Quote Of The Day: Maximum Unearned Hubris Edition
Ok, today’s QOTD was actually typed yesterday, as Alpha jet-deprived New GM Car Czar Bob Lutz faced the slings and arrows of outrageous internetocracy on Fastlane. Stan:
In my group it is just uncool to drive a GM car -even if they are as good as the imports. Is your marketing studies researching why this is. I could give you an ear full and fit the urban professional demographic. I want to see GM get that desirable one day!
Lutz’s reply (and our quote of the day) after the jump.
“Stan, I guess it depends whether you have your own personality or whether you are a lemming-like follower of current trends. I think an audacious and bold person with a mind of his or her own would go to a dealership and see that our new vehicles easily trounce the foreign competition in performance and value. A lot of people are reaching this conclusion on their own, witness the new Camaro, selling at a rate of 10,000 a month. I think it’s uncool to drive an import.”
In my group, it's uncool to drive a car that sucks.
GM vehicles date themselves so quickly. I see a 1985 BMW 745i or even a base E30, I drool. I see a 1985 Cadillac, I fall asleep. GM brand-poster cars are only "cool" for the first year of their release. After that everyone gets sick of them. And the other GM cars, well, no one gives a rats a$$ about them. Because. They. Suck.
This is the exact discussion I often have with my car-enthusiast friends. I live in Northern California and not one person I know here drives a GM car. And before you start throwing "San Francisco" at me, I live in the central valley near Sacramento which is a relatively conservative and agricultural part of the state so I think this is more representative of "fly-over" country than a lot of people think. I know one acqaintance with a Chrysler minivan and another who has an older Ford Ranger that he keeps around because it isn't worth enough to bother selling. He also loans it out to friends for weekend projects. I've used it a few times and it serves its purpose though the knob on the manual transmission always falls off and it's dog slow (4-cyl 5-speed base model... exactly as I'd buy it, actually) compared to my neighbor's base-level Toyota Tacoma. I drove another manual trans Ranger and the shift knob wouldn't stay on that car either. Odd, but I digress. Demographically, I'm now 40 and our friends are mostly in their mid to late 30s. We are all college educated and in most cases have graduate degrees. I grew up in Michigan and with the exception of my father (who drives a Mercury Sable as his business brings him into contact with a lot of GM and UAW retirees) I can't name another friend or family member who has a domestic "car." Oh, and I should mention that I worked for GM (actually, Saurn when it was a subsdiary) for 8 years. Let's be frank for a minute. Until recently GM cars have simply been unappealing, especially the entry-level models from which people graduate to bigger and more expensive pastures (if you believe the marketing think). Early Saturn S cars seemed to have a strong following amongst college grads and import intenders for a host of reasons but we all know what happened there. I don't pass on GM cars because I think they will be unreliable. I've shopped them in the recent past and actually had terrific experiences at their dealerships (I can't say the same thing about some of the import brands who acted as if they didn't need my business). I also owned a BMW 5-series wagon which had a ton of stupid problems combined with sub-par dealer service. If anything, I think GM make good engines, excellent automatic transmissions, and have always had strong and reliable HVAC systems. Actually, I don't think there are truly any unreliable cars on the market anymore, at least not in the sense of what that meant 20 years ago. It's rare to be left stuck on the side of the road, for example. Quality now comes down to qualitative issues like interior design/finish, styling, and perceived value (image and predicted resale). One problem for me, actually, is that I like manual transmissions and few if any of GM's cars offer them. Those that do are rarely available from dealer inventories with the manual option. I find the Malibu and Aura appealing but the lack of a manual transmission option is a deal-breaker for me. I want a car that size with a 4-cylinder manual combo so by default I'm relegated to the Mazda6 or the Honda Accord. Even the Kia Soul is an interesting option on my mind right now. It's plenty roomy for my real needs, gets decent fuel economy, and can be had with the exact combination of options for far less than $20k. We also have a Mazda5 which fits our needs for a family truckster perfectly (even a manual trans). GM simply doesn't have anything that satisfies my needs and wants. The HHR SS seemed interesting but I rented a base model and was less than satisfied with the basic design for reasons of poor visibility.