Ten Cars GM Should Copy? Seriously?
The MSM knows GM’s broken. (Ya think?) They also know the Presidential Task Force on Autos (PTFOA) is on the case, writing checks as fast their little pens can scribble; it takes a LOT of checks (and no balances) to keep the zombie automaker from going belly-up. The press also realizes that something must change! But . . . what? Rick Newman over at US Snooze and World Report (that was unnecessary, but fun) reckons he knows what GM needs to do that it isn’t doing now. Do what the competition’s doing. Pedants note: Rick’s not suggesting ten new products. I think. He’s simply saying that the following machines are “some of the top cars from which the Detroit automakers can learn.” Presumption up with which GM’s top brass can not put. Presumably. Oh, and Rick, you might want to check the sales charts for some of these, and/or ping TTAC’s B&B for slightly more meaningful memes than Detroit hearts building big.
Honda Fit – “There’s nothing in Detroit’s inventory that comes close, because Detroit has long regarded small cars as a necessary evil, while importers know they can be fun and fulfilling.”
Volkswagen Tiguan – “Small vehicles can be just as cool as big ones. Cooler, maybe. The Tiguan is everything people are looking for these days: practical, fun, and modestly sized . . . [Detroit should] “match the flair, for less.”
Infiniti EX – “Quick, name a small, luxury domestic crossover . . . . Trick question. There aren’t any . . . . Detroiters might sniff that the EX isn’t a true SUV because it doesn’t have off-road capability. News flash: It doesn’t matter.”
Honda Insight – “Detroit needs to find a way to cut the cost of hybrids and crank out a dozen different models, or just hand over the whole segment to the Japanese.”
Audi A4 – “The most common complaint about Audis is that they’re overpriced—precisely the kind of problem an automaker wants to have . . . Strong engineering, slick interiors, and edgy design cues like the “eyeliner” LED lights that accentuate the headlamps have made the A4 a top-shelf alternative to more commonplace luxury sedans.”
Mazda MX-5 – “Ford and Chrysler in particular ought to pay attention—neither even offers a two-seat roadster.”
Volkswagen GTI – “The Chevy Cobalt SS is a GTI imitator, but it’s based on a middling economy car and isn’t nearly as refined. Keep trying.”
Hyundai Genesis – “Buick, Chrysler, and Lincoln might want to study Hyundai’s formula, which is to offer the same features and quality as the top Japanese and European brands for thousands less.”
Mazda 5 – “It’s small for its category, so Detroit’s probably not interested . . . Some analysts think the 5 may actually kick off a new “microvan” category, with copycats like the Kia Rondo. But no domestics, apparently.”
Subaru Forester – “You could pay more for a Chevrolet Equinox or Jeep Liberty, but you’d probably end up wondering why. GM and Chrysler should ask themselves the same question.”
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The problem with attempting to copy cars from the list is that the copy will always be a generation behind the benchmark. The better idea would be to learn from some of these examples. For example, the main lesson from the Hyundai Genesis is large V8 RWD car AND upscale styling at a moderate price. The Pontiac G8 could have been built as a more upscale expensive looking Buick vs. Pontiac with "boy racer" cheap looking styling. Similarly, there is a theme of relatively small and fun to drive in the list. Would be nice to see a good compromise between refinement and cost vs. the current born to be a rental car domestic small cars. Maybe the US market will not support the cost of Ford and GM European models, but it will support a relatively fun to drive Honda Fit vs. the bland Chevrolet Cobalt.