By on June 5, 2012

Already pronounced shot by a bursting bubble, the Chinese new car market most likely will be up when the May numbers will be announced later in the month. How do we know? By looking at GM’s China May sales results that were announced today. When we do that, we will do something that TTAC allegedly is incapable of: We will salute and applaud GM. Three times.

General Motors and its joint ventures sold 231,183 vehicles in China in May, up 21.3 percent from the same month in 2011.

Shanghai GM’s domestic sales rose 7.1 percent. SAIC-GM-Wuling sold 127,749 vehicles in China, up a surprising 35.9 percent year on year.

Congratulations, GM. Congratulations especially for the huge gain at Wuling, which looked anemic for many months.

And a big congratulation goes out to GM for not trying to spin the numbers when they are down, as GM was wont to do in the past. Says a GM press release:

“FAW-GM sold 3,756 vehicles in the domestic market last month, down 0.7 percent from last May.”

“Buick sales totaled 51,360 units in May, down 1.2 percent from the same month last year.”

“Cadillac sales were down 2.2 percent on an annual basis to 2,205 units.”

For the first five months of 2012 GM China sold 1,203,552 vehicles in China, an increase of 11.5 percent year on year. This is even more respectable when you consider that the Chinese car market as a whole was down 1.3 percent for the January-April period. With these results, there is no need to be ashamed of a few Buicks less.

 

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27 Comments on “The Unthinkable Happens: TTAC Salutes GM, Three Times...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    Well, TTAC, it’s about time you recognized your years of denial – you LOVE the General!

    Just kidding, of course. GM certainly deserved everything they got from here and the automotive press, as they have squandered their legacy seemingly forever, my good fortune with my Impala notwithstanding.

    There aren’t many commenters on here that remember nor were alive when Chevrolet had 30% of the market all by itself, and year by year, they as well as Ford and Chrysler ignored the Japanese inroads into the domestic market, thinking they would wither like the Europeans. I think everyone knows the rest of the story, but congratulations to GM in this case.

    Now, GM, BUILD on this at home, too.

  • avatar
    forraymond

    As they say, “you can have your own opinions, not you own facts.”

    I know it must have hurt to write this, but GM is doing well.

    • 0 avatar

      “DANIEL AKERSON: We’re entitled to our point of view and our opinion, we’re not entitled to our facts. (Laughter.)” 2012/03/15, interview with Fortune.

      You sure get around, Forraymond. The CEO of GM is writing your lines …

  • avatar
    highdesertcat

    You gotta give credit where credit is due!

    The rub comes in when people object to calling a spade a spade, but get all orgasmic when you give the same failed entity an atta-boy for what they do right.

    In the case of GM, it’s OK to give them a pat on the back when they deserve it. But that doesn’t mean we should lose sight of what still needs fixin’.

    Right now there is still a lot more that needs fixin’ than there is things they do right.

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      What are some of the things you think need fixin?

      • 0 avatar
        Caboose

        Buick should be removed from the American market. They are only successful in China. In the States, Buick customers are buying Avalons and Azeras, or are done buying cars for the rest of their natural lives. Consequently, Buick only cannibalizes Impala and Malibu sales.

        Cadillac should stop chasing BMW. A proper Caddy is not tested on a road race course in the Black Forest, but on the Eisenhower Interstate System and on the Boulevard. A proper Caddy is large. A top-of-the-line Caddy might very well have 556 horsepower and rear-wheel drive, but it will also have enough length to provide the driver plenty of time to recite an entire Hail Mary before hitting the windshield in a crash.

        Style. Any American car should have great, big presence. A little bit of ego. Maybe even a smidgen of jingoism. “We won World War II,” it should say, “with these fins!” The Old World (whether they speak German, or would otherwise have been) will think poorly of us no matter what we do, so we might as well enjoy being who we are.

        Size. Simply put, American drivers aren’t getting any smaller. And not all poor folk are small – statistically, in fact, the lower one’s economic place in America, they greater likelihood one has of being overweight. So why are only small cars inexpensive? GM should decouple size from price. Couple price to features, if you must, but not to size. See, for example, the late ’80s Caprice. Huge, rear-drive, V8, bulletproof, comfortable, and huge. Not bad on gas, either. Gm can get good economy out of larger cars, nowadays.

  • avatar
    Kevin Kluttz

    The problem with GM is that their cars are still on the road. The people who still buy their crap are what need fixin’. And your Impala is strictly a lemon; that is, when GM throws together a car that actually works, it’s a fluke.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      Now, I not a GM apologist, but really. Zackman’s Impala is not a lemon…W bodies actually became pretty reliable, once the Dex death and brake lines were addressed. Come to think of it I like lemon on my fluke….

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    Don’t worry Bertel, the crazy General-luvin’ brigade will still come out of the woodwork screaming bias the next time you publish anything at all which even slightly disparages General Motors.

    • 0 avatar
      forraymond

      “crazy General-luvin’ brigade”

      It is not the criticism of GM, it is the constant criticism of GM while giving so many other flawed companies with flawed products a pass. It is the smell of BIAS that piss*s me off.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Warranted or not, a lot of people joined the mass exodus away from GM because they had a bad ownership experience or two. I am sure that a lot of people who bought other brands and had a bad ownership experience also left those brands, but overall, there were more people who left GM.

        There’s a reason why GM’s market share is what it is today. Maybe the things that GM is doing right will help turn that around, but that’s China, not in the US, and not in Europe.

        I’ve owned GM vehicles in the past, but I can’t see myself going back. I used to be quite a believer in GM and Ford. Owned their products and owned hundreds of their shares.

        I resisted divesting myself of those holdings in 2007. In retrospect, I’m sure glad that I saw the light and cashed out before I lost everything.

        Some things that I would like to see GM do in the US is

        – give a 10-year/100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty on their products;

        – replace their antique pushrod V8s with all-aluminum, DOHC, 32-valve V8s in their half-ton pickup trucks;

        – fold GMC into Chevrolet and sell or give Buick to their Chinese partners;

        – offer gadgets on par with those offered by Ford, the only publicly-held American auto manufacturer of any consequence;

        – build more value into their products by offering fewer trim levels.

        That said, maybe that will come. Maybe GM’s European operations will do better in the future. Maybe GM will actually pay back the US tax payers for their holdings by buying back the shares with all those profits GM claims its making.

        All a bunch of maybes. I’m not holding my breath.

      • 0 avatar
        DubTee1480

        “give a 10-year/100,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty on their products”

        I don’t agree a few of the things you said (and as you said, they were things you would like to see and I’m not begrudging you or attacking your opinion) but THIS THIS 1000 times this. I don’t think it would guarantee a flood of customers to GM (or back to GM) but it would be the ultimate gesture of putting your money where your mouth is and, I think, go a long way to restoring consumer confidence in their products.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        DubTee1480, it is unlikely that GM will ever be able to do that. GM couldn’t afford it.

        Remember when Chrysler/Dodge gave those lifetime warranties a few years back? That was not sustainable because their crap cars needed a lot of warranty repairs.

        But it worked for Hyundai and they had a much worse reputation to overcome than either GM or Chrysler. Hyundai cars of the past were truly the chariots from hell. But no more!

        I once recommended to my brothers (a long time ago) that their GMC/Buick dealership should offer free LOF changes and tire rotation to their customers with the purchase of any new GMC or Buick product for the duration of the warranty period, i.e. 36-months or 36,000 miles. You know, full pop!

        It was a huge success! They also threw in a free in-house wash and wax and vacuuming, plus a detailed list of everything they checked.

        They got more repeat business from the list than they got from walk-in traffic, like for instance early worn-tire replacements. Hey, everybody knows it is cheaper to go to Discount Tires to buy a new set, but customer gratitude brought in the business. Now every reputable dealership is doing the free servicing thing.

        Added costs were minimal, but ROI on those costs were humongous. The ladies (especially the ladies) loved the attention to detail. But it wasn’t an original thought on my part, Lexus started doing that from day one.

        In order for GM to sell more cars and gain possible new repeat customers in the US, they need to win over some new hearts and minds and dazzle them with brilliance instead of baffling them with bullsh!t.

        GM will always have their fanbase. There were not enough of them to keep GM afloat in the past, and there are even fewer now. So it’s the future GM needs to deal with.

        The end-game remains the same. Whatever GM does that helps it sell and succeed is great. But should GM falter once again, the Congress and the President at that time (even Romney) will bail them out again. No doubt about it.

        I don’t agree with it, but that’s what will happen again and again, if necessary. The Congress is not going to admit to their constituents that bailouts, handouts and nationalization were a mistake so they will bail out GM whenever it needs it, just like the US Postal Service, Fannie and Freddie.

      • 0 avatar
        sunridge place

        Not saying I agree with them. But those are actually ideas. Here are some of the problems with them if they were implemented as far as I see.

        Warranty- 10yr 100,0000 bumper to bumper would add cost to the vehicle. Warranty coverage is built into the price of the vehicle. Would the benefit of the longer b2b warranty make customers be willing to pay even more for vehicles? It would certainly be a risk. No other car company comes close to offering that. It could be a game-changer or the biggest mistake they could make.

        Part of the problem is that by offering that and increasing the cost of their cars, you increase the cost of the vehicle to someone who doesn’t really want to keep their car that long. And, people who buy new cars every 3 or 4 years are really good customers to have. It would probably increase trade in value IF they made it transferable but again…a huge move with huge risks.

        Or, you could make it optional…pay one price and get the 3y/36k warranty….then pay a higher price for a longer warranty. But, that’s not really anything new…you can do that today by purchasing an extended warranty and rolling it into your note/purchase price for extra security.

        To roll out such a long warranty and not increase the cost of the vehicle would lower the margin on their vehicles and put them in a situation where they needed a lot of volume to make profit…then, they might start losing money and sell more and more cars and lose money on each one….sound familiar??

        Bold move…a lot of risk. There’s a reason why no one else offers a warranty like that without having the customer pay for it upfront.

        New engines for the trucks? Well, there are new engines coming for the next generation Silverado/Sierra that comes out next year. Don’t know the details on them…a lot of rumors but no facts.

        Fold GMC into Chevrolet? Again, an idea with a lot of risk and cost. Could GM maintain a large % of the GMC customers into the Chevy or Cadillac line? I wouldn’t want to think about the amount of payoffs they would have to give their dealerships who have invested their own capital into their franchises. A ton of of upfront $$, some marketing costs saved, and the risk of alienating some pretty rich customers. Have you seen the average transaction price of a GMC? There’s no ‘entry level’ volume models to drive that price low….outside of luxury brands, it probably has the highest transaction price for a brand out there. Tough to give that up and risk losing them.

        Sell Buick to GM China? Why? There are cost savings associated to having vehicles sold in the two largest markets in the world. Why give one of them up? Plus, you have the Buick/GMC dealer who has invested his capital to sell a Buick/GMC lineup. Is he going to be happy about that? Is he going to need to be compensated royally? Yep.

        If you’re going to do it, you would have to combine the two ideas. Get rid of Buick and GMC. Big upfront payoffs to dealerships…risk of losing customers. Huge risk for GM to do that.

        Offer gadgets like Ford? I invite you to learn more about the new products like CUE for Cadillac, IntelliLink for Buick/GMC, and myLink for Chevy that are being introduced across the lineup.

        Fewer trim levels? I kind of agree with that but, if you notice, the newer GM products have far less free flow options and the packaging is much simpler. Its a delicate balancing act for sure to have enough equipment/price choices to satisfy picky shoppers but not create situations where you are overbuilding the wrong trims and not making enough of the popular ones. I always agree with the uplevel Denali type packaging because there is a lot of profit in those.

      • 0 avatar
        01 Deville

        @highdesertcat

        I agree with the warranty idea especially for caddy (premium worry free experience) and GMC (tuck tough, stand behind the product marketing, also a differentiating vs. Chevy). Both should have margins to absorb the warranty.
        As for pushrod vs. multivalve engines, I disagree as an owner of 1995 fleetwood and 01 deville. The 5.7 on fleetwood feels much faster and relaxed than the northstar in deville. While the northstar will win a drag race, it has to rev. The torque from the older design chevy 350 makes it more than competitive with multivalve engines. It is also cheaper to build and repair, so for trucks at least I think it is a better option.

        Regarding GMC being phased into Chevy and Buick being given away, it is hard to see your rationale. Neither Buick nor GMC are loosing money. Nor are they robbing chevy/cadillac of resources. Rather GM badge engineering/platform sharing has been working real well with lambdas and epsilons.

        Paying back taxpayer money and Ford being the “only publicly held operation of any consequence” are irrelevant to consumer experience with GM products.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        10 years bumper to bumper would likely be too costly for any carmaker, even Toyota. However, 5 years bumper to bumper, plus the balance of the remaining 5 years as powertrain warranty would go a long way to convince potential customers that GM has enough faith in their product to make such a warranty available. Heck, Hyundai offered a 10 year warranty before they offered a 10 year car and now it is paying dividends. The generation that has been burned by GM, probably more than once, is not coming back. But there is an entire generation of new buyers that have little or no experience with GM or other brands for that matter. Without preconceived notions, they will likely to be happy with their new car purchase even if it is GM…

    • 0 avatar
      sunridge place

      @Highdesert

      Are you one of those people who thinks Hyundai has a 10 yr/100,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty?

      Really??

      They don’t. Look it up. hyundaiusa.com

      They have a 5 yr/60,000 mile bumper to bumper warranty….unless its your:

      • Radio and audio systems (i.e., radio, compact disc player, DVD player, navigation system, and Bluetooth®): 3 years/36,000 miles
      • Paint: 3 years/36,000 miles
      • Battery: 3 years/unlimited miles (100% covered 2 years/unlimited miles; after 2 years and within 3 years, 25% cost of battery and 100% labor cost covered)
      • Air conditioner refrigerant charge: 1 year/unlimited miles
      • Adjustments: 1 year/12,000 miles
      • Wear items: 1 year/12,000 miles (e.g., belts, brake pads and linings, clutch linings, filters, wiper blades, bulbs, fuses)

      They do have a 10yr/100k Limited Powertrain warranty…

      For the original owner only.

      Unless you use your vehicle for….

      taxi, route delivery, delivery service, rental, etc

      I love the use of ‘etc’ in a disclaimer.

      Good warranty….great marketing since so many people think they have a 10 year bumper to bumper warranty.

      Perhaps GM should hire someone from Hyundai Marketing? Oops, they already have.

    • 0 avatar
      iainthornton

      For me it’s his continual sympathy for Volkswagen with the attitude that GM is fatally and unquestionably flawed which is the problem, as I think that GM does deserve criticism for some things. No more so than Volkswagen, though.

  • avatar
    GarbageMotorsCo.

    I’ve been giving Government Motors the one finger salute everytime I drive by the dealership that sold me my last to lemon pickups or the other 3 that could fix either of them! Those idiots couldn’t change a lightbulb if they wanted to and their arrogant sales goons didn’t make things any better.

  • avatar
    challenger2012

    Mr. Garbage. I would hazard a guess that GM has changed its ways since the last time you purchased a PU. GM might not have been able to build a car, but SUV’s and PU’s they certainly could. I had a company car, a 2007 Impala. I was a v-6 ,4 speed auto that got into the low 30’s on the highway. I was quite and comfortable. I even offered to buy with when I left my company. Now the dealer is another story. I have to add that most are scum.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I sold my 1988 Silverado ExtCab to an illegal alien in Jan 2011, and I’m sure that he and his family will think it is the best truck they have ever owned.

      The reason is simple. I replaced every part that wore out or broke with the help of Autozone. And I replaced so many parts on that Silverado that the boys and girls at Autozone know me by my first and last name.

      There are plenty of people who are unwilling or unable to make repairs on their cars and trucks, and for those people, unreliability and breakdowns can be mighty expensive. Maybe more than they want to deal with or can afford.

      Yours is the exception, not the rule. I know people that used to drive Impala. These days they drive something else. Mostly they drive something with a foreign brand. Many of them have switched to Camry or Accord.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        @HighDesertCat:

        What is wrong with a pushrod engine? They seem a pretty reliable design that has worked for many years. What is the advantage or all-aluminum, DOHC V6/V8 over pushrods?

        I really don’t know, but the DOHC seems to be much more complex and more pront to problems, but then I just remember the Chrysler 2.7 disaster and similar issues with Toyota, Honda and VW.

        Just asking…

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        I guess I am looking for clarity on your post.

        You sold the truck after 23 years of ownership and having replaced several parts. Seems reasonable no? I have replaced most every part on my 72 Chevelle, I don’t think it is a bad car, just a 40 year old car.

        GM has made lemons, more so than most I would argue in the past. But I do think their recent offerings offer value. I had a company issue 08 Impala for two years, drove the wheels off of it. At the time you could buy the car with a 5k rebate in 08′ (height of the crash). MSRP was 23k, if one negotiated, a 1 LT Impala could be had for 17k or less. Not too many large sedans could be had new at the time for 17k and safely run 150k with no issues.

        glamorous no, reliable yes.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        Zack, there’s nothing wrong with pushrods. But in today’s offerings where 4-valves per cylinder, DOHC and VVTiming is the norm, GM should join their competition. Pushrods should be used in the 3/4 ton and higher classes.

        Ford has a wonderful Ecoboost V6 that is without a doubt the new standard that every car maker should aspire to in forced-induction engines. GM has……nothing.

        The new Chrysler normally-aspirated Pentastar V6 is even better than the Honda 3.5 that was the standard of the class for many years. GM has……………nothing.

        The Toyota 3.5 is understressed and could easily run for 200K with only minor maintenance like timing-belt replacement. GM has……….nothing like it either.

        GM may claim that they do, but the people aren’t buying it.

        The Pentastar might even be a candidate for forced-induction like a single or twin turbo, or even a small supercharger because of its lower-end architecture. It is used in sedans, CUVs and half-ton pickup trucks. Not too shabby! GM could reverse-engineer it for its own applications.

        In order to be competitive a manufacturer has to attract potential buyers with the latest and the greatest. Pushrods are not it.

        I read somewhere that the Northstar V8 with a little refinement could easily blow away the Tundra and the Titan V8s. The Olds V8 race engine could be revived and put to work in high-end applications, including the new 2014 Silverado/Sierra.

        All-aluminum engines are much lighter than cast iron blocks and have been used successfully for many decades by many other auto manufacturers. I know that my Tundra 5.7 handles and rides better than any of my previous trucks, because it has less weight over the front wheels.

        It’s time that GM looks at their best-selling lines of vehicles, the Silverado, and bring it up to date with lighter, more powerful DOHC V8 engines or even a potent normally-aspirated V6 like Dodge is putting in the RAM for 2013.

        The name of the game is to sell. And in order to sell you have to attract new buyers. Even the taxpayers will forgive GM for its past financial transgressions if GM has some really hot stuff on the market. Does anyone complain about the ‘Vette? First focus should be their new Silverado line. Then the Malibu.

        Putting the magnificent Allison transmission in ALL of GM’s truck would be a huge selling point. The Allison is one of the world’s best transmissions in ANY application.

        I have never heard of anyone blowing up an Allison or of an Allison self-destructing. Properly outfitted you could bang-shift an Allison like a B&M Hydro and it would outlast all of them.

        If GM wants to make the Malibu its best-selling bread-and-butter sedan, GM needs to add more value to it. Take the cue from what the Camry provides: quality, value and reliability.

        To do that, GM needs to mount an ad campaign that dazzles the demographic with brilliance. Trying to stir up patriotic fervor to buy GM products only serves to remind taxpayers they’re still on the hook for this failed automaker. A negative mindset if there ever was one.

        You don’t see people griping about Chrysler now because we’re done with Chrysler. We bribed Fiat to take Chrysler and Sergio turned Chrysler into a cash cow for Fiat. I’m a believer. I bought a 2012 Grand Cherokee for the wife.

        Morgan, I bought the ’88 Silverado new in 1988 and within the first few weeks it had to go in for warranty. Then one or two months later, another warranty issue. I cannot immediately recall everything that went wrong but there were several warranty visits that had to be addressed within the first couple of years.

        After the warranty expired that’s when all the fun began and that also was when I had to tool and wrench on it with Autozone’s help. The truck was never abused, but it sure had a lot of things fall off, or fail on it with relatively low miles on the clock.

        As I recall, it had less than 105,000 miles on the clock after 23 years of ownership when I sold it in 2011. One reason was, that I bought an F150 XLT 5.4 in 2006 and used it as my daily driver because I had lost confidence in the reliability of the Silverado since I live miles from nowhere with only US54 and US70 as my paths to civilization.

        But the F150 also had issues. So I decided to buy my first-ever foreign-brand half-ton pickup truck, the 2011 Tundra 5.7 SR5 DoubleCab Longbed, and I have not been disappointed.

        It does everything that my Silverado and F150 did for me and the Tundra does it smoother, handles better, is less noisy in the cab, and has had no warranty issues in over 20K miles. Oh, whatta feelin’!!!

        Only our 2008 Japan-built Highlander with over 80K has been better. It has never been back to the dealer or repair shop for anything. It’s all original except the tires.

        I can only hope that my wife’s 2012 Grand Cherokee will be as good as her 2008 Highlander has been. I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m too old to do the tooling and wrenching now.

      • 0 avatar
        kenzter

        @highdesertcat
        Where to begin…
        GM has no equivalent to the Chrysler or Toyota V6? Ever hear of the Camaro 3.6L V6 with 323hp? 300hp in the Impala? Both with 5yr/100k mile powertrain warranties?

        And your basing your Chevy truck experience on something built in the 80’s. Even the biggest GM fanbois (which I’m really not) will admit that was the dark days of GM. My ’04 Silverado with the 4.8 V8 has been flawless over 136k miles. Never had any warranty work. Didn’t even eplace the rear brake pads until 108k miles. My only non-maintenance item was blower motor relay, around 125k miles. A $28 part and half hour of my time.
        I’m glad you like your Tundra, but your comparing vehicles that are what, 23 years apart?
        Pushrod engines are smaller, so the weight difference isn’t that significant.
        And finally, do you even understand why GMC exists? It is so Buick and Caddy dealers can sell trucks, without carrying the entire Chevy line. And they sell a lot of them. I’m sure the notorious GM bean counters know something you don’t.

  • avatar
    Motorhead10

    somebody help me understand – I mean I get the importance of a presence in China. But…as per the JV agreements – GM reports all the unit volume, none of the revenue, and equity income equal to the stake in the partnership. So looking at 1Q12 as an example, GM reported operating income of $2.0b in GMNA. For GMIO, which China is 70% of volume, total operating income was $529 million (so lets estimate $400 million in op inc in China – it may be in the Q, I haven’t looked). On an operating profit basis, GMNA is 3 to 4 times as big. So back of the envelope, if GM keeps approximately the same market share, China would have to become about a 60+ million unit per year market just to earn the same as GMNA at the operating line? Seems to me China is a volume story, not a profit story.

    Not hating on or a fanboi of GM (I own two – one good, one not so good). Just seems to me – maintaining GMNA or fixing (or exiting) GME would have considerably more per vehicle bottom line impact for the company. What am I missing?

  • avatar
    Cleatus

    Lol! Are you kidding me? You guys are all domestic fanboys on this site. Any chance you get to prop up a domestic automaker youll be there.

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