GM's Not Beat Yet; Launches Disinformation Campaign
Scanning the blogs as we do, Frank and I often sense the cold dead hand of automotive PR. Predictable patterns emerge. For example, GM saves bad news for Friday and launches "good" news (new products, restructuring, etc.) ahead of bad (sales figures, losses). This time, unusually, we've detected GM PR man Steve Harris' spinmeisterwerk post-trauma (Black Hole Tuesday). Unless… Anyway, not to diss disinformation, but Harris' handiwork arrives in the form of "here's one [high mileage car] we prepared earlier." Bloomberg doesn't even bother trotting-out the proverbial "unnamed sources" in its lead, preferring to stick with the "m" word. "General Motors Corp., which popularized the 7,800-pound Hummer, may [emphasis added] begin selling a mini-car more than a foot shorter than anything else it markets in the U.S. to win back buyers deterred by record fuel prices." Sure. We believe that. But here's the real story: "GM has reassigned engineers to many of the projects, according to the people familiar with the planning. The company is taking them from SUV and truck programs suspended while awaiting the return of customers. Now, these people said, GM sees no point in waiting." In other words, it's chaos as usual behind the scenes at GM– aside from the PR department.
Having visions of some GM engineer on coffee break lamenting the fact that he has to work on some little sh**box economy car when what he REALLY wants to do is get back to engineering the 1-ton GMC big, bad, mother-****er trucker. How good do you think the end product is going to be? I think sernarios like this might well be part of GMs domestic problems. Too many big vehicle enthusiasts looking down on the small car products or the idea of engineering the small car products. The import folks build these small cars for their home markets (their parents and friends b/c that's what gets driven in other markets) and it is no big deal to send over a few good ones for the Americans to buy. If you think I'm smoking something - I used to work with a few of the guys. They snickered about my compacts and how good do you think a compact would be if they had to design it? Their heart just wouldn't be in it.
Will there be a "Vega" of the new century? I wonder if the next new GM import will be a high-quality desirable (laugh) Aveo-like vehicle. That car was/is so lusted after that I saw one Chevy dealer in 2004 offering a free Aveo with the purchase of some higher-end Chevy Silverado pick-ups. That was in Iowa across the river from Nebraska. I don't think many took the offer since the Silverado wasn't discounted as the without-the-Aveo trucks were. If economic conditions continue to worsen, and I expect them to with a corresponding increase in America's underclass, manufacturers better consider offering an ultra-basic vehicle at the least possible price that still offers a profit AND a basic no-frill vehicle that would allow one or two people to live in it... maybe some sort of mini-cargo-van with minimal windows and big enough for beds.
Why do most GM vehicles look like they were designed by a 60 year old un-married man in a bowtie that lived with his mother all his life ?
Maryann Keller in her 1989 book Rude Awakening, said old timers at GM said the downfall of the company was when finance men replaced engineers such as Ed Cole. MBA management, finance people who are like Roger Smith, 60 year old men with bow ties, who don't know product. Ed Cole was a visionary, but he cost money, so the bean counters took over. Within a decade, the most reliable and desirable cars in the world had been replaced with unreliable junk. Secondly, Chevrolet killed the other GM divisions. Too much political influence within the company. By 1970, Chevy had everything Cadillac or any other division had. Soon after, badge engineering, everything was a Chevy with different sheet metal and a higher price. Could not have a good Fiero, because Chevrolet feared Pontiac more than the imports. So now they are down to Chevy and Cadillac. Seeds of GM destruction were planted a long time ago. Union contracts which did not take into account Medicare, forcing GM to pay all retirement health care. Too many dealer brands, which should have been consolidated back in the 1970's. Such as Pontiac-Buick, Cadillac-Oldsmobile. Instead they starved their existing brands to launch yet another, Saturn. Then they starved Saturn for 10 years. My god, if you could line up stupid high level management and shoot them, start at GM. They have fine engineers, dedicated factory workers, the employees deserved much better.