Akerson: BMW Better Than Cadillac

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan
akerson bmw better than cadillac

When you start a new job, it’s considered important to make a good impression. How does the saying go? “Start as you mean to go on”. Well, Dan Akerson, I suspect, tried to heed that advice and ended up putting his foot in it. The Associated Press reports that Dan Akerson, CEO of Government (soon to be “General” again) Motors, presented a webcast to GM employees. The usual CEO rhetoric came out. “GM needs to keep competitors on their heels rather than responding to what they do” said one GM worker, who asked not to be identified as the broadcast was not available to the public; despite being owned by them. “Attack mode” was another phrase used. But then Mr Akerson said that GM’s Cadillac brand has to make cars that are better than BMW’s. Now I thought this was quite a harmless statement to make. The CEO set a (quite high) benchmark to beat. Sounds reasonable, right? Not according to some.

The comment drew the ire of USA Today. As the article said, “How sad if he really said that. He’s echoing the out-of-date bias of many car shoppers. Cadillac, data show, already is better than BMW.” Blimey! Calm down, lads! The article then goes on to quote J.D Power and Associates’ Initial Quality Study (IQS) and Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS). In those studies, Cadillac ranks higher than BMW nearly every year. USA Today then starts ranting about how even “bad” GM (their word, not mine) beat BMW.

“In IQS scores back to 2005, Cadillac finished as high as third of some three dozen brands surveyed, and no worse than 13th (except for 25th in 2007). BMW, meantime, ranked 3rd back in 2005, but since then no better than 16th of about three dozen brands. (The exact number surveyed varies by one or two each year.)”

On the VDS, they mentioned that Cadillac, apart from years 2005 and 2007, beat BMW. Then things started getting hot under the bonnet.

“Sure, but BMW will blow the doors off Cadillac, right? Apparently not. In a “run what ya brung” challenge race last October, Caddy’s CTS-V took first, second and third. The highest-finishing BMW was an M3 in fourth. BMW declined at the time to send a factory-backed car and driver because it was a GM-sponsored event rather than a neutral competitive setting. Still the showdown was open to all production-stock (unmodified) cars, so, theoretically at least, it was a fair fight.”

Now whilst these are all valid points, there’s one point which USA Today doesn’t mention. In August 2010, The US public bought 12,689 Cadillacs. In comparison, 19,450 BMW’s were purchased. So, even with those points which USA Today raised, the US public isn’t buying it, literally. But, I think that USA Today was extremely harsh. I don’t think Dan Akerson meant anything by that comment (if he did say it, GM won’t confirm it). I like bashing a GM CEO as much as the next person, but give him a chance!

Join the conversation
3 of 68 comments