, however. A few more bucks spent on the interior could have, but GM didn’t. All you need to know about the car lies within 6 inches of the door armrests: cheap rubbery plastic that looks like it will break within a year sitting next to quite good leather on the seats. GM still hasn’t learned how to get the high traffic areas right, it seems.

    For the rest of you, go visit your Saturn dealer and make up your own mind about the car. TTAC’s reviews are entertaining and informative, but like any review they’re no substitute for your own judgement.

  • avatar
    NamDuong

    Crap. It didn’t post my first comment. Maybe because it had a bad word in it. Anyways, I saw some comments say that California is a “liberal” state and therefore not reflective of true American virtues, that analysis of states like Texas or whatever would be more aligned with the American market as a whole. First off, being “liberal” doesn’t make you less American. Second of all, California’s market IS representative (in part) of the American market simply because the car market in California is such a big chunk of the car market in America! that was worded weirdly.

    I’m pretty sure the Californian car market–or any other market for that matter–is like triple that of all the Southern states combined.

  • avatar
    Nels Nelson

    Has anyone checked the U-Haul Indicator for California?

    The cost to rent a U-Haul one-way out of California as compared to the cost to rent one-way in will indicate the propensity to get in or out of the state.

  • avatar

    >>GM has huge problems, but they have improved the horrid cars (grand am, cavalier, etc) by leaps and bounds. They are closer to quality of the japanese than ever, and represent a better overall value (after rebates) and usually have better styling.

    >>Sure domestics are not a great deal at MSRP which typical toyota/honda products sell for, but be a bit patient and the discounts leave a buyer with a much better value and decent resale.

    The key word is “closer” in the second sentence. Are you asking for affirmative action for the domestics?

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I’m reminded of the “I work for Ford, I drive a Ford” bumper stickers that can be seen on cars driving around SE Michigan. If you have to shame your own employees into buying your products at a discount, how do you expect to get regular consumers to do so?

  • avatar
    miked

    All of this talk about how “representitive” california is compared to the rest of the US can easily be verified by the full CMCDA report that andyinsdca kindly linked to for us. Check out the graph on the bottom of page 2. It shows the relative popularity of certain brands in CA with respect to the US as a whole. For example Mercedes is near 200%, that means that Mercedes are twice as popular in CA (measured by relative market share) than they are in the rest of the US. In other words: Out of a random 1000 cars in the US 17 will be a Mercedes. Out of a random 1000 cars in CA 37 will be a Mercedes.

    By examining the graph we can see how CA compares with the rest of the US. Of course this doesn’t have any predictive value by saying that Mercedes will become more popular in the rest of the US (Or Jeep will become less popular as it’s only 50% on that plot), but from past experiences with trends, It’s probably safe to say that CA leads the way (for good and bad) with what the rest of the US gets.

    I don’t have the numbers for the rest of the US (mainly because I didn’t feel like looking them up ), but CA (according to the CMCDA report) accounts for about 2.1M new cars a year, hardly a market that can be ignored by anyone!

  • avatar
    miked

    More data to supplement my last post:

    From the 2000 US census Data there were 17 million new car registrations in the whole US. Let’s say that’s 20 million now. That means the CA accounts for 10% of the new car market!

    In case my hyperlink doesn’t come out above, here’s the location of the US census data:
    http://www.census.gov/prod/2001pubs/statab/sec21.pdf

  • avatar
    Hutton

    I’m not sure I understand the link between being politically liberal, and driving a foreign car… many people have mentioned this, but it doesn’t seem like there would be a connection. If anything, it seems like it would be opposite, since the Left is more pro-union, pro-worker, wouldn’t left-leaning people support the UAW and buy their (American) cars? And wouldn’t right-leaning people, in the name of capitalism, purchase the best product available, even if it comes from Japan?

  • avatar
    Yuppie

    Land Rover is down in southern OC too; my buddy works there.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    I don’t understand that either. I drive domestics and I hate GWB more than anything in the world.

  • avatar

    California should be more than one-tenth of the market, as it’s nearly one-eighth of the population.

    I’ll have to check, but I think Motor Trend drove the uplevel AURA with the DOHC/six-speed auto combo. The same powertrain is standard in the 2007 G6 GTP. They didn’t give it a negative review, but, as Farago says, the praise is on the faint side. Read between the lines and it’s cleary not the savior GM fans have been thinking it is.

    I had high hopes based on the concept, but when the production car was shown I recognized that there was far more G6 in the mix than I had previously realized.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I’ve seen the Aura in person – I don’t personally like the typical mainstream fwd crackerbox car that the Japanese are good at making (any everyone else is copying), but the Aura’s I saw looked great to me, if you are into that sort of car.

    I do find this website more and more negative about every vehicle they cover – unless it costs more than any person with common sense would spend on a vehicle.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Ummmm…..

    Ok.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    There is little to no diffrence between the Aura concept and production:

    Production:
    http://www.caranddriver.com/assets/image/2006/Q2/041120061138488224.jpg

    Concept:
    http://www.motortrend.com/roadtests/sedan/112_0503_01l+2007_saturn_aura_concept+front_left_view.jpg

  • avatar

    True, I think all of the metal is the same. Amazing what the right fascia, trim and wheels can do, isn’t it? The Red Line will likely look more like the concept. I’ve often criticized GM for ruining decent sheetmetal with the wrong wheels and trim. Just another case of that.

    One rule to live by: you can’t go wrong with a classic five-spoke rim. I don’t know why designers like multi-spoke rims like those on the production car so much. Few people I’ve talked to like them. And I don’t mean just on the Aura–on just about any car. I think the Mercedes SL AMG comes with similar rims. Hate them.

    In production trim the AURA looks a lot like the soon to be redesigned Chrysler Sebring (which sometimes comes with similar rims). I find the Sebring reasonably attractive in the right trim, but most people fail to even notice it.

    When I saw the concept AURA at the Detroit show, I thought it looked great. But for whatever reason I didn’t realize it was going to end up being very closely related to the G6. I live how the G6 looks, but the driving experience is not up to the styling.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    re: California

    We ar the most self-obsessed, shallow, vain and careless state in the union. The most likely to be trend-victims, too. Forget this “liberal” crap — our women had fakes boobs before your women did. Then our honeys got fake lips, etc.

    We had SUVs first, Priuses first, started hating SUVs first and will have the first new-breed of electric cars as Tesla Motors, a California company, has already sold out its first batch of vaporware.

  • avatar
    JSForbes

    I saw it in person at the AJC autoshow. It looked nice, particularly when compared with the models that surrounded it. I liked everything but the Big Stupid Headlights. What did MT say about the interior? I liked that the best.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    General Motors? Try Potemkin Motors.

    If GM had the right attitude, every car around its Design Center would be its toughest competition. A nice little daily reminder of exactly where the bar is set.

  • avatar
    Terry Parkhurst

    The late Bill Mitchell, who became head of GM Styling after Harley Earle left, wasn’t a particularly well educated man. But he was intelligent enough to know how much he could learn from others. That’s why he did things such as attempt to emulate a Rolls-Royce bustleback he saw in a London fog at night with the lines of the 1963 through ’65 Buick Riviera (or so the story goes). He also owned other marques and was known to have certain cars brought into the studio for the design teams to study.
    What Ed Wellburn has done is simply show how terrified he is of companies who are doing the right thing(s). Granted, he has done some interesting work. But if he was so “on target” why did The General quit making his version of the 1949′-54 Chevrolet and GMC pickup, known as the “SSR.” Perhaps he should have told The Powers That Be, “We need either a fixed roof or a soft top. The thing is too damn expensive! And let’s call it a name that means something. Why not bring back ‘El Camino’?”
    What’s next? Are they going to ban people from GM parking lots who speak in Japanese or German? It all smacks of the sort of jingoistic nonsense we oftentimes seem to see in other realms – none of which helps American industry compete, as compete it must in a world economy.

  • avatar
    montess

    Something a little off the subject but I find the TTAC attitude towards Detroit somewhat hypocritical. The reason I say this is that I know a lot of the GM bashing writers on this site are from the “left” coast and you continually blame American manufacturers for being short sighted and for having an arrogance left over from years of market domination. Hmmm- let’s apply that theory to one of your state’s major industries- entertainment specifically movie and television production. If ever there were an industry that produced sub standard schlock and was out of touch with consumers it would be Hollywood. This is because they have what amounts to a monopoly on the entertainment industry and they realize that no matter how bad the stuff they produce is, a lot of people will still wait in line to see it. In additon, the whole town seems to have at best an adolescent maturity level, as evidenced by the typical reality show. Have you ever stopped to think that a lot of the California dream is BS, especially in La La land?

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I got about halfway down, and the back-and-forth about California being representative of the nation kind of got me dizzy.

    Yet I must opine.

    There’s an economic saying. “As goes California, so goes the United States.”

    And it’s true. When California’s economy catches the flu, the whole nation at least gets the sniffles. When California does well, the US does too.

    Things often happen in California and Florida before happening in other places in the nation. Like anti-smoking ordinances, seat-belt laws, emission reglulations, and so forth.

    So yeah. I believe a correllation can and SHOULD be made here. There’s enough real history backing up such logic!

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Are they going to ban people from GM parking lots who speak in Japanese or German? It all smacks of the sort of jingoistic nonsense we oftentimes seem to see in other realms – none of which helps American industry compete, as compete it must in a world economy.

    goddammit….

    You can say what you want but this is the reason, I work there! :

    The parking in front of the VEC was reserved for visitors. GM just thought it would be nice to have its guests closer to the entrance. But the view from Van Dyke looked as if no one from GM had a GM car… so it got moved. It has nothing to do with people working for GM not buying a GM vehicle.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Hutton:
    August 28th, 2006 at 4:40 pm

    “I’m not sure I understand the link between being politically liberal, and driving a foreign car… many people have mentioned this, but it doesn’t seem like there would be a connection. If anything, it seems like it would be opposite, since the Left is more pro-union, pro-worker, wouldn’t left-leaning people support the UAW and buy their (American) cars? And wouldn’t right-leaning people, in the name of capitalism, purchase the best product available, even if it comes from Japan?”

    Yes, and that is why this is such a huge problem for GM. California is a “blue” state, yet they don’t buy what we would expect them to buy? Liberals who don’t support the UAW?

    Don’t you see it? It is EXACTLY this digression that holds danger for GM (and for Ford).

  • avatar
    PerfectZero

    sure there’s a tendency towards “import” cars in CA, but I see that largely due to the fact that we pay more for gas than almost any other state. whether or not its true, many people still associate domestic with gas-guzzling, and avoid gm and ford dealers for that reason.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    I know, I said I’d shut up. But gearhead, you’ve got to see how the policy itself is an indication of exclusionary paranoia:

    “But the view from Van Dyke looked as if no one from GM had a GM car…”

    [So, keep your non-GM crap parked somewhere else or it gets towed!]

    1) Why would this be some kind of problem? Appearance?
    2) Why indeed might very few people/any number less than everyone from GM have a GM car? Better, more competitive products elsewhere?

    Keep in mind, in this wonderfully free country, we (even your GM co-workers) vote with their wallets.

    Let’s imagine for a moment what might happen in Tokyo, if a large number of Korean cars started appearing in Toyota’s lots. My imagination says, lots of employees would get asked why; managers would either flog themselves into stupidity or lose face and their jobs; ultimately, Toyota might make themselves more competitive. Maybe I’m dreaming, but a “policy” like this one doesn’t come to mind.

  • avatar
    Tiger Commanche

    Quit bashing California; the state is trendsetting, inspirational and welcoming as evidenced by the following:

    1) CA gave birth to the import tuner craze. Now, nowhere in the rest of the country can you buy a used Honda Civic without an empty Hills Bros. can used for an exhaust pipe.
    2) CA is ripe with artistic talent. In fact, the CA plastic surgery community has helped perfect some of the most beautiful faces in all of celebritydom, like Michael Jackson and Tori Spelling. Just think of what CA design departments can do for the automobile.

    Dear California, thank you so much for providing the inspiration for my 19-year-old neighbor to bolt a 3-foot-high wing on the trunk of his bone-stock, rusted 1995 Cavalier. I just love when its parked on the street in front of my house while he’s home from college in the summer.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Um, there is also the fact that domestics are not as good as their competition.

    For the most part, they just aren’t. Solstice vs. Miata? Not even a race — Miata in a landslide (and I think the Solstice is the best looking car on the road).

    Compare the Mazda Speed6 that got reviewed last week to…. seriously, to what? The frankly lame Impalla SS?

    I’m on my second $25 WRX wagon. Does GM offer ANYTHING remotely in the same ballpark? Besides the now discontinued Saabaru?

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    I don’t see how this policy expresses any “confidence” in their products. If I was an employee there, I’d find this wretched example of management doublespeak terribly demoralizing.

  • avatar
    montess

    “Um, there is also the fact that domestics are not as good as their competition”

    According to who, you? Just because imports are outselling domestics in CA doesn’t mean they’re better. I go back to my La La land analogy- Hollywood has produced plenty of mediocre blockbusters, but just because a movie grosses 100 million doesn’t mean it’s a good movie. It all depends on whether YOU, after spending your hard earned dollars, thought it was a good movie. I own a new Chevy and I think it’s a great car and no amount of TTAC GM bashing will convince me otherwise.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    Tiger Commanche, thanks for the funniest damn post of the day!

    …Let’s put a 3-foot wing on Michael Jackson and see if he’ll fly.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Montess

    What Chevy do you own?

  • avatar
    montess

    I’ll give you a hint, it starts with an M and ends with an S

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    I won’t play your game, but anyone who has driven cars from that class knows that the Malibu SS is factually two generations back from an Accord. From the chassis to the interior to the engine to the looks — the Honda is quantifiably better.

    Also, the Accord can now break the six-second barrier to 60.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    http://www.clarendononline.com/news/2000/0727/train1.jpg

    Seriously, is This the corporate image they wish to enact? Ummm, ok…I’d give the valet $10 to park this baby right up front.

  • avatar
    montess

    No, it’s not a Malibu, it’s a Monte SS. Funny that you mention the Malibu though because I needed to rent one today and although it can’t hold a candle to my Monte, it was adequate transportation. It was fast enough and I drove it nearly 40 miles averaging about 80 mph and the fuel gauge didn’t move at all. For a rental that’s great, especially when you have to pay for fuel. Yeah, I wouldn’t buy one but then again, I like a bigger car. If I was shopping for a smaller car, though, I can’t see how it’s any better or worse than any Honda or Toyota I’ve driven in recently. There is one thing it beats them in, I’m sure, and that’s price. So in that respect, I would buy the Chevy over the Honda, for purely financial reasons.

  • avatar
    doubleE

    GM has been riding close to single digit market share in S. California for the better part of a decade and it ‘s not dead yet. If anything I think the trend might have bottomed out in CA. Last time I was in San Diego I noticed 2 Impalas in my company’s employee parking lot and they were not rentals.
    D’ont get carried away with the reviews. The G6 got slaughtered in the reviews and now in it ‘s third year has become a modest sales success. True GM has not had any home runs but it is batting pretty decent numbers with it ‘s launch veichles in the last couple of years.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Montess,

    You are in a minority, both in terms of people who have driven and thought about both cars in light of sales figures.

    Again — as an American I want nothing more than for GM and Ford to pull out of their nosedives, thrive and beat the Axis powers back.

    But, facts are facts and right now, their isn’t a single Chevy 4-door worth owning given the fact that Camrys and Accords and Mazda6s and Nissan Altimas can be had for essentially the same money.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    Jonny,

    I usually leave those who need a “lesson” in my Miata’s rear-view in the twisties, too.

    A couple of friends of mine – she drove a Grand Am for years – now has a Mustang GT convertible, and her partner, she drives a TrailBlazer. Go figure.

  • avatar
    jim

    Well, with that policy someone should be able to find a parking spot close to the entrance……

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    But, facts are facts and right now, their isn’t a single Chevy 4-door worth owning given the fact that Camrys and Accords and Mazda6s and Nissan Altimas can be had for essentially the same money.

    Impala SS is cheaper, more standard options ad has 65 more horsepower with only a loss of one mile to the gallon on the highway. Say what you want but your “better” is only your opinion.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    gearhead455,

    65 more USELESS horsepower, as it is a sloppy front driver the understeers more than any other car I have ever driven. And the interior makes me sad to be American.

    The Mazda Speed6 slaughters it. And again, the Speed6 is ugly, has a mediocre interior, lousy pedals, a bad clutch and an innacurate shifter.

    Slaughters it.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    Per kbb:

    2007 Impala SS base: $28,465.00, EPA 18/27
    2006 Mazdaspeed6 base: $28,555.00, EPA 19/25 (no 07 listed)

    For $90, I’d buy the Mazda. Even with the goofy wheels.

  • avatar
    NamDuong

    having cheeper cars with more standard features is something hyundai/kia used to win buyers over in the late 90’s. impala SS loses.

  • avatar
    doubleE

    Robert,

    I checked up on your figures. GM total share in california is 14.4% or roughly about 60% of it ‘s national average. Your conclusions only hold water if you can show that the spread of the california figures vis-a-vis the national average is new.
    If GM’s california share has trailed the national average by that much for 10years those figures do not necessarily mean anything.

  • avatar
    PerfectZero

    just because the impala may (or may not) be cheaper to purchase doesn’t mean its cost of ownership is lower. I wonder what the depreciation of the impala is vs. the speed6?

  • avatar
    2006300c

    What car has a nice interior, since every car reviewed here seems to have a low quality interior?

  • avatar

    Audi. Any Audi.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “Impala SS is cheaper, more standard options ad has 65 more horsepower with only a loss of one mile to the gallon…” – gearhead455

    Than what? Be specific. The Camry LE? It has about 35 more horsepower but is lugging around an extra 300lbs. Those Toyota V6 engines bring on the torque down low. The Impala’s going to have its hands full trying to stay ahead of a Camry and it won’t be helped any by its 4-speed transmission. Since the Camry invoice is $4K less, you’ll need a few givebacks on that SS to drive it away for the same price. And the Camry beats it, economy-wise, on the highway by 3mpg.

    The Impala didn’t need a big V8 engine squeezed under the hood. It needed a contermporary engine with a 5 or 6 speed transmission. I can only begin to imagine the understeer.

    I’m continually amazed at what a good package Toyota and Honda put together around an economical 4-cylinder engine that still delivers decent get-up-and-go. GM could learn something from that.

  • avatar

    The Aura actually looks better to me (at least from the front) than at least 75% of what’s out there, and WAY better than the frigging Ion, although as somenoe said earlier, those wheels are baroque–in a bad way. Still, it’s not the equal of the first generation Saturn.

  • avatar
    Lesley Wimbush

    Yah, the Audi Q7 has great seats. Especially the back ones :))
    Well, except for the 3rd row.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    The first generation of Saturns where…um, how shall I say this…

    Trash.

    Those plastic doors which, while on the dealer’s lot sounded ok, after 3 months sounded like the slamming of a plastic lid on your hinged trash can. Not to mention the road noise and wind noise and the El Cheapo nasty interior.

    And yes…that was GM’s “Import Fighter”. Yes, we can see how well THAT did, now can’t we? Today I read there is a 10 day supply of Camry’s on the lot…and that people are chasing down trucks loaded with said Camry.

    You know, I take a philosophical view of this “GM Death Watch” series. I know it has raised a lot of complaints and criticism from the GM brain-dead, but hay…That’s OK!!

    Me? I wish we were on “GM Grand Slam #89 and counting!!”

    No such luck. Used to be the “American” thing was to root for the underdog. You know, the “Subarus” and “Hyundais” of this world. Now the “underdog” is the largest (GM, the “Worlds Largest Automaker”), most handicapped, most incapable, most excuse-ridden, and most unapologetic company on this planet.

    They don’t care…and by God, they will never ask you for your opinion! So don’t even bother speaking up. This “GM Death Watch” series is not for them (as they won’t listen anyway)…is for US!! That’s right…it’s a way for us Americans …spread throughtout this great land of ours…from the California Coast, through the wheat-fields of Missouri…to the Statue of Liberty herself….

    …this GM Death Watch is a way for us all to bond, to grieve (yes, it’s ok to cry…and it’s ok to rant, as we understand..we ALL understand, now don’t we?). and to comisserate the passing of an era.

    Thank you Robert…I wish I could share a Budwiser with you.

    GM? You’re hosed…and I don’t give a rat’s ass anymore (hahaha). Please…tell me once again (my ears are perking up)…how great your new “import fighter” will be.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    Terry Parkhurst on Bill Mitchell: “But if he was so “on target” why did The General quit making his version of the 1949′-54 Chevrolet and GMC pickup, known as the “SSR.””

    SSR was a slam dunk design success, but an engineering failure.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    I’m continually amazed at what a good package Toyota and Honda put together around an economical 4-cylinder engine that still delivers decent get-up-and-go. GM could learn something from that.

    Lurking on the GM boards, the “I can have a V6 for the price of their I4 family sedan” seems to be a common theme. That’s a Detroit 2.5 attitude that goes back a long way, but that’s assuming that V6’s are always preferable to I4, and times are now different. The vast majority of Camry and Accord buyers get the I4, because they do the job well and economically at that price point ($20k). I can see import buyers asking where the Saturn Aura I4 is, but it’s not coming until next year and as a hybrid.

    I’m currently reading “Disaster in Dearborn: The Story of the Edsel” by Thomas Bonsall. It’s an interesting look at the GM badge engineering, Ford attempting to follow GM’s lead, and the perfect storm of bad quality, a downturn in the economy, a vagina on the front of a car, and an increased demand for smaller cars. Sound familiar? it happened in the late 1950’s.

  • avatar
    2006300c

    1958 was a MAJOR recession year and the edsel was just a stupid idea. 2006 has been the best year for the economy since the tech bubble burst. As for your comparison, the SUV fad is over, that’s all. There is no seismic shift in American thinking. People have finally learned that a big car is better than a big SUV, a mid sized car is better than a mid sized SUV etc… Oh and BTW in the 1950s “smaller” cars meant 17 ft long instead of 19.

  • avatar
    packv12

    Starlightmica,

    If you are enjoying that book, you should check out “The Whiz Kids” by John Byrne. All about the Dueces desire to recreate Ford as the next GM by hiring the Whiz Kids. An interesting study, but slightly off topic here.

  • avatar
    phil

    i deserve a prize for reading all these posts (except the Steinbeck quote, give me a break). some were majorly funny (i can use majorly if rf can use vaingloriously).

    we do need a positive review, so let’s all chip in and rent a porsh turbo for RF to play with. I also think we should initiate a “readers’ review” section so the first guy to drive the new BMW t-turbo coupe, for example, can send in his impressions, mazdaspeed 3, E63, etc.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Don’t laugh about Steinbeck.

    Unless Rick Wagoner is willing to nurse himself from the teat of a dirty gypsy woman, GM will never turn around.

    Axing jobs? Easy. No problemo. But to admit you need nurshiment from a degenerate gypsy, that takes guts…and that’s exactly what is needed.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Its an uphill battle GEARHEAD and you aint making too many friends but I`m 100% behind you ,though the queer comment might not have been in your best interest.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    packv12 –

    Thanks for the recommendation – sounds like the prequel to my current read. It’s been a while, but I recall that Mary Walton’s Car about the story behind the 2nd gen Taurus was also a fascinating read about the dysfunction behind the sheetmetal at FoMoCo.

  • avatar
    BuzzDog

    Gearhead: What’s wrong with looking like a queer? Millions of men try to do so every day; witness the “metrosexual” movement of recent years. And before you dismiss this, take a look at the tables in a good restaurant (if you’ve ever been to one) and tell me who all the hottest women are sitting with. Sounds like you’ve been watching too many H3 commercials…

    Back to the original article, I completely agree with the previous poster who stated that, instead of relegating non-GM cars to a parking lot in the “back 40,” GM should be trying to find out WHY their suppliers aren’t buying GM products. They may be surprised to find that it is for the same reason that Robert McNamara rented GM products when he took family vacations while president of Ford. It’s a good way to see how your products stack up against the competition’s. In this case the suppliers may be trying to see how other companies’ switches, seats or seals stack up against theirs.

    As has been posted before, GM execs should be REQUIRED to buy, own and drive at least one non-GM vehicle. For the GM vehicles in their household, they should have the same buying and ownership experience as those of us who are buying their products. With the exception of an employee discount, most retailers I’ve sold to do the same thing.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I’ve been reading these posts without comment for several weeks now, I wanted to see the tone and tenor of the articles. I can say without equivocation, this is the worst GM Deathwatch posting so far, and I’ve been reading them since #2. Let’s see, reading between the lines of ONE Motor Trend review of the car, and then adding in some other stuff about shrinking market share in California, along with a criticism of Saturn’s advertising is a hodgepodge of potshots, no kill shot at all. Stay on topic, please.

    At one time this Deathwatch series was focused; now it’s just a bitch session. It’s done, put a fork in it. LIke someone else on this board said, maybe it should be an irrelevance watch, at least then all of these disconnected subjects would have some margin of cohesion.

    Mr Farago has an obvious dislike of GM and it’s products, and long ago forgot to hide it.That’s fine, it’s still a semi-free country, and folks are entitled to their opinion. It has attracted it’s own following and seems to be gaining some notoriety on certain pro-GM message boards (where they roundly deride each posting). Much like Rush Limbaugh, this has even managed to develop a following of it’s own ‘ditto-heads’, where you can see the same dozen or so post-ers after each edition chiming in with ‘keep up the great work…’

    Since I’m ranting, I will stay on topic. Either make the DW series relevant (i.e. real news, real driving reviews of the cars being discussed, interview the people responsible for the decisions) or drop it. It’s on the verge of becoming irrelevant.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Two points:

    My family IS GM’s target market. $100K+ income, 2 kids. And we won’t have a Big 2.5 car. Here are three reasons:

    1) Quality: Accord, Camry, Pilot, Odyssey, Sienna. Against? Impala, TrailBlazer, Venture, Aura? Secretariat by 32 lengths. And pulling away.

    We hold onto our cars for a long time, and so long-term quality is imprtant. Not 36 months. Try 7-10 years. Our 1997 CR-V has had ZERO problems in 120K+ miles. Gas, brakes, oil, tires. That’s it. Paint still shines. Seats are holding up under 2 kids, no problem. Same thing from my 1991 Acura Integra (Hope whoever stole it gets an STD…), and my 2001 Acura TL.

    We once bought a 1988 Ford Taurus. Possible the most poorly built car I’ve ever owned. And I’ve owned Alfa’s.

    2) Resale: Toyota/Honda holds value better. Much better. The market is NEVER wrong. NEVER. My 2001 Acura TL, which sold new for 30K, is worth more than a 2001 Caddy STS (Sold for what, $45K?), and 50% more than a Catera, which sold for the same money.

    My wife will NEVER have an American car. She just won’t waste her money on a poorly built vehicle that falls apart and drops in value.

    In the auto biz, Perception IS Reality. While I want the domestics to survive, they will have to build killer cars for while to get our attention. As was said here before, not just competent, not comparable, but superior in every way. That’s how you gain market share.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    Oops, make that two reasons. Poor quality on the editing.

    And to further the book meme, try “Taken for a Ride”, about the DaimlerChrysler “merger of equals”.

  • avatar
    capdeblu

    In 1996 I purchased a new Saturn SL. It was meant to be a commuter car and nothing else. This car was very reliable, fuel efficient and I eventually put 150,000 miles on it. The paint and seat fabric held up well. I felt like I got my money’s worth out of it.

    But it was NOISY, cramped and had no pickup. As in I had to turn the a/c off to pass a car. It had annoying problems such as all the radio speakers had to be replaced twice. And the back power windows would go down but not up. Often without prompting.

    So when I went to replace it a few years ago I considered an Ion. But its squarish looks and cramped interior didnt do anything for me. There was no way I was going to pay 17,000$ for one. At the time there were no rebates in effect.

    Then I test drove a Camry. It was so pleasant an experience it was like being in a different world than the Saturn. Quiet, comfortable and roomy. Perfect for an 85 mile R/T commute.

    This is my first “foreign” car purchase.

  • avatar
    airglow

    It’s “no sports sedan” with lots of “corner cutting” powered by a “crude” engine with “some looseness in the drivetrain.”

    Bobby, Bobby, Bobby!! I read the review in Motor Trend last night; did you actually bother to read it?

    Motor Trend called the base 3.5 “Crude”, and then admitted they didn’t actually test drive a base 3.5 liter version. MT and all of the monthlies have been on a pretty steep downward slope for a while, but ripping an engine/transmission combo they didn’t actually test drive is new low for them. Just like it’s a new low for you citing a “made-up” review.

    Kind of like calling TTAC a fringe bunch of America hating wing-nuts, without actually bothering to read any of the articles.

  • avatar
    Jim Boyd

    You wanted to know why a Miata does not sell and a Sky/Solstice does even though the Miata wastes the Sky on “the track”.

    The Miata is in the Guiness Book of Records as the top-selling sports car of all time. You got some figures to back that assertion up?

    Somehow, I’m guessing nobody at Mazda is particularly concerned about GM’s half-assed roadster attempts.

  • avatar

    Now hang on. I caught the fact that they hadn’t driven the base model, but agreed with their estimation that the Aura’s 3.5-liter OHVV-6 and four-speed box would be no more sophisticated than the same combo found in the Malibu and G6, both of which I’ve driven.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Try to buy a Solstice or Sky from the dealer lot. The Miata looks like and is old news.

  • avatar
    NeonCat93

    It seems the Death Watches are very polarizing. Personally, I like them. I find them to be very entertaining and are a big part of what keeps me coming to TTAC. Now, a lot of you don’t like them, and that’s fine. There are a few commenters who actively hate them, and act as if RF and those of us who like the DW soak American flags in gasoline and use them to burn all the unsold Tahoes sitting on the lots (which we wouldn’t do if we really hated GM, because then they would recoup the insurance value for them. Hmm, maybe GM could blame ecoterrorists…). I like to think of the DW as being similar to watching a beautiful girl go out with guy after guy who treats her like dirt: we think it’s a damn shame but there isn’t a lot we can do about it. In this case the beautiful girl is the American auto industry, and the guys who treat her like dirt are the management and stockholders.

    Any fool with half a brain realizes that if GM or Ford go bankrupt it is going to cause massive damaging ripples to our already shaky economy. I don’t think anyone here really wants a huge recession. Nonetheless, the cold hard reality of the markets is that inefficient companies, companies that do not make products that customers want do not survive.

    Finally, this site is a free site. I believe Robert has done everything he can, bent over backwards to make sure it stays that way. If you don’t like the content, don’t read it. There are plenty of car reviews, racing news and the like here if the Death Watches aren’t your jug o’ java.

    Or, and here’s a thought, you can create your *own* blog, The Truth About The Truth About Cars, for instance, and you can write about how RF and the rest are in the pay of the Japanese and Germans but secretly envy the giant backseats of American SUVs for their gay orgies but hate the interior fabrics, plastics and whatnot because it chafes their delicate skin. Then, when GM has vanquished the competition, and Ford starts opening new factories, you can feel free to do the “Told ya so” dance.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    NeonCat93,

    I’m assuming that your comments were aimed at me, if not, I still feel a need to respond.

    I don’t think that anyone here is suggesting that RF and Co. are actively trying to singlehandedly destroy what’s left of the domestic manufacturers. They have enough going against them, but some lonely blog somewhere ain’t going to topple the Jenga pile, in this case. However, in the earlier versions there was some news, but now it’s been reduced to regurgitating Motor Trend reviews. I can take bad news if it’s coming from a reputable source, but this source is losing it’s reputation.

    As luck would have it, I’m in the wrongest (is that really a word?) of businesses to start my own blog about this kind of thing. I would really love to be able to do that, but alas, I’m stealing time away from my real career to post even this. I usually only do this at lunchtime and breaks, and only if I have the time that day. My non-union job in a right-to-work state generally doesn’t allow me many breaks, which is why I don’t read or post frequently as I would like.

    However, if you offer the chance for the general public to comment on your musings, be prepared, as you will get posts like mine.

    I would like to see more ‘truths about cars’, and I think the work of the TrueDelta guy is one good idea. Reliability and perception of the same is interesting, but not all of the information gets out. My personal experience is that not all domestics are as bad as reported, not all Japanese cars are as bulletproof as perceived and not all European cars are as wonderful as made out to be. It depends upon your perspective.

    This site has interesting stuff about the sport, whichever flavor you choose, but not enough that it is a destination for sporting news. I would like to see more info about how the media reports on automotive issues, but the Deathwatch series apparently takes more precedence…

  • avatar

    OK, that's enough of the Miata is a gay car thing. 

  • avatar

    Rastus:
    The first generation of Saturns where…um, how shall I say this…
    Trash.
    Those plastic doors which, while on the dealer’s lot sounded ok, after 3 months sounded like the slamming of a plastic lid on your hinged trash can. Not to mention the road noise and wind noise and the El Cheapo nasty interior.
    And yes…that was GM’s “Import Fighter”. Yes, we can see how well THAT did, now can’t we?

    I’m not saying it was a great car, although the SL2 was probably the best handling car under $15k in its day. I’m just saying it looked good. But it also did well. Saturn sold nearly 300k of them in ’94, its best year, if I remember correctly. And that was just one basic car.

    I think the quality would have been a lot better if the Mother Company hadn’t pressured Saturn to turn a profit in record time.

  • avatar

    Gearhead:
    >>You wanted to know why a Miata does not sell and a Sky/Solstice does even though the Miata wastes the Sky on “the track”. Look at the thing, it looks like a children’s TOY.

    I don’t know what the numbers are on the sales, but the new Miata, or MX-5, does look awful, like one of those Pokemon characters, which I loathe. But with it’s careful engineering, I’d still buy it over the Sky or Solstice.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    The Miata is a superior car for what it does no doubt. Unfortunately it’s not new and hot.

    I know it’s hard to admit; even Robert was flamed for claiming the car looked good.

    Just let go of your twisted domestic hating ways and see cars as individual… for good or bad.

    West Coasters:

    I like imports and I feel there is no reason to hate on domestics. The perception of all domestics is distorted and there is nothing they can do about it. You will always hate them until the day comes when domestics are the automotive underdog. Things will cycle 180 when Toyota get’s too big. Look at Saturn, they where HUGE on the east coast when they came out… when they were fully assimilated into GM people just automatically dismissed them again. You will always boost your trend of the day and when it becomes too large and widely accepted you immediately try to destroy it (look at the SUV).

  • avatar
    GMrefugee

    GM has had and will continue to have different marketing approach to stem the slide in CA. They know that CA sales are a foreshadow to the national market. I have seen several “Calfornia marketing initiatives” come and go. One was actually called “Pacific Storm.” More recently, GM is focusing on urban centers with their marketing messages, as the urban youth also have great influence on market opinions of vehicles. Only product can save any car company. GM has a long way to go to convince many to at least put their vehicles in their consideration set.

  • avatar
    Kevin

    Anybody salary,hourly.supplier,contract worker,ANYBODY! who makes a buck from G.M, in these tough times should buy and boost GM products period.

    Jeez, glad I don’t work for GM. This would be a practice sure to promote the insular thinking that seems to be dooming GM. Maybe you should buy a competitor’s car, so as to see what is so appealing about them, and learn some lessons.

    I can tell at a glance that GM cars look cheap, boring, bland, low-rent, whatever. Never fails. I haven’t scientifically examined exactly WHAT set of curves, angles, taillight design, materials, etc give me that reaction. But just maybe, SOMEONE at GM ought to look into it.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    I can tell at a glance that GM cars look cheap, boring, bland, low-rent, whatever. Never fails. I haven’t scientifically examined exactly WHAT set of curves, angles, taillight design, materials, etc give me that reaction. But just maybe, SOMEONE at GM ought to look into it.

    This is what I am talking about….

    I think it therfore it must be true.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “The Miata is a superior car for what it does no doubt. Unfortunately it’s not new and hot. ” – gearhead455

    Its sales have just about tripled this year; somebody likes its looks.

    “More recently, GM is focusing on urban centers with their marketing messages, as the urban youth also have great influence on market opinions of vehicles.” – GMRefugee

    I’d like to know how GM will dress up a Hummer, Suburban, Yukon, Tahoe or Equinox to appeal to people who will be parallel parking on crowded streets. I mean, it’s not like I expect them to actually build a car for that market; just reprice and cut deals on one they already have in mass quantities.

    In any event, GM, good luck figuring out the urban youth market. You might as well take your shot, Toyota couldn’t do it. The Scion xB, their machine of what’s-happenin’-now, sells pretty well – but to middle-aged guys. I guess with gas flirting with $3/gallon, there IS a market among adults for useful, economical, practical cars among adults. Who could have predicted that?

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    >>I don’t know what the numbers are on the sales, but the new Miata, or MX-5, does look awful, like one of those Pokemon characters, which I loathe. But with it’s careful engineering, I’d still buy it over the Sky or Solstice.

    I’m not sure about July or August, but the figures for June 2006 were that the MX-5 sold about 1,600 cars, while the Solstice sold 1,900.

    But I’m pretty sure the sales are lower in the MX-5 because more people would prefer the cheaper, more powerful, and better looking car. MOST buyers of these cars wouldn’t be able to tell the differences in its handling. I haven’t driven a Solstice yet so I can’t judge, but I have driven the MX-5, and it is one of the most beautifully handling cars I’ve ever driven. I don’t care that it doesn’t have that much power because it is just plain fun. With that said though, I’d have the Sky over the Solstice based on looks, but I’d still have the MX-5 if I were in the market.

  • avatar
    mikey

    My point Kevin was and is, if your pay check comes from G.M. you should drive a G.M. product.Nobody tells me I have to drive G.M.
    I believe that driving non G.M. sends a nasty message to the rest of the car buying world.

  • avatar
    Frank Williams

    It isn’t a matter of company loyalty or who signs the paycheck. The whole idea can be summed up by this:

    If you always think what you’ve always thought,
    You will always do what you’ve always done.
    If you always do what you’ve always done,
    You will always get what you’ve always got.
    If you always get what you’ve always got,
    You will always think what you’ve always thought.

    If the workers and leadership of any car company drove the competition they’d have a better understanding of what they needed to do to be more competitive. Then everyone would come out on top.

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    Actually reading that last comment brought another one of my thoughts out. Somewhere in the mass of comments above, one person suggested that it should be mandatory for GM Execs to own and drive one of their competative cars.

    >>It’s a good way to see how your products stack up against the competition’s. In this case the suppliers may be trying to see how other companies’ switches, seats or seals stack up against theirs.

    As has been posted before, GM execs should be REQUIRED to buy, own and drive at least one non-GM vehicle. For the GM vehicles in their household, they should have the same buying and ownership experience as those of us who are buying their products. With the exception of an employee discount, most retailers I’ve sold to do the same thing.

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    …i guess that cut out the 2nd part of my comment for some reason

    I’m not sure if GM does this or not, but I know that the US offices for foreign companies usually get cars on loan from other manufacturers for a bit to see how they stack up to each other. It’s a real useful tool to measure the value of your car to theirs. And they don’t even have to do it covertly, its just a simple swap of my car for yours.

    Obviously if your paycheck comes from a certain company you should be obligated to support its success (or lack thereof) with the money from your wallet. People who work for Microsoft probably have Windows machines, and people who work for Apple probably have Apple machines. Theres no way around brand loyoalty especially if you work for them.

    That’s why I say be an exec for Ford, then you can drive a DB9 guilt free.

  • avatar
    montess

    mikey-
    I believe you work at the Oshawa plant and I just want to thank you for doing a great job on my Monte SS. I bought it back in April, the odometer just turned 5K and I haven’t had one problem with it. Hands down the best car I’ve ever owned. Don’t believe the TTAC GM bashing hype!

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    I’m not sure if GM does this or not, but I know that the US offices for foreign companies usually get cars on loan from other manufacturers for a bit to see how they stack up to each other. It’s a real useful tool to measure the value of your car to theirs. And they don’t even have to do it covertly, its just a simple swap of my car for yours.

    Yes GM does this.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    I’m not sure about July or August, but the figures for June 2006 were that the MX-5 sold about 1,600 cars, while the Solstice sold 1,900.

    Add a bunch more for the Sky. They are one in the same.

    Also, don’t discount any car before you actually drive it.

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    i didn’t discount it…
    I haven’t driven a Solstice yet so I can’t judge

    but those sales figures were for the Solstice alone, I dont have the Sky figures on hand, but I’m sure its up there as well.

  • avatar
    KingElvis

    455:
    If California isn’t important to car culture, then hot rodding isn’t important – it was yet another ‘trend’ that started in the golden State.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Good point Frank I would like to see our top management people drive a low end G.M. product COBALT or G6,or for that matter something a little higher up BUICK or a CADDY maybe.
    Yea it would be great to see them guys in the real world and see what its like when your car is in the shop, for the 3rd time for the same problem.
    I am sincere when I say these guys are not on the same page as the rest of us
    I truly fear that if G.M.s top management doesn`t get thier head out of the
    sand real soon R.F.s DEATH WATCH will be only too true.

  • avatar
    montess

    Since Cali is such a large economy and has such an influence over American culture, maybe they should break off and form their own country. Come to think of it, that may happen yet courtesy of the San Andreas fault.

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    By default, shouldn’t the CEO of an auto company know what its like to drive their own product anyways? If not, then why are you running it…

    I would like to see a GM Exec driving a Cobalt though now that I think about it.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    From GM’s web site, sales for the Solstice were 1,342 in July, down from 1,846 in June. They sold 860 Skys in July. Mazda sold 1,565 Miatas in July, up from 370 a year ago. Mazda sales YTD were up 187% and up 323% for the month.

    A casual glance suggests that Sky sales are cannibalizing Solstice sales but possibly not Miata sales.

    Corvette sales have also slid about 10% since May. Are Sky/Solstice eating the Corvette?

  • avatar
    mikey

    Thanks MONTESS for voting with your wallet the MONTE SS is sweet.

  • avatar
    NeonCat93

    Geozinger,

    My comments were not specifically aimed at anyone. If you feel that I have singled you out for criticism I apologize. As a non-union worker I too must find a way to shoehorn TTAC time into my day, so I empathize with your time constraints. It may well be that past DWs had more meat to them than this one; I find just a nibble of corporate dumbness is filling enough, YMMV.

    gearhead455, montess, et al,

    If the general perception is that GM products are inferior to their competitors, and I believe it is, then GM faces a very tough battle to convince people otherwise. For too many years GM and Ford have not taken their competition seriously or chosen to compete only with each other. There are a great many people in this country who have driven their products from the 70s-90s and found them lacking. How do you convince those people that things have really changed? GM used to be the standard of the world. Used to be. The people at Ren Center still seem to think they are. At this point it is whistling past the graveyard; unless GM stops making cars that are “good-enough” and starts making the best cars available at the price point, they will slip farther and farther behind. I believe GM and Ford will always have their fans, but I also believe most people just want a damn good car at a great price. If GM or Ford won’t, or can’t, supply it, someone else will.

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    NeonCat93,
    I agree that GM and Ford will always have their fans. I know people and I’ve read a lot of comments on here where they swear by their cars. One of my co-workers has like seven Ford trucks and is convinced they’re the best cars on the planet. Same with people who own the SS car lines from Chevy.

    Now for me, if I step out of a GM and into one of its foreign cometitors, I feel as if the interior quality has leaped forward a good ten years. So they may not have as big of engines, but they make more sense. V8’s with 4-speed autoboxes and FWD don’t make sense to me. Especially when all you get for it is a bunch of tire smoke and understeer. A V6 with a 5-speed autobox and a more adapted FWD chassis is definitely a better way to go, especially if the nicer interior comes with it. Theres a reason foreign outsells domestic. Toyotas and Hondas are engineered as well as possible while still keeping it in a relative price range. GM cars just feel as if they were just tossed together and dumped in a bigger engine as an afterthought to lure people in with it’s low priced power.

    *edit
    montess: just out of curiosity, can you list off reasons why you would have your car over an import. forget anything about the companies who make them, just car to car.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    -Neon

    Yep, they are much better and there is a lot of data to support it. Go drive one without the fog of hatred (if possible).

    Whatever it does not really matter, god forbid… what would your friends think?!

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    forgive me if im a bit slow, but who are you talking to gearhead and who to

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Neon-

    Some people like what you like, some people don’t.

    BTW foreign only “out sell” domestic on planet California.

  • avatar
    montess

    mraj4114
    montess: just out of curiosity, can you list off reasons why you would have your car over an import. forget anything about the companies who make them, just car to car.

    sure-
    1. Price- Chevy a great price compared to everything out there in its class. Chevy has always been a great value, even more so now due to people who have been brainwashed into thinking imports are better than domestics. In a way, I shouldn’t complain about all the GM bashing, it helps people like me who realize that Chevy makes an economical, reliable car.
    2. Looks- My car stands out and has great lines, unlike the typical Honda or Toyota econobox. I don’t understand how these people even find their car in a crowded lot since they all look the same.
    3. Most important- brand loyalty from having good prior ownership. See my previous posts for more on this.

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    ok fair enough montess, i understand your reasons. looks and brand loyalty i’ll give you, but price is a bit of a bigger issue. yes, chevy’s have really competative prices, especially when they lure you in with power comparissons, but interior quality wise (and i said before they’ve massively improved) imports are a nicer place to sit.

  • avatar
    montess

    mraj4114:
    wow-
    You’re agreeing that my opinions mean more than what the “experts” say? Could the TTAC Kool Aid finally be wearing off?

  • avatar

    Gearhead455 writes:
    >>I like imports and I feel there is no reason to hate on domestics. The perception of all domestics is distorted and there is nothing they can do about it. You will always hate them until the day comes when domestics are the automotive underdog. Things will cycle 180 when Toyota get’s too big. Look at Saturn, they where HUGE on the east coast when they came out… when they were fully assimilated into GM people just automatically dismissed them again.

    Actually the problem when Saturn was pulled back into the Mother Company was that they dumbed Saturn down. The original Saturn looked cool. In fact, the first time I saw one, I knew exactly what it was, even though I had never seen a photo of the car. The SL2s handled very well, and the steering was precise. The first time I saw the second gen Saturn, which came out after Saturn had been pulled back into GM, I didn’t know if I was looking at a Hyundai, a Tercel, or an Olds. The next time I went to the dealer for service, I drove one. I did one of my usual test drive maneuvers, a fast 90 degree turn, which my ’93 always did flat, with excellent steering response. The ’96 leaned, squealed, and the rear end slid a foot or two.

    Saturn was huge when it came out because it was an interesting car. People dismissed it after it got pulled back into GM because it lost all its character.

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    well you should always trust people who actually own the cars rather than the people who drive it for 2 days. and obviously people have their own opinions. i have mine, and you have yours, and no matter how hard people try you’re almost never going to change someone’s perception of something.

    and btw gearhead, if you ignore truck sales, import cars have a 60.3% market share, compared to the domestic’s 39.7% (for July). so i believe imports outsell domestics on more than just planet CA

  • avatar

    mraj4114 writes:
    2. Looks- My car stands out and has great lines, unlike the typical Honda or Toyota econobox. I don’t understand how these people even find their car in a crowded lot since they all look the same.

    I put cruiserline ventiports (fake air intakes) on the front quarter panels of my Accord. Made them out of this flexible magnetic stuff. Of course, I have to worry that someone will mistake my car for a Buick!

  • avatar
    geozinger

    OK, I took some more time out of my day to post again…

    NeonCat93, no harm, no foul. I guess I just want more meat. I feel the DW franchise is treading water here. Plus, the ‘truth’ isn’t just limited to how crappy domestic cars are.

    mraj4114- I can list my reasons why I bought a 06 Malibu Maxx:

    1. I rented one for a couple of trips down to Tennessee (from Michigan). It was what they had available at the Avis office near my house, it turned out to be very roomy & comfortable. It did not embarrass itself on the twisty mountain roads around Pigeon Forge, either. Of course, being a family vehicle, it won’t have the handling of a ‘Vette, but it wasn’t my old Dodge Dynasty, either.

    2. On those trips, the fuel mileage exceeded my expectations, by a large margin. The ‘crude’ 3.5 engine had plenty of power for the mountains, too.

    3. Having seen them come through rental service, I had an idea of what the vehicle would look like at lease-end, considering my teenage children and our dogs. The interior may not be French-stitched leather, but it is durable.

    4. We love the hatchback body style on the mid-sized frame. For us, it just makes more sense than a regular closed sedan.

    5. Here’s where I sandbag everyone, we’re GM Family, so we get a pretty good deal compared to the general public. Even if we weren’t, the combination of the adjusted pricing and the hatchback body style did it for us.

    6. I like the dash layout, and the standard trip computer, the message center and the steering wheel audio controls. These are much better than the ones in our previous Pontiacs.

    7. The front seats are comfortable and my kids like the fact that the reat seats slide and recline.

    I have some niggling issues with the car, too. One of the Bridgestone tires has developed a slow leak I can’t locate, something rattles when I close the passenger rear door (not the door itself), the antenna needs to be torqued down and the interior is really, really dark. We’re coming up on the 90 day inspection, I imagine we will rectify those issues (with the exception of the dark interior) at that time.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    David,

    What year did you feel that Saturn became under GM control? Because it was not touched until the introduction of the LS.

    I worked at a Saturn Dealer for 5 years. As far as the handling, it’s always been the same, nothing has changed from 91 – 00. The engine (unchanged after 92) / suspension / sway bars and spring rates on the S series from 1991 to 2000 are all the same (excluding the wagon). The only thing that changed was your perception and the looks of the body.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    and btw gearhead, if you ignore truck sales, import cars have a 60.3% market share, compared to the domestic’s 39.7% (for July). so i believe imports outsell domestics on more than just planet CA

    What?

    No… we are not going to ignore truck sales and remember stuff like Saab and Jaguar are domestic and are usually counted as import.

  • avatar
    montess

    yeah, last time I checked a truck still counted as an automobile

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “3. Most important- brand loyalty from having good prior ownership.” – montess

    If brand loyalty is most important, should GM write off everybody who now owns a Toyota, Honda, Kia, etc? Should we first be loyal to our current brands?

    Well, there’s hope for GM, still. I love my Toyotas, make no mistake. But if they don’t offer what I want, why would I buy a Toyota? If they offer what I want, the price is competitive AND my experience has been positive then, yeah, I’d go back there first (maybe even for a few hundred over the competition).

    On another note…
    “2. On those trips, the [3.5L Malibu] fuel mileage exceeded my expectations, by a large margin. ” – geozinger

    What mileage did you get? I was glad of the opportunity to rent a Cobalt (even on my own dime) so that I could check it out. But disappointing fuel economy was the principal reason I took it off my list.

  • avatar
    montess

    dhathewa-
    “If they offer what I want, the price is competitive AND my experience has been positive then, yeah, I’d go back there first (maybe even for a few hundred over the competition).”
    EXACTLY
    Aren’t you just repeating what I said before?, but as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    ok even if you do count trucks, domestics and imports aren’t that big of a gap in market share. domestics are 52%, while imports are 48%.

    but why count trucks since close to 70% of their market share is domestic only because the only import trucks are really nissan and toyota. if you’re in the market for a truck its not like your choices are that big of that of cars

  • avatar
    montess

    mraj4114-
    if you’re in the market for a truck its not like your choices are that big of that of cars

    Yeah, the only reason that GM and Ford dominate the truck market is because people have limited choices. Can’t you just give credit where credit is due, like maybe people prefer their trucks over the imported ones?

  • avatar
    ktm

    Truck and SUV sales are plummeting, which is why people are pointing to the passenger sedan statistics. The Big 2.5 have an abysmal market share in that particular group. People have been saying that the Big 2.5’s reliance on truck and SUV sales is coming around to bite them where they’ve been sitting too long, and by discounting truck and SUV sales you can see the monumental task ahead of them.

    No, Saab and Jaguar are foreign as is Land Rover and Volvo. I guess by your logic, Lambo, when owned by Chrysler at one time, was a domestic…..or now that its owned by the VAG group, its a Volkswagen and thus German. Or wait, the Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, Subarus, and BMWs that are produced here in the US are actually domestic too! Why, the only thing that is an import are independent car companies that actually import their vehicles to the US.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    mraj4114

    What is your point?

    Would you like reality to warp to your belief?… No trucks are vehicles too.

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “Aren’t you just repeating what I said before?, ” – montess

    I should have more carefully emphasized, brand loyalty is last. First, they satisfy my need for the car, then they make the price nearly right, then brand loyalty kicks in.

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    gearhead,

    ktm pretty much answered that question for me
    Truck and SUV sales are plummeting, which is why people are pointing to the passenger sedan statistics. The Big 2.5 have an abysmal market share in that particular group. People have been saying that the Big 2.5’s reliance on truck and SUV sales is coming around to bite them where they’ve been sitting too long, and by discounting truck and SUV sales you can see the monumental task ahead of them.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    No, Saab and Jaguar are foreign as is Land Rover and Volvo. I guess by your logic, Lambo, when owned by Chrysler at one time, was a domestic…..or now that its owned by the VAG group, its a Volkswagen and thus German. Or wait, the Toyotas, Hondas, Nissans, Subarus, and BMWs that are produced here in the US are actually domestic too! Why, the only thing that is an import are independent car companies that actually import their vehicles to the US.

    Wow Really!? No kidding…

    I’m referring to how THEY ARE COUNTED.

    The controlling parent company… is it US or not. It’s not rocket science. By that logic half of everything made is Mexican.

  • avatar
    nino

    “Anybody salary,hourly.supplier,contract worker,ANYBODY! who makes a buck from G.M, in these tough times should buy and boost GM products period.”

    ABSOLUTELY!

    So, I guess a better question would be is WHY are the people that depend on GM for their living, NOT buying GM products?

  • avatar
    geozinger

    dhathewa,

    In my 06 Maxx on a trip from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Ft. Wayne, Indiana to Akron, Ohio (and then back again) we did 27.5 MPG, driving ‘slightly’ ;) above the speed limits in each of the respective states. With the A/C on. With enough luggage to attend a wedding. With enough luggage for one child to go to band camp on the way back to Michigan. With a green motor (less than 1000 miles).

    The rental ones were in the 30+ MPG ranges, even the 4 cylinder (ecotec) sedan we got once. And the ecotec Malibu had no problems pulling the hills on I-75 in Kentucky and Tennessee loaded with spring break kids and luggage…

  • avatar
    nino

    “I’m not sure I understand the link between being politically liberal, and driving a foreign car… many people have mentioned this, but it doesn’t seem like there would be a connection. If anything, it seems like it would be opposite, since the Left is more pro-union, pro-worker, wouldn’t left-leaning people support the UAW and buy their (American) cars? And wouldn’t right-leaning people, in the name of capitalism, purchase the best product available, even if it comes from Japan? ”

    Ah, you’ve been exposed to the new political reality in this country where “liberal” and “conservative” don’t mean what they USED to mean.

  • avatar
    nino

    “But… The solstice is ALOT cheaper and don’t forget… It’s hard not to look like a queer in a Miata though…”

    Wow! You must see Miata drivers with strange driving habits if you can tell that about them!

  • avatar
    nino

    “They may not mean what they used to mean, but are you telling me it’s gone so far that the meanings are now OPPOSITE? ”

    Not to get too political, but in today’s climate, the use of these labels do nothing more than reinforce negative stereotypes.

    Your political leanings have nothing to do with your preference in motor vehicles.

  • avatar

    I have removed all the comments about whether or not the Mazda Miata is a gay car. The comments were off topic and uncessary. We all understand that certain cars appeal to certain market demographics, but not necessarily to JUST those demographics.

    I’ve also warned a couple of people to tone it down. I am not pleased with the general tone and tenor of much of this debate. I expect respect, and will tolerate nothing less.

    Rest assured I will ban commenters who can not engage in civilized discussion. I have done so already and will not hesitate to do so again. Several of you are on the borderline. You know who you are. Grow up and chill.

  • avatar
    packv12

    Is it just me . . .

    I’ve been a student of the Auto Industry for too many years (hence the moniker) to enjoy this, but I feel that it’s a very important discussion all the same. I do not want to see any of the 2.5 get forced out of the playing field, but the 2.5 continuously refuse to listen to the consumer. They defer constantly to their customer, who is, after all, the dealer.

    Much of this change occurred in the ‘60’s, when GM started to create new divisions in order to avoid the threats from the Federal Government regarding Monopoly. These changes made it improbably that the Government would intervene, but it also dissolved the divisional competition that Alfred Sloan envisioned. Didn’t he once believe in the price points of the GM divisions, further stating that GM must have the most expensive interiors in their respective price class?

    I’m personally tired of see GM attempt to come out with a “World Class” car. They have had over thirty years to achieve this goal, but they always fall far short. Their “Handling Packages” ride like buckboards, their dashboards squeak after 20,000 miles, their seats and seating position couldn’t be worse, their electronics are more than dubious, as are their automatic transmissions, and their engineering compromises are ridiculous (See the Mini-Vans that sweat through their carpets because the compressor rests against the firewall.).

    GM has lost points to me through their hubris, whether it be their declamation that Radial Tires were a substitute for snow tires (1972 – in Colorado), the Turbo 200 swap in their full sized cars (1974 – C specialty with undersized tyranny’s.), and their wonderful declaration that FWD improves handling in snow and ice (Packaging envelope is great, but it’s better to have it on one all assembly lines.). None are facts, yet GM spent a great deal of money defending these viewpoints to where many still believe these points are true.

    I can’t talk too much though; I own and drive a 2000 Lincoln LS Sport with 75,000 miles. Although I’d like to keep this car forever, I doubt that I will ever buy another American Car. Between dealer and consumer relations and the non-existant factory and consumer relations, I’ll chose a Acura or Lexus my nest time around.

  • avatar
    ktm

    I wonder how many of the GM supporters have actually spent any time in a foreign car. I mean more than the one to two day rental. Earlier in my career I spent literally MONTHS in rental cars as my job required that I (for all intensive purposes) live on construction sites. My disdain for GM and Ford products was a result of the countless months I spent in these cars.

    You ask us to look at the domestic makes again (and I have – I almost bought a Charger), but you need to seriously and open-mindly take a look at the imports, both Asian and European. There is a reason why imports are outselling domestics in California and it has nothing to do with political affiliation.

    Californians are, by and large, not encumbered by brand loyalty or the concept of buy American. Californians buy what they like and what they want. Sure, they may be biased towards domestics, but that is because of their own (or someone they know) personal history with them.

    Remember when Hyundai first came out? They quickly earned a reputation of building inexpensive and cheap cars. It has taken them over 15 years to finally shirk that stigma, though it still haunts them.

    Our disdain for inferior products does not draw lines at national boundaries. If you build a crap product, expect it not to sell. If you build a good product, the buyers will come.

    RF described it best (on one of his Ford pieces I believe). The Big 2.5 do not evolve a car model over time. They keep trying to have one-hit homeruns (with their sedans) instead of continually bettering a product. If they would only extend what Ford has done with their F-150 to their other product lines, I think they would be in better shape.

    Remember Renault’s entry into the US? Crap and they failed. Citroens? Same.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    I have spent time in a lot of foreign cars, Volkswagen (still have one and I owned 3), Honda (worked as a tech at a dealer) and a few times in a Toyota. And I liked the cars for what they where designed to do. I always buy the car that I like regardless of loyalty (I have little to none, I like all cars to a point) for what I want to do. Also I never say all XXX cars are all “crap” or anything like that. My only purpose here is to defend some American products over being labeled unjustly on this site. They are much better than you perceive them to be as of the last 5 years. Really, just hear me out. Go drive a few new American cars, the test drive is free.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    KTM, just before I began writing for TTAC, I was rear-ended several times (LA Freeways rock!) and spent time in a number of domestic cars.

    They were:
    The Chrysler Pacifica
    Dodge Durango
    Ford Taurus

    Each one more embarrasing than the next. After climbing out of the Taurus and into my less-than-a-month old WRX, I nearly did an endo the first time I hot the brakes. The Ford’s pedal required you to put your foot to the floor just to slow down for a light.

    My point? America has a way to go.

  • avatar
    ktm

    Ok, I respect where you are coming from then. You gave the impression of blindly following the domestics without due consideration.

  • avatar
    rtz

    Either on purpose or not; Toyota created their own little Saturn brand. Scion. How many years now have the xA, xB, and tC been available? Any changes from year to year? I rarely see a tC. Nearly never an xA . About once a day for an xB.

  • avatar
    ktm

    rtz, come to southern California. The tCs are everywhere as are the xBs. I have seen only a handful of xAs. Oh, and to be fair, Scion has only been around since 2003. Your point about year-to-year changes is not valid. Hell, when they first came out it was with only the xA and xB. In 2004 they came out with the tC.

    Toyota is also pushing the tuner scene with the Scion line. All you have to do is watch a Scion commercial and visit a Toyota dealerhip.

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    same in Northern CA – tC’s are everywhere, some are slammed. Fewer xB’s, but I’m gradually seeing more xA’s – glossy black wheels seem to be the rage with these minis.

  • avatar
    nino

    But there’s more to a quality perception than just the cars, the dealer experience at a GM store pretty much sucks as well. And when that “better built” GM car starts having trouble, you’ll be given more stories than a library on why the service department can’t or won’t fix it.

    Many of the GM faithful here tell us to give the cars a chance, that our opinions are skewed by articles like the GM Deathwatch. I’m telling you that I’ve driven pretty much ALL of GM’s current offerings in many levels of trim and for me, NONE of them match the cars that they compete against in their class in either performance, interior, powertrain, etc. When you add this real world experience to the dismall dealership experience I’ve had in the past, explain to me why I should put a GM car on my buying list?

  • avatar
    nino

    And please explain this to me;

    My cousin just purchased a two year old Monte Carlo from a Chevy store. The extended warranty was $1532.00

    A two year old Toyota Solara (with the four cylinder) that was on the same lot had a higher purchase price. However, the cost of the extended warranty on the Toyota was $890.00 offering the same coverage and limits as the Monte.

    Are the warranty companies being influenced by the GM Deathwatch as well?

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    Remember when Hyundai first came out? They quickly earned a reputation of building inexpensive and cheap cars. It has taken them over 15 years to finally shirk that stigma, though it still haunts them.

    So true. The Excel was a hit when it first came out because it was so cheap and anyone who was alive could buy it, good credit or not. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very good car. Starting back when the Santa Fe first came out is when the brand started to rise for the better. It was actually a good car that was a good drive with good quality. The trend continues with the recently redesigned Sonata. I’ve actually gotten a chance to extensively drive most of the model line (except the 07 Santa Fe, and the Tucson), and even the 07 Accent is impressive. The build quality as well as the drive was miles better than the Aveo (though that is technically a Daewoo…). But compared to the previous gen Accident, wow. Same with the upcoming 07 Elantra which I’ve also had the opportunity to drive.

    But back to the point. I despise domestics for a few reasons. My family owned a mid 90’s Taurus, and a 94 GMC Suburban. I was too young to ever drive the Taurus as we got rid of it rather quickly. But I do remember it having habitual problems, as well as it not being particularly nice to ride in. The Suburban actually ran rather well for the first 10 years or so if its life, but after that the whole car pretty much just failed. I’ve gone to tons of Auto Shows, and driving events which I’ve gotten the chance to drive the new domestics. I can’t really say anything about real world application, but most of the cars driven have been well…less than satisfactory in the handling department. Lots of body roll and understeer. As for the interiors, in the past 15 or so years they’re improved maybe about 1/3 of what it’s foreign competitors have done. It’s like stepping into a time machine to the early 90’s when you sit in say a Malibu or a G6. This is when cars like the Camry or the Accord have interiors like the luxury cars of not that long ago. It just defy’s all logic how GM can manage not to jump on the bandwagon and create an actual quality product.

  • avatar

    What year did you feel that Saturn became under GM control? Because it was not touched until the introduction of the LS.

    Gearhead, The ’96 was the first of the GM-controlled Saturns

    I worked at a Saturn Dealer for 5 years. As far as the handling, it’s always been the same, nothing has changed from 91 – 00.

    Not in my experience. I don’t tend to imagine these things. I can’t tell you how many times I went charging into turns with my ’93 for the sheer joy of it. Once a policeman pulled me over–but didn’t charge me because I hadn’t exceeded the 30mph speed limit, although apparently I’d taken the turn far faster than he thought I should have.

    The ’96 and after were truly different cars from to the 91-95.

  • avatar

    >>I’m telling you that I’ve driven pretty much ALL of GM’s current offerings in many levels of trim and for me, NONE of them match the cars that they compete against in their class in either performance, interior, powertrain, etc.

    I have yet to drive one, but I’m always impressed with the reviews of the Corvette. Fun fact: I was born 7.5 hours before the first Corvette rolled off the line.

    I would consider a domestic in a minute if they produced anything that fit in the current lineup the way the ’70 Valiant my parents had fit in in its day. It was a wonderful car. I think of my Accord as the modern equivalent.

    And I would consider a ‘Vette if I were in the market for such a powerful sports car. (The Boxster is more my style.)

    Unfortunately, the domestics make nothing else that would tempt me.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Hyundai is my favorite “example” of what a company, with the right leadership, and the right frame of mind, and yes…the right “desire” can accomplish.

    I remember all too well the first Excel. It was trash as well (in reference to my previous post re. the first Saturn). And here’s the difference between Hyundai and GM: Hyundai never came out and boasted and bragged about what they were GOING to accomplish. No. They just quielty hunkered down and DID IT.

    I was going to say GM has has equally as long a time to get their act together (~15 years for Hyundai). But no…GM has had DOUBLE that about of time (30+ years!!!). And look where we are today in 2006:

    Still playing catch-up, and yes…tossing out the braggart-style “We are EQUALLY as good!!” nonsense.

    As an American, I find GM’s way of doing business ethically and morally repugnant!

  • avatar
    Rastus

    amount (vs about).

  • avatar
    rtz

    Hyundai may be building decent vehicles these days, but it’s going to be real hard for them to scrub the image of them from the memories from all those who were around and remember Hyundai in the 1980’s. When I think of Hyundai, that’s what I think of. Also, that name has always at first glance reminded me of the word Hindu. Hyundai Hindu. Hindu Hyundai. I don’t know why. The word Hyundai just isn’t in the American psyche. Right now though, they sure look and feel like a Honda or Toyota clone. That tweaked Honda emblem Hyundai uses. It’s about as close as they could get it without someone yelling foul. Also, their association with KIA(has anyone ever told them that to most people, that stands for Killed In Action?).. It sure doesn’t help anything that all their product offerings are average price(or expensive!), average mpg, and average or below average performance. I have no reason to buy or own a Hyundai or KIA. I always look to see who and what kind of individual bought one whenever I see one on the road thinking “out of all the cars, why’d you buy one of those?” as I blow by them shaking my head in disbelief and astonishment.

    I don’t see how Nissan and Mitsubishi can continue to sell cars in this country. Around here it’s all Honda/Toyota, Ford/GM with some off brands sprinkled in(Pontiac/Lexus). All these car companies have some neat, interesting cars.. It’s just that they don’t sell them here in the U.S….

  • avatar
    Mervich

    Top 10

    Market share of top-selling auto brands in California in the second quarter

    Toyota: 23.4%

    Honda: 12.4%

    Ford: 9.6%

    Chevrolet: 8.2%

    Nissan: 7.0%

    Mercedes-Benz: 3.7%

    BMW: 3.7%

    Lexus: 3.6%

    Dodge: 3.6%

    GMC: 2.6%

    Source: California Motor Car Dealers Assn.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    David,

    I worked for a Saturn dealer… No GM influence before the LS. I’m sorry but it’s just not true. 96 were only different in one way because it was OBD2 diagnostics.

    Ask for some parts for an S (Vin X) car chassis… all the same part numbers for most of it. Who are you to tell me different? I work for gm and worked at a Saturn dealer. Sorry… it’s you. It’s not my fault you can’t face reality.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Just to get the GM fans riled up even more, isn’t that a New York Times ad I just saw to the left?

    Reloaded the page and I got the AC Delco/Coverage One Service Plan. Okay, I guess we’re fair and balanced now. Another few page loads and look, there’s Armor All to split the difference.

  • avatar
    mraj4114

    Hyundai may be building decent vehicles these days, but it’s going to be real hard for them to scrub the image of them from the memories from all those who were around and remember Hyundai in the 1980’s. When I think of Hyundai, that’s what I think of

    That is what Hyundai’s new campaign “Rethink Everything” is about. One of their commercials that debuted during the World Cup is a prime example. The Gazelle taking down the Lion.

    And interesting fact, Toyota now considers Hyundai to be their prime competitor because it’s growing so well. Hyundai has gone from pretty much nothing to now being the fourth largest importer behind Toyota, Honda, and nipping at Nissan’s heels.

    But more on topic:
    And here’s the difference between Hyundai and GM: Hyundai never came out and boasted and bragged about what they were GOING to accomplish. No. They just quielty hunkered down and DID IT.

    That is pure truth. Hyundai actually employs a lot of ex Toyota and Honda (even GM and Ford) employees and execs. The VP of Corporate & Strategic Planning, John Krafcik, used to be employed by Ford joined Hyundai in 2004, and since then has been responsible for the Tuscon, Entourage, Accent, Santa Fe (07MY), Azera, and the upcoming redesigned Elantra. Hard and slient work have gone into Hyundai to completely revamp the company’s name and public perception. Now that is what I want to see GM and Ford do. Forget all of this public stuff saying how you’re going to be a better company and tell us all your plans. Just sit down and do it, and do it good for our sake.

  • avatar
    ktm

    rtz, just where on earth do you live? Nissan not be able to sell cars in the US? There is damn near an Altima every 5th car around here, the older Xterras are crawling all over the place, the 350zs are buzzing around, and the Titan’s bullying their way through traffic. I am not exaggerating, if the So Cal market is any indicator about Nissan’s popularity, then they are the prom queen.

    If you live in the midwest I understand (not a derogatory remark). I spent 4 long, miserable years at Purdue in W. Lafayette. Imports were a rarity in those parts, even with a Subaru factory right outside of town. Later, I used to visit my sister in KC and some friends in StL and they domestics reigned supreme. The vast diversity of American buying habits is really quite surprising.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Okay, even though I posted just above that this has become a tiresome thread, I have to add to ktm’s comment: I live 60 miles from Manhattan, yet I have seen maybe one Solstice on the road in the last year, I see a 911 of any vintage about once a month, I have yet to see a Toyota FJ Cruiser on the road (other than the press casr in my driveway right now) and an AMG sighting is right up there with Ferraris in Arkansas.

    I sometimes get the feeling that half the posts on this forum are from Californicators who haven’t the faintest idea what the car world is like east of Truckee.

  • avatar

    Rastus: Nice.

    I just spent the last hour reading close to 200 comments. So I’ll add my own. I am currently in the market for a sub-$15k auto (Hey, 20 year old students are shit broke.). I don’t suffer from brand loyalty, since I have only owned one car.

    I say I don’t suffer from brand loyalty, but my own driving experiences are not the only ones that have suade me. I recall the Chrysler vans my parents owned and all the times their Caravan and later Town and Country failed to make it home. Both were sold before they reached 100k miles. (Got to know a local wrecker service very well.)

    I am not initially inclined to buy Toyota either. My Camry has had its share of problems. The rear main engine seal was going out at 228k miles and… I had a flat last week. Can I count that?

    Just what am I offered from Dodge, Ford, and Chevrolet? The Caliber is too ugly. Why don’t they offer the Euro Focus? What about the Aveo? What about it?

    How about the imports? Toyota offers the Yaris, which is nice, but one had better like dash. Nissan’s Versa is ten times uglier than the Caliber. Honda’s Fit is a very nice auto, but it seems like the dealers want to keep them.

    IMO, the domestics are not offering “new” cars. Isn’t the Aveo an older Daewoo? That Focus is 5 years old now? The Caliber is still ugly.

    The domestics don’t offer anything appealing to me. If they offered something that was in the same price point but better than the Honda or Toyota I’d be all over it, but they don’t.

    And this marks the end of this very long thread.
    ;)

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “I sometimes get the feeling that half the posts on this forum are from Californicators who haven’t the faintest idea what the car world is like east of Truckee. ” – Stephan Wilkinson

    I’m from Minnesota and regularly travel elsewhere. That good enough for you?

    I live in a reasonably well-to-do suburb. In trucks and SUVs, it’s roughly even between domestics and imports. In cars, imports rule. I even see several Priuses every day and I’ve noticed the occasional Camry Hybrid (they’re harder to spot – it’s just the badge on the back that gives it away).

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Before you take off on the “left coast” California, let’s look at the facts. At some 35 million people or 12% of the us population no car company can “ignore” Californina and survive. As a bellweather State which has started trends in all types of things, the foreign car trend goes back to the 60’s and 70’s when Californians were the first to embrace Japanese cars. I am from Pa. but with only 1/3 of Ca. population we don’t set any trends here. The amount of popular cars designed in Ca. by many of the World’s auto builders is testament to the weight of Ca. in the car business. If GM and Ford become irrelevant in Ca., the rest of the country will not be far behind.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    Car & Driver also gave the Aura the “it’s no Camry killer” prize. Oh, well, I guess we already know how the reviews for the upcoming Malibu are going to say.

    http://www.caranddriver.com/roadtests/11558/2007-saturn-aura.html

  • avatar

    Gearhead wrote:
    I worked for a Saturn dealer… No GM influence before the LS. I’m sorry but it’s just not true. 96 were only different in one way because it was OBD2 diagnostics.
    Ask for some parts for an S (Vin X) car chassis… all the same part numbers for most of it. Who are you to tell me different? I work for gm and worked at a Saturn dealer. Sorry… it’s you. It’s not my fault you can’t face reality.

    Gearhead,

    Please check the paragraph below, which is from the NY Times, Oct. 26, 1994, which says that the decision to fold Saturn back into the Mother Company had already been made by then(!!!). And then ask yourself who is having trouble facing reality.

    COMPANY NEWS; SATURN WORKERS MAY APPLY FOR OTHER G.M. JOBS
    The Saturn Corporation has agreed to let United Auto Workers-covered employees apply for jobs in other factories run by the General Motors Corporation, a break from its innovative labor agreement that emphasized Saturn’s independence from G.M., The Detroit Free Press reported yesterday. In earlier years, workers were required to quit G.M. before getting jobs at Saturn. But recently Saturn’s role has been diluted by G.M.’s decision to fold Saturn into a new companywide Small Car Group, by negotiations to build and sell an American version of the European Opel through Saturn dealerships and by a vote by Saturn workers to end weekly team meetings, the paper said.

    October 26, 1994

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Swivel chair to right

    455- “Hey John I have a question for you.”

    John- “Ok, what”

    455-“When did GM corporate come in and take control of Saturn design?”

    John- “About 2 or 3 years ago when they introduced the ION, my pay check started coming from GM too”

    455- ” Hey John, one more thing”

    John- “Yeah”

    455- “You worked for Service Parts in Spring Hill right?”

    John- “Yep”

    455- “Are there any difference in the chassis stuff between a 93 and a 98 S car?”

    John- “Not that I’m aware of, it all should all be about the same”

    455- “Thanks”

  • avatar
    ktm

    Stephan, which is why I added my comments about the diversity of American buying habits. You can not just blame Californians (I have lived in 15 states around the country, from Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi, to Delaware/Maryland and Pennsylvania, to Texas, Michigan and Alaska) for their myopic view of car buying habits. Everyone is guilty.

  • avatar
    JustAnotherGMer

    I’m a little late to the blanket party here, but I think the reason for GM-Only parking in the Tech Center parking deck and “good lots” has NOTHING at all to do with any sort of embarassing image from Van Dyke or head-in-the-sand behavior on the part of any executive leadership. There are other GM-Only lots you can’t see from the main roads. I guess when they took away supplier lunches, the motivation for them to drive a Cadillac subsided considerably.

    It’s simply a matter of giving the preferential parking spaces (closest to the entrances) to people that drive GM vehicles – same thing you’ll see at assembly plants. It’s worth mentioning that exceptions include handicapped parking and motorcycles – no restrictions there.

    FWIW – I park my GM vehicle out in the non-GM lot for two reasons.

    First: I enjoy the walk and it makes the non-GM driver have to park one further space away from the building :) One day, I’d like to see all the GM vehicles avoid the parking deck and flood the non-GM lot. Push the skimmers to the grass!

    Second: Seeing the competitive vehicles driven by GM employees is a motivational reminder that there is no sense of obligation in the marketplace.

    The general public does not care if GM is the largest provider of health care in the country or not – so long as GM is not paying their medical bills.

    The general public does not comprehend the importance of U.S. manufacturing as a basis for a robust economy – so long as they can keep going to WalMart to buy cheap imported products whose price tag reflects their own stagnant wages.

    So as long as it’s obvious nobody cares about these socio-economic principles, the products gotta make the sale. Period. Certainly, there are many bandwagons for people to jump on, but we gotta give folks a reason to jump on ours. And listen to the other bandwagons at the same time.

    So as long as some skimmer working at my employer buys a competitive product, I and all the other employees have to work twice as hard to make sure we are doing what we can to give the skimmers and the rest of the global market a reason to buy GM the next time.

    Enough soap box for now, I guess.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I just had to note the chauvinism from the ‘import’ guys…

    Just because some one favors GM here, does not mean that they zero experience with other brands. I will date my age here, but one of my first automotive related jobs was with a Ford/AMC dealer in rural NE Ohio 25+ years ago. (The owner made more $$’s on the tractors back then.) About 15 years ago I worked for a Toyota store in Metro Atlanta, and saw many of the same shenanigans that I saw in the Ford /AMC store. In between those times, I spent some time as a porter in a Buick store in NW Pennsylvania. I’ve owned many different makes of cars, the vast majority used and out of warranty. Obviously I have a different take on what works than someone who’s never dealt with ‘pre-owned’…

    I’m sure others if they cared to tell, could give you a similar resume.

    I think there’s a lot of bad assumptions on both sides…

  • avatar
    Joe C.

    JustAnotherGMer,

    About time you showed up!

    Please walk over and give gearhead a noogie from all of us (and a super-wedgie from those of us from California).

    Keep fighting the good fight. There’s nothing I want to see more than better, more competitive products streaming out of the 2.5. I am not looking forward to the day when market choice for regular ol’ cars is down to just the Germans, Japanese, Koreans and eventually the Chinese. But that’s how it feels right now.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Tyler D:

    Get a Honda Fit. Thank me later.

    And your moniker better not be Fight club related.

  • avatar
    craigefa

    JustAnotherGMer

    A “skimmer”? Is that official GM speak for a GM employee that buys something other than GM? Do skimmers contribute nothing to your organization? Because they drive something other than GM is their work not worth the money GM is paying them? Are they only kept around to provide motivation to the real employees, the loyal ones? Are these the people that are shut down in meetings when they suggest putting something other than a 4 speed automatic transmission in a new car?

    PS: It’s not the “general public that does not comprehend the importance of U.S. manufacturing as a basis for a robust economy”, it’s the economy that doesn’t recognize the importance of U.S. manufacturing. U.S. manufacturing has been on the decline for decades. Has the U.S. economy been on the decline for decades? No, it has continued to grow. If all manufacturing ended in an instant, that would be bad, but GM going bankrupt is not going to end all manufacturing. It will just continue to dwindle and as it does the economy will adjust.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Maybe this was already pointed out (who has time to read 200+ comments), but if you were a contractor with PepsiCo (least of all an employee) and you were seen drinking a Coke at a meeting on or off their premises, your contract would not be getting renewed. Obviously, a car is a different type of purchase than a soft drink, so GM can’t take as severe of a stance as PepsiCo, but I see nothing wrong with requiring non-GM products to be parked on the back lot.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    craigefa-

    I agree

  • avatar
    JustAnotherGMer

    No. “Skimmer” is a term I came up on my own that has a fairly loose definition. Say you pull a paycheck from a company then spend your dollars supporting the competition. Skimmers can be hard workers and contributing – sure. But every skimmer should be prepared to answer why they drive a competitive product and not be surprised that they might be asked the question.

    I’m sure there are people that work at Dell that have an Apple at home, and I’m sure they have their reasons why.

    My comment about the economy and manufacturing has more to do with our trade policies which allow skimmer companies to invest a dime in the US and leave with a dollar – figuratively speaking.

    When the American well runs dry, the Toyota plants will have just as many cobwebs as the 2.5 plants.

  • avatar
    craigefa

    Lumbergh21

    I completely understand GM expecting their employees to buy GM, especially since they offer them such a steep discount, but I don’t understand the “skimmers” term. It makes it sound like these employees are taking advantage of the company; the company is giving them everything and the employees are ungrateful bastards. I think that’s a bunch of crap. My view of employment is simple: work=pay. Not work+loyalty+undying devotion=pay. You can bet GM isn’t adding loyalty and undying devotion to their half of the equation.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    Most of your “skimmers” do not work for GM.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Tyler D:

    If your a 20 y.o. student, whose “shit broke”, what are you even doing looking at a new car. Look at used GMs and Fords with above average reliability ratings (they do exist) and before buying have it checked out by a mechanic. Are GMs or Fords better than Toyotas, Hondas, etc.? No, but they are a lot cheaper because of the bigger initial depreciation hit they take. The best strategy might be to keep the Camry if the only problems are a rear main engine seal leak at 228k miles and a flat tire. The flat tire is not the fault of the car. Those are caused by either the road or the driver (in some cases). If the rear main seal isn’t leaking to bad, just keep checking the oil every time you get gas and keep a couple of quarts in the trunk. Lots of college students survive driving beaters. It may have been awhile for me since I was in college (graduated in 93), but I had an 84 Aries K car, one roommate had an 83 Nissan Pickup (or did it still have the Datsun badge in 83?), and the second roommate had a 79 (I think) Celica. Now we all have middle class engineering jobs and drive decent cars. We were able to survive the humiliation of driving these cars with no permanent damage to our psychies ;-). And, I would be willing to bet that we are doing better than most of the BMW driving, parent supported students in the non-science majors.

    So, I guess that about sums up the GM market, people who can’t afford a nice car.

  • avatar
    mikey

    THANK YOU! fellow GMers from the U.S.There is some people that feel loyalty to them that put the food on our table.We are still here and we are not going away,not now, not next week never.

  • avatar
    JustAnotherGMer

    Where necessity can not provide full justification for one’s choices, there is either loyalty (service to others) or self-servitude (which at an extreme would be called selfishness).

    To apply this to the point at hand, I suppose there are those who drive what they drive as it is all that they can afford or it’s “what they had” or some other reason out of necessity. I would not classify people in this situation as skimmers, though we are all skimmers to some extent in some facet of our lives.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    I had so little to do this afternoon–I’m on ambulance duty, waitin’ for the tones to drop–that I went through this entire thread and came up with the following factoids.

    Not counting a few irrelevant posts, 50 different people contributed to the thread. 14 were either strongly or somewhat pro-GM and 36 were anti-GM or at least pro-import.

    There, I’m done.

  • avatar

    Regarding someone’s earlier point that Hyundai would have a lot of trouble improving its reputation:

    When I was a kid, in the late ’50s, my mother would refer to badly made stuff as “Japanesy.” By the mid to late-70s or so, when I first became aware that Japanese cars were getting good reviews for quality, I briefly remembered my mother’s epithet, and thought, hmm, this change is interesting, and then pretty much forgot about it, until now.

    Having been an adult when Hyundais were making their bad reputation, I have more trouble with thinking of them as decent cars. My gut still wants badly to diss them. But my brain realizes they’re not POS anymore.

    Gearhead: I had the feeling you thought I made up the NYT quote. You can find it yourself at this address: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A07E1DE123FF935A15753C1A962958260

    It is true that the domestics have made a slew of bad choices about how they’ve run their businesses. But they have a big handicap in their huge pension and health care obligations (see the current New Yorker). The Feds should take over these functions if they want to do American businesses a huge favor.

  • avatar
    nino

    “The Feds should take over these functions if they want to do American businesses a huge favor.”

    While I understand that businesses employ people, do we really want to increase taxpayer burden to pay for nationalized pensions and healthcare and let the government run it?

    Back in the day, GM made a deal with the devil in that they traded lower actual wages for a lucrative benefit package they would pay for down the road. GM never anticipated that the cost of those benefit packages would skyrocket the way they have. Other companies were smart enough to cap the cost of future benefit packages. It’s a decision that companies make as part of their strategy to stay in business. If you make the wrong one, you deserve to fail.

    It’s the AMERICAN way.

  • avatar
    nino

    As I read some of the GM appologists here, I can’t help but think that they sound just like the company they are defending, full of stories and excuses on why they can’t do the job or that the job they’re doing is good enough. What’s wrong with pointing out that GM has made and continues to make mistakes and that they need to listen to the consumer if they are to have any hope of turning things around? Keeping your head in the sand and crowing about how GM is doing this better or that better when the cold, hard, truths of the marketplace don’t bear this out, is foolish and counterproductive to the rebirth of GM as an automotive force once again.

  • avatar
    JustAnotherGMer

    Nino – Who’s apologizing? GM not listening to the consumer? Lack of foresight, perhaps.

    With significant capital and long lead times for product development, the winner is the one who most accurately predicts what the consumer is going to want several years down the road. It’s not like you can go take a public opinion poll and put the wheels of people’s dreams on the road in six months.

    My genuine concern is that GM continues to make strides (unnoticed, shelved, or otherwise) but will get outspent and wildly over-critiqued with unnecessary hyperbole at every turn. Quantum leap moves will be called desparate and incremental moves will be called insufficient. I’m just hoping that all moves will be consistently pointed in the right direction and that the bandwagons will halt their death chant long enough so we can hear ourselves cheer once in a while.

  • avatar
    Stephan Wilkinson

    Hey, Lumburgh21 Mister Engineering Major, don’t be so smug about the liberal arts students. Yeah, I bought my daughter a car when she was still in high school–a brand-new twin-cam Neon, not a BMW, but I wanted whatever Camaro-owning moron she dated to be riding right seat, after I sent her through the full Skip Barber series of road and competition courses.

    And what is she doing now? Well, last week she was heli-hiking in the Canadian Rockies, this week she’s in Australia working with a Bondi Beach surf-rescue team and next month she’s off to Peru for some mountain-climbing, all as a 27-year-old editor and writer for the world’s best travel magazine. No Dilbert cubicles for her.

  • avatar
    PerfectZero

    Lumburgh21-

    As one of those beater-driving, engineering college students, I’m glad to hear the driving options get better in the future!

  • avatar
    nino

    JustAnotherGMer:

    < >

    What you feel is over-critiqued in many cases is well deserved criticism based on the hyberbole that comes out of GM over incremental moves that are portrayed as quantum leaps. And while I agree to some extent that long lead times can lead to some missteps in the product line, it doesn’t explain why GM powertrains and interiors are so deficient in the marketplace today and it doesn’t explain new products that seem to me like a cake that is 75% baked.

    GM management think of their products as just numbers on paper. They have no love for their product. Maybe if they had passion for what they build, they wouldn’t give us a whole bunch of stories on why pushrod V6 engines are so good that they don’t need overhead cams.

    I’m hoping you get to genuinely cheer for something pretty soon.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    nino quotes: “The Feds should take over these functions if they want to do American businesses a huge favor.”

    nino says:While I understand that businesses employ people, do we really want to increase taxpayer burden to pay for nationalized pensions and healthcare and let the government run it?

    There’s lots of talk about a ‘level playing field’ among competitors, except companies in the US don’t get the same benefits other countries give their industries.

    The companies that have gone under (and some in bankruptcy) have dumped their pension obligations on to the Federal Pension Benefit Guaranty Company (i.e. the US taxpayer). I applaud the companies who are attempting to keep that burden off of our Treasury. We do have nationalized pensions, just not for everybody.

  • avatar
    JustAnotherGMer

    I attribute outdated engine technology to the overestimation on what fruit the joint ventures would bear. You can’t remain the leader if you outsource your R&D. Oh – that only cost a few $B to find out.

    And I’m completely with you that only passionate efforts can make a difference in such a competitive market.

  • avatar
    gearhead455

    David,

    I never thought that anything was made up as far as the article. The article has nothing to do with GM removing Saturn engineering, Marketing and manufacturing control. It’s about the UAW swapping jobs…

  • avatar
    dhathewa

    “[Vice President of Design] Wellburn issued a new edict: ‘Design Center is host to … senior management … including the Board of Directors. … As such, I am directing that ONLY GM products be parked on the roads around Design and in the parking area in front of our building.\'”

    After some thought, it occurred to me that the real problem here in’t the hubris or the insularity of the edict itself but, rather, considering what they must pay him, couldn’t he find something better to do with his time? GM can’t afford to have expensive people working on things that are a pointless waste.

  • avatar
    FINANCEGUY

    GM just came back out with 0% for deadbeats on select vehicles through September 5th Buick Ranier,Rendevous,Envoy Envoy XL and Grand Prix

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    Stephen Wilkonson:

    Congratulations to you and your daughter. I expected to get some flack for my comments regarding liberal arts majors, as that’s what most people who went to college were. However, I can safely say that the kids in the engineering programs at the University I attended were on the whole driving beaters while the BMW driving students were poly sci, undeclared, or such. Must be nice to have a parent buy their kid a car instead of having to work to earn money and pay for it (and your education) yourself.

    Perfect Zero:

    Yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m kinda’ into old cars so right now I have a 58 Chevy Apache Fleetside there is nearly completed and a ’68 Mustang 289 that I’m working on as a car for my wife. Our daily drivers are a Mazda6s and a Cobra Mustang (hers). Not the best, flashiest cars, but nice.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Lumbergh:

    As a liberal arts major (Philosophy AND Religion) I would like to report that I took out student loans to pay for school, worked a bunch and had a bike. OK, well, when I was a Junior I finally got the Old Man’s Pontiac Station Wagon with 190,000+ miles on it. And put another 80,000 miles on it before I donated it to charity after a failed engine rebuild.

    So, stop stereotyping.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    Jonny,

    On behalf of BA holders everywhere, thanks for sticking up for us!

    I have seen plenty of Engineering Faculty where Bimmers, VW’s and Audis are well represented (okay, ONE Engineering Faculty parking lot).

    On the bright side these guys and gals will have the basic knowledge to repair all of the complex electronics and components when they fail out of warranty!

    Regrettably, my History/Economics degree did not prep me for that…

    Come on up to Calgary Jonny, maybe we can find you a few cars to drive up here!

    CJ

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