Automotive News Letter Tells The Tale of Motown Myopia

Stephan Wilkinson
by Stephan Wilkinson
automotive news letter tells the tale of motown myopia

There's a Letter to the Editor in the current issue of Automotive News that encapsulates everything that's wrong with the North American automotive industry. It's even the letter of the week, boxed and highlighted in GM taupe, given special prominence and headlined “Why won't consumers buy Detroit cars?” The letter is from a third-generation Canadian Chevy dealer, a guy whose family has been selling GM vehicles for nearly 90 years. You'd 'a thunk he'd learned the basics during that almost-a-century. But no. “Our small car, the Chevrolet Aveo, fell 19.7 percent in U. S. sales in June,” Tom Wills of Wills Chevrolet writes. “Why? Surely this must be the right car for the times…. We have the best product we have ever had… Why aren't you buying our products? What have the imports got that we don't?” Here's a guy who not only flunked grammar but thinks a rebadged Korean Daewoo Kalos is “the best product we have ever had.” And because it has good mpg numbers 'Murricans should be required to buy it even though it's a stumpy little crapcar. What have the imports got? Let me count the ways: quality, performance, styling, resale value, reliability…oh, never mind. Wills didn't actually write this, but he might as well have: “We threw you this rotten bone and you won't chew on it, so you should be sent to the pound until you learn which cars we require you to buy.” Madness.

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  • Rtz Rtz on Aug 07, 2008

    Double the MPG in the Aveo. Or how about some 85mpg Prius action:

  • Dwford Dwford on Aug 07, 2008

    Many dealers and the salesmen in them could care less about cars, it's just a sales job to them. They could just as easily sell vacuums. That is why when you shop you know more than the salesman, and why that dealer has no idea that better cars exist than the ones he is selling. Is there an element of customer education to be done on many domestic models? Yes. Most customers also have no idea about cars ( which is why no-nothing salesmen can succeed) and buy on recommendations from friends and half-baked notions of what models and brands are good. Probably only 1/3 of Honda and Toyota buyers actually know the cars are good. The rest are just lemmings.

  • John Horner John Horner on Aug 08, 2008

    By and large, today's new car buyer is much better informed and has a far larger number of viable choices than did the buyers of the 1950s which Detroit feasted upon for so long. After decades of spitting in the eyes of customers they now wonder where the love is? Remember all those defective paint jobs, defective diesel engines, defective intake manifold gaskets and interiors which self-destructed just after the warranty was up? How about the headlight modules which fog up right after the warranty is over and cost the customer hundreds of dollars each to replace? Remember how you tried to convince the burned owners that all would be well if they just traded in on a new craptastic car? Well Mr. Chevy dealer, even if you have forgotten ... your former customers have not. "They that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same." (Job 4:8)

  • Geotpf Geotpf on Aug 08, 2008
    NoSubstitute : August 7th, 2008 at 2:21 pm It turns out that Aveo is the right car for the times, as long as you pick the right times. After dropping 20% in June, Aveo sales increased 17% from the year before in July. Many domestic cars have a similar sales pattern (that is, up 40% one month, down 25% the next, up 15%, down 50%, up 75%). The reason is simple-fleet sales. They tend to come in large orders of several thousand units of the same model at a time. If Avis happens to order five thousand Chevy POSs in a month, that means sales of that particular model skyrockets that month, compared to last year, and will fall by the same amount in the same month next year. What aspect of this phenomenon that is not explained by fleet sales is explained by whatever ridiculous promotion that particular automaker has that month (or that month last year) on that model (employee pricing, 0% financing until the heat death of the universe, 40% off, red/toe tag, whatever). I like to look at the Year To Date numbers for a more accurate look, because it rounds out this phenomenon. The Aveo's sales are up 1.4% Year To Date (Jan-July 08 vs. Jan-July 07). Of course, that's only 529 cars, and it's sales were up in July alone by 1,042 cars, so...