FastLane Glasnost or ADHD?
When GM's FastLane blog was first unleashed on suspecting surfers, we dismissed it as a PR exercise without, well, balls. PR puff pieces accompanied by camp followers' comments made it an exceedingly anodyne place to spend one's surfing time. Well it seems that some of the site's backwaters are getting pretty rough. KixStart drew our attention to an old post (February) about the Chevrolet Cobalt— a car whose excellence escapes just about anyone who's ever driven a Honda Civic. It starts with "Charlie" sticking it to the Cobalt vs. the Corolla but good. GM Powertrain's Dave Lancaster answers by ignoring all complaints (mpg, weight, speed) except Charlie's kvetch about the Cobalt's need for premium go-juice (recommended not required). It's the usual prevarication, but the comments includes a nightmare Cobalt customer non-satisfaction story, posted today. The tale ends with "I have vowed never to own or recommend a GM product again." Heady stuff. But is GM listening? And if they are, would they have deleted this comment? Will they? Over to you, Christopher Barger…
GM's problem isn't that they lie to the public; it's that they lie to themselves. My favorite person in the car business is Wilbur Ross. There was an article yesterday about a statement he made. I've seen only one video of him speaking, but it was a jewel. He looked/sounded like he had been reading from a phone book for 10 hours or so; no emotion or enthusiasm whatsoever. Just bad-news fact after bad-news fact. That's how he makes money; he deals with reality while others don't. But he's funny as hell when he wants to be.
The problem is that every business has customers like that guy, so businesses learn not to listen. The GM problem is that they have been producing that reaction to often for too long. Back to my old GM catch 22 - anyone with the right attitude to change the place was prevented from either joining or rising in the ranks by the toxic atmosphere. Only institutionally devoted types will ever rise up. Their only hope is that one day some guy smacks his head hard enough to become a totally different person AFTER he has risen near the top. It does happen, the Army found out about that a long time ago.
There's an awful lot of Headnodding GM Fanboy Action on FastLane. We could generate enough power to light New York City if we could harness the the headnodding and virtual high-fiving that accompanies Volt articles. And then, occasionally, something like "Justin's" plaintive "I own a 2008 Cobalt and I do have to say it is one of the worst cars made..." shows up and I just have to laugh. To post, one must enter an e-mail address. I wonder if Justin's getting an e-mail from GM HQ today?