By on November 12, 2009

Cruze control. Or not.

When GM CEO Fritz Henderson promised Congress he would run the nationalized automaker with complete transparency, we knew he was full of shit. How could anyone expect New GM to do anything but lie, misdirect, prevaricate and obfuscate when the same Bozos that ran it into the ground were still large and in charge? Which GM dealers are canned? Which GM dealers have been resurrected? Why? Who is the GM executive (other than Fritz) who earns more than $500,000 per year—that the company refuses to name? What are the internal targets that GM says it’s meeting? Why did the company overestimate sales of some of its key models in its November press release? Why did Fritz and CFO Ray Young promise a 2010 GM IPO without the Chairman’s approval? And so on. To that list, add this from the AP: “But GM postponed the Cruze’s April build date about three months, said Mark Reuss, GM’s vice president of global vehicle engineering. The company, he said, wasn’t happy with the Cruze’s performance, especially with the six-automatic transmission. ‘No one was thrilled with where it shifted, how it shifted.'” Well that’s the first I’ve heard of that. And while it’s nice that GM is putting our money where it’s mouth is in its desire to ensure the Cruze’s “flawless launch,” what the hell happened? And why wasn’t anyone fired for it? Oh right, GM.

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35 Comments on “Chevrolet Cruze’s “Flawless Launch” Delayed by Transmission Problems...”

  • avatar

    And you propose GM should just produce the car and launch even with a less than satisfactory performance evaluation? Pardon me, but isn’t this the type of behavior Gm is criticized heavily for? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I’m happy to hear that quality comes first in this instance.

  • avatar

    the cruze is on sale in other parts of the world… without much issue
    how can they stuff up the release of a car that is really not the ‘inaugural’ unveiling?
    how does GM so readily snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?

    • 0 avatar
      Mirko Reinhardt

      Because, in other parts of the world, you can launch it without an automatic.
      The Cruze’s only selling point in Europe is: It’s cheap. Putting an auto in it would make it less cheap. People who would buy a Cruze don’t want an auto, they want the cheapest version with the 113 hp engine, steel wheels and no A/C.
      The Cruze isn’t one of the top 100 best selling cars in Germany. That means we’ll have to guess how many they sold here in October – but we can be sure it was less than 609.

  • avatar

    Some  owners the new Equinox with the 4cyl/6-speed auto have had problems with the tranny making aggressive downshifts – to the point that Chevy has revised the transmission programming (a fellow who bitched on the Edmunds forum reports that a Chevy engineer actually met with him personally to upload the new code – he reports much smoother shifting). Presumably, the lack of torque from the 2.4l four requires that the transmission follows the speed of the vehicle closely so that the mechanical advantage required for a 3700lb vehicle isn’t too many gears away. What that does for transmission longevity is up to question – but at least Chevy stepped up to resolve the problem. A point of note: The EPA mileage ratings were likely achieved with the old tranny program – GM may have to re-submit after the change (but since they’re pretty much government-controlled, maybe it’ll stay a secret for a while). AFAIK, new Equinoxes rolling off the line will have newer programming.
    So, anyway, the Cruze transmission programming will likely become more of an issue, especially if they’re trying to avoid the problems like the ‘Nox, and they need to publish realistic mileage figures with the EPA at some point.

    • 0 avatar

      Spurious anecdotage — a relative with an ’09 Malibu 4 cylinder had the transmission go into limp mode.  Car was shipped to whatever is the last engineering center they have for GM in Michigan.  Swapped with a new LTZ Impala for the trouble as a loaner.  Malibu returned after two weeks.  Said it was the weirdest software problem they’d seen.  No issues for two months of use.
      Government Motors at least appears to be trying to make the transmissions work right, and bend over backwards when they get a new car buyer with a problem.  That’s nicer than the old FOAD.

  • avatar

    Why is this not considered transparent? They announced that they were going delay the launch, by the time they announced, for a problem they told us about.

    • 0 avatar

      Transparency after the fact isn’t really transparency is it?

    • 0 avatar
      John Holt

      Agreed…  were we to expect real-time play-by-play updates of every problem of the launch?  That’s splitting hairs.  Demanding transparency is one thing.  Following every GM employee around and questioning them as they take a piss is another.
      It’s very well possible this issue just emerged in the final stages of powertrain homologation.  Or a Veep changed his mind after a ride event.  Or GM got skittish after having the SRX’s tranny crucified by C&D’s John Phillips.
      Now how painfully slow it’s taking them to actually get the Cruze launched is annoying… but better to have a fully-baked product than a middling, recall-laden effort that gets railed by the media and consumers.
      Hey, at least they’re not subsidizing engineering boondoggles masquerading as R&D with customer down payments (cough) Tesla (cough).

  • avatar

    You’re assuming nobody was fired over that.  Maybe they were…

  • avatar

    This car has been on sale now for almost a year in other parts of the world and they just noticed that the transmission shifted like a POS now?  Good Work GM!  Glad to see the new GM is so quick and nimble to catch these things so fast!… Fail.

  • avatar

    What part of  “We don’t have to disclose financials because we are privately held now” tipped you off?!

  • avatar

    I have to echo the others here… this exact car is on sale in several major markets already.. what is so special about the US version?  I can assume that most of the cars sold in the EU will be manual or diesel, but Koreans like their automatics… so, what gives?

    • 0 avatar

      My guess is the major difference is the 6-speed automatic, which will make up the majority of Cruze sales here in North America. They probably have whatever speed manual box figured out.

  • avatar

    Uhh, many of you don’t work for the Big Three or else you would know the answer by now ….. it’s the suppliers fault (sarcasm).

  • avatar

    There are so many things about this car, from this company…. that are anything BUT transparent.

    Id just like to know….
    If we all pitched in to buy GM… doesnt that Entitle US all… to have some documentation as to what is my money being spent on…

    On the other hand…
    I dont think I want Fritz starfucks / company charge accts / recepits from the past month… more than I pull in 1yr.

    As far as transparency goes..
    Didnt they say the Camaro would be a flawless launch… then a 20pg document got out from here about the hundreds of niggling issues the cars had…. as they rolled off the trucks?

    Id love to see what they cal “flawless” when the Volt is released… and someone jostles it the wrong way / or taps something… / or Id love to see the first “Blue screen of death” whe that rolls off the truck.

    What a bunch of crap.

    Only thing theyve learned should be transparent is the hot glue that they adhere the badges of the G8 with… or whenever they badge-engineer the shit out of some poor unassuming car to some bastard who doesnt know the difference.

    • 0 avatar

      GM will releases financial information on Nov 16.
      No car is ever released without some issues.  A new car will never be flawless.
      And the rebadge comment is ridiculous.  Who cares that the car is a Holden?  It isn’t sold in the US as anything else.  You are seriously going to complain about a rebadge in a different market?

  • avatar

    Not really a surprise, there are no ‘world’ Cruze’s that use the 1.4L/6 speed combo (although the newly released Astra does). The North American market also has to worry about CAFE, which would imply a different ‘tuning’ then other markets. Let’s be happy they are trying to get it right out of the blocks (maybe they have learned something afterall).

  • avatar

    We all have to realize that at old GM and new GM – accountability and responsibility have and still remain missing as an objective to the leaders of the company.  Business as usual is the norm but with another player (Car Czar) to buddy up to and invite as a member of the glass house gang.
    Will we get our money back?  Likely not.  Will the US taxpayer get  proper investment return from GM?  Hell no.  When GM is the model of inept bureaucracy and an inept bureacucracy invests in it – we have made something unpredictable.

  • avatar

    I don’t see the problem here. “Old” GM would have just said that’s too bad, and kept building this thing without modification for ten years. At least they are trying to fix it.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    GM’s history with the Vega and Chevette have shown us that customers don’t put up with being “beta testers” for major components of the General’s low-spec cars. So, yeah, this situation is progress.
    What I object to us the pejorative use of the word “bozo.” Frankly, Bozo was a very successful product, that was refined, franchised and successfully replicated in television markets across the U.S. In many markets, Bozo was copied … as, say “Hobo Kelly” in Los Angeles.
    In GM’s wildest dreams, they hope to achieve the same multi-market success as Bozo. Especially with The Cruze.

  • avatar
    Eric G. Harrison

    ” And why wasn’t anyone fired for it?”
    You don’t fire someone every time there was a mistake, or an opportunity for improvement.  If that was standard policy everywhere then the webmasters of this site (all iterations of it) would be looking for work.  So would the rest of us.  Just yesterday I made a mistake! :)

    What matters is the ability to see a problem and fix it.  It seems like it’s 50/50 on that in this case.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree that every now and then you have to let someone fail and learn from the experience… But if you let the person fail twice or three times, or four times, now the person to be fired is you…

      Lets count the Cruze blunders shall we:
      1) The car was released at the NY auto show a full year before it was ready for production, and the delivery date was almost instantly delayed 6 months.
      2) No one at GM noticed that the plant that was to build the 1.4L engine wasn’t ready… That was a first for GM, releasing a car without an engine.
      3) Now there are transmission issues on a engine transmission combo that is already in production elsewhere? WTF! and
      4) We have rumors and leaks that there might be CAFE issues too…

      How many “opportunities for improvement” do we need to do before some one gets shown the door?    At my job, if I made a mistake of this magnitude I would EXPECT a pink slip.   At GM this is just another “ho hum” day at the office.

  • avatar

    I agree with MBella, this is a good thing for GM to do.  Old GM probably would have let it go out the door missing a few bolts.  I don’t really see why everyone is so upset about this.  This should come to you as a good sign, GM IS CHANGING!!!

  • avatar

    Since the same engine/transmission combo is available in the Astra, I’m surprised that GM didn’t just drop it into the Cruze without reprogramming the shift points.  I think that shows a level of refinement that didn’t really exist in the industry a couple of decades ago.  A cursory search shows that the Cruze weighs about 500 lbs more than the Astra, so a different shift mapping is probably appropriate.

  • avatar

    Not surprising since the all new 1.4 turbo has just been paired with the 6 speed automatic. Would you rather they released it and had to recall them to “fix” the transmission issues? That would be signs of the old GM. At least they are stepping up to the plate to address potential issues down the road with disgruntled owners. Why does someone need to be fired evertime something doesn’t go 100% right? Are we that cruel in todays cut throat society that we need to ruin someones life and or credability because of a simple programming difference in a engine/tranny controller?

  • avatar

    Give them  the extra 3 months. Then we can roast them for the 1.4L’s lack of oomph and poor mileage compared to the window sticker. Oh, and the cheap plastic, trunk hinges or some other nonsense.

  • avatar

    I think it’s encouraging that top management even noticed that it sucked before the launch. In the old days they didn’t know or care about their small cars. The company cars the execs were assigned tended to be expensive laoded models and they didn’t have a clue abolut the crappy cars that Lordstown, etc were making. 

  • avatar

    “That was a first for GM, releasing a car without an engine.”
    Guess you don’t remember about the redesigned Seville coming to market a year ahead of the Northstar engine being developed to go into it.

    • 0 avatar

      Last timed I checked the 1992 Seville had a 4.9L engine in it and was actually declared one of Car and Drivers 10 best for the year.  If that was your fast ball better start pitching the slider.

  • avatar

    My son in law bought a Holden CD Cruze 1.8l auto.  He,  my daugher and grandaughter think it’s a good small car (mind you, his previous car was a Hyundai Getz). The only problem he’s had is the cost of replacing the plastic wheel trims, 80 aussie dollars a corner! I told him to get the $20 chrome trims from Kmart! (our walmart)

  • avatar

    I haven’t been on this site for a while, nice to see the redesign and the changes at the helm. But after reading many of these comments, it seems that some things never change…
    As far as the Cruze goes, I’d rather see them de-bug the car now, before the US domestic launch. As much as folks demean GM for acknowledging flaws, at least I see a new attitude to fixing issues before the cars are being offered for sale. 
    Not that I plan on buying one anytime soon (I shot my wad with one of the last new Pontiacs this summer), but it’s good to see this change. I hope this bodes well for the longevity of the cars as time goes by, also.

  • avatar
    Walter Foreman

    The Korean domestic Cruze (known as Lacetti Premier in Korea) had issues with the 6-speed autobox when it was first launched in Korea last year. People in Korea were pushing for a recall, but that didn’t happen. What happened is that owners could take their cars to their dealer to have the tranny reprogrammed, and new models came from the factory with the new programming.

    Also of interest is that a 5-speed manual was available in Korea on every trim level of the 2009 model, and now for 2010 is only available on the base model and not available at all on the new 1.8 liter engine model.


  • avatar

    No (obvious) reports of problems with the Australian Cruze. Perhaps the 1.8L/6auto is different to the US launch version?
    I see plenty of the diesel models running around already.

  • avatar
    Tricky Dicky

    It seems to me to be a curiously American approach to quality.  “If anyone makes a mistake, make sure there is a high-profile blood-letting. Fear of sacking is the best way to ensure good quality”.
    Some of the very best workers you can have are those that are allowed to learn from their mistakes, who don’t hide a problem in case it puts their ass on the line. “Doesn’t matter if the customer is the one who gets to find the problem, as long as I don’t lose my job and benefits”. Duh…

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