GM COO: "Let's Do Cars That People Love, Even If They're Small"

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams
gm coo lets do cars that people love even if theyre small

GM's CEO heir-apparent and current COO Fritz Henderson revealed GM's latest product-planning philosophy in an interview with the AP (via CNN Money). "Let's do cars that people love, even if they're small." And WTH, let's make some money doing it! Fritz's recipe: "close the price gap versus the market segment leaders and drive more volume. You're significantly improving aggregate profitability." The former CFO [who isn't Rick Wagoner] wants to aggregate profitability "one or two models at a time." But Fritz realizes "one product launch does not a success make… if we get the car right and we get the promotion right, we can make progress and we can actually bring people back to the car." Uh, what about all those cars GM's already launched? Fritz's remarks bring to mind an image of Wile E. Coyote, realizing he screwed up one of his Road Runner traps, racing the burning fuse to get to the dynamite before it goes off. And anyone who has ever seen a Road Runner cartoon knows how that scene plays out.

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  • Adamatari Adamatari on Jul 18, 2008

    factoturn: That was probably one of the most unintentionally hilarious articles I've read recently. Undoubtably the Prius's success is partly circumstance (rising gas prices) but GM's take on the Prius was so woefully out of step with reality that it looks like a bad joke, two years down the line. Especially fun is that quote at the end - if that's the attitude of GM people to new technology, that explains 80% of GM's problems. In the modern world, you snooze, you lose. GM is still half asleep.

  • GE Levecque GE Levecque on Jul 18, 2008

    GM needs to put quality parts in any vehicles they make, a friend has a two year old Malibu,the Tie rods are shot, its out of warranty,(70,000kms)so no help from GM,only recourse here in Canada is to take them to Small Claims Court as Tie rods should last longer than two years eh! Needless to say she wont be buying anymore GM Vehicles either.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jul 18, 2008

    Yeah tie rod ends ought to last decades. In fact my four imports range from 120K miles to 200K miles and none have ever needed tie rod ends. I've got a friends with a 3/4 ton AWD GMC truck that sees light duty and the steering is already going bad with loose joints in it. I crawled around under it and there is significant slop in the steering. THIS is heavy duty??? For a while I was wanting to buy a domestic next time around but it's comments like "even if they are small" shows me that they might build a small car but the company's heart is not in it. As long as the company's heart is not in it - we the consumers are not going to get a good, soild product. I'm not going to point the CEO, the beancounters or the engineers. They all take the blame and they will all go down together. What agravates me is that the CEO is the lead guy - they guy that can make the changes they need to be competitive but this same mentality has been evident since I was a kid in the 70s. What bothers me is how many signs do they need to see that these car makers need a comprehensive product line that gets maintained ALL the time decade after decade. Make a car. Keep improving it. Don't throw everything including the name out every 8 years and start over. Design it, build it, and sell it. Then drive the competition and older examples of your own cars to see what has aged poorly. Learn from them. I want a Saturn Astra 3-door next time or a Focus hatchback nex time but I'm not sure I'll risk the cash. My current daily-drivers are still going along and not costing too much.

  • Joeaverage Joeaverage on Jul 18, 2008

    And reading the article about the teardowns - very interesting. Instead of tearing down brand new examples of the competition's products - GM ought to be tearing down 150K mile / 10 year old examples of their own vehicles for close examination. I can tell you a laundry list of items that I think the manufacturers of my daily drivers should have improved - like flimsy plastic body tim clips, door panel coverings that shrink, swaybar bushings that rattle, wheel center trim that peel, plastic trim that fades, windows that rattle in their guides when the doors are closed, etc. Test mileage doesn't just age a car properly - you need two little kids in the backseat, ten years of door slamming, etc. A new suspension bushing cycled 500K times is not the same as a bushing that has cycled 500K times with 10 years of age, weather, and contamination with greases, salts, and dirts... The Cobalt product member comment was a good one about the Cobalt production manager maybe not even driving what they are building. Anybody able to confirm things like this? I firmly believe that the best cars are the ones that are driven by the people who engineer and build them. I think this is why GMs large vehicles are plenty good...