By on January 5, 2008

3894_image.jpgContrary to popular belief, panic is a logical reaction to an external threat. When a cornered animal’s fight or flight responses are unavailable or exhausted, acting erratically is its only hope. GM has been showing signs of panic for some time: on-again off-again product plans, vainglorious boasts, mistimed marketing, ill-advised divestiture and more. Recent events indicate that the domestic automaker’s aberrant behavior is escalating; leading, I’m afraid, to extinction. But let’s start with the meta-weirdness and work our way back to specific inexplicability. 

“What should power the world's vehicles in 20 years? How can personal transportation become more sustainable in an age of increasing global competition for resources? What role will the automotive industry play in developing markets?” The PR folk introducing GMNext.com have a firm grasp on the do-or-die issues facing GM. Equally obvious: their employer doesn’t have a coherent plan for addressing them.

Why else would GM open the “debate” to the general public? OK, sure, CEO Rick Wagoner says the site’s about “introducing some of our ideas for addressing critical issues concerning energy, the environment and globalization” to “spark a broader, global discussion on these important topics.” But GMNext’s overarching, underlying message is that the company’s product plans are an ill-defined work in progress. No wonder GMNext.com suffers from the usual GM ADD, promoting everything from OnStar’s Slow Down technology to the Volt’s erstwhile battery.

On one hand, fair enough. It’s an internet world. Power to the people! (As if.) Technology is in flux. React quickly and go with the flow! (As if.) On the other hand, if General Motors doesn’t already have a well-established plan for its future– from next Monday to 20 years away– we know someone who does.

Unlike Toyota, GM is panicking; flailing about; trying to find a way out of truck-heavy Hell. Instead of rallying the troops and heading in one direction, GM’s flying off in all directions, with predictably bizarre results. For example, GM’s “import fighter” is importing and rebadging a Belgian subcompact– and taking pride in the fact that Californians can’t identify it as a Saturn (see: GMNext.com). It's launching a bread-and-butter sedan with a $150m ad campaign– calling the Malibu “the car you can’t ignore”– with only a handful of new ‘Bu’s on the ground.

After dismissing the hybrid Prius as a marketing gimmick, GM’s poured billions into their own gas – electric system– for 5000lbs. SUVs. Meanwhile, after pronouncing that the new Chevrolet Volt will kick the current and next generation Prius’ ass come Spring, GM’s pulled back from the timeline– while continuing to promote the Volt some THREE YEARS before its POSSIBLE launch.

The confusion continues. GM’s just announced that they’ve killed their Ultra-V8 engine project: the new powerplant that would have [finally] replaced the ageing Northstar to power the next generation of GM luxury cars. Are they seriously suggesting that big Caddies– supposedly the standard of the world– don’t need the world’s best V8? Which reminds me: GM’s on-again, off-again plans for a range of rear wheel-drive models remains… undecided.

The last issue brings us to the other hallmark of panic (besides illogical behavior): anger. A panicking animal is suffused with adrenalin. In this case, anger’s afflicting GM Car Czar “Maximum Bob” Lutz, the man who must [eventually] decide on GM’s new drivetrains and platforms in the face of a new, more restrictive legislative environment. 

"Now that we have the 35 miles-per-gallon fuel economy mandate by 2020, I am hoping that in 2008 'Professor Doktor' David Friedman (research director, clean vehicles program, Union of Concerned Scientists) and his 'highly-qualified' band of allegedly concerned, self-proclaimed scientists will turn their energy toward showing the world's automotive industry exactly how those numbers, using existing technology and 'costs of a few hundred dollars at the most' can be attained with a vehicle selection that even remotely resembles the cars and trucks Americans want to buy today.”

The new federal regs represent a sea change in the regulatory landscape that all but the most ostrich-like industry players saw coming years ago. It scarcely seems credible that GM was waiting for the laws to be officially official before deciding on how to meet their requirements, including GM's platform strategy. But that’s the simple truth of the matter. Having waited too long, having no concrete plans for answering the vital mpg questions, Maximum Bob lashes out.

Mr. Lutz’ anger is an astonishing indication of the denial, confusion, paranoia and panic going on behind the scenes at GM. But it’s no surprise. The automaker’s non-existent branding strategy is all the evidence needed that GM is simply lurching from crisis to crisis, without rhyme or reason. While it's true that panic can work to an animal’s advantage– combining energy, surprise and luck to overcome mortal danger– panic is the survival strategy of last resort. After that, nothing.

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71 Comments on “General Motors Death Watch 159: What’s GMNext? Panic!...”


  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    So, now GM are finally accepting the gravity of the situation. Great(!) It only took them 5 years!

    It really is looking bleak for GM. They just don’t know what to do and where to go. This is not the kind of news investors and potential customers want to hear. So what now?

    This is now much more than quality and reliability issues. If you want to know how bad no direction can be for a company look at Nissan pre Mr Ghosn! It just all smacks of management who don’t care because survival or no survival, they’re safe. I’ve mentioned this before, that without management committing themselves to turning around the company (i.e Mr Ghosn promising profitability in one year or his resignation) you cannot expect anyone to take you seriously. I can’t recall any instance where Mr Wagoner has given some firm assurances.

    The shame of it is, GM can make a decent car. I really like the Cadillac CTS and CTS-V (just a shame about the styling, but that’s Caddies for you!), but until GM have some clue as to where they’re going, it doesn’t bode well for the future.

    Clarkson for PM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • avatar

    Apparently time for some serious anger management for Bobby. Any car that doesn’t achieve 80 mpg by 2020 isn’t going to be a viable proposition. And we won’t be using gasoline by then.

    Have a look at this, Bobby – cars driven by air pressure:
    http://www.theaircar.com/howitworks.html

    Yes, the energy needed to achieve that pressure must come from somewhere – you don’t get something for nothing when it comes to energy management. But then Mr. Lutz doesn’t really care about sensible energy management.

    GM is hopelessly left behind by the paleolithic thinking of its upper management, and putting up a web-site to ask for suggestions is just PR, at best.

    We’ll be walking a lot more, and using bicycles, and EV-bots for near transport; we’ll have a lot more collective solutions for in-city zones transportation; and we’ll be using modular units for intercity transport. And sharing automoving units will be a lot more common — what we’re seeing today in that area is just the beginning.

    Traditional internal combustion engines? Forget it – as unpopular as lighting up a stoogie in a restaurant just a few years from now.

  • avatar

    “The new federal regs represent a sea change in the regulatory landscape that all but the most ostrich-like industry players saw coming years ago.”

    Long term that denial will continue GM’s decline. Short term, GM may actually thrive by feasting on the corpses of their dead Detroit sibling automakers when they go under.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I think Sherman Lin makes a valid point.GM will outlive Chrysler,Ford?is anybodys guess.Whose going to pick up the slack from Chrysler?Toyota?I doubt it.Quality issues, and a bland product line.
    VW? not a chance to many reliability problems.
    BMW and Merc?Not the same market,so rule them out.
    Honda,Nissan?I seem them scooping a chunk of the Chrysler market 5-6% nice.GM will get the lions share of the corpses.Maybe Ford will be there, maybe not.

  • avatar
    CliffG

    No Bu’s? How about no G8’s? As an inveterate football watcher I am seeing a fair number of ads for the new Holden/Pontiac V8. Why are they doing another series of ads on a vehicle that is nowhere near the local lot? I though vaporware was killed sometime in mid-spring of 2000 (the dotcom bust), and now GM practices it on a daily basis, Volt, Bu, Holden, Camaro, whatever….

    You have to wonder as they sit around the boardroom smoking their Montecristo White Labels, drinking a nice single malt scotch, checking the real estate prices of beach front Aruba properties, whether they are actually making any long term plans for the company itself. Keep in mind their company has been tanking in an economy that has been growing at easily over 3% for years now. If 2008 has a growth rate of under 2%, look out below….

  • avatar
    olddavid

    You just keep screaming that the sky is falling- while weeding out the sycophants to turn into true believers. In just my lifetime GM’s “death” has been” imminent” or at least “soon” at least a half-dozen times. Hey, as a B.Com., the business model has had failure writ large on it since I was a student, and yet- TaDa! King Kong seems to live on AND get Fay Wray. (I’m from her hometown) Do you commentators read newspapers, or national periodicals? Can you spell Political Power? Can you picture Toyota being allowed to fail in Japan? How about M-B in good old Deutschland? I think the bulldog with a bone allegory should be suppressed.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    To the above two GM defenders. How long can any company, including GM, lose billions of dollars a year and survive?

  • avatar

    Hmmm GM has lost market share nonstop in a one way neverending downward spiral. GM’s marketshare in coastal states trail the national average market share. GM’s death may or may not happen and I actually happen to like some of their products yet how can anyone claim that the sky is NOT falling. The percentages of people who would not consider a domestic are huge. Maybe if GM can show actual marketshare gains one could argue otherwise.

    If anyone disagrees simply state your case. This isn’t the Detroit News Message Forum or Autoblog

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Do you commentators read newspapers, or national periodicals?

    I do. I also read financial statements, something which I doubt that your average GM fan is able to do. And that allows me to see the problem pretty clearly.

    The bottom line issue is that GM is running out of money. It has a frighteningly high burn rate, and a lack of diversity of revenue sources to replenish that cash as it turns to embers.

    Cash is the lifeblood of any company. It doesn’t matter how big you may dream, once a company runs out of cash, it’s dead. To cut the burn, GM would need to make hard choices, but seems utterly unwilling to make them.

    So I can see the overall problem that Mr. Farago has highlighted on this site. While I doubt that GM will vanish completely, I can imagine a much smaller GM emerging from a reluctantly filed bankruptcy that occurs once the cash is nearly gone, with a new management team that actually knows what it’s doing hopefully taking its place. Either that, or some outside company (most likely a foreign automaker) is going to pick up the pieces at a discount and do with the carcass what it will.

  • avatar

    Raskolnikov, it’s very easy to dispute anything posted on this site. All you have to do is attack the statements, not the person who made them.

    Here are some neat statements, all of which are “true” regardless of the source
    -General Motors has sold 51% of GMAc
    -General Motors has sold Allison Transmission
    -General Motors has posted a net accounting loss of 39,693,000,000 so far in the current fiscal year.
    -The last time General Motors had positive cash from operations (Core business Activities) was Fiscal 2004.
    -In Fiscal 2006, General Motors had cash reserves increase by 4,534,000,000, however it posted a deficit from operations of get this 11,759,000. How can a company gain cash while not being able to generate it from its day-to-day activities? How about new net debt in 2006 to the tune of 79,566,000,000. Dollars, not pesos.

    See for yourself: http://quicktake.morningstar.com/StockNet/cashflow10.aspx?Country=USA&Symbol=GM

  • avatar
    mikey

    Hey Pch 101 I don’t see the connection between being a GM fan,and not being able to read a financial statement.
    Rick W. is for sure a GM fan with a degree from an Ivy League house of education.Maybe he doesn’t know what to do with a financial statement.But I’ll betcha he knows how to read one.
    PCH 101:I seem to remember a great debate here at TTAC between yourself and Cobra 213 A.K.A Phil Reesor.Great stuff it was. Something tells me Cobra 213 could get his head around a financial statement.
    Can’t judge a book by its cover,my man.Was it Sam Walton that used drive from store to store in a 10yr old Ford Pickup?
    I fully understand just how nasty cash burn is.Pch 101 is right GM management can’t, or won’t make the hard choices.As a life long employee I would welcome some huge changes at the top,and hopefully it would filter down to my level.
    Is chapter 11 the answer? W.T.F.knows? Not I for sure.One thing is for sure,something going to give,and its gon’a be sooner not later.

  • avatar
    dean

    I think most people are completely unaware of GM’s problems, and the mainstream media is largely complicit. Just a few days ago our local paper carried an article highlighting some of the challenges ahead and recent successes for the Detroit-based companies. The article featured a prominent photograph of the Volt, complete with a caption telling the uninformed that a roadgoing prototype would be unveiled in the spring, and that production versions were expected in 2010. Absolutely no mention in the article about the recently revised targets, nor about the actual likelihood of seeing a real working example this year.

  • avatar

    I’m curious what some of the “hard choices” would be that GM is not making. Selling 51% of GMAC, Allison Transmission, the medium duty truck business, as well as stakes in Isuzu, Suzuki, and Fuji Heavy Industries seem like hard, undesirable (yet necessary for the organization to have a chance at future survival).

    We all know that GM has too many dealers, but given their current situation, it’s basically impossible for them to shut them down. Closing Oldsmobile and its dealers cost them a fortune, and it was just market share surrendered overnight to the competition. The only thing they can do about the dealer/brand situation IMO is what they’re already doing – consolidating multiple brands into a sales channel (Pontiac-Buick-GMC, Hummer-Saab-Cadillac, etc.) and eliminating overlap in the product lineups (killing half of Buick’s models, for instance) so that to sell a full line of vehicles, dealers need to have more than just, for example, a Buick franchise.

    There’s no doubt that GM has made some ridiculous head scratching decisions in the past few years – even some recently – but I’m of the opinion that the good ones have outweighed the bad in the past three years. I say this as someone who has a Honda and a Toyota in the garage, by the way.

  • avatar

    I would love to see GM turned around — been waiting for them to do so since the late 90s.

    GM’s problems:

    1. Too many overlapping models over looking-the-same-brands.
    2. Too many large cars and trucks.
    3. Their models are about three generations too old compared to the best offerings out there, and company financial crunch has forced them to pull as much as possible out of the cars before offering them to the buying public. It’s a game they could get away with when the public wasn’t aware of what the competition was offering.
    4. GM top management finds building small, fuel-efficient and relevant cars to be uninteresting — or as it was put to me “that’s not macho.”
    5. R&D seems to be haphazard and politically run — with proclamations substituting for product.
    6. The burn rate is frightening.

    7. Most importantly – management has given priority to remaining the world’s largest manufacturer counted as units sold, at the expense of quality and profit. That’s catching up with them.

  • avatar
    Rday

    GM will soldier on after Ford and Chrysler are sold. I am sure their market share will be around 20% or so for the forseeable future. And the asians will continue to add market share. Unless there is a drastic change for GM, I don’t see them going out of business. China and latin america are good markets and they are making money there. If they do ‘die’, it will be a long and slow death that will last many years. They will continue to announce all kinds of new models that will take years to bring to market if ever.

    But they have been doing this for some time and the GM faithful keep lining up to buy their products. There are just enough die hard Detroit fans out there that will never let GM collapse. I dislike GM but I think they will be around for some time to come. Sad to see FOrd in such trouble. Could care less about Chrysler after the last Caravan I bought.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Hard choices? I got a few for the top management at GM.
    #1 Go through the entire salary workforce from upper middle management up,use the same principles that are used in the hourly workforce.
    More work with less people, break up the fiefdoms/empires.
    # 2 Let the bean counters count beans,let the design people design.
    #3 Get ruthless with the dealers,dump the dealers that have shown total disregard for our customers,over and over again.Check out Honda and Toyota dealers,find out what thier doing right and copy it.Got a dealer that don’t want to play?Dump em regardles of how many cars he sells.
    #4 Upper management needs to use /drive the product that the masses buy.Bob Lutz take an Impala for a couple of weeks.Hey if the Impala has got some issues deal with it.Get your wife,or your maid for that matter to take it in for service.Rick W take a Cobalt for spin,then take a Civic out,be objective dude.

    #5 Top people,get out of the office go down to the floor,without your entourage,you don’t need them anyway,see hard choice #1, talk to the people.Yeah your gonn’a hear a lot of crap,at the same time your gonn’a hear some great info.Pick the fly shit outa the pepper,that what your getting paid for.
    I could go to # 20 but the NFL wildcard games are calling me.

  • avatar

    Anyone have a lead on what the incentives/profits numbers are for the major carmakers/models? The numbers I have are at least twelve months old. Would be interesting to see how much Toyota makes on some of its models, and how much GM is spending on incentives relative to that.

  • avatar
    mel23

    Sometimes I think it’s hard to distinguish anger from panic from incompetence/lunacy. Take the Volt. With Lutz talking 2010 and Wagoner saying “who knows?”, which is it? I think we made a mistake to see the Volt as a planned car instead of what it increasingly seems to be which is a PR stunt (95%) and a prayer (5%). If we expect the CEO and Vice Chairman of a huge corporation to tell the truth and deal with facts, I guess I’d call the Volt an exercise in incompetence (Wagoner) and lunacy (Lutz).

    Saturn: Is it true, as I’ve read, that it’s lost money for 17 straight years with not enough dealers to sell anything at volume while established brands with large dealer networks like Buick have been starved for product? I’d call this incompetence to the point of lunacy. Why is Saturn still around?

    Sometimes it’s funny, but it’s really sad that so many people have been and will be hurt so badly by all this. What are these people thinking? Surely having to sell off one huge asset after another year after year just to keep the lights on while they keep losing market share and closing plants is enough to give even the most arrogant and overconfident reason to question their ability and worthiness for the responsibilities they’ve been given. At least Bill Ford knew he needed help and had the integrity to seek it. Why don’t they quit?

  • avatar
    oboylepr

    Is there a set of rules concerning filing for Ch11 that Companies have to keep to be allowed to file? perhaps GM must first liquidate it’s non-core operations to support it’s automotive business before it will be allowed to file. GM will not just disappear without a trace but it will not survive without pushing the nuclear button – CH 11. Are they about to do that? canceling the new V8, pushing back the Volt, selling it’s non-core business, taking a hit on tax credits last year (because they do not expect to be profitable in the near future). Some of their newer vehicles show some promise but it’s a drop in the bucket next to what needs to happen for GM to survive. Surely some of this can be seen for what it is at RenCen. Ah, I’m just dreaming again.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    GM has two primary weaknesses at this point.

    1) Too many brands.

    Everyone and their grandmother at TTAC have already pointed this out. The even bigger problem IMHO is that…

    2) GM has thrown away a lot of brand equity.

    Most folks couldn’t even tell you what a Lucerne or a Lacrosse are at this point. A G5??? G6??? A lot of the names that put GM on the car buyer’s map are long gone. LeSabre’s, Grand Am’s, and Cutlass Supreme’s were once perennial strong sellers for the General. Unfortunately too much product neglect will almost always result in the demise of any great name.

    GM is the strongest of the three and they still have plenty of names that run strong with the general public. Silverados, Corvettes, Escalades, and Suburbans are still offering plenty of brand equity for the company. The question now is whether GM’s new models can cut it.

    The unfortunate answer to that is no. At least not at this moment.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    When I first heard of the hy-brid, I thought it’s a quaint idea for the green nuts and will get people into the toyota showrooms. But you know, they work, they are a well engineered operationally excellent idea of a concept which we all know is a stopgap technology. Let us say gas goes to $5.00 per gallon because of anything in the mid-east. Who would survive this? For starters toyota and honda. With a 40mpg car on the shelf and several 30+mpg cars in the mix (all with good reputations for reliability), it will be like this. Thank you Mr. Weber for your $1,000 deposit on your Prius, don’t call us we will call you when one comes in. (because this dealer has 40 orders already) Across the street, sitting on the hood of a suburban hy-brid the salesman says you might hit 20mpg on a good day with a tail wind. However, if you look at this picture of our chevy volt, you will get far better mpg than that lousy prius across the street. but, we can’t take deposits because we have no idea when it will get here or what it will cost. Meantime the Japanese bring on their diesels to fill in the void for high mpg cars and bring out a more perfected hy-brid which will do what the volt will do (if it ever gets here) Does this scenario sound possible?

  • avatar

    jerry weber :

    if you look at this picture of our chevy volt, you will get far better mpg than that lousy prius across the street. but, we can’t take deposits because we have no idea when it will get here or what it will cost.

    It’s that old saw about being behind in a race and stopping to change your shoes– while the other guy keeps running.

    Mel23:

    Sometimes it’s funny, but it’s really sad that so many people have been and will be hurt so badly by all this.

    Amen. Although I’m hard on GM, I understand the collateral damage GM’s decline has caused, and will cause. Once GM files and sorts itself out, it will release a huge amount of talent from the chains of arrogance and incompetence.

    Rday :

    GM will soldier on after Ford and Chrysler are sold. I am sure their market share will be around 20% or so for the foreseeable future.

    It’s highly doubtful GM can survive on 20 percent U.S. market share– especially if high profit SUVs and pickups aren’t a large percentage of that percentage

    Nor can they depend on China or other overseas income indefinitely. At some point, GM’s foreign divisions will not be able sustain their competitiveness (mainly against Toyota) while propping-up the U.S. ops. Remember: GM can file Chapter 11 in NA and NOT the rest of the world.

  • avatar
    rtz

    35mpg? That’s easy. Just make everything electric powered. The batteries are now available from more then one company(and have been).

    A123 and Altairnano are the two known big players. Tesla is using someone entirely different.

    Then there is the Korean wild card. Kokam. These batteries have been proven for years in an electric race car!

    http://www.proev.com/

    Want more options? How about a Chinese connection? http://www.thunder-sky.com/home_en.asp

    These batteries have been available for years.

    The OEM’s don’t have to build new vehicle models for them to be electric. Their entire existing line up can be electric.

    The Volt is just being used to showcase and introduce this non conventional way of powering our traditional gasoline powered vehicles. Electric power should not wait on the Volt to be produced when it can be a reality this year.

  • avatar
    hltguy

    Mel23: You ask the question: “Why don’t they quit?”, there many millions of reasons why and each reason is in the color of green to management and red to the corporation.

    Jerry Weber: I think the scenario you outline is going to happen. Where I live in California, the price of regular fuel is now $3.33 a gallon. People will wait in lines and waiting lists to get the Honda diesel or Toyota Hybrid, not the Chevy Cobalt.

    The cash burn described by the other posters is staggering, and the debt load, how can there be any other path than BK court?

  • avatar

    Mel23:

    Sometimes it’s funny, but it’s really sad that so many people have been and will be hurt so badly by all this.

    My thought exactly when I saw the interior shots of the new Camaro.. funny stuff.. unless you work in Oshawa..the next Ste Therese?

  • avatar

    I agree with olddavid, the government bailed GM out before, and they just passed CAFE regs bailing them out again.

    Within the new CAFE standards that Maximum Bob loves to whine about there are huge government payouts to the tune of $25 billion to aid in retooling factories to make more efficient vehicles. In other words, the US government is paying a significant portion of GM’s product development for their next round of vehicles, because they have to retool their factories anyway to bring out new models! So GM will scrape by, for now at least, suckling the teat of corporate welfare, as it has done forever.

    Question for the franchise law experts, is it possible for GM to get rid of some of the bloat in their dealer network by selling the franchise agreements for some of their dealers to other car companies? This seems like a possible win-win for all parties involved, GM reduces their dealer network, some up and coming car company looking to grow quickly (Hyundai, Kia, or even VW, since they want to be the ‘next’ Toyota) gets a robust, established dealer network overnight, and the dealers get to sell a brand of car that people are actually interested in!

  • avatar

    arush67 : As reported here, the retooling loan guarantees (a.k.a. federal bailout) didn’t make the final cut in the new Energy Bill. They may come back, but within another piece of legislation. (We'll keep you posted.) Also, no, GM can’t sell their franchised dealers to other manufacturers. U.S. franchise law is both a federal AND a state deal. Each state has its own franchise laws, and they are heavily skewed towards the franchisees’ rights. If GM tried that tactic, as the Brits say, the dealers would have their guts for garters.  When GM closed down Oldsmobile they shelled-out at least a billion dollars. The lawsuits went on for years. GM can’t jettison its dealers without the Mother of All court fights. They can only starve them to death, or buy them out, or both. Unless… under Chapter 11, all bets are off. Which is why GM's annual financial statement listed a Ford bankruptcy as a potential competitive threat. 

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    The Democrats have turned their back on Detroit because 1) the UAW doesn’t have the clout it once did and 2) they’re not green. The Bush Administration has shown no interest in Detroit’s issues. In the early 1980s when the Government saved Chrysler, the import threat was relativity new and protectionism high. Now with the imports/transplant having almost 50% of the market (more if only retail sales are counted) there is less public interest/concern about what happens to GM, Ford and Chrysler.

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    What the editorial and most of you do not understand is that what you perceive as large-scale corporate panic is in large part, the results of individual program’s success or failure. A large part of that comes down to the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals within a program and sometimes those people make great decisions, and sometimes they make poor ones and believe it or not within GM, executives, directors and managers are given a lot of carte blanche to make critical decisions. Sometimes good, sometimes bad decisions are made. GM has some brilliant,creative people that can do amazing things given the opportunity but they also have a lot of people who are afraid to stand up and fight for what they truly feel is ‘the right thing to do’ because of the implications of disagreeing with your management…what they refer to at GM as ‘ Go along to get along’…debate is not encouraged, to put it nicely. What the German and Japanese OEMs do very well is long-term investing in technology. Part of the reason for that is the policies of their governments create incentives for that form of investment. If our tax laws were more encouraging to long-term R&D,if our federal government actually HAD any policies in place that encouraged building a business in this country instead of creating incentives to offshore and also, if our Federal government would take the Japanese government to task for their artifical manipulation of the yen, perhaps you would see less of what you perceive as short-term planning and so-called panic. The other important detail that the editorial and most of you are missing is that unlike the domestic OEMs, the German and Asian OEMs have a large part of their total sales in markets wherein the price of fuel is outrageous so it is more advantageous for them to create more high-mpg vehicles than it is in the NA markets where we have had relatively cheap fuel for nearly forever. T o imply that GM NA did not read the tea leaves very well over the last decade about the need for higher-mpg offerings seem to overlook the fact that many of the ‘new’ Toyotas get worse gas mileage than their previous models (Sequoia, Xb, Highlander for example) because like GM, Toyota planned these new models assuming that the NA market would still have cheap fuel…and they were wrong. As for hybrid technology, all of the US OEMs have always viewed hybrids as merely a stop-gap measure along the way to true fuel-cells and when gas was $1.75/gal. who can honestly blame them for thinking that? Who knew five years ago (4-6 years is how long it takes to build a new car program from scratch) they would have to answer to the Toyota ‘green juggernaut’ which Toyota deserves a lot of credit for creating a lot of excitement about a vehicle that really is not all that remarkable…the Honda Accord hybrid did everything the Prius did and more and yet sold very poorly, so poorly it was pulled. Twenty years ago, GM offered a true plug-in electric car and the buying public didn’t buy it because it did not fit their needs at the time, but now you tell us that GM is in panic mode because they don’t have a Prius-figher? Pullllease. How many of you are standing in soup-kitchen lines due to the higher price of gas? Seriously folks, how much of your household budget is spent on fuel? If your household budget is severely impacted by just one small part of your budget increasing from $1.75 to $3.15 over the last two years, then you have financial problems that cannot be solved by the automakers or your federal government. Americans need to take responsibilty for their automotive choices and stop whining. As for Mr. Lutz, he is ‘allowed’ to speak outside of corporate sensors and he is absolutely correct to point out that the phony ‘concerned scientists’ who helped con our ignorant Congress into believing that we all suddenly need 35mpg vehicles are all a bunch of hypocrites and have zero intention of helping to solve the nation’s energy concerns. He might just be the only person in this industry with enough cajones to speak plainly and call this silly 35-mpg law for what it is…purely punitive and has at it’s heart, a flawed premise at best. And THAT is just one more indicator that we have government that is more concerned with punishing the automakers instead of helping to promote a business climate that helps the domestic OEMs create the products that Americans want. If you ran a business wherein your government suddenly and with little warning LEGISLATED the performance aspects of your products to such a high degree that you suddenly found ALL of your product planning for the next decade was up in the air and maybe useless after spending billions trying to create products your customers want, wouldn’t you be in panic mode too?

  • avatar
    rtz

    “Twenty years ago, GM offered a true plug-in electric car and the buying public didn’t buy it”

    As you know, it was never for sale and only for lease in CA and AZ.

    Here’s a positive experience with the EV1:

    http://www.aaroncake.net/features/f0009.htm

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    rtz: Nice Link…Thanks, very good story.

    You are absolutely correct, they were only leased and only in two warm states.
    I lived in SoCal at the time and one of my profs worked on the EV-1 so in my mind I’ve always viewed the car as ubiquitous because I saw them nearly everyday. However, I submit this ‘what if’ scenario…if the public had gone as crazy for EV-1s as they have for the Prius…if GM had marketed the car as well as Toyota has the Prius and slickly managed to acquire the ‘green mantle’ for themselves back then as Toyota has in the last few years…maybe GM could have sold 100,000 or more worldwide ?!? That’s not hard to imagine, but moreover the point I’m trying to make is that they tried to build a true electric car, and that GM and Ford both have long been involved in alternative energy-powered vehicle research and for the general public and the press to treat them as if they’re negligent or irrespsonsible is specious at best.

  • avatar

    Stu Sidoti : Thanks for that comprehensive rebuttal. Next time you feel so motivated (in the 800-word sense of the word), please email your magnum opus to me at [email protected] I’ll edit it a bit, publish it a lot and pay you $100. (The offer applies to anyone else who wants to craft a semi to fully coherent 800-word rant or anti-rant, as always.) Now, to answer your points… What the editorial and most of you do not understand is that what you perceive as large-scale corporate panic is in large part, the results of individual program’s success or failure. I’m a little confused. What’s the difference between lots of little panic-ettes and full-on large scale panic? And is it important? As Machiavelli taught me, the fish stinks from the head down. Always has. Always will. If bad GM managers are making bad decisions– Hell, if good GM managers are making bad decisions– they should be held accountable. Which is kind of hard when the CEO never has to face the music… GM has some brilliant,creative people that can do amazing things given the opportunity but they also have a lot of people who are afraid to stand up and fight for what they truly feel is ‘the right thing to do’ because of the implications of disagreeing with your management Read back through the Death Watch series (we need the hits). You’ll find that I've condemned GM’s diseased corporate culture seven ways to Sunday. Right from the start, I’ve said there’s a wealth of talent locked-up inside GM. At this point, bankruptcy is the key. What the German and Japanese OEMs do very well is long-term investing in technology. Part of the reason for that is the policies of their governments create incentives for that form of investment. God help us if American capitalism ever has to depend on the federal government to "encourage" it to think beyond the next financial quarter. There’s nothing to stop GM– or anyone else– from long term strategic planning. The companies that do it tend to thrive. The ones that don’t, don’t. GM isn’t thriving. Do the math. unlike the domestic OEMs, the German and Asian OEMs have a large part of their total sales in markets wherein the price of fuel is outrageous so it is more advantageous for them to create more high-mpg vehicles than it is in the NA markets where we have had relatively cheap fuel for nearly forever. Uh, GM has a HUGE presence in the European market and has done since such a thing existed. Not to mention, uh, everywhere else. Besides, even when your competitors get lucky you still have to deal with your own shit. Sorry. But such is life.  many of the ‘new’ Toyotas get worse gas mileage than their previous models (Sequoia, Xb, Highlander for example) because like GM, Toyota planned these new models assuming that the NA market would still have cheap fuel…and they were wrong. Toyota’s fleet is more fuel efficient than GM’s. When you’ve got that market nailed, well, why not indulge yourself in a few gas hungry models? I mean, it’s not like Toyota is going to start making all its vehicles LESS fuel efficient, is it? ‘Cause you know what? Congress just introduced some legislation compelling them (and everybody else) in the opposite direction. As for hybrid technology, all of the US OEMs have always viewed hybrids as merely a stop-gap measure along the way to true fuel-cells and when gas was $1.75/gal. who can honestly blame them for thinking that? Me? A bunch of other people? GM's stockholders? The Board of Directors? As Samir says, I jest. I jest. Toyota deserves a lot of credit for creating a lot of excitement about a vehicle that really is not all that remarkable. Thanks for posting the flame bait. I owe you one. Twenty years ago, GM offered a true plug-in electric car and the buying public didn’t buy it because it did not fit their needs at the time, but now you tell us that GM is in panic mode because they don’t have a Prius-figher? Yes. See the bit above about our not-so-esteemed legislators’ thoughts on the matter of fuel economy. then you have financial problems that cannot be solved by the automakers or your federal government. Americans need to take responsibilty for their automotive choices and stop whining. Agreed. But then, how do you square that statement with your desire for government intervention to foster long-term corporate investment? Shouldn't car companies just take responsibility for their financial choices and stop whining? the phony ‘concerned scientists’ who helped con our ignorant Congress into believing that we all suddenly need 35mpg vehicles are all a bunch of hypocrites and have zero intention of helping to solve the nation’s energy concerns. Flattery will get you nowhere. Pass that on to Maximum Bob. He might just be the only person in this industry with enough cajones to speak plainly and call this silly 35-mpg law for what it is…purely punitive and has at it’s heart, a flawed premise at best. Newcomer in these parts, eh? Some of us here have been calling the Corporate Average Fuel Economy rules a bad idea since before Congress thought about upping the numbers. (Others were on-board from the git-go, but hey, we’re a catholic site.) There’s a more important point here: 35 by 2020 is a done deal. Why bitch about it now? In fact, I reckon Bob’s doing that whining thing we both love so much. If you ran a business wherein your government suddenly and with little warning LEGISLATED the performance aspects of your products to such a high degree that you suddenly found ALL of your product planning for the next decade was up in the air and maybe useless after spending billions trying to create products your customers want, wouldn’t you be in panic mode too? I’m not buying that “suddenly” and “without warning” bit, but I kinda take your point about paddles, shit creek and all. Actually, no. I wouldn’t be panicking. By and large, I don’t panic. I take a look at what needs to be done, decide what I need to do to get it done (that’s called “a plan”), and then either do what needs to be done (tweaking for success as I go) or blow it off and get a beer. Speaking of which…

  • avatar

    I feel a need to restate the obvious here:

    Toyota has grown successful building cars people want, with an after sales experience that is second to none for the middle market segment.

    GM built the cars they wanted people to want, with an after sales experience that belongs in the “Don’ts of Marketing.”

    GM has shown an absolute neglect for the needs of the larger portion of the market, while focusing on huge cash cow models that it was “macho” to build.

    With marketing, in a growing economy, and with a relative status quo in major financial and economic areas you can make people want what you want to sell them; in a stagnating economy, with a housing crisis, rising energy costs, global warming concerns and an actual drop in buying power over the years — you can’t keep that up for long.

    And there’s the crux that GM is hanging itself on.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    What the hell has to happen within GM so they would roll up sleeves and start some work themselves? Allways the same -importing and importing. No wonder they had to cancel ultra v8. probably they understood it was beyond their engineering abilities. Actually there is no clever superstrategy in any japanese company. All they do is build good products themselves. They don`t give a shit about product overlap, branding strategy or fancy names. You want the clever points of their success? they are simple. Let me repeat myself like an old gramaphone;
    Here are the 10 commandments:
    1. We build and engineer cars ourselves, no imported platforms.
    2. We replace every model with at least one.
    3. We diversify body types and modifications.
    4. We change every generation after 4-7 years.
    5. We take an engineering cycle of a new model no longer than 18 months.
    6. We share platforms, but never exteriors.
    7. We improve quality , reliability, durability and texture according to segment leaders irregardless of their origin.
    8. We implement the latest technology through R&D not sacrificing reliability.
    9. In all our factories the fit and finish and assembly standards are the same, no matter where it is located.
    10. we use suppliers of non-foreign companies as much as possible, leaving expertize within our country.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    `Don`t panick`, says the cover of `Hitchiker`s Guide to the Galaxy. Obviously Not Ford Galaxy. Although one of the main character`s name was actually Ford. Isn`t it easy for a stork to teach `brevity` to a frog? Isn`t it easy for us to invigorate `don`t panick` while sipping a warm cup of morning coffee in a reclined couch, and enjoying the japanese alien army annihilating the domestic herd of sheep with CGI effects of 100 bucks a barrel oil or agonizing Wagoner`s prayer speech for the holy product to save the day? If this is hard to fathom, take a babel fish. It might help you!:)

  • avatar
    jurisb

    Samir Syed- 4:09pm. Let me tell you a joke. there was a man who was complaining how bad his life was. He said-` My life is so negative, so negative! I got fired from my job, My car is stolen, my son turned out to be a drug dealer, my wife is cheating me. Only negative things! The only positive thing today was my HIV test result!` And believe me, GM is in worse position than that. ( just checked your link to morningstar.com)

  • avatar
    97escort

    Excellent discussion. Posters seem to be waking up to the crises of Peak Oil. I see GM as a microcosm of the the U.S. as a whole since the problems facing the country are being dealt with about like the way GM deals with it’s situation. Denial reigns supreme and those who point out the dire situation are ignored or ridiculed. People at the top are not held accountable. Main stream media stifles discussion and limits options just like GM PR. And of course the majority of the sheeple don’t have a clue as to what is really going on.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Stu, you are missing the point. Everyone has been in the developement state for years of new powerplants for cars. It was Honda however,who sold over one million priuses to make the concept a reality. That is one million unanswered points by the competition in the bread and butter sedan business. Now they have that base of customers to sell to and one million rolling advertisements on the road. When you put $40.00 in your tank and the Prius owner at the next pump hangs up his hose with $18.00 tell me you aren’t going to pay attention. When you put in $60.00 in the spring and he puts in $25.00 you may look even harder. Toyota now only has to build on this base and the higher the gas goes the more production they have to ramp up for. This is the curse of the American manufacturers, they can’t lead anymore and they even have a tough time following.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    “…American manufacturers, they can’t lead anymore and they even have a tough time following.”

    They are poor at following, and that is really sad.

    It’s been since the mid 1950s that they’ve needed a good small car. One would suppose a half a century is sufficient time to come up with something. Yet the only class competitive small car so far has been the Focus, and Ford has let it rot on the vine (not to mention the horribly botched face lift).

    They were slow to have Deming in to teach them how to make quality products, and they never really made it a religion the way Toyota did.

    The Prius, and Honda’s Insight which is no longer made, have been around long enough that the D3 could have reverse engineered them by now and brought out something substantially similar. Instead GM and Ford are screwing around with hybrid SUVs and trucks. News flash, no one is buying SUVs/trucks for green cred or good gas mileage.

    I’ll give the D3 some free advice. Small fuel efficient cars will become a larger market segment due to ever increasing gas prices. Don’t say you weren’t told.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    Stein X Leikanger:

    Any car that doesn’t achieve 80 mpg by 2020 isn’t going to be a viable proposition. And we won’t be using gasoline by then.

    I think that’s optimistic. In the land of the lawsuit, the second amendment, and the beater pickup, how are you going to get every Bubba/Bubbette in west Texas to give up his/her 2010-2012 Silverado?

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    A question that’s always baffled me is how is it Rick Wagoner always gets a vote of confidence from the board of directors? Mr Wagoner has had 5 years to do something at GM and…nothing. Yet, the board of directors are happy with his work.

    I can’t help but think there’s another agenda afoot. But I can’t see what other take one could have on this.

    Possibility 1: GM are purposely heading for chapter 11 in order to deconstruct the company they way they want it (i.e kill brands and dealers).

    or

    Possibility 2: The management really are this clueless and GM are heading for a crash.

    We’ve spoken many times on TTAC how GM need to kill brands, dealers and let the engineers have more freedom to build world class cars. But until GM change themselves fundamentally (i.e go back to the beginning), then it will be next door to impossible.

    You know, from a PR purpose, it would help if Mr Wagoner were to have a Q and A with car guys and gals to find out what he’s really playing at.

    Mr Farago,

    reckon you could orchestrate that?

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    Jerry Weber “It was Honda however,who sold over one million priuses to make the concept a reality.”

    Uh, Jerry…the Prius is made by Toyota, not Honda and according to Toyota’s own press releases they have sold a total of 757,600 Priuses worldwide since the car’s inception, not over a million. IMHO the Prius has been a success but they’re not quite to the million-mark quite yet.

    Jerry Weber “When you put $40.00 in your tank and the Prius owner at the next pump hangs up his hose with $18.00 tell me you aren’t going to pay attention. When you put in $60.00 in the spring and he puts in $25.00 you may look even harder.”

    My daily driver gets a city-highway average of 34mpg and I have measured that over several occasions…so no the Prius driver is not going to save a lot of money on gas over me and besides Jerry, gasoline cost is a tiny percentage of our household budget…but what you are overlooking is battery replacement cost. According to Dave Hermance, one of the Prius’ Chief Engineers, they estimate that the cost of a replacement Prius battery will be around $2500(notice they don’t have a hard price yet?!?! Hmmm…)and that’s a lot of money to spend for the alleged efficiency of the hybrid powertrain. On the plus side, Toyota does warranty the car for 150,000 miles/10 years and many owners are over 200,000 miles on the original battery…but sooner or later, unless Toyota starts giving away batteries, you are going to see Priuses piling up on the back line of used car lots because at a certain used car price point, virtually no one is going to put $2500 in a car with 150,000 plus miles…of course you’ll never read about that story in the mainstream media because according them Domestic OEMs are Evil and Toyota can do no wrong…

  • avatar
    coupdetat

    Stu: Your response showed you don’t know much about cars and the environment. First off, you claim that the Accord Hybrid was effectively the same as the Prius! The Accord was a resounding failure because its hybrid system was tuned for performance. However, much of the extra power of the system was negated by the extra weight. It didn’t really have better mileage than a 4-cylinder Accord, was expensive, and the powertrain had jerky transitions.

    You demonstrate the typical Detroit attitude by blaming the Japanese Yen for GM’s problems. There are always external factors affecting a company’s fortunes, but GM has barely taken any steps to address its internal management and product design problems. Perhaps if GM was doing everything within its ability, then it could complain about external factors if it remained unprofitable (not that complaining will make it profitable anyways).

    Regarding the electric car, perhaps you should read up on the history of the EV1. There was a huge demand for this vehicle and CA legislated that 10% of all cars sold to be ZEV’s by 2003. GM made EV1 drivers give up their cars and crushed all of them and lobbied to have the CA law scrapped because it saw too much profit in SUV’s. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    Another problem with your argument is that you seem to assume that gas prices went up to $3.15 and will STAY there indefinitely. What happens when it goes to $5? $6? Will GM claim that it didn’t forsee it when most consumers already have? Oil spiking past $100 after New Years is just the beginning. Also, its nice that you ignore the millions of low-income families who are very much affected by a doubling in gas prices, as well as an increase in food prices due to ethanol and other living standard reductions.

    As for the topic of Bob Lutz and FE regulations–he has obviously not learned a thing from the last few years. Before the legislation was passed he claimed that GM would have to scrap all of its product plans and start over if standards were raised to 35mpg. Why wasn’t fuel economy a major part of GM plans, 35mpg or not? This just demonstrates that it needs legislative prodding to build more efficient cars. You’re contradicting your previous complaint that German and Japanese governments have laws promoting R&D.

    Side note: GM officials claimed that they may longer be able to build SMALL VOLUME sports cars due to WEIGHTED fuel economy laws. If that’s not “punitive” and a “flawed premise” than I don’t know what is.

    What you’re saying is that 35mpg mileage regulations are not a good way to make our country less dependent on oil? If not, then what is? Legislatively impossible gas taxes? Or should we just wait for conflict over oil to come to a head and let violence sort the whole thing out? Or hey, even better–let’s just tell Americans to buy more reasonable cars and they’ll dutifully listen!

    Finally, you demonstrate typical gearhead hubris by saying that there isn’t much remarkable about the Prius. Dismissing such a monumental piece of technology just totally invalidates your opinion to me. That bit of flamebait kills any decent points you may have made.

  • avatar
    50merc

    The GM financial data cited above are from consolidated statements. That is, they roll together all of GM’s entities into one big ball of (melting) wax. Consolidated statements are appropriate and required for multi-unit enterprises. (Unfortunately, though, that’s the most boring part of an accountant’s education.) The problem here is that when financially healthy units (Opel?) are combined with unhealthy components (GM North America, we’re sure), they make the GM empire look better. What we’d really like to know is how bad things are in North America, because that is key to the prospects for GM’s US and Canadian labor force, dealers, communities, etc. Also, whether foreign subsidiaries are starving US plants and products of investment and R&D. Does anyone know whether unconsolidated reports are publicly available?

    My guess is a major reason for the delay in getting the Volt to market is that GM (again) set out to create an all-new vehicle rather than use existing parts. Such a decision would be the natural consequence of GM’s intra-organizational dynamics. I suspect the Volt could be on the market today if they’d taken a small European hatchback platform and converted it to plug-in electric power. No, it wouldn’t be revolutionary and it wouldn’t be a substitute for Silverados and Denalis. The range might be only fifty miles. But there would be a profitable commercial (e.g., florist delivery van) and private market for it, and GM would get some favorable publicity.

  • avatar

    @ ihatetrees

    Stein X Leikanger:

    Any car that doesn’t achieve 80 mpg by 2020 isn’t going to be a viable proposition. And we won’t be using gasoline by then.

    I think that’s optimistic. In the land of the lawsuit, the second amendment, and the beater pickup, how are you going to get every Bubba/Bubbette in west Texas to give up his/her 2010-2012 Silverado?

    I’d say my statement was pessimistic? At best? The operative element is “we won’t be using gasoline by then.” A statement I’m fully committed to — which means that the traditional internal combustion vehicle you have hung on to is basically an architectural feature in your yard by then.

    And it’s not even a question of what you’re willing to pay for gasoline come 2020 — we will blissfully have realized that it’s insane to burn petroleum for locomotion, when we can achieve that with other energy sources. And this realization will come as a function of a growing awareness that we need the other byproducts of petroleum, and that using it for combustion will present us with a world of problems (literally) when we begin missing what we’re making with petroleum today.

    And that’s not even factoring in global warming concerns — remember the advice Dustin Hoffman receives in The Graduate:

    MCQUIRE Ben – I just want to say one word to you – just one word –
    BEN Yes, sir.
    MR. MCQUIRE Are you listening?
    BEN: Yes, I am.
    MR. MCQUIRE (gravely) Plastics …

    Depending upon your Peak Oil Timeline of choice, it’s not even a question of having a choice in the matter. Petroleum is going to become more expensive, not incrementally but by factors. Consider the 60% price increase in 2007 as a harbinger, at the same time the realization I’m indicating above will dictate a wide reallocation of resources and infrastructure. (Lots of business opportunities in this, of course, and GM could focus on that.)

  • avatar
    jolo

    Anybody know what the breakdown, in percentages, of crude oil use in this country? I’m guessing that the crude is used for refining gasoline, diesel fuel, converted to natural gas, etc. What are all the uses for crude oil and what percentage of each barrel do they account for? The reason I ask is to see if plugging in a vehicle to an outlet at night would only divert more crude towards power stations and not really have a positive affect on possibly lowering the price of crude. TIA.

  • avatar

    The Hirsch Report does a very level headed job of looking at energy consumption. Table III-1 gives you a good indication of the pattern:
    US Petroleum Consumption by sector – 1973-2003
    http://www.oilcrash.com/images/hirsch/image_04.gif

    You’ll find the full report here:
    http://www.energybulletin.net/7524.html

    Automobiles consume 25% of total consumption (around 19 million b/d total.)
    Look for:
    Table III-1.
    Detailed Consumption of Petroleum in the U.S.
    by Fuel Type and Sector – 200326
    (Thousand of barrels per day)

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Stu Sidoti,

    As for GM in panic mode because they don’t have a Prius fighter…

    Toyota introduced the Prius in Japan in 1997. I would have thought that was a signal that they were serious about hybrids and that GM should take notice. It’s not like what’s on sale in Japan is some sort of secret.

    Also bear in mind that Ford has a hybrid – a pretty good one – on the street TODAY. The Escape hybrid hit the roads two or three years ago. What’s GM’s problem? If Ford had GM’s resources, their hybrid program might be even better.

    For years, GM’s response to the hybrid was to diss it. Even after the Clinton Administration laid about a billion bucks on Detroit to build a prototypical high-mpg car of the future.

    Fuel economy is, generally, a large black hole for GM. GM’s “best” effort is the Aveo, which is a crappy car with crappy fuel economy (considering its size) imported from Korea. GM has acted, all along, as though fuel economy never was and never will be a consideration.

    This shows an amazing lack of foresight. When the first Arab Oil Embargo hit in the ’70’s, Detroit was woefully unprepared and their initial product responses were unbelievably but forgiveably lame. This was an opportunity for the imports, of course. However, in the intervening 34 (!) years, Detroit has done little to get ahead and stay ahead. GM has, occsionally, built decent little cars (I really liked my ’82 Cavalier and it would turn 40+mpg on the highway) but then they left them to strangle in the market. The current Cobalt is not a competitor.

    Given our strategic dependence on imported energy, I’d have to give GM a D- for Citizenship. When they turn around and play the Hug The Flag Game in their ads, it just makes me sick.

    As for Toyota making a mistake upsizing the xBox in the face of higher energy prices, the xBox still gets pretty good fuel economy and US fuel prices are still unbelievably cheap. I think they made a mistake upsizing it, too, but it’s not all that important in the grand scheme of things. Toytoa still offers several attractive cars with really good fuel economy. GM doesn’t.

    As for “hypocrites” in the UCS, that’s a delightful bit of slander. One of my good friends is a chemical engineer specializing in aerosols and gasses and he has made it a point to study Anthropogenic Global Warming; he’s involved in developing products that reduce our environmental impact, and he’s very worried about our future.

    Every bit of new discovery with regards to our atmosphere is a bit of bad news. It was recently proposed that 350ppm CO2 is a limit we should not exceed, for good reason, but we have no hope whatever of stopping at 350ppm (we’re nearly there as it is).

    When Lutz whines about the fact that our legislators have finally listened to the legions of scientists who have actually studied atmospheric effects and imposed some limp requirements on Detroit, I see that as good evidence of GM’s “can’t do” attitude and a signal that they won’t be around very long.

    If our legislators had done what they should have done and slapped a giant carbon tax on coal and oil, then old Maximum Bob would be sh!tting bricks. As it is, they let him off easy and he shouldn’t be whining about it.

  • avatar
    stephdumas

    “Toyota’s fleet is more fuel efficient than GM’s. When you’ve got that market nailed, well, why not indulge yourself in a few gas hungry models? I mean, it’s not like Toyota is going to start making all its vehicles LESS fuel efficient, is it? ‘Cause you know what? Congress just introduced some legislation compelling them (and everybody else) in the opposite direction.”

    I don’t know why but I have the strange intuition then Toyota dropped their mask to show their real faces. We’ll talk about it in 20 years to see if the Corolla and Camry are more bigger, longer and wider.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    GM’s attitude towards hybrids did an about face towards the end of 2005, going from disdain to an embrace. Ironically, Wired ran an article about GM’s disassembly lab and why they were anti-hybrid/pro-hydrogen the same time this occurred.

    Today the Saturn Vue 2-Mode Hybrid details have been released, and the hybrid system strong enough for a city bus is out of place in a 4300lb “compact” CUV. It’s not due for another 11 months barring delays, fuel economy at best is little better than the BAS Hybrid Vue as it’s paired with a 3.6L V6, and cost is an unanswered (and big) question. At least it can tow 3500lbs, but in reality most CUV’s don’t tow jack.

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    Hey Kixstart, in case you didn’t notice, Toyota also opposes the 35mpg standard too as seen on this very site. So if Lutz is ‘whining’ , what is Toyota doing?

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/editorials/alliance-of-automobile-manufacturers-prez-defends-orgs-cafe-stance/

  • avatar
    Pch101

    in case you didn’t notice, Toyota also opposes the 35mpg standard too as seen on this very site. So if Lutz is ‘whining’ , what is Toyota doing?

    They take a two-pronged approach. On one hand, they lobby against it for the sake of negotiation leverage. Simultaneously, they also design cars that could comply with it and could appeal to the market. This differs from GM, which does the lobbying but has no product in its back pocket.

    It goes back to the usual problem: GM does not make smaller cars that many Americans not named Avis or National wish to buy. Toyota does. When it comes to rolling with the punches, one of them is clearly better prepared, and not surprisingly, it isn’t the one with the Detroit headquarters.

    If GM had taken some of the many billions that it had squandered on bad acquisitions and worse products, and invested it instead into building a class-leading four-cylinder motor, then we might not be having this discussion. But it is what it is, and it isn’t good for GM.

  • avatar
    mel23

    “The basis of the political organization is loyalty. In it is revealed as the most noble expression of emotion the recognition of the necessity of obedience as the premiss (sic) for the construction of every human community. Loyalty in obedience can never be replaced by formal technical measures and institutions, of whatever sort. The aim of the political organization is the enabling of the widest possible dissemination of the knowledge seen as necessary for the maintenance of the life of the (organization) as well as the will that serves it. The final aim is thereby the mobilization of the (organization) for this idea.”

    Many of us have worked in organizations where office politics (loyalty) sometimes/often/usually trumped logic. The most extreme example of this in my personal work experience centered around a guy who had obvious emotional problems; unfortunately I reported to this character. He reported to an easily-manipulated alcoholic, which allowed my boss to do his thing(s) for a longer period than might have otherwise been the case. I supervised a highly technical group of about 15 when this nut showed up. I was happy in my job as were the other people in the group. What I observed over the next three or so years was, at the time, astonishing. My boss brought in a series of incompetents who failed in whatever they were given. But they were loyal; make that LOYAL. I saw my boss ‘go after’ a number of people of various levels of competence, and in one case the resulting stress led to a heart attack and death. My boss came after me as well, but failed in his efforts since what my group did was beyond the capability of any of his hacks, and, even to him it was obviously essential that our work be performed well. He made various attempts to disrupt my unit complaining once that we were ‘incestuous’. Gosh, I always thought cohesiveness was a good thing. He had about him some quality that led more than one person to compare him to Hitler.

    All this happened a long time ago, and I’ve always been puzzled that someone in charge of an organization of whatever size would not want the best people available in their organization and wouldn’t be more than willing to tolerate a level of disruptiveness or whatever we call thinking that is outside the box.

    I read “On a Clear Day You Can See General Motors” by J. Patrick Wright (John Delorean’s book) a year or so ago, and this dysfunctional loyalty or ass kissing or whatever, was rampant and very costly, obviously.

    The quote at the top of this post is from Ian Kershaw’s excellent biography of Adolf Hitler, and is taken from a statement Hitler made just before he came to power and in response to what Hitler saw as the disloyalty of one of his associates, Gregor Strasser. Of course I’m not in any way equating anyone in GM to Hitler, but in reading this today it has helped me understand the kind of thinking that some people in positions of power use to gain power and survive and eventually bring disaster to themselves and their organizations. Choosing loyalty and agreement over integrity and reality can’t work over the long term, but clearly it’s a major method used by many managers. From Hitler’s statement, it’s apparent that he deliberately chose loyalty over competence because he believed it to be the only way to his success (“Loyalty in obedience can never be replaced by formal technical measures and institutions”). I’ve always thought that my former boss, and others at whatever point along the continuum of dysfunctional management style, really believed that integrity/competence were preferable, but were unable to discern who had what. Reading this today has caused me to question that; maybe these fools really believed loyalty would work. I guess if you have bosses who think/operate the same way, it can work for some period. It can take a long time for a large and, at the beginning, successful organization, even nation, to collapse.

  • avatar
    Terry

    Simply, many operations that started out as businesses have degenerated into what can only be described as kingdoms. I see many instances where logic and common business sense takes a back seat to loyalty making sure the king is is taken care of at all costs.
    You also realize that competence coupled with drive can be taken as a threat to those above you.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Starlightmica, thanks for the link. I’d forgotten about that article. There were a few interesting glimpses into the mind-set at GM in that article…

    “We think the Prius was originally less about fuel economy and more about a technical and assembly experiment,” he says. “In Japan, the hybrid drive was sold as a cool electronic feature. Fuel economy was hardly mentioned, and I have a hunch that fuel efficiency was a marketing strategy that they just stumbled onto.” – Phillips, Director of GM Intelligence.

    In Japan, good fuel economy is a given; saving energy is practically a national mania, so the fuel economy aspect wouldn’t get as much play in Japan.

    However, it certainly didn’t escape Toyota’s notice that the fuel economy would be a real differentiator in the NA market but it looks like that never occurred to GM.

    “Wired” continues, “With the Prius, says electrical engineer Michael Cutajar, “Toyota took a Corolla and added huge amounts of cost and complexity. They don’t make any money on it.” Toyota scoffs at the idea. “We’re making money on the Prius,” says Nancy Hubbell, a spokesperson for the company, “especially with the economy of scale we’re getting by introducing two new models this year and two next year. The additional cost of a system is more like $3,500 per auto.”

    It strikes me as wishful thinking on GM’s part to believe that Toyota can’t build something for less than GM could build it.

    This was funny, too, “At the Tokyo auto show in October, GM unveiled its fuel cell-powered Sequel. Larry Burns, GM’s vice president for R&D and planning, announced that the company would be able to “design and validate a competitive fuel cell propulsion system by 2010.””

    Yeah, the Next Big Thing at that time was fuel cells. Now it’s the Volt. Maybe next month is will be waffle-power. GM could probably win in waffle-power.

    I also noticed the projection of 100K Priuses/year. Haven’t they been hitting 200K/year? Or is it even more? Clearly, the car is a hit. Neither Wired nor GM expected that.. maybe. More wishful thinking?

    Stu,

    There’s no quote from Toyota in that link. I belong to organizations which sometimes support policies which I would not.

    That quibble aside, for all you or I know, Toyota’s concern with CAFE would be that Detroit would find a loophole big enough to (not quite literally) drive an SUV through. Did they object to it at the point where it contained money for retooling? Would they see that as an advantage principally for Detroit? Further, it seems to me that, at the end, Toyota endorsed the final legislation.

    Nor do I notice Toyota attacking the goals of increased CAFE proponents (i.e., the UCS and others) or suggesting that the UCS should do Toyota’s work for it.

    That’s a big difference. Lutz is 100% “Can’t Do.” That atttitude will certainly cost GM.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    Stu, I apologize for putting Honda’s nameplate on the prius. However, the rest of the story stands. You are an unusual American to have a 34overall mpg car. Most Americans including myself will stand in awe at a gas station and watch these priuses fuel. As for what happens to them after 10 years and 150,000 miles, maybe they have done their job saved fuel and can go to the happy hunting ground. Most other cars do. My comments can be verified by going to consumer reports and checking out for fuel consumption cars especially snall ones. The mid 30’s is about the top of the range for mpg. As for the Prius add 10 more to it. This is huge for a car with equal or greater interior space to most of these small gas saver cars. I think it pays for itself now, and with every dollar fuel goes from here it returns a surplus. Here in Pa. the cheapest fuel in regular 87 octane what most economy cars drink. The diesel is about 30cents more per gallon, this is going to make the diesel strategy not as good as Europe where the diesel is less than regular gas. So, with available technology the cheapest way down the road is with a proper hy-brid running on regular. By the way the honda civic hybrid gets high marks also for fuel economy and maybe a little sportier to drive than the prius.

  • avatar
    geeber

    I worry about GM’s ability to meet the challenges of the future, too, but, sorry, I can’t use Toyota as the yardstick of comparison regarding commitment to “green” credentials. (It is the yardstick for quality, customer satisfaction, market share growth and profitability.)

    Toyota makes the Prius, but it also makes lots of big, gas-guzzling vehicles, too, including a revamped Sequoia and Land Cruiser, not to mention the full-size Tundra, which certainly isn’t being sold on the basis of economy, judging by the ads I see.

    Toyota makes the Prius and lobbies against the 35 mpg standard because it wants to have its cake and eat it, too. And, given its financial strength and engineering prowess, it can do just that. But let’s not hold it up as a paragon of corporate environmental responsibility.

    At least Honda does more to “walk the talk,” with leadership in emissions reduction and clean diesels, and no V-8s or rear-wheel drive (except for the S2000 and NSX), the lack of which are hurting Acura. It also refuses to make a true body-on-frame truck or SUV.

  • avatar

    @ geeber

    You’re quite right. I’m certain that Honda bangs its corporate head against the wall at times given the manner in which Toyota has gotten the green cred, while Honda are uncompromising in following their credo: best mileage/cleanest engines in each category.

    Which is why they’re staying out of certain categories where they can’t achieve that.

  • avatar
    threeer

    jerry weber, in regards to diesel being less expensive overseas…not so much anymore. I just returned four days ago from Germany, where diesel is running extremely close to regular in price. Still, I drove an Audi A4 with the 2.0 TDi and pulled near 50 MPG in normal driving (okay, I did push it to 200 kph once…just because). True, here in the land o’plenty (or so we think we’re entitled to) a 30 cent difference in the price of a gallon of fuel makes diesels a hard sell. Too bad, really. Given that most of us commute, absolute accelleration (0-60) isn’t anywhere as important as car mags make it out to be. The new commonrail diesels are much more refined than we Americans would like to believe, remembering the days of loud, dirty and smelly diesels as opposed to what they are now. Alas, most Americans will simply whine about the ever-increasing fuel prices and then continue to buy less fuel-efficient vehicles. If there was a way to generate closer parity for diesel vs. regular pricing, perhaps more manufacturers would supply diesel variants here in America. As I look to replace my 1987 Tercel, I’m seriously eyeing a used diesel.

  • avatar
    Queensmet

    Scenairo #1. GM may be able to survive this current onslaught for a few more years. However, when the Chinese show up at the door, having resolved their quality and safety problems, even the Japanese will be sweating big time. Corvettes will still be built, by the Chevrolet Motor Company, which will be a joint venture between Chery and the remnants of the once powerful General Motors Corporation.

    Scenario #2 – GM goes under and all of those retirees lose their pensions. No I beleive the Democrats, once in power will be forced to a least bail out the GM Pension fund. Then all of us will get the chance to support the GM retirees with our taxes

  • avatar
    ronbo456

    @ threer:

    I’m not sure that the current generation of diesels would be that hard a sell over here; we just haven’t had the chance to find out. I suspect that there aren’t too many buyers who have vivid negative memories of Mercedes or even Peugeot diesels. I do, and I’d still line up for a chance to buy the kind of diesel-engined cars available in Europe.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    I didn’t want to paint a too negative idea of diesel engines in the States. It has been said that when you get to 4000 pounds of weight a diesel is better for torque than a smallish gas engine. So, if we want to have SUV’s and pickups in the future diesel may well be a way of having a heavier vehicle and good economy. With the new generation of clean diesels coming from Germany and Japan, Americans will see for the first time the kind of cars the rest of the world is driving.I know I drove a Ford minivan in Germany with a 5 speed diesel and it performed very well especially in mountainous terrain. It also went 500 miles on a tank turning in 30+ mpg with 4 adults and two children and luggage aboard. That would be twice the mpg of an American minivan and the performance was at least as good as the V6 you drive around here in a van. AT $2.00 a gallon we were not going to see this type of vehicle here, at $4.00 a gallon just wait.

  • avatar
    whatdoiknow1

    GM number one desire in life is to build over-sized, over-weight, space-ineffiecent vehicles.
    Compare a Tahoe from Today with an Impala from the early 1970s and you will see what I mean.

    For a brief period in GMs existance it was dragged kicking and screaming into the world of modern automobiles. GM gave it a good but poor shot in the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s. Unfortunately someone forgot to shut the door on the past and after taking some lumps in the mordern car market GM retreated back through the doorway of obsolesnce.

    Like a child afraid of trying new things GM was content to make old fashion body-on-frame, live axled cars, ohv v8 cars but renamed them “SUVs”. All was good for a few years. GM was happy and a great deal of nostalgic (“Gotta have a BIG car”) Americans were also happy.

    Moral of the story: Any company and/or managers that are willing to stake a great deal of the companies fortune on what amounts to old-fashion, out-of-date technology and building techniques deserves to be in the terrible position they find themselves in today.

    I could agree with the stated positons of some of the GM supports here IF the current Tahoe was actually a modern vehicle, Unibody, IRS, serious weight savings, space effecient design, fuel saving diesel engines. BUT IT AINT!
    GMs “cash cows” are essentially the same crap that GM was selling as cars 30 some odd years ago. Ok, we now have coil springs and EFI, but big freaken deal!

    What the GM fans need to ask themselves and GM is WTF happend to all of that R&D money that obviously did not go into improved products.

  • avatar
    threeer

    @ ronbo and jerry:

    with 300Nm of torque available on tap, I think many “Amis” would be surprised at how versatile the new diesels are. For example, most people here use big ol’ SUV’s to tow campers. In Europe, 97% of tow-behinds are towed by…you guessed it…diesel sedans. Granted, some of the campers are a tad lighter, but a camper is a camper. I do like the slight “rumble” of the diesel at idle, but they’ve come a long, long way from my 1985 MB 300TD! And at speed (yes, I saw 200 kp/h in the A4 last week!) they are as quiet as anything else on the road. When I’m over in Germany, I exclusively drive diesel. Now if we could get some of the other nifty little cars over here that the Europeans do…:)

  • avatar
    yournamehere

    i would like to see a weight limit set for diesel engines. For example… anything over 4000lbs has to have a Diesel engine. that would include must trucks and suvs. the people that actually NEED a truck wont care because its going to perform and get the job done AND get better MPG. and the ppl that buy a truck for the “look” will either A- get a small more practical vehicle and save on gas or B- get the diesel anyway and save on gas…

  • avatar
    ttilley

    Stu wrote:

    “As for hybrid technology, all of the US OEMs have always viewed hybrids as merely a stop-gap measure along the way to true fuel-cells and when gas was $1.75/gal. who can honestly blame them for thinking that?”

    I’m not sure I understand this…perhaps it’s a technological stop-gap (I think that’s true), but the question is whether the stop-gap is valuable. In which dealership can I now buy the “true fuel-cells”, and where can I refuel/recharge them?

    I live in the SF Bay Area, and long before gas was persistently above $3/gal. it used to shoot up and down, wildly. There were always excuses…this refinery had a fire (but why didn’t you prevent that and save your workers injury), CA’s fuel requirements make it an isolated market (so why does our isolated market never drop below that of the rest of the country, only rise above…Texas’ refineries have fires too!), etc.

    Long ago, about 10 years ago, as a consumer I concluded that CA’s gas price volatility was simply a leading edge problem, so I purchased accordingly (no, I don’t own a hybrid due to my requirements, but I do get 30 MPG on the highway with AWD). If I could figure that out, why couldn’t Rick Wagoner? He’s paid to figure such things out, I’m not.

    In the past the mere mention of California here has driven some people into apoplexy. But…either GM wants us to buy cars or it doesn’t. And if so then less apoplexy might be called for, since we’re customers too, and therefore Always Right. And if not, then what’s the problem?

  • avatar
    nametag

    Anyone see what Pontiac’s new tagline is?

    PONTIAC IS CAR

    Yes, while we’re at it, I think Pontiac has saved other companies time in creating their own tagline: Starbucks is Coffee. Best Buy is Electronics. Kleenex is Tissues. Kinkos is Office. There, no need to spend millions on focus groups or have sleepness nights. Did they just walk down to the Pontiac Child Care Center, show a kid a matchbox Pontiac only to hear from the kid “Pontiac is car!”

    Go to Pontiac’s website and you’ll see “Car” being substituted by other words. In one case you will see “Excitement”. Wouldn’t “Pontiac is Excitement” have been better as the primary tagline as it expresses what Pontiac is really about?

    How about those 3 word phrases you see every other company doing? You can incorporate “Car” into it- something like-

    Pontiac: Exciting. Sporty. Car.
    (Hey GM, you can use this for free and I won’t be offended nor will I ask for royalties because I know you will not use it)

    I propose a new tagline for General Motors:
    GM is dead.

  • avatar
    geeber

    whatdoiknow1: The Tahoe may not be your cup of tea, but GM sells lots of them, and they are very good at doing what they were designed to do. This does not include circling the skidpad at top speed or competing in autocross events, but the owners don’t care (although they may use the Tahoe to tow their vehicle to the competition).

    GM’s problem isn’t that it makes the Tahoe (or Escalade, or Silverado). Please note that Toyota and Nissan have been working to capture sales in those market segments with their latest offerings.

    GM’s problem is that it focuses on those segments and treats everything else (save the Corvette and some Cadillacs) as the red-headed stepchildren. Which is not a good strategy in a time of volatile gas prices.

  • avatar
    Skooter

    The hurdle in the US regarding Diesel power has to do with increasingly stringent emissions laws. Today, any diesel motor produced after 1/1/2007 requires ultra low sulfur diesel fuel. Also, most diesels need to be fitted with particulate filters that capture excess carbon and eventually regenerate themselves by burning the accumulated carbon at high heat levels. Both fuel and engines are far more costly due to this. And emission laws are scheduled to become even more stringent in the near future.

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    I have had to dispell misconceptions and mistruths about the Prius battery system now for several years. It seems that anti-hybrid propaganda is still alive and well.

    Jerry Weber: “When you put $40.00 in your tank and the Prius owner at the next pump hangs up his hose with $18.00 tell me you aren’t going to pay attention. When you put in $60.00 in the spring and he puts in $25.00 you may look even harder.”

    Yes indeed! I spent nearly $30 to fill up my Prius yesterday. But I had driven almost 450 miles and gotten over 50 MPG on that tank.

    I get better fuel economy than most motorcycles, and I can ride in peace and comfort, without getting hot, cold, or wet.

    Stu Sidoti: “My daily driver gets a city-highway average of 34mpg and I have measured that over several occasions…so no the Prius driver is not going to save a lot of money on gas over me…

    You can go 34 Miles on a gallon and I can typically go about 48. I’m talking “TOTAL average,” not just highway miles. Like many, I spend about half of my time in rush-hour stop and go traffic. But I still get 48 MPG.

    I have no idea what you drive, but just for grins, let’s assume that what you have and what I have are roughly in the same class (mid-size, A/C, all power, has a trunk or hatch area that can carry a few guitars or at least a couple golf bags, and can carry four adults in comfort).

    I believe I probably paid $3,000 more for the hybrid components in my car (compared to a similar non-hybrid car).

    On average, I can go 14 miles farther on a gallon of gas than you, or 41% farther.

    For every 1,000 miles you drive, you pay about $88.00 for regular unleaded (at $3.00 per gallon). For driving the same distance, I pay about $62.00.

    That may or may not be a “significant percentage” of your budget or mine, but that $26 will almost fill up my tank one more time!

    In (very) round figures, I’ve calculated that I will have to drive my Prius 115,000 miles to reach my break-even point. Assuming that gas remained constantly priced at $3.00 per gallon (which I don’t believe it will; I believe it will rise to $4.00 or $5.00 within the next 18 to 24 months).

    At $4.00 per gallon, the equation is the same, but the end-result changes significantly. I would only have to drive my car about 86,000 miles.

    I’ve oversimplified it, because fuel prices won’t stay constant over the span of my ownership of the car, but I figured that my cocktail-napkin math was “close enough” for me to just go for it. It’s been a great car, reliable, comfortable, quiet. Hell, what was I going to do, wait for GM?

    “and besides Jerry, gasoline cost is a tiny percentage of our household budget…but what you are overlooking is battery replacement cost.”

    Uh oh, here we go again…

    According to Dave Hermance, one of the Prius’ Chief Engineers, they estimate that the cost of a replacement Prius battery will be around $2500

    I don’t know your source for that comment, or when it was made. But let’s factor in the following:

    1. What kills batteries’ life-expectancies is repeated deep-discharge cycles, followed by overcharging. Hence, the Prius’s computer system was designed to maintain a state-of-charge range of 40-70%. And in four years of ownership, I think it does a pretty good job of this. Just don’t let yourself run out of gas (THAT would be embarrassing)! And if you do, don’t keep driving it until the hybrid battery is worn down to zero!

    2. Greater efficiencies through mass-production and applying “lessons learned” as new technologies become mainstream. Toyota is saying now that the next-generation Prius should have a 20% improvement in fuel-economy. Are you still waiting for GM?

    3. Yes, eventually things DO wear out. It’s a fact of life. But contrary to popular (mis)conception, in the event of a failure, the “whole” battery typically wouldn’t need to be replaced. The Prius battery technology is modular, requiring that only the failing module be replaced. Used battery modules recovered from wrecks could conceivabley be put back into service for this. So fear not! The cost is not expected to be anywhere near $2,500 for a “whole” battery.

    4. The failure rate for Prius batteries simply hasn’t been a factor. Rumours of two battery problems in ten years of Prius production is a pretty good track record.

    5. In four years of living and driving in the blazing Florida heat, I have not had any problems with the batteries in my car. That says a lot, because I can’t even get a laptop computer battery to last longer than a year or a cell phone battery to last longer than 18 months or so!

    6. Nobody considers this one, but it’s very important. The Prius’ Hybrid Synergy Drive has NO TRANSMISSION. I won’t ever have to repair or replace any transmission parts. Depending on the car, some transmissions can easily cost $2,500 to $3,000. I like to keep my cars a long time, so I can expect the cost of a “new battery” (as mentioned above, it’s a fallacy; it’s actually multiple batteries in modules) to be a wash compared with a transmission in any “old fashioned” car…

    7. There are some Prius taxicabs in service in Pennsylvania, New York, and other cities. They’re even being used as community-officer patrol cars on some college campuses and small towns. With lots of stop-n-go driving, the reports are that these Priuses are STILL going nearly 100,000 miles before needing brake pad replacements. You see, unless you step on the brakes really hard, the car uses generator resistance to slow the car while recharging the battery. So brake pads just aren’t wearing out as often. At this rate, I may only need one brake job during the 115,000 mile “break even” period I mentioned above. Any “ordinary” car might need new brakes three or four times in the same time period that I might only need one! New brake pads usually are not expensive, but it’s the little things that do add up…

    So if you’re scared of battery replacement costs, you needn’t be. First, it simply shouldn’t be a factor. Second, there are plenty of other things that will balance out the equation.

    I just ask you to please be careful about spreading everything you hear just because it fits in with your preconceptions. Spreading misinformation is just wrong when the truth is easily available. First learn. Then speak!

    On the plus side, Toyota does warranty the car for 150,000 miles/10 years and many owners are over 200,000 miles on the original battery…but sooner or later, unless Toyota starts giving away batteries, you are going to see Priuses piling up on the back line of used car lots because at a certain used car price point, virtually no one is going to put $2500 in a car with 150,000 plus miles…of course you’ll never read about that story in the mainstream media because according them Domestic OEMs are Evil and Toyota can do no wrong…

    Go back to my comment regarding ten years of Prius manufacture, and my own experience with the car. Battery failures have simply not happened, and the car lots are simply not filling up with used dead Prii.

  • avatar
    frenetic

    It doesn’t take a genious to know how to fix GM. It’s a really easy 4 step process.
    (1) Kill or sell off all GM brands and replace with rebadged “GM” for the masses…and retain Cadillac as the luxury segment.
    (2) Drop redundant models and focus efforts on quality and reliability on 1 model for each market class.
    (3) Create new unique and modern “GM” style that is both bold and futuristic but also classically American.
    (4) There are some amazing new engine designs, configurations and technology out there…be bold , assertive and aggressive. Go for broke because you have nowhere else to go anyway.

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