Ask the Best and Brightest: Sitting Shiva?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

As in Shiva, The Destroyer. It strikes me—has for some time—that nothing short of Chapter 7 could possibly “save” GM. (The title of GM Death Watch 1: “GM Must Die.”) The underlying idea is simple enough: capitalism is creative destruction. When something sucks, blow it up, start again. If the RenCen Mothership had been allowed to implode, its constituent parts (i.e. the brands, facilities dealers and talent worth saving) would have had a better chance of survival. As it stands now, with Fritz “The Lifer” Henderson and Ed “Everything Looks Like A Nail” Whitacre in charge, New GM is on a bear hunt (stumble trip, stumble trip, stumble trip) and they’re going to catch a big one (total dissolution). Alternatively, it’s like watching an endless, frame-by-frame version of MTV’s Scarred. With apologies to anyone who connects this video to “ Buda’s wagon,” my question to TTAC’s Best and Brightest: what else needs blowing-up in the auto industry? The dealer experience is an obvious candidate. I nominate lapdog journalism. You?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Monty Monty on Nov 14, 2009

    What else needs blowing up? I nominate dealers foisting lot cars on buyers. If I ever purchase a brand new car again, I will factory order it. I am old enough to have developed patience, certainly enough to wait 6 to 10 weeks for my brand new car to arrive. I long for the days when options on cars weren't limited to focus group determined trim levels and option packages. Way back when my father received a new company car every two years or 100,000 miles, whichever occured first. I was just a wee lad in 1965, when he was getting a new Plymouth Fury and I have fond memories of perusing the brochures from the dealer. My brother and I were allowed to choose the paint, fabric and trim colour. Of course it had to meet with parental approval; we chose wisely and well, deciding on beautiful royal blue colour, with matching interior, and fabric, not vinyl, seating surfaces. It took several weeks to arrive (it seemed like months to us boys) but it was exactly as we had chosen. I would love to be able to walk into my local dealer and order a vehcile with soemthing other than a grey or black interior, and trim accents that match. I would also like to be able to order a sunroof without having to fork out money for addtional options that I don't need or want, like a nav system. I also want to be able to order any vehicle with a stick. Whether it's a full sized truck, or econobox or even a sport luxury CUV, I want a manual transmission.

    • Ctoan Ctoan on Nov 15, 2009

      All of that costs money, and cars are far more expensive to design now than in the "good old days", and so any car company that implements such things would be working at either lower profitability or higher prices -- on smaller cars, probably no profitability. It might be nice for the consumer, but I doubt it would be that nice, nice enough to draw them towards a car they didn't otherwise want.

  • Mach1 Mach1 on Nov 14, 2009

    Euro NCAP isn't even a regulation! There are, however dozens of regulations that are similar but not identical, between the US and the EU that could be harmonized. Work has started on that but progress is understandably slow. One huge difference is that Europe uses witnessed testing of the design. Once witnessed, all vehicles of that design are assumed to meet the law. In the USA, the companies self certify and that means they have to take statistical variation into account so that essentially 100% of production is fully compliant. In Europe, if the witnessing agency has signed off on your design and you don't change it, the lawyers are pretty much blocked from suing. In the good old USA, even if every vehicle complies with the law, the lawyers will still sue if the manufacturers have not provided the best possible design or even if the accident was caused by the vehicle occupants.

    • SV SV on Nov 15, 2009

      Unifying US and European regulations would definitely make life alot easier on the manufacturers, and would enable some of those appealing European-only cars to come over here much more easily and cheaply than is the case currently. Killing the current dealer system and implementing something more like the Apple Store idea would probably help efficiency a great deal (building for demand and not just building for dealers) and improve the customer experience by a massive amount.

  • Matt51 Matt51 on Nov 15, 2009

    Too high regulatory costs, prevent small innovative companies from entering the market. The government is protecting a small cartel of very large industrial companies. Reducing regulatory costs, and encouraging new entrants, would lead to better cars at lower cost. Michigan probably has a vast amount of unused brain power which could design better cars than the 3 stooges (GM, Ford, Chrysler) if they were allowed to.

  • Christy Garwood Christy Garwood on Nov 17, 2009

    I see that Agni must have been sitting on your shoulder as you wrote this particular Satya about cars. As the resident GM defender in a way, I feel it necessary to say that C-11 with the 363 provision was new GM's Kali. A re-birth via C-7 isn't needed. To answer your question, are those red-light cameras really essential?