By on April 3, 2008

volt.jpgIn GM Death Watch 171, Mr. Farago contends that GM suffers from corporate-grade Attention Deficiency Disorder (ADD). He’s probably right. However, some ADD may be a good thing, if not a necessity, in an automobile company’s culture. Any carmaker operating in this period of uncertainty– recession, 25 percent higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, high fuel prices, CO2 emission concerns, and more– would be foolish NOT to invest the time and energy into developing as many alternative solutions as possible.

Yes, GM is definitely moving in several different directions at once. However, I’d also argue that the mandated fuel economy improvements over the coming years (both driven by federal regulations and demands of the marketplace) will require a multi-pronged approach to improving fuel economy/reducing fossil fuel dependence. I don’t think there is any one correct answer about how to get GM’s fleet to 35 miles per gallon.

In addition to fuel cells, hybrids and diesels, GM will also have to do work on lightening its relatively porcine vehicles and improving the economy and refinement of their traditional gasoline-powered engines. Pruning the remaining four-speed automatics from the lineup and replacing them with six speeds, CVTs or DSGs would also incrementally help both fuel economy and performance. Adding gasoline direct injection technology to more engines could also improve both economy and hydrocarbon emissions.

Each little piece of the puzzle gets them a little closer to the magic 35 miles per gallon figure (or 50 mpg if California gets its way).

GM has been (rightfully) criticized in the past for not bothering to make longer-term investments in technologies such as hybrids. Such failure to invest in advanced technologies during the SUV boom of the 1990s in large part led to GM’s need to play catch-up to Toyota’s hybrid juggernaut. Nobody knows exactly what form our personal transport will take in the next decade or two. It seems prudent for GM to try a few different technologies, so they're not left in the dust of a company that was lucky or smart enough to pick the right one to invest in.

General Motors is also a victim of its own historical fits and starts; engineering by press release rings hollow after a few years.

Car enthusiasts are tired of hearing about the Camaro and Volt, neither of which can be purchased, yet are prominently featured in press releases, websites and even advertisements. Nobody believes GM when it says that it will be an environmental leader; how can the same company that builds the Hummer H2 and more full-size pickups and SUVs than any other company on the planet say that with a straight face? 

Because the automaker has very little environmental credibility, it feels the need to overcompensate with five-page advertisements in auto rags about their alt-fuel initiatives, while spending precious R&D resources on future technologies that may or may not come to fruition. But they really don’t have any choice, especially if they want to a) remain viable in a world of $5 gas and b) attempt to change perceptions.

GM is not unique in its shotgun approach to improving fuel economy. Ford, Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda (among others) are either considering or introducing diesels in their trucks (Ford, Nissan and Toyota) or cars (Acura TSX, Mitsubishi), while still developing hybrids (Ford, Toyota and Honda) and hydrogen fuel cells (Honda FCX). The differentiator may be management talent (or a lack of) among these companies. 

The better-managed car companies will manage to juggle all of the irons in the fire successfully, and the others won't.  From that standpoint, I share Mr. Farago's concern.

GM has not yet proven to me, or many others, that it has the capability or resources to follow through on the development of many of these projects.  However, it knows that it has to get the Volt out the door someday at some price, the light duty truck diesel’s development is finished, the two-mode hybrid is on the market, and the company now offers modern six-speed automatics on most of its vehicles. 

Other than the Volt, still left on the to-do list: taking some mass out of its vehicles without sacrificing comfort and safety and continuing with either hydrogen fuel cell development or further electric vehicle (E-Flex) development.

I believe that in the coming years, we’ll see each manufacturer taking a different approach to the issue of reducing CO2 emissions and fuel consumption. The creative ones that execute their strategies successfully will own the market. Those who bet on the wrong technologies will be left gasping for air. I don’t think we’re at the point where we can say that GM is trying too many different things, because we just don’t know what combination of GM’s projects will earn its keep. And then some.

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29 Comments on “In Defense of… GM’s ADD...”


  • avatar
    dastanley

    Honestly, I don’t think GM really knows what it’s gonna do, so they’re keeping several projects going at once. Maybe one of them will be their ticket out of the mess they’ve created by concentrating on trucks and SUVs over the last 20 years and ignoring cars – or so they hope. And in the meantime they’d better hope that their current customer base doesn’t dry up – at least too quickly.

    This is no one’s fault but GMs management. “Trucks are for real ‘mericun men – cars are for p—ys” or so went the corporate culture when gas was “only” $2 a gallon. Hence their schizophrenic approach to try to be “first” in something – anything. I just hope their engineering creates a real vehicle that real people can live with for years. Not some Detroit Auto show fake or some science project that makes great PR and multi-page ads in magazines but a crappy family vehicle.

  • avatar
    seldomawake

    I was thinking that perhaps GM’s size may be the cause of this ADD…

    …but Toyota seems to be an example to the contrary…

  • avatar
    p00ch

    Jack of all trades, master of none. In order to experiment and diversify into new areas, I believe you need to possess a core competency. Look at Porsche’s Cayenne. It’s a slap in the face to auto enthusiasts but they’re getting away with it because they are Porsche and they have the 911. In contrast, what is GM’s core competency? Trucks? We all know where that’s going. So, instead of creating a foundation on which to build, GM is following a shotgun approach that reminds me of the branding mess known as Chevrolet-Pontiac-Saturn-Buick-etc, etc.

  • avatar
    Kwanzaa

    Regarding GM’s need to lighten its fleet of vehicles…well, they went down that road before.

    It’s called Saturn. Do you recall the plastic body panels?

    Where was the determination to perfect that technology?

    Nonexistent.

    GM also had diesels…and small ones at that. It was called Isuzu. GM destroyed that effort too!! Quite nicely, I might add. I to this day wish I could go out and buy a small p/u with a nice 3 liter turbo diesel. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to wait for Mahindra or Tata. And also recall…it actually too EFFORT to destroy Isuzu. They at one time had a fine lineup of turbo diesels. Now we get the gas hog I6 that is found in the Trailblazer. Joy of joys.

    GM, you’re a shining example of corporate greed…never looking farther than your next annual bonus. This shotgun approach is not a fine example of investing in one’s corporate future…how can you honestly say that when their immediate history contradicts everything you say?

    I mean that quite sincerely. Crushing EV’s when people were offering to buy them outright???

    Ummmkay…

  • avatar
    Orian

    The biggest problem I see is they should have saw years ago which way CAFE was going well in advance. They can’t make the new 35MPG fleet average now. Other manufactures are very close or meeting it because they had competent management and didn’t place all of their eggs in the truck basket.

    Where is GM’s small cars at right now? The only thing they have is the Daewoo, err, Chevy Aveo and the Cobalt. Neither are MPG leaders in their class. I suppose the thing that really irks me about GM and their cars is that they have managed to get respectable gas mileage out of the Corvette yet can’t quite seem to do the same with their smaller engined cars. And once again, you pick a GM sedan and there’s a foreign competitor that has a car in the same class with better mileage.

    Whether we like it or not, the marketplace is turning away from trucks and higher HP cars in favor of MPG. The MPG wars are just starting and GM doesn’t have anything competitive. They need a hail Mary now, not in 2 to 5 years.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    The correlation between business failure and the lack of a strategy is fairly clear. The likelihood of failure is much higher if there is no strategy, and the chance of success is lower if there is no strategy.

    By trying to do everything, GM is effectively doing nothing. Without a coherent plan with defined goals, the managers increase their likelihood of failure. Without goals and standards, they won’t even know they’ve failed, because they have no means by which to measure it, until it’s so obvious that it’s too late.

    While GM shouldn’t put their eggs in one basket, doing a half-assed job with large numbers of projects just ensures high expenses and a lot of broken projects.

    When I review GM’s initiatives, it concerns me to see that their senior managers do not behave as if the company is in a crisis. The situation requires drastic rapid action, yet they seem incapable of responding to it.

    They are always looking for ways to cut expenses, but never have a plan for driving revenue, which is a sure ticket to failure. If you cut costs without planning for new business, you can at best only manage to slow the bleeding. The few extra breaths you squeeze out of the victim might provide glints of hope, but the patient is still going to die.

  • avatar
    EJ_San_Fran

    The pace of change is increasing.
    The puzzle has a lot of pieces.
    Only a few companies are able to get all the pieces in position with superb quality.
    Those will be the winners over the next decade…

  • avatar
    becurb

    By ChrisHaak

    Any carmaker operating in this period of uncertainty– recession, 25 percent higher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, high fuel prices, CO2 emission concerns, and more– would be foolish NOT to invest the time and energy into developing as many alternative solutions as possible.

    I can not agree with this, Chris. I think you need to carefully study the possible alternatives available now/near term, and work on those. Yes, you also need to know what the longer term alternatives are, but you don’t make noise about them. Why? Where is the hydrogen distribution network that Putz seems so enamored with? Right. Not to mention the car you can’t help but ignore, aka Volt.

    Yes, GM is definitely moving in several different directions at once.

    GM would also encounter less snickering from the motoring enthusiasts if they had spent less time not deriding small cars, hybrids, etc. You know, those very same directions they are now taking.

    Car enthusiasts are tired of hearing about the Camaro and Volt, neither of which can be purchased, yet are prominently featured in press releases, websites and even advertisements. Nobody believes GM when it says that it will be an environmental leader; how can the same company that builds the Hummer H2 and more full-size pickups and SUVs than any other company on the planet say that with a straight face?

    WRT the Camaro, I expect Putz to announce its death (again) any day now. Why? By the time they get this turkey to market, the reality of 35MPG will be staring them in the face. This is a classic case of GM missing the boat. Again. As usual.

    As far as being an “environmental” leader, I could accept that from a company, even one making the Hummer H2 and H3. It isn’t a matter of absolute mileage to me, but rather, being a leader in the class. And, there is why I will not believe this of GM – they are not class leaders. They tend to be the “me too’s”, generally after deriding the market (see hybrids) and showing up late to the party. (See Camaro above).

    GM is not unique in its shotgun approach to improving fuel economy. Ford, Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda (among others) are either considering or introducing diesels in their trucks (Ford, Nissan and Toyota) or cars (Acura TSX, Mitsubishi), while still developing hybrids (Ford, Toyota and Honda) and hydrogen fuel cells (Honda FCX). The differentiator may be management talent (or a lack of) among these companies.

    I think the key part here is that Nissan, Toyota and I assume Mitsubishi have small diesel engines that they have been refining for years, but for a variety of reasons, have not marketed in the US. I assume this will apply to Ford, via Mazda. GM, on the other hand, is without a parter, and is left to develop things on their own. GM generally does not to do well when this happens to them. See the Chevy LUV. See the Olds “diesel”. See the Vega. See the Corvair. See the Volt (oh, sorry, you can’t). Sure, not all of these were engineering flops – some were marketing failures, some were obvious engineering stop-gaps, but all are collective black eyes to GM and their rep.

    Hybrids and hydrogen are more of the same, I expect. GM derided the TSD, yet the Prius is the only successful (as in sales) hybrid in the US. Hydrogen may work, but liquid hydrogen has some “interesting” properties. And, again, where is the distribution infrastructure? GM’s attempts to be a player in both fields smacks of the engineering stop gap that was the Olds “diesel”.

    GM has not yet proven to me, or many others, that it has the capability or resources to follow through on the development of many of these projects. However, it knows that it has to get the Volt out the door someday at some price,

    Again, I can’t agree. Bob Putz has been mouthing the Volt, and has suddenly priced it at 48k. What Putz needs to be doing is saying the Volt would be competitive in price to a mid-size sedan when it is introduced. That way, he does not add to his growing rep as a idiot when rising commodity prices torpedo his prognostications, and if said as above, it would provide a clear indicator of what price point GM thinks is realistic (granted, a company as schitzophenic as GM doesn’t have a single, simple thought on the matter, but be that as it may…). If Putz thinks the Volt will be competitive priced at the same level as the (equally vaporish) Tesla (sedan or roadster, I care not!) then he is a more a fool than he appears to be.

    While I appreciate what you are trying to say in your rebuttal, it is very expensive to repeatedly come in second and third (or worse) place – you need to decide what area(s) you really think you can win, and concentrate your (dwindling) resources there. In fine GM style, they appear to be attempting to take the “we’ll take every approach”, which is typical for them, just look at their vehicle offerings. And will suffer the same problems – cannibalism and cutthroat competition for scarce resources (ie, development funds/engineering talent).

    Bruce

  • avatar
    amca

    I don’t think it’s ADD. I think it’s a series of strategies that will become viable (if ever) at different times. Regular and belt alternator systems now. The plug-in Volt in 4 or 5 years. Hydrogen, out there when pigs fly.

    It’s better planned out that Farago gives GM credit for.

  • avatar

    It all comes down to available funds, and how you allocate them. Several of GM’s competitors have a lot of funds to play around with – little Porsche is buying VW! Toyota is on a track to change transportation in the future, and not just with cars – they’re looking at the entire transportation equation – ground, rail and air. And they are using thousands of engineers, not a couple of PR flacks and press junkets.
    Honda has been quietly whittling away at its cars for over a decade. Reducing their size, increasing the fuel efficiency, maintaining interior quality.

    GM is like a kid in a candy store, with a dollar, who wants to buy it all. Looking for a sugar fix.

    They lost the plot, pure and simple. And core members of top management are still clueless, and are being dragged reluctantly into the future of automotion.
    What GM needs is not a scattershot at a lot of different technologies, but a reduction in the number of scatterbrains making decisions. Mulally over at Ford is telling people that “Sorry, we’re not building that kind of car/truck any more, they’re being phased out.” That rocks the boat, and has people who find their pet projects cancelled mouthing off about finding a replacement for Mulally.
    There can only be one explanation for the current line-up of GM vehicles, and that is a weird expectation that the Greenland ice sheet will melt off in a weekend and that oil companies will find an oil bonanza underneath.

    I would have bought shares in GM if the company had voiced something realistic, a bit more down to earth. The Volt announcement just told me they were still delusional. Their concept car had a better CE-number going backwards? The estimated price has gone up 70%? The technology is not here? BTW – note the comment from Chevy about working on the algorithm. The only company that has gotten the energy management algorithm right is Toyota. Ford gave up and bought Toyota’s. GM should do the same.

    What would get me to buy shares?
    GM announcing they are cancelling Hummer production and phasing out the platform as environmentally irrelevant. I know, that’s as unlikely as the Volt ever being a sensible proposition – but in contrast it is realistic. (Or do what Mulally did and let Tata buy the problem.)
    GM announcing that the Saab brand (and they should have done this when they bought it) will represent the company’s best proposition in exciting, fuel efficient motoring – Prius interbred with the Tesla concept, if you will.
    GM announcing that it will not only aim to meet but actually surpass CAFE standards. GM actually declaring that its opposition to the standard has been wrongheaded given outlooks for fossil fuel prices and availability. Hey, eat some crow, move on!
    GM announcing that a thorough review will be made of its pick-up and trucks program, seeking to improve fuel efficiency, in recognition of what an impact that makes on the wallet of tradesmen and workers, and of downsizing these trucks as part of that program, in recognition of what that will do both to mileage and to the amount of resources required to build them.
    GM announcing that existing in-house programs to increase the efficiency of its transmissions and smaller engines will be fast-tracked, and that these will be standard issue.
    GM announcing that the 16-valve monster engine in Bob Lutz’ office has been given to the Smithsonian as a relic of the past as GM now changes course.
    GM announcing that its insistence on being the world’s largest car maker, at the expense of profitability, has hobbled the company and made it unable to thoroughly mine the contributions of its in-house talent. And that GM will now retrench and go lean and mean for a while, as it allows said talent to come forth.
    GM announcing it will work closely with urban planners who are trying to recover inner-cities now abandoned to parking lots and tarmac – designing automotive solutions that fit inside the New Urbanism model.

    None of these suggestions are unrealistic or impossible. They could do it tomorrow. But do you think it will happen? I don’t – they’re just too proud to be willing to admit what a mess they’ve made of things.
    Which means I’m not putting money into GM.

    None of the above says anything about fuel cells, plug-in hybrids, or fusion-powered cars (the PR flacks are probably already working on that junket.)
    Instead we have the GM kid in a candy store with a dollar, who wants it all.

  • avatar
    RayH

    Last night when I first read this, I wanted to agree with the assessment some ADD is good, and having their feet wet in quite a few different things is good. This morning, I still agree. All your points are valid. But the primary focus right now has to be SURVIVAL to get to that point where they can exploit those technologies.
    GM has attempted to shed itself of future employee entitlements and get to a lower-paid workforce. Long term, this helps, even though short term it comes across as very costly. I won’t argue they shouldn’t have done this now, because I can see it’s easier to get these things while you’re down instead of up. Should they have done more? Possibly.
    I have a whole laundry list of things they are doing wrong currently, but that’s subjective. I think we can all agree at least some things are currently out of whack (Outlook sits and sits on lots/short supply of Enclaves, Malibu…). Every manufacturer makes mistakes, GM’s are magnified because they are so large.
    Back to survival, their smaller cars need to be THE focus right now (and making midsize cars more profitable). Priority #1. They let them linger for so long/ not make them world class because larger cars/trucks are a hella lot more profitable. If they don’t find a way to make them competitive, and at some profit, they don’t have to worry about their future technologies, they’ll be battling to get out of chapter 11 in one piece. That ecotec is a wonderful engine, not the smoothest, but their coming out with a more balanced version, and “tricks” can be played with motor mounts and such. It’s not so much it’s inefficient, it has to deal with cars overweight by at least 400lbs and WTF gearing (stop making the gears so wide, make last gear tall for mpg’s and take advantage of the torque it has).
    My view is pretty simplistic, and there are other things that could be done I’m sure. Again, whatever they are, they need to be done NOW. Tomorrows technologies can’t be exploited if you’re not in a position to exploit them. $48,000+ Volts might not sell as well from a company in bankruptcy.

  • avatar
    Dynamic88

    Chris

    I agree with your editorial in general. As you point out, other auto makers are working on multiple projects and don’t get labeled as having ADD. You are also right that no one really knows the future, so it’s necessary to have several irons in the fire.

    There are some obvious and practical limits though – the biggest for GM being lack of money. They might want to leave Hydrogen Fuel Cells on the back burner for now, since it’s unlikely to produce near term revenue. On diesel engines, they almost certainly have one somewhere in their world-wide operations, so there is no need to spend oodles of money building a new one. Then there are “developments” which are just pure waste, and downright stupid – the Camaro for example.

    Toyota and Honda have a big advantage – they are profitable. They can afford to tinker with things that may not pay off anytime soon. They can afford to develop markets for cars no one is currently demanding.

  • avatar
    menno

    No, GM just screwed up again, still, yet.

    Toyota, if any comparison is needed, changed the world.

    I just drove to work this morning at the MPG on my Prius (every 5 minutes) was:

    35 *
    55
    55
    85
    75

    It was 34 degrees outside. I still have winter tires on the car. Both use extra fuel.

    * the first 5 minutes is always low – relatively speaking, that is

    The Prius (and also the Civic Hybrid) are 4 to 5 passenger vehicles (5 is a pinch for corn-fed ‘mericans) but both are comfortable, competent, RELIABLE, and DON’T COST $48,000 plus the lease of the batteries…. (cough – VOLT – cough)

    Oh yeah, one more little salient fact. You can go down to a Honda dealer or a Toyota dealer and buy one right now….

    Yep. GM screwed the pooch big-time this time.

    The shotgun approach is not going to work when you can’t even let the scales fall from your eyes with regards to a proper hybrid system.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    CO2 emissions are the current rage among the environmental crowd, the inability to scrub CO2 from exhaust represents a line in the sand for the internal combustion engine (and external combustion as well). Whether CO2 from cars melts the polar ice caps and floods NYC remains to be seen, not theorized. Conveniently this will take a few decades at least to prove one way or another.

    GM has so much potential to lead the charge on giving consumers whatever they want, CO2 free vehicles like the Volt or boat pulling diesel trucks. I think the real problem is do consumers have faith in the products or not. No matter how they compare on paper, when it’s your 40K on the line do you go that route or buy a Toyota?

    I just can’t bring myself to fork over a pile of cash for a vehicle built by pissed UAW employees, designed by who knows in what country, with parts from the lowest bidder (and also made by pissed UAW employees) knowing full well the resale price will be terrible. I don’t buy cars only with resale in mind, but to knowingly take a hit when there are alternatives available does not make much sense. I keep cars for years and years, to a point where they are not worth much on trade anyway, but some 2.8 vehicles are so bad, the dealer won’t even take them in trade.

    And that perception of a poor investment will be tough to change

  • avatar
    Queensmet

    GM’s stand is indefensible. I disagree with RF that it is ADD. He is being somewhat nice and trying to give it a medical term. ADD is treatable, with training and medication someone with ADD can become a productive person in society rather than disruptive individual. To quote Ron Allen “You can’t fix stupid”

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    The mass issue is a huge one in anticipating 35MPG fleets. One branch of regulators is ratcheting up fuel economy requirements, and another is ratcheting up structural performance requirements, with rollover being the next big increase. Going from the current 1.5X to 3+ is going to require increases in structure, which is going to drive up mass (or cost, if you start throwing advanced materials at it). And, the bonus is the added mass is going to be above the beltline, so the vehicles will be MORE prone to rollover….brilliant.

    This is a bigger issue for truck-heavy manufactures like the detroit 3, but the other manufacturers will have to deal with it as well.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Stein, you missed one of the signals that says it’s time to buy GM:

    GM announcing that the addled executive in Bob Lutz’ office has been given to the Smithsonian as a relic of the past as GM now changes course.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    It would be irresponsible for GM to not be studying all available options for new technology and trying to develop new breakthroughs themselves. However, there is a difference between having dedicated R&D groups working on this very thing and having full scale production and marketing teams working on a multitude of options at once. GM needs to target the technology that will best meet customers needs and which it can be a leader in for production programs.

  • avatar
    jl1280

    The real problem with GM and most of the other car companies is that they see a future in cars. Let’s ask ourselves what we will do, either individually or as a society, when gas hits $50.00/gal. Are we really going to be that pleased with a 35 mpg car? And my weekly gas bill is $700.00! Time to invest in some real alternatives and social changes, not in the 1960’s Popular Mechanics stuff.

  • avatar
    Geotpf

    Toyota has ADD with their development money as well. Hell, at one point a decade or so ago, they were financing cold fusion research. But they have Scrooge McDuck’s money pit, so they can afford to, say, bet $100 million bucks each on twenty different projects, each of which has a 95% chance of going nowhere but if any one succeeded it would make them five billion dollars.

    GM doesn’t really have that luxury. They have much less cash to fling around, so they should spend it more on sure things instead of pie-in-the-sky projects that might pay off big but most likely will fail.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    I agree with most of the comments here. Why does a company that may not be around in 25 years at this rate need to invest in technologies that won’t be viable for 50 years. If GM were smart, they would concentrate on ways to adapt the already more fuel efficient european engines/vehicles to the American market. And, I don’t mean bringing over one hatchback with a single lower powered engine choice since it is the only one with an auto trans option. Why not stick a 1.6 turbo in the Astra, Cobalt, HHR and up the milage to the levels that the mini cooper, etc. have without the power penalty. In other words, why not use the money to upgrade your current (outdated) engines and trannys to better existing options than throwing the money into hydrogen fuel cells.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    Any GM going forward plan which doesn’t take their US marketing effort down to just Chevrolet and Cadillac is an effort in futility and foolishness.

    Ford is selling as many Edge CUVs and GM is managing to sell across three different models.

    Honda sold just over 10,000 of it’s long of tooth Pilot in February 2008 while GM sold about 12,000 Lambdas.

    Three vehicles to do about the same sales as the competition does with one vehicle is just bad management.

  • avatar
    jthorner

    ” … the thing that really irks me about GM and their cars is that they have managed to get respectable gas mileage out of the Corvette yet can’t quite seem to do the same with their smaller engined cars.”

    Indeed, here is some information from fueleconomy.gov

    Aveo: 26 MPG combined (1.6l automatic)

    Cobalt: 26 MPG combined (2.2l automatic)

    Malibu: 25 MPG combined (2.4l automatic)

    How about Cobalt sized cars:

    Corolla: 29 MPG

    Civic: 29 MPG

    Then Malibu competitors:

    Camry: 25 MPG

    Accord: 24 MPG (though Accord is more Impala sized than it is Malibu sized these days)

    So once we get to Malibu sized cars and larger GM is competitive visa-vis fuel economy … but their small cars suck wind. It makes one think that GM didn’t bother engineering the smaller cars to world class standards because they were able to squeak through the CAFE regulations by the skin of their teeth without doing so.

    Isn’t data interesting?

    Why on earth is the fuel economy so similar for cars in three different size classes?

    Now look at other low cost Aveo sized cars:

    Toyota Yaris : 31 MPG combined

    Honda Fit: 30 MPG

    Nissan Versa: 29 MPG

    Aveo sticks out like a sore thumb.

  • avatar
    ktristan

    GM had a car that was getting 35-55 MPG. TEN YEARS AGO!
    Anybody remember the Geo Metro/Suzuki Swift?

    GM killed it and replaced it with the…Aveo. Yeah, that makes sense.

    How about rebadging the Suzuki MK4 (ala Vibe/Matrix), save time, money, meet the MPG targets and call it a day?

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Honda has been quietly whittling away at its cars for over a decade. Reducing their size, increasing the fuel efficiency, maintaining interior quality

    Quality, yes. Reducing size? Last time I checked every Honda product has become bigger and heavier with every redesign. Used to be that Honda was always the lightest vehicle in a comparison. Not true anymore. They, too, have fallen for the bigger is better mentality that seems to be bred into the American culture. Mileage for same nameplates have steadily decreased. I remember breaking 40 MPG highway in a Civic. No fancy technology, either. Just intelligent engineering, reasonable size/weight and a willing to sacrifice some acceleration. Today, people crow over breaking 30 as if they created cold fusion. Some of my first cars were designed with mileage, hence light weight, in mind. While these 80’s cars left a lot to be desired in some ways, their tossable nature in the curves lit a fire for nimble handling that I still yearn for today. Admittedly the requirements of today eliminate the ability to photocopy a car from 20 years ago, but the point is that keeping an eye on overall mass has ceased to be a priority…until now.

  • avatar

    ktristan,

    [Un]fortunately, the late 80s/early 90s Geo Metro that got 55 miles per gallon was also a small tin can death trap that consumers today would run away from in droves. I doubt it would even come close to meeting modern safety expectations as it was sold then, and to meet them, structural reinforcements, airbags, ABS, etc. would have to be added. Throw in a larger, more powerful engine to move the added heft (and make the car bigger, because Americans tend to prefer their new cars a little bit larger with each generation).

    Then you end up with a 32 mpg Aveo instead.

  • avatar

    @golden2husky

    Honda has actually gotten out of categories where they felt that their “lowest mileage, environmentally friendly” mantra couldn’t be met.

  • avatar
    SAAB95JD

    becurb, I cannot agree totally with your analysis, but GM does indeed have good diesel engines in Europe that were developed with Fiat/Alfa Romeo. The Astra, Vectra, etc in the EU have them and they review well in the European press.

  • avatar
    gawdodirt

    C’mon Lickanger! GM bet that “W” would/could handle the situation and the economy like a conservative! We ALL did!
    Name one industry that hasn’t taken it in the backside over the economy.

    DOH!

    Horner: You’re comparing GM’s automaticS to everyone elses manual?

    Why not just throw a ski boat on the Aveo to add some reality to the comparison?

    And Gm was advertising more models that get over 30 MPG than any other manufacturer.

    No one can be that bold and not produce.

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