By on March 12, 2007

opelgtcconcept04222.jpgI’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: GM Car Czar Bob Lutz is a gift. To the media– not GM stockholders. The General’s Vice Chairman of Global Product Development feels free to make it up as he goes along, paying scant regard to the current state of the world market or his own company’s plans. Lutz proved the point, again, at his Swiss birthplace. Speaking to reporters at the Geneva auto salon, Lutz outlined his vision for Cadillac. Unfortunately, Cadillac’s General Manager was at the same show. 

So, Mr. Lutz, Caddy’s flagship sedan, the DTS. The model accounts for 25.6% of the brand’s U.S. sales. Does it? I’m not surprised. Yes, well, moving forward, front or rear wheel-drive? Rear wheel-drive. That’s the way we’re going with all our mainstream– I mean, upmarket cars.

Jim Taylor, General Manager, Cadillac. DTS. Front or rear-wheel drive? Good question. We could put the DTS on the Zeta rear wheel-drive platform– which we’re using for the new Pontiac G8– or merge it with the STS line. Or keep it in its current form. So no decision yet? No decision yet.

Mr. Lutz, what about a small Caddy? You guys sell the front wheel-drive Cadillac BLS in Europe, South Africa and Mexico. Any plans to bring it to the States? We don’t want a front wheel-drive Cadillac in the domestic market. As for a small rear wheel-drive car, "there's certainly an opening, whether we choose to fill it or not." 

Jim, you on board with that? "We're not going there. We're a $30,000-to-$40,000 player, not a $20,000-to-$30,000 player."

Even now, I find it astounding that a company as large as GM is run by people who don’t know the first thing about competitive strategy. Strike that– who don’t HAVE a competitive strategy. Or if they DO have one, the people in charge of implementing it have no idea what it is. How could the two men determining the fate of GM’s flagship brand have various, nebulous plans for its future?

No wonder GM is getting its ass kicked.

Even a cursory glance at Toyota’s success tells us the company’s top executives have read, understood and implemented Sun Tsu’s “The Art of War.”  To wit:

“The good fighters of old first put themselves beyond the possibility of defeat, and then waited for an opportunity of defeating the enemy.” Think Camry.

“He wins his battles by making no mistakes. Making no mistakes is what establishes the certainty of victory, for it means conquering an enemy that is already defeated.” Think Toyota’s rep for reliability and their limited product line.

“Appear at points which the enemy must hasten to defend; march swiftly to places where you are not expected.” Think Prius.

“We can form a single united body, while the enemy must split up into fractions. Hence there will be a whole pitted against separate parts of a whole, which means that we shall be many to the enemy's few.” Think Toyota’s three divisions.

Need I go on? The really depressing bit is that you can read Sun Tsu and marvel at all the ways GM has violated virtually ALL of the principles set forth by the master military strategist.

GM’s seemingly endless strategic failure seems preposterous, given the fact that Maximum Bob Lutz is a former Marine aviator. Surely a top flight military man should understand the rudiments of armed conflict enough to formulate something akin to a coherent plan for victory.

But then, Lutz served from 1954 to 1965, before Colonel John Boyd changed Marine fighting strategy to reflect Sun Tsu’s principles. Lutz was trained to execute what Boyd called "hey diddle diddle, straight up the middle.” In other words, Lutz and Co. still believe in a direct assault on Toyota, using strength of numbers to overwhelm the enemy.

Why else would GM even entertain the idea of buying Chrysler? Even though it’s clear to anyone with a modicum of common sense that the last thing GM needs is more cars, workers, bureaucrats, divisions and dealers, the fools running the company couldn’t immediately see that the concept offered nothing more than a corporate suicide pact. How many examples of ruined conglomerates do you need to see before you realize that “synergy” is another word for insanity?

If GM had some genuine mental firepower at the top, could they turn the company around? Absolutely. But they’d need to adopt Sun Tsu’s final strategy: if all else fails, retreat. Many see GM’s successful expansion into foreign markets as its final hope. Others do not. As Cadillac’s lackluster lineup proves, GM needs to regroup, conserve its remaining resources and marshal them for the fight on the home front. Otherwise, all will be lost. 

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57 Comments on “General Motors Death Watch 113: Hey Diddle Diddle...”


  • avatar
    tom

    I really liked the Sun Tzu comparisons. Next: German manufacturers and Carl von Clausewitz’ “On War” :)

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    In reference to the final paragraph, given their reputation at home versus abroad, I think it would be pure lunacy/suicide for GM to withdraw from foriegn markets. Ideally, it would be nice though if GM could cut some brands and cars from their badge-engineered bloated lineup.

    On another note, it was interesting reading the quotes from “The Art of War.” Though I’m sure he never read it, it reminds a lot of “Stonewall” Jackson’s method of fighting in the Civil War, which was to find the enemy’s soft spot, hit it hard, and once they are on the run, never let up.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    GM has been their own “enemy” chasing customers away. Who can blame Toyota for that ?

  • avatar
    dewart khedive

    Even an attack up the middle might succeed if it was better planned.

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    Lutz has, at a minimum, pulled GM to the front of the “big 2.5” pack. Given the state of things before he arrived, I’d say he’s earned his keep.
    I certainly wouldn’t trade him for Markie Mark or Tommy (not the Dodger).
    Toyota’s just rolled out $1500 dealer cash and 3.9% after only a few weeks with the new Tundra so maybe there’s some hope in the pickup market also.

  • avatar
    ejacobs

    “…using strength of numbers to overwhelm the enemy”

    A recent Newsweek article discussed that if GM bought Chrysler, they could stay on top of the numbers game. They could sell more cars than Toyota for a few more years and delay the inevitable. Somehow, I doubt that would “overwhelm the enemy.”

  • avatar

    indi500fan:

    You see? You gotta see the big picture.

    The fact that Toyota’s dropping the price of the Tundra is a BAD sign for GM, not Toyota. These guys could afford to GIVE Tundras away for market share.

    Anything that moves Tundras hurts GM. Anything. GM needs to respond. But how?

    Supposedly, that’s why they pay Lutz the big bucks.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    It still looks bad having incentives on the Tundra already, as they did with the Prius recently. Yes they could give them away but doesn’t all this affect resale etc as has been discussed on here repeatably with the domestic incentive problems. Its the same issue whether you give them away or not. If Toyotas worried, and its execs have been quoted in the press that they are worried about not hitting their 200k sales per year, then i think there is a very good glimmer of hope there, a chink in the armour has been exposed, nows the time to take advantage of that. And why would it hurt GM in particularly, wouldn’t it hurt Ford and Chrysler more with their aged fleet of trucks?!

  • avatar
    jkross22

    GM never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity. The fact that these highly compensated company execs aren’t on the same page at the same auto show should be sign number 3,459 that GM isn’t serious about leadership and strategy. That’s to say nothing of how those dark circles in Consumer Reports darken so many of the General’s “premier brand” products reliability and resale value.

    How can anyone believe GM is going to survive in its current state?

  • avatar
    brifol5

    “GM never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity.”

    That’s one of the best lines ever on TTAC! Thank jkross22 for the laugh.

  • avatar
    Arragonis

    Many see GM’s successful expansion into foreign markets as its final hope.

    Do you mean GM, or Caddy’s ?

  • avatar
    Hippo

    ________________________________________________
    # tom:
    March 12th, 2007 at 12:00 pm

    I really liked the Sun Tzu comparisons. Next: German manufacturers and Carl von Clausewitz’ “On War” :)
    _______________________________________________

    Not really. Von Clausewitz has been US (military) doctrine for a long time. To beat the Sun Tzu boys you have to go “4th generation warfare” on them, and to do that you have to get rid of all the dead weight.

  • avatar
    GMinsider

    Great review on the clunky DTS!
    Interesting article today in the Detroit Free Press, “GM Workers Drive Up Survey Results”
    Newsweek magazine asked its readers on its Web site who makes the best cars, General Motors or Toyota. On Thursday, the vote was 54% for Toyota, according to an e-mail from GM workers and a UAW local that urged its members to vote for GM. (“Vote only if you agree that we make better cars — If you are a closet Toyota fan, don’t vote,” the e-mail said.) By midafternoon Friday, the vote was 83% for GM. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17437402/site/newsweek

    After spending several years at GM as an engineer, I can confirm that all surveys involving GM are pencil whipped with the highest scores! I am surprised that GM does not rank number one in the JD Power’s surveys. I have watched countless GM employees send back these important surveys with all the highest scores possible. So the hundreds of thousands of GM employees, plus their family members (millions) skew the results of most surveys in their employers favor. I guess that is why GM never improves their vehicles…their employees think every GM vehicle is PERFECT!!!

  • avatar
    mikey

    I can’t help but agree with indi500fan.Where would be today with out Bob Lutz?
    G.M is still here,GM is still #1,and what were the predictions 15-18 monthes ago?
    I’m not a big fan of any of the senior management at G.M.but credit where credits due.
    Lutz and Rick W have kept,and are keeping the company alive.

  • avatar
    BostonTeaParty

    GMinsider, thats fair enough, but as a GM employee i sent back the highest marks as the vehicles we have, have given no problem, we had excerlent service etc with the dealer and have been really pleased with the vehicles. Maybe just maybe theres quite a few others who are also maybe not employees who possibly have had good experiences too?! But it is a case i guess with many people, do you help your employer by giving good scores or do you help your employer and give realistic results so that tough love (if it is bad) can help them get better. If our vehicles had been bad, i wouldnt have hesitated to slate them, i don’t care if i’m an employee, issues would need addressing. so far touch wood they’ve been just fine.

  • avatar
    mikey

    G.M.insider Of course we think are vehicles are top notch why wouldn’t we?
    I wrote top notch, not perfect I’ve yet to see a perfect vehicle made by any auto company anywhere

  • avatar
    Luther

    cheezeweggie: GM has been their own “enemy” chasing customers away.

    I think GM has done a fabulous job adopting Tzu strategies… Within GM. Who is winning isnt always clear..Oh..Wait..Toyota is.

  • avatar
    Areitu

    # GMinsider:
    March 12th, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    I am surprised that GM does not rank number one in the JD Power’s surveys. I have watched countless GM employees send back these important surveys with all the highest scores possible. So the hundreds of thousands of GM employees, plus their family members (millions) skew the results of most surveys in their employers favor. I guess that is why GM never improves their vehicles…their employees think every GM vehicle is PERFECT!!!

    There are statistical methods to identify and weed out bad data. Also, if you think about it, there might be more disgruntled GM owners than GM workers. :)

  • avatar

    mikey: "Lutz and Rick W have kept,and are keeping the company alive." Alternatively, they are running it into the ground. Since becoming head of North American Operations in 1994, Richard Wagoner is responsible for a 30% drop in market share and a loss of over $50 billion in shareholder value since becoming CEO in 2000. In any case, "we're still standing" is not a compelling statement of success.

  • avatar
    Luther

    RF: the concept offered nothing more than a corporate suicide pact.

    The real suicide pact is the us vs. them UAW vs. management/owners “war”. The blue-collar, white-collar crap needs to end before GM can become globally competitive. What kind of “synergy” is there in warring factions? This is too laughable to even think about.

  • avatar
    FreeMan

    indi500fan:

    Maybe Toyota’s putting some cash on the hood because the truck market is smaller, not because the Tundra’s not moving.

    I don’t have numbers, so I’m not saying one way or the other, I’m just speculating. Besides, as has been mentioned on TTAC before, having a large share of a shrinking market really isn’t such a great thing in the long run.

  • avatar
    Observer

    I gotta believe that 2 such such accomplished mean as Wagner & Lutz are smart enough to see that GM faces huge problems – as their predecessors at GM also saw in days gone by. One of the chief problems today – as it has been for decades – is what to do about the non-competitive union contracts The decision for Wagner/Lutz, as well as their predecessors is this: Do we succumb to union pressure & sign a slowly suicidal agreement (so we can continue to build cars for now), or do we immediately wreck the company trying to endure the enevitable strike with a view to an unknown future??

    I suspect that GM’s interest in Chrysler is preparatory: GM’s concern with going Ch 11 has been that no one will buy cars from a bankrupt manufacturer. Should GM aquire Chrysler with the intent of putting it through Ch 11, they could have their ‘test case’; if customers continue to buy Chryslers, GM could transfer high value brands into the post-Ch. 11 Chrysler and put GM’s remaining brands through the same process.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    FreeMan:

    The whole thing about the bottom possibly falling out of the housing market is supposed to be hurting pickup sales. Just today, subprime lender New Century had trading on its shares halted, and others are in trouble. This subject was covered a prior Deathwatch article, as GMAC’s also a big lender.

  • avatar
    mikey

    RF
    I’m painfully aware of NAOs cashflow problems Here in Canada Chrysler just asked for, and got a wage cut from the hourly ranks.We figure GM is looking up the local CAWs phone number right now.
    I’m not saying Lutz and company are wizards.
    If they were we wouldn’t be where we are.
    However we ARE still standing!
    When many very smart,very well informed folks said “GM is on the verge of Chapter11”

  • avatar

    Wow, Robert. Just brilliantly written.

    But what I don’t get is the apparent anger at GM. Why bother? Used to be, I’d have argued they were worth saving for the economic benefits GM brought to workers and shareholders. Today, they’ve so thoroughly destroyed that value the only place they have in the US economy is “pride of place” which Toyota will take over this year.

    GM simply cannot be anything other than what is has always been: a middling manufacturer reliant on dumbed-down buyers. The Japanese and the Internet pulled the wool from buyers’ eyes.

    Seen that way, the death watch should acknowledge we’ve entered the hospice with this patient. You should stop being so angry with GM and make your piece with them before the inevitable.

    When they’re gone, you won’t be able to tell Lutz how much you missed him. Rick won’t be around to tell the PR people to hate you as much. Life won’t be as much fun, for sure, but who wants to live with the guilt?

    So go on…say something nice about them. Force yourself. It won’t hurt. It won’t matter. And it’ll make a terminal patient more comfortable.

  • avatar
    GMinsider

    GM Stuffs the Ballot Box!

    GM’s PR department is very proud of this skewed survey lol. Toyota just laughs at this sad PR stunt.
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/17553636/site/newsweek/

  • avatar
    Nick

    ‘GM has been their own “enemy” chasing customers away. Who can blame Toyota for that ? ‘

    Heh, is there a quote from ‘The Art of War’ along the lines of ‘If you trip on the point of your own sword, the battle is lost.’

  • avatar
    Engineer

    What a SAD company! This from the Newsweek article…
    Turns out GM was orchestrating a get-out-the-vote campaign that would make Karl Rove proud–something that became clear to me when a GM employee called me on Thursday, frustrated that our software wouldn’t let him vote twice. (You can’t).

    And then from the discussion:
    Keith Naughton I got some news for you. You can vote twice or three times if you like. For those of you who would like to vote more than once you don’t need to call Newsweek. All you have to do is…

    Of course, you could argue that that’s only two out of nearly 100,000. One can only hope, for GM’s sake, there are not too many of those brain surgeons in the house…

  • avatar
    Luther

    GMinsider: I have watched countless GM employees send back these important surveys with all the highest scores possible.

    They are just trying to create “perception is reality”… Or in scientific jargon, a mind-fk.

    FreeMan: Maybe Toyota’s putting some cash on the hood because the truck market is smaller, not because the Tundra’s not moving.

    Or maybe since 2.75 have been putting cash on the hood for so long now, it is expected…Like power steering or something.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    I find the Sun Tsu reference particularly apt, esp since I just moved to the defense industry. I know I’m new here but already the difference in organization and accountability between the two industries is striking.

  • avatar
    Luther

    Death Watch 114 coming soon(?)

    http://money.cnn.com/2007/03/12/news/companies/gm.reut/index.htm?postversion=2007031213

  • avatar
    bfg9k

    “Observer:
    March 12th, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I gotta believe that 2 such such accomplished mean as Wagner & Lutz are smart enough to see that GM faces huge problems – as their predecessors at GM also saw in days gone by. ”

    Lutz is 75. Despite his bluster and bravado, it may very well be that he is no longer up to the demands of the position. I have trouble thinking of any really great products the “car guy” has managed to introduce and push through GM. The above account from Geneva certainly makes one wonder if a Lutz-less GM would be better off.

    And Wagoner (a youthful 54) has never worked anywhere but at GM and probably has no real idea how other massive corporations are run and organized. Who would, in the same circumstances? This is tough luck for GM considering every account of Toyota’s success ascribes it to their corporate culture.

    So, two smart, accomplished execs, in the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • avatar
    Brian R.

    “How many examples of ruined conglomerates do you need to see before you realize that “synergy” is another word for insanity?”

    Thank you.

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    whats with the voting stuff? who cares how many times a GM employee votes? It seems that the only votes that count are: did anyone buy your product? Did you make enough money as a result?

  • avatar
    kc2glox

    Heck has officially frozen over. My WWII Pacific War Marine (while wearing his USMC Cover, btw) father broached the idea of purchasing my 01 Sequoia yesterday! Even the guys who fought the japanese in the pacific are abandoning the domestics. A very telling market indicator . . .

  • avatar

    Too bad GM doesn’t put this kind of energy into making a quality product.

    John

  • avatar
    Lamborghini48907

    GMinsider: Very interesting stuff there, I find it pathetic GM would make an effort to distort the data like that, they need all the positive reviews they can get, because Toyota is dominating them and they’re still making garbage products. But to orchestrate such a silly, stupid scheme simply to skew data so as to confuse and trick the casual reader, well that’s just sad.

  • avatar
    Steven_Lang

    Wow, judging by the recent hyperbole you would never realize that…

    1) GM has become the most successful foreign manufacturer in China.

    2) Cadillac has gone from an also-ran to a top contender in the luxury car market.

    3) The most successful new brand of the past decade has not been Scion… but Hummer.

    4) GM’s all new Silverado has thoroughly trounced the Tundra in the first several months of direct competition. This is the real reason why Toyota is trying to rebate and incentivize their way to more sales in this market.

    5) GM has by far the most successful SUV line-up in the North American market. Say all what you want about fuel economy. At the end of the day there are still millions of people buying SUV’s and Pickup’s, and it is still by far the most profitable market segments in the U.S.

    Let’s also throw in 0% financing after 9/11, employee pricing when sales were starting to tank, the wise decision to jettison GMAC before the sub-prime market got ugly, and the strong improvement in their product line-up (Impala, Aura, Solstice, Corvette, Escalade, SRX, and the G8 GT) and you know what I see?

    A company that is starting to fight like a champion.

    For a company that is hamstrung by a lot of excess baggage, I’m truly amazed at how well they’ve fought in the marketplace.

    I’m rooting for em’… in good part because I’m sick of all the misinformation and outright lies that have been spewed by the media. I’ve seen a LOT of late model and well worn vehicles from all different makes and I think the General still offers a better car, a better SUV, and a better truck than anyone else in various important market segments.

    While Ford offered bland and inferior products, and while Daimler bled the Chrysler product line bone dry, GM has stood toe to toe with the imports in NA and has won more than their fair share of customers while achieving strong owner loyalty ratings as well.

    So while some folks here prefer to give anecdotal evidence and generalizations, I’ll just look at the new car reviews, the J.D. Power ratings, and the overall car market (new and used) to see what’s selling.

    5)

    routinely sells more subcompacts than Toyota

  • avatar
    John

    In the US market, GM is a great truck company which also makes some cars. IN fact, if you look at GM as a truck company they are doing a pretty good job, except for the fact that their small truck is not competitive. Using Sun Tzu’s viewpoint on the GM truck business yields a very different picture. The Hummer line extension was a brilliant business strategy (personally I hate the things, but ….). With Hummer GM stole the top dog honors from Jeep without a fight.

    Toyota USA, on the other hand, is a great car company which also makes a few trucks. Toyota’s small truck is by far the best in the business and the new Tundra is a good effort, but it will take a long time for it to gain traction. GM’s truck customers are a very loyal bunch. GM’s car customers are mostly not very loyal, and for good reason. It really is two different companies.

    Chrysler is the king of also-ran products in the US. Even it’s minivan holds onto market share thanks only to momentum. Toyota, Honda and even Hyundai all build better minivans than Chrysler now.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Truck loyalty only gets a “the world’s largest automobile (AUTOMOBILE) manufacturer” so far.

    Tell your story to Saturn, Buick, Pontiac, Daewoo, Vauxhal, and Opel.

    Let’s see what Wednesday has in store regarding all those wonderful trucks, there Urban Cowboy :)

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    [i]the wise decision to jettison GMAC before the sub-prime market got ugly[/i]
    GM is not off the hook for this.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    A company that is starting to fight like a champion.

    I’m confused. Is that Rocky V, or Rocky (VI) Balboa?

  • avatar
    Adrian Imonti

    John: “In the US market, GM is a great truck company which also makes some cars. IN fact, if you look at GM as a truck company they are doing a pretty good job, except for the fact that their small truck is not competitive.”

    Although I don’t entirely disagree with that, it should be pointed out that the Big 2.5 have long enjoyed government protection thanks to a 25% tariff on imported trucks, otherwise known as the “chicken tax.” This has provided Detroit with a protected market with a noteworthy lack of competition, as foreign competitors turned their attentions on cars, which have been subject to a much lower 2.5% tariff.

    Had there been no “chicken tax,” Detroit would have almost certainly faced much stiffer competition than it has to date. In the parking lot of the American auto market, GM has enjoyed the largest handicapped parking space of all, living off the largess of lawmakers who have protected the General from bona fide foreign competition.

    (And just in case anyone was wondering, Japan’s tariff on imported cars and trucks is…zero.)

  • avatar
    Rastus

    As an individual who has personally visited Tokyo on several occasions, I can attest to the fact that an American car/truck/van sticks out like a sore thumb over there.

    I once saw an Astro Van out there, and well…I believe it was what one would call a “ghetto statement” to put it kindly.

  • avatar
    rtz

    Need Volt and Camaro ASAP. Offer diesel and hybrid for every vehicle. I don’t want a ~100hp, 4 cyl gas burner. At least offer it with a turbo @ 300hp!

    Best cars ever made? How about the 1984-1987 Buick Grand Nationals and Regals(T-Types)? The 1993-1998 Toyota Supras? The 1964½-1973 Mustangs and the 1979-1993 Mustangs?

    And the import scene hails their 1992-2000 Civics and 1990-2001 Integras.

    But maybe cars like that are only “best ever” to those who own them? Maybe cars like that aren’t company savers?

    What’s it take to turn a corporation around?

    I was at a local new model dealers show this weekend. The market is absolutely flooded with mediocre cars. You want something cheap that gets decent mileage and is about $14,000? You’ve got about 5 makes and models or more to choose from. Something $16k or $20k; the whole market pretty much. The problem is nothing really stands out. Nothing excels at anything. A vehicle has to have something special about it.

    I say that, then look at all the bland Camrys and Accords driving around.

    Maybe the domestic 2¼ just aren’t competitive in any way. Marketing and branding. Everyone knows what an Accord/Civic or Camry is and the quality it hails. How about fuel economy? Who leads in that field? Performance? Price? What is GM best at? What is their best example? Is that the best they can do? What do they have? Some $14, $16, and $20k cars just like everyone else. How can you save a company with blandness? Where’s the zest and the zeal? They need a 1964 and a ½ Mustang to save the day. Watch this and wonder how they did it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBot2MAewpY

  • avatar
    Rastus

    I’d argue strongly that Mustang you write so fondly of is nothing more than a gussied up Falcon.

    …and Fairmont in later years.

    Sweet dreams re. your Mustang. Most people with a lick of sense know better.

    That Ford Fairmont was a mighty FIND Mustang…I believe it had a 17 year run, did it not?

    Here…let me fill you in on a little secret…those “muscle” cars, and “monster” trucks….they are for those with a few short-circuited neurons. They lack taste…entirely.

    No Mustang will save Ford’s hide. Trust me on this, my friend.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    FINE…

    And that Grand National…well, the Budweiser crowd out there still finds it to be an endearing hulk of crap too.

    You see, most of that crap has not contributed one iota to GM’s well-being, now has it?

    If it were ONLY as simple as bringing back the Grand National, why, Honda and Toyota..and now Hyundai would be packing their suitcases and heading home, now wouldn’t they?

    No… Where is that Grand National plant employing thousands? And tell me, where is Hyundai building the relatively new Sonata and Santa Fe?

    I’m sorry, your logic fails to impress.

  • avatar
    muzman001

    Robert, I love ya man. You are the only one with a dead reckoning on GM, Reckless Rick, and Maddog Lutz, the product, the listless strategies, and aimless directions. So for Mikey, indi500fan, GMinsider…..Bob Lutz has done nothing for the General. The product portfolio in NA, and the ROW is still 3 times as large as it needs to be, and BL has done nothing to pare the products. Simply look at Nissan, Honda, and TMC you’ll see product portfolios with 15-17 brands in US, higher volume per brand requiring fewer resources to flawlessly design, launch, and maintain production. Further these resources are laser focused on delivering a great product….not financial benchmarks. GM keeps trying to save its way to prosperity via staffing, suppliers, and vehicle content. All the while playing with the likes of Suzuki, Izusu, Fuji, Saab, Fiat, and yes even Chrysler. The top leadership is AWOL, just as RW has been for 20+ years.

  • avatar

    kc2glox posted “Heck has officially frozen over. My WWII Pacific War Marine (while wearing his USMC Cover, btw) father broached the idea of purchasing my 01 Sequoia yesterday! Even the guys who fought the japanese in the pacific are abandoning the domestics. A very telling market indicator . . . ”

    The other day I saw a Toyota Sienna minivan with a “Pearl Harbor Survivor” bumpersticker driven by an old vet.

  • avatar
    jolo

    “The other day I saw a Toyota Sienna minivan with a “Pearl Harbor Survivor” bumpersticker driven by an old vet. ”

    Indiana has ~40 personalized plates you can get for your car. About 12 years ago, a car passed me with the plate PH1. When I caught up to it at a red light, I noticed it was a Pearl Harbor survivor plate, the first one. I thought, how cool to see the first one, I have yet to see the first on of any of the others. I looked inside and saw a tall grey haired man in the passenger seat and a short grey haired woman driving, looking through the steering wheel. I noticed three bumper stickers about Pearl Harbor and to never forget what happened. Then I looked up and on back of the trunk lid, one on each side, it read Honda Accord. Either they forgave or needed good transportation or both. True story.

  • avatar
    Ken Strumpf

    My father was a Marine Corp veteran of Okinawa and bought me my first car brand new. It was a 76 Toyota Corolla SR5 bought in (yes) 1976. Not only was Dad the type not to hold grudges he was a fine judge of cars. He had owned nothing but GM’s and Fords his whole life but was not about to get one for his son. Even in 1976 he saw how things were going.

    And the Corolla was a terrific car. Fun to drive and nearly indestructible.

  • avatar

    Ken I am of Chinese descent and my parents would not buy Japanese products. That ended when my Dad bought a color TV in 1976 for Christmas. The last car my parents had was a 2004 Corolla, that was their first Japanese car they bought it for 13,000 2004 and sold it for 12,000 in 2006.

    I also had a 76 corolla in 82. Great car for the time, but not totally indestructible. Ran a red light and got slammed by a truck. Woke up when they were putting me into the ambulance. Not much left of the corolla.

  • avatar
    Ken Strumpf

    Sherman,

    I had a few accidents with my Corolla but nothing as bad as you. I lived in Mexico in the late 70’s and often drove my Corolla in places where you absolutely, positively didn’t want to have a breakdown. If I had been driving a Ford Escort like my brother bought I’d have been in a world of hurt.

    I’m a student of history and I understand how China suffered under Japanese occupation. If people who lived through that will buy Japanese products then the psychological barrier has been well and truly broken.

  • avatar
    Martin Albright

    Re: The Toyota Tundra and incentives, all I have to say is that those who are pronouncing the Tundra as DOA are missing the point. Personally, I think it’s hideous and oversized, but then again, I think that about the current crop of full size trucks from Chevy, Ford and Dodge, too.

    The point of the Tundra is this: Even assuming arguendo that it fails to achieve the goals set for it, what will Toyota do? Will they quit the field? Will they act like the dilletante-ish big 2.5 and drop the whole project altogether?

    No. They’ll analyze their failure and keep coming back. And if that fails, they’ll try again. They’ll come back again and again and again for as long as it takes.

    Is there any automotive segment they’ve set their sights on that they haven’t triumphed in? Honda brought us the first Hybrid, but when people think of a Hybrid car, what do they think of? The Prius! SUVs have been around since the depression, but Toyota’s fleet of SUVs are among the top sellers in the world (on the World Market – where the US manufacturers are largely AWOL – Toyota sells a lot of juicy SUVs that US off-roaders would love to get their hands on.)

    And who sells the most compact (not full-sized) trucks in the USA? Anyone want to take a guess?

    Meanwhile, even with disappointing sales, every Tundra sold eats further into the only cash cow the big 2.5 have. And after that first Tundra is sold, it makes it so much more likely that, come trade-in time, the owner will be more amenable to other import offerings….

  • avatar
    nweaver

    As a followon, I’d recommend “Certain to Win”, which discusses how in many ways Toyota implements Boyd’s OODA-loop centric operations in business.

  • avatar
    Cowbell

    I know this editorial is now buried in the back pages of TTAC, but with the announcement of GM’s “profit” last quater, did anyone happen to see what the North American cash flow numbers were? It’s in none of the reports I’ve read and I’m too lazy to dig through any detailed releases.

  • avatar
    Johnson

    Hey diddle diddle … brilliant … it should be Putz’, erm I mean Lutz’ new tagline.

    First off, Tundra incentives are mostly for the base model. The fullsize truck segment is tough, and Toyota is fighting an uphill battle. Many truck buyers actually *expect* incentives, so Toyota is competing very hard here.

    As RF stated, the Tundra having incentives is a BAD thing. Toyota has never tried this hard in the fullsize truck segment before, and believe me, the Tundra will slowly bring the pain to Detroit automakers.

    Steven_Lang, most of your points are wrong. Cadillac is not a top luxury contender, far from it. Also, Toyota by far outsells GM when it comes to subcompacts.

    What I’d really love to see is how GM loyalists and optimists who are far from reality will respond to GM’s 2006 financial results.

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