Quote of the Day: "False Familiarity" Edition

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
quote of the day false familiarity edition

GM’s constant reference to the “perception gap” is, without doubt, the most galling thing about the company. Despite sucking-up over $62 billion in taxpayer money, the nationalized automaker continues to insist there’s nothing wrong with our products. Oh no, American-consumers are a bunch of [Jap-loving] idiots. If if they would just open their minds they’d see that they’re idiots. And buy our cars. And save the company. And keep Mexicans Americans employed. And get their taxes back. Now, adding insult to insult, they’re launching a taxpayer-funded ad campaign based on that premise: “May the Best Car Win.” Note to New GM: it HAS been winning. Ipso ’effing facto. Now LEAVE IT ALONE. But oh no. In fact, the car Czar who drove GM into the dirt is flooring it, betting the company’s future on this series of comparison ads. And he’s got a new name for “the perception gap” not because he understands the problem but because he’s bored with it.

Here we go, from Daniel Howes’ column in this morning’s Detroit News:

What does it say about Buick when GM asks folks to identify the most prominent vehicles in the line-up and the answers are “Park Avenue” and “Rendezvous” — neither of which can be found (thankfully) in showrooms?

It says they know where Buick’s been, not where it is or where it’s going. Lutz calls that “false familiarity,” arguably worse than no familiarity at all with what GM’s doing today, just months after emerging from a whirlwind through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.It says they know where Buick’s been, not where it is or where it’s going. Lutz calls that “false familiarity,” arguably worse than no familiarity at all with what GM’s doing today, just months after emerging from a whirlwind through Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Howes ignores the outrageousness of Lutz’s steadfast refusal to understand that Buick is an un-brand. As has become the norm, the Motown scribe sums-up with a piercing glimpse into the blindingly obvious.

In a company full of tough jobs, Lutz’s is among the toughest. He, his team and their cadre of outside agencies need to persuade skeptical, sometimes hostile, consumers to give GM another try.

Does that sound familiar? Of wait, that’s false familiarity. My bad.

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  • Psarhjinian Psarhjinian on Sep 15, 2009
    My belief is that GM’s culture started to fail when they put an accounting type at the top. One of my professors taught that as a formula for failure back in the 70’s. That would be Alfred Sloan, then. Though I will agree that for all his success, the rot did start with Sloan's policies Essentially, the game changed from making cars to making money. Once the cars became the means and not the end, fall was inevitable.] Again, that was a Sloan thing. GM's founder, William Durant, was a car guy, but he was also suffered from corporate ADHD in the worst way. Sloan got that under control and focused GM on profits, not niche-chasing. Saying "it's the beancounters" is just as much an oversimplification as saying "it's the UAW". The problem is that GM's leadership has, since Sloan, been unfamiliar with the idea of accountability. It didn't matter that they were accountants or engineers. What GM needs is someone, or a group of someones, who want to make them a successful company by the objective standard of selling people good cars at a profit. People are fond of saying Toyota is the new GM, but it's really not true. There's an important difference between the two companies: Toyota acknowledges mistakes and takes corrective action; GM does not. GM has no ability to be introspective or self-critical: Rick Wagoner or Bob Lutz would never have made Kat Watanbe's admission of failure, and certainly would never have accepted responsibility and resigned of their own accord. You'd never see Henderson saying anything near as concrete as what Akio Toyoda has about where this company needs to be. They'd just push on, throwing shit against the wall. GM actually comes across as a badly-run government, not a corporation who has to compete in a cut-throat marketplace, and they have been this way since long before they were panhandling at Uncle Sam. They act as if they have a right to exist in perpetuity and show no sense of changing, not even now.

  • Martin Albright Martin Albright on Sep 16, 2009

    Christy et al: Nope, never heard of the Grand National. I was 7 years old in 1969, not much interest in cars at the time. Reatta? Never heard of it. Sounds like either the name of an exotic disease or one of those drugs that they sell on those long commercials where they tout the product for 25 seconds and then spend the next 2 minutes on warnings and disclaimers.

  • Jeffrey An all electric entry level vehicle is needed and as a second car I'm interested. Though I will wait for it to be manufactured in the states with US components eligible for the EV credit.
  • Bob65688581 Small by American standards, this car is just right for Europe, and probably China, although I don't really know, there. Upscale small cars don't exist in the US because Americans associate size and luxury, so it will have a tough time in the States... but again Europe is used to such cars. Audi has been making "small, upscale" since forever. As usual, Americans will miss an opportunity. I'll buy one, though!Contrary to your text, the EX30 has nothing whatsoever to do with the XC40 or C40, being built on a dedicated chassis.
  • Tassos Chinese owned Vollvo-Geely must have the best PR department of all automakers. A TINY maker with only 0.5-0.8% market share in the US, it is in the news every day.I have lost count how many different models Volvo has, and it is shocking how FEW of each miserable one it sells in the US market.Approximately, it sells as many units (TOTAL) as is the total number of loser models it offers.
  • ToolGuy Seems pretty reasonable to me. (Sorry)
  • Luke42 When I moved from Virginia to Illinois, the lack of vehicle safety inspections was a big deal to me. I thought it would be a big change.However, nobody drives around in an unsafe car when they have the money to get their car fixed and driving safely.Also, Virginia's inspection regimine only meant that a car was safe to drive one day a year.Having lived with and without automotive safety inspections, my confusion is that they don't really matter that much.What does matter is preventing poverty in your state, and Illinois' generally pro-union political climate does more for automotive safety (by ensuring fair wages for tradespeople) than ticketing poor people for not having enough money to maintain their cars.