New GM Banking on 15% Market Growth in 2010

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

No. Really. GM’s top execs [not shown] stood up in front of their Midwestern dealers at the Rock Financial Showplace and told them that new car sales will rebound by 15 percent next year, ascending to an annual tally of 12.5 million vehicles. That’s fantastic news. But the real shocker: our mole reports that the suits only said the word “faster” once. The company’s new mantra: our costs are less, so we can charge you less. No, wait; that’s a local Toyota’s dealer’s come-on. I mean, our costs are less, so we can keep our jobs longer. Or make a profit. Or something. Meanwhile, Automotive News [sub] reports that GM has formed a special task force to “try to retain 3 million ‘free agents’ — customers that have lost their favorite brand, nameplate or dealership this year.” Interesting use of the word “favorite” . . .

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The new Clean Tricks Squad (we hope) is headed by Julie Heisel, a Harvard MBA grad who’s been doing the GM CRM since the good old days, when Old GM was New GM, only not so much. In 2001, Heisel was busy talking up IBM software designed to let the American automaker “respond to customers individually.” True story. She even had a “Plan to Win” that “ensures that we continually talk about progress and check ourselves against the vision,” said Heisel. Better luck this time, eh?

New GM’s new plan to win centers on Chevrolet. Chevy boss Brent Dewar admitted that the General came to that conclusion through a process of elimination, and told the remaining dealers that they’re going to carry the can for the nationalized automaker.

‘We’re asking them to step up to higher sales targets’ that follow a reduction in Chevrolet dealers following GM’s bankruptcy and the reduction of brands, Dewar said.

‘The Chevrolet brand is elastic enough’ to cover the vacated spaces in the marketplace, he said. ‘Dealers will have to think differently about small-car values. We’ll still have low-price value versions but also more premium choices.’

Like . . . Buick? As has become its custom, Automotive News ends its otherwise credulous report on New GM hyperbole with some sobering stats.

Through July, Chevy’s U.S. sales plunged 34.5 percent to 718,135 vehicles. Total GM sales slipped 37.7 percent to 1.13 million, giving Chevy 63.2 percent of GM’s U.S. sales over the seven-month period.

The heartbeat of America is in arrhythmia, and New GM wants it to lead its march into battle. Then again, what’s the alternative?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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2 of 47 comments
  • Cpmanx Cpmanx on Aug 31, 2009
    Much of the problem is cultural, matched with size. Thank you, PCH101, for a dose of level-headed analysis. It's easy to turn these issues into sound bites...and easy to fall into the delusion of thinking that one smart person at the top could instantly transform a huge, entrenched corporate culture. From a market-share POV, the big problem I see is that GM just doesn't have enough persuasive new products coming at the volume end of things. Based on early reviews, the Cruze is a keeping-up product, not the leapfrog car it needs to be. Early word on the Beat/Spark puts it in the same category, and the spy shots of Viva prototypes are none too encouraging. Chevy will be carrying 70% of GM's volume, so these cars need to be solid hits for the company to pick up share. The most intriguing new product in the pipeline is the Orlando, but it's in a modest-selling (for now) segment. The new Equinox is promising, and word from the preview crowds is the the Malibu restyle is very sharp looking. But that's not much of a foundation to build on.
  • Nevets248 Nevets248 on Aug 31, 2009

    Susan Docherty-the modern day equivalent of Lynn Meyers-the GM "lifer" who was rewarded with a position/title she had no idea what to do with. Every time I read one of her quotes in the press, I think back to the lyrics of the 90's group, "Garbage" and their song, "Stupid Girl". If Ron Zarella and his cronies were still at the "new" GM, her future would be unlimited!

  • THX1136 While reading the article a thought crossed my mind. Does Mexico have a fairly good charging infrastructure in place? Knowing that it is a bit poorer economy than the US relatively speaking, that thought along with who's buying came to mind.
  • Lou_BC Maybe if I ever buy a new car or CUV
  • Lou_BC How about telling China and Mexico, we'll accept 1 EV for every illegal you take off our hands ;)
  • Analoggrotto The original Tassos was likely conceived in one of these.
  • Lorenzo The unspoken killer is that batteries can't be repaired after a fender-bender and the cars are totaled by insurance companies. Very quickly, insurance premiums will be bigger than the the monthly payment, killing all sales. People will be snapping up all the clunkers Tim Healey can find.