Daily Podcast: 29 Percent

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Google is a rational thinker's nightmare. If a surfer has the slightest pseudo-scientific bent– astrology, phrenology, Dianetics, Jessica Albanism– Google reinforces their problematic predilection. For example, while Wikipedia defines numerology as "any of many systems, traditions or beliefs in a mystical or esoteric relationship between numbers and physical objects or living things," there are 6.8m more credulous alternatives. It's even worse if you start a search with the idea that numerology is for real. Enter "GM 29 percent" and you find the USPO's FlexFuel fleet gets 29 percent worse mileage than its gas-only vehicles, GM's SUV sales fell 29 percent in April, GM CEO Rick Wagoner got a 29 percent raise in 2002, GM sales in Brazil rose 29 percent in the third quarter of 2007 and GM reduced its output of Saturn vehicles by 29 percent in 1994 ( the same year Tahoe sales increased by 29 percent). Search "GM 29 percent lapel" and The New York Times reports on the magic number. "In 2003, G.M.'s market share dropped to 28.3 percent, said Paul Ballew, G.M.'s chief sales analyst. That is down from 28.7 percent in 2002, and the first decline for G.M. in three years. Some G.M. executives have started wearing lapel pins with '29' on them to encourage employees to push the company's share over that figure." Guess who was CEO back then? Guess what GM's share is today? And guess who's still in charge? And while you're contemplating that non-mystical mystery, Justin and I discuss the day's car news.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

More by Robert Farago

Join the conversation
4 of 6 comments
  • Seoultrain Seoultrain on Jun 03, 2008

    GM loyalty being stronger than Ford loyalty makes sense. Since GM's product is (generally) weaker, it takes a fiercely loyal customer in order to buy said product. Some Fords can stand on product alone, so they attract some buyers who decide based on merit, not brand loyalty. The worse a product is, the more loyal a buyer of that product is of that brand. (Ex. Toyota,BMW X6) While RF's statement works when talking about GM and Ford in general, a Malibu buyer is likely to be a lot less brand-loyal than an Explorer buyer.

  • TomAnderson TomAnderson on Jun 03, 2008

    First the year 2010 and now 29%? Sounds like Lost's Hugo "Hurley" Reyes no longer has a monopoly on recurring sets of numbers that point toward bad juju.

  • William C Montgomery William C Montgomery on Jun 03, 2008

    If GM want's to celebrate the number 29, why don't they take a nostalgic look at General Motors Death Watch 29: Everything You Know is Wrong. They’ll actually learn something about brand management that might help them achieve their 29 percent.

  • Jurisb Jurisb on Jun 17, 2008

    Robert, next time choose a pic of b-52 to describe truck and SUV sales plummeting.