By on November 28, 2018

By a wide margin, the most important automotive-related news this week has been General Motors’ impending closure of five manufacturing facilities across North America. Accompanying the closures are losses of thousands of jobs and the discontinuation of six passenger car models over the next year or so.

Who’s to blame here?

Commentary on the enlightened media forum of Twitter quickly pointed fingers at all things political. Many Tweet experts turned to the current figures of power in the United States, blaming government policy for GM’s decision. Others of a more socialist leaning, perhaps in Canada, saw an opportunity in a dark moment and called upon the Canadian government to nationalize General Motors’ operations over the border. Said action would create jobs and opportunity, because British Leyland worked out so well.

Still others, some of the Internet Car Enthusiast variety, took a third path. That path is sometimes called Used Car Memories Lane. The product was the issue that caused the closures. Why, if their cousin had a better experience with their used 1989 Cadillac in 2012, then by golly the company would be in a much better way today. Stacking on that soap box, the ICEs came along with their armchair executive management knowledge. In addition to the product being of utterly shit quality forever, General Motors hasn’t built what modern consumers desire: A brown Impala SS from 1994, with LS1 V8, manual transmission, and a loaded MSRP of $23,000. That must be the real issue — product design.

Every reason listed above is crap. Not a single expert Twitter Opinion Dispenser in the aforementioned examples has the correct answer. While some of these electronic sermons might put pieces of the blame in the right place, those pieces as a whole are de minimis. You know who’s actually to blame? You are, dear consumer.

Today’s production predicament has been in the making for a long time — not just at GM, but across the entire industry. If consumers and their loans continued to buy traditional sedans, that’s what would be on offer today. But that’s not what modern consumers want. Consumers post-1992 want utility and adventure. They want the appearance of an active lifestyle via a capable vehicle, even though they’re just going to drive their fat ass (while texting) from the strip mall to the chain restaurant for a sodium-laden dinner. And the ICE is a marginal minority who talks a lot online and doesn’t buy brand new cars, so they don’t matter. I know because I am one.

So trucks and crossovers are king. They’re higher margin, easier to make, have lower mandated fuel economy targets, and please the vast majority of customers. General Motors made a business decision this week, and consolidated. And it’s a decision built upon support from consumers and (more importantly) their purchasing dollars for the past 25 years.

Before playing the blame game, ask yourselves where the real issue lies here in 2018. You’ll need a mirror.

[Image: General Motors]

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160 Comments on “QOTD: Pointing Fingers at General Motors?...”


  • avatar

    the problem is GM promises new product, delivers, and marketing destroys the model. this is a corrupt and inept organization run by incompetent parchment holding egoists with no knowledge or talent regarding selling automobiles. they interfere, confuse, and lie.

    at a higher lever is the Board which is chuck full of Globalists with an agenda and the public be damned. dig deep into their background. do you know who the Senior Executive Service even is? who is the Carlyle Group, Kissinger & Associates? realize these are the same banksters who bankrupted the company, rinsed it thru the government, then bought it back for pennies, with the tax loss carryforward of course.

    I know this company very well, the players and the puppets, their plan and their purpose. these are evil people believe me. I could go on for hours with information and details but instead I’m going to the gym.

    • 0 avatar
      notapreppie

      I can’t tell if you didn’t read the post, are joking, or just completely lacking in self-awareness.

      • 0 avatar

        Buickman is not your typical B&B. He knows that of which he speaks, having lived in the belly of the beast.

        “Globalists with an agenda” is very possible, even probable. You don’t have to get into whack-job theories to gain an understanding of how the Carlyle Group, Kissinger & Associates and sycophants work, often with governments, to game the system to their advantage – at the expense of everyone else.

        WHY do the rich get richer and the poor get poorer? Look there.

        Understand terms like “Corporatist” and “Crony capitalism.”

        This said, what they can’t totally ignore is public tastes, which have most decidedly shifted toward SUV/CUV/pickups.

        And what NO ONE can ignore is the ECONOMICS of designing and building BEVs.

        As in, an electric motor is just plain easier and simpler. The issue remains the battery. The cost, availability, ability to recharge, how extreme weather affects them, etc.

        As these issues are resolved, mitigated or at least made somewhat easier to live with, we will see more electric vehicles BECAUSE THEY ARE LESS EXPENSIVE TO DESIGN AND BUILD and as more are built, the costs will continue to drop.

        A writeup about halfway down the page in this week’s Autoextremist’s On The Table section lays it out. You don’t have to agree with everything said to understand the part about economics – not the environment – being the driving factor.

        http://www.autoextremist.com/on-the-table1/2018/11/26/november-28-2018.html

        • 0 avatar

          5 points in 6 months, less spend.

          these people are stupid.

          B

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          The biggest reason why BEVs won’t make sense until we have a LOT better technology is environmental!

          The month of November has been well below normal temperatures, with snow to boot! What happens to the range of a typical electric vehicle when the thermometer dips below freezing for five months out of the year?

          And what happens if you’re sitting in traffic for a great deal of the time! As an example, in the Toledo, OH area, if you’re traveling northbound into the Toledo metropolitan area with the intention of going into Michigan on I-75, and it’s around evening rush hour (4:45pm-6:30pm), proceed to the Ohio Turnpike and take that east to I-280 northbound, then to I-75 into Michigan. The Ohio Department of Transportation, in their finite wisdom, is undertaking a project to replace the bridge over the Maumee River ALONG WITH a rebuilding of the first half-mile or so north of that bridge! Trouble is, they are doing a horrible job of publicizing it! They’ve already started prep work, narrowing three lanes to two over that bridge! Traffic sometimes backs up for TEN MILES (and 30 minutes) approaching the zone! And it’s going to be in place for the next FIVE YEARS!!!!!

          So you’re driving along, unaware of a mess like that in your Bolt or Model 3. It’s at freezing outside, you’re at 100 miles of range. Then you get caught up in a traffic nightmare like I just mentioned! Are you going to be able to make the next charger (in the case of above, either in downtown Toledo or the Meijer Supercharger at the last exit before the border in Ohio)?

          And how are these goofy GoogleBezosWeKnowBetterThanYouAllYourLifeAreBelongToUs pods going to handle the ice and snow of an evening like this in Northwest Ohio, much less the snowbelt areas from Cleveland into upstate New York? Or in the Twin Cities? Or Fargo, ND?! (Prowler needs a jomp!)

          But of course, how can a HyundKiaToyoMazonda still make money on cars, while mighty GM can’t, is the biggest question! 150,000 Fusions a year can’t make enough to keep a shift going somewhere?! Heaven knows!

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            @sgeffe: I’ve been just fine commuting in Boston traffic that is worse for the last 4 years in a BEV without a problem. 4 years and I have 75k on the clock. Through snow, ice, and flood water. The regen makes an awesome hill descent control and smooth transmission free acceleration helps with the traction.

            “So you’re driving along, unaware of a mess”

            Ain’t gonna happen. Waze.

            Also, if you have 100 miles of range on a Model 3 and let’s say it’s even colder – like 5f below zero. You’d still make the Woodhaven chargers without stopping. If it was around 30 degrees, you’d make Detroit easily. Personally, I’d make a stop at Maumee Brewing’s Level 2 and get something to eat along with a brew before heading north.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            I don’t know how much range an EV uses just sitting in a traffic jam, so I was guesstimating. (No hills for regen in NWO, as you’re probably aware! :-D) Especially if it’s cold enough that seat heaters are necessary, along with cabin heat

            And agreed about anything at the Maumee Bay Brewing Company, from Mutz’s in the basement to Rockwell’s Steakhouse, everything is good! In particular, he wood-fired pizzas are fantastic, and so are the suds! (GlassHopper IPA FTW!)

        • 0 avatar
          geo

          Except that the poor are also getting richer, just not as fast as the rich are.

    • 0 avatar
      Weltron

      GM needs to do a serious revamp of their marketing. They complain about low sales of cars like the Impala and LaCrosse, but I honestly can’t remember the last time I saw an ad for one. People probably forget they exist. Or you just have absolute garbage like the Chevy “Real People” ads.

  • avatar
    MBella

    While I don’t like the death of passenger cars, and think it’s as short a sighted as Ford, that’s not the problem here. The problem is the closing of 5 American and Canadian plants after both countries bailed them out. They could have easily transferred crossovers and trucks to these plants, but decided instead to build these in China and Mexico. You can’t go crying to the taxpayer and claim how important these jobs are, and then cut them anyway after you got the money.

    Somehow, these lost jobs are because of automation though, because that’s what many like to repeat over and over again on this blog. No robots don’t force manufacturers to build down south or across the Pacific. Short sided thinking, and the need for a good next quarter do. When the economic affects of this decision boomerang back around, Barra will be long gone. Since the market is contracting, I can’t wait for the next bailout request. Should be fun after closing all these plants.

    • 0 avatar
      A Scientist

      All of this X1000.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      MBella

      I just read that GM’s Truck assembly plant in Flint Michigan is going back on city water. Now for 100 points can you tell me if Flint Michigan is in China or Mexico?

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      In hindsight, the bailout should have come with some stronger/longer labor guarantees or the government should have permanently kept some of their ownership %. Although I think if the Obama administration had tried either the cries of “SoCiAliSm!” would have been very loud.

    • 0 avatar

      This would be much easier to swallow if the five plants were located outside the USA/Canada and THAT production was brought or returned to the USA to replace what is being lost.

      Not as easy as simply closing the plants directly affected. I acknowledge that.

      But the long-term costs may be more expensive than if they had reinvested here and closed plants overseas.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      This, exactly, 10x. GM is closing NORTH AMERICAN plants after NORTH AMERICA bailed them out a decade ago. GM is keeping all of their plants in Mexico and China. It seems to me that if sales in NA are going to be the saving grace for GM in the future, they would move truck and SUV production back to NA and close their truck plants in Mexico.

      I totally understand wanting to produce cars for China consumers in China, but by and large US buyers are not interested in GM Chinesium exports. Check the Buick Envision sales numbers if validation is needed.

      • 0 avatar
        cicero1

        Yes, and where is the alleged benefit to consumers – the Buick envision is listed for $34,000. either its not vastly cheaper to build in china or consumers do not in fact benefit because producers will price what they can and pocket the profit (likely a combination of the 2).

  • avatar

    Corey Lewis is correct, the blame lies with ignorant consumers who no longer buy traditional sedans and station wagons that are less expensive, handle better, and get better fuel economy than the Crossovers, SUVs and light trucks in the most-equivalent size & powertrain classes. Europeans are smarter.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Sorry Internet Car Expert, crossovers are gaining market share in Europe too:

      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2017/03/suv-popularity-isnt-exclusive-north-america-crossovers-now-25-european-market/

      Crossovers are more expensive than the cars they are based on, but they are not compared with the cars they are based on- they compete with the cars the next size up. And either way, they are more practical, easier to park, easier to load people and things into, and easier to see out of than sedans. So the only people who are “smarter” are the ones buying vehicles to suit their actual needs, rather than to impress other armchair auto execs on the internet.

      I am on sedan #7 by the way.

    • 0 avatar
      Peter Gazis

      jcwconsult

      People in the U.S. still have babies. We need vehicles with large backseats for childseats. These babies eventually grow up and become teenagers.

      In most of the developed world people stopped having babies, and very rarely have anyone in the backseat.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      No. the problem is CEO/shareholders. This government Motors corporation forgot who save their butt. The return? – job slash for increased profits. I regret gov saved them. Honda/toyota could have their market share back then and would create thousands stable jobs in the USA and Canada for year to come.

    • 0 avatar
      DAC17

      Bingo. Americans have developed a great habit of assigning blame to anyone but themselves. If more people bought these more common-sense cars, as opposed to the bigger crossovers and SUV’s that show off their “mine is bigger than yours” ethos, GM wouldn’t have been closing the plants. It’s called the free market, people, and you usually get what you’ve asked for by your purchases. The nature of capitalism. Anyone like socialism better?? BTW, how many jobs have been added to the plants building crossovers and SUV’s in the past several years? I guess those don’t count, eh?

  • avatar
    vvk

    CAFE is to blame. If we had a $10/gal fuel tax instead of CAFE, none of this would be happening. Getting rid of oil industry subsidies would help, too.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Not sure if serious. This would just drive GM out of business, as everyone would stop buying their trucks…. and continue to not buy their cars either.

      Plus even in Europe where your punitive dystopian gas taxes are a reality, people are moving away from cars and into crossovers.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        But not hugely dangerous pickup trucks. EVERYBODY in America either owns a pickup truck, or wants to buy one. Europeans — no so much.

      • 0 avatar
        la834

        CAFE had EVERYTHING to do with the truck/SUV boom. Lower fuel economy rates for light trucks discouraged manufacturers from selling land-yacht sedans and big station wagons, and encouraged SUVs, crossovers, minivans, and short-bed 4 door pickups that could substitute for them, but were allowed to get lower mpg.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Station wagons died because people stopped buying them. Likewise, it’s only this year that Ford and GM have announced the end of their land yacht sedans in America…. again because people have stopped buying them.

          CAFE is not putting guns to people’s heads and making them go buy trucks and SUVs at the dealerships.

    • 0 avatar
      tonyd

      This punishes poor people with old cars that get crappy mpg.

      formula for federal road use tax paid once at new sale.

      (35 – epa combined mpg) X 1000.

      Not included in depreciation or expense for corporations or bullshit LLC’s setup to buy fuel with pretax money.

  • avatar
    Glenn Mercer

    Random hypothesis about the popularity of crossovers globally. Note this hypothesis is entirely free of facts or data. Opinion only.

    People like vehicles that are easy to get in and out of.

    That’s it. Entire hypothesis. Now, you can come up with reasons why the hypothesis might be right. E.g. “People are getting more obese and so don’t like wedging themselves into the Miata.” Or “In the developed world the average new car customer is aging and so therefore doesn’t want to wedge him- or her-self into the Golf anymore.” Or “Just lazy.” Or “The Illuminati.”

    Beats me. Comments welcome. (I can’t believe I just said that, man I will regret that! Somebody will tell me the answer is obviously the Obama Administration’s policies combined with Trump’s haircut and Brexit’s impact on 4chan…)

    I gotta say, at 63 it is getting harder to lever myself in and out of the NSX (old school, 1996).

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      There’s more to it than easy access (although that’s absolutely a big factor) – minivans are a dying segment, smaller MPVs (Mazda5, Kia Rondo, whatever you like) never caught on, and Ford even made a point of the Five Hundred’s hip point, and no one really cared until they slapped an Explorer body on it. People also want to appear stylish, and apparently suppositories outfitted by REI or MEC are stylish.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Why do you feel the need to assign a moral value to crossover drivers?

        What is so awful in your life that you have chosen this as a way to make yourself feel better?

        There’s nothing mini about today’s minivans, and yea, the 5 and Rondo were ugly, slow and cheap. The Five Hundred was just not a good car, regardless of its high hip point. It’s interesting that you completely ignore the Exploder’s added seating capacity, ride height and cargo capacity- surely none of that factored into its success over the Five Hundred/Taurus?

        CUV hate has gone from adolescent to infantile.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          Oh, get off your high horse. I’m going cranky old Millennial because despite having bought new, I’m a drop in a massive bucket, powerless over the fact that the things I might consider buying are drying up. I understand why it happens, but a little cantankerous as to why it’s bad to call out crossovers as a fashion statement.

          Also, would you prefer I used the Freestyle/Taurus X as my example? The Explorer doesn’t have a ton of gained capacity, but sells better than those (and we both know that just improving the Taurus X wouldn’t have spurred on sales the same way). Or using the Kia Soul as an example (because I like the Soul for what it is) – it’s popular, but hasn’t spurred any sea change, no waves of imitators.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            I’ll get off my high horse when you get off yours.

            Bottom line is you feel powerless to changes in the auto industry, and by extension are frustrated. All legit. No need to bash people for choosing vehicles for reasons that are probably no less legitimate than the reasons you chose yours.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            Serious question – do you sternly lecture anyone who’s ever expressed visual disgust towards a minivan or called them infantile? Because those people absolutely exist.

            And while I might have dipped a little too heavily in the snark, I did not bash crossover purchasers (although I suppose judgement of their taste was implicit). Just, tell me I’m wrong, that practicality alone drives their sales, and were Homo Economicus a real person, they wouldn’t consider anything else. Because we keep insisting that they’re practical and people buy them for sensible reasons, and if people buy them for these sound reasons, they must be protected from criticism, right?

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          @sportycordy: Have you ever even driven a Rondo, or been a passenger in one?

          1) The previous edition/model was manufactured on the Optima/Sonata platform.
          2) It came with 2 engine choices a 4 and a 6.
          3) The base model as early as 2009 came with, active head restraints, ABS with 4 wheel discs, traction control, Bluetooth, heated front seats, side air curtains, heated side view mirrors, fog lights, 6 way adjustable seats, split folding rear seats, dual lit vanity mirrors, hidden compartments under the cargo area, leather wrapped shifter and steering wheel and even a hook for purses/handbags. Plus an optional 3rd row of seats. Many of these features were not even available as options on entry level luxury vehicles at the time.

          So hardly cheap in what it provided or its ‘DNA’. And not that ‘slow’ when compared to many compact vehicles or CUVs of that era. Its looks might be divisive, however there is no doubt regarding the great visibility that its greenhouse provided. And it has proven to be robust, and many are still in use as taxis in smaller cities around Ontario.

    • 0 avatar
      DedBull

      I think it’s twofold. Ease of ingress-egress, though the actual drivers area is no different in a compact car than in a compact SUV. It’s easier to climb “up” into a CUV than it is to lever yourself out of a sedan.

      The other problem is visibility. As more and more vehicles on the road become elevated, it becomes increasingly hard to see over/around/through the elevated vehicle beside you in your sedan. Road design/landscaping is also increasingly hard to see around, as it looks fine to the foreman in his super duty while the sedan driver has to pull halfway into traffic to see around the hedge/guardrail/signs at the exit of the strip mall/subdivision.

      • 0 avatar
        johnds

        i’d disagree. My Honda Crv is much easier to get into than my Accord. The belt line in the Crv is higher too, even with a sunroof. You simply hop up a little and slide into the Crv, whereas the Accord you step down into. 2008 CRV vs 2007 Accord and that’s a midsize vs compact. Now, my 2000 civic felt like I was sitting on the ground.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I firmly believe in the visibility thing. If you talk to your average non-car person that bought an SUV (or CUV) they will tell you they FEEL safer. When you drive a vehicle that has an elevated position and lots of glass you have a better sense of space around you.

        The egress thing is real too – my 75 year old parents are all an CUV house now. They just can’t deal with getting down into a car and back up out of one.

        The other factor that comes into play here is the perceived bigger = better – once again in terms of feeling safer on the road. When surrounded by larger vehicles being in a smaller vehicle makes you feel inferior. Don’t discount this feeling as its the main thing that overcomes people during a quick test drive. As the popularity of full size trucks when thru the roof this forced your average car buyer into thinking their sedan was a death trap. Add in low fuel prices, the utility, extra ground clearance, off road (really bad weather) capabilities, plus all that extra cargo space along with easy access lift gates and SUVs basically sell themselves. People tend to think they will NEED all this extra “stuff” that an SUV offers but they rarely do.

        I feel victim to the SUV trap back in the mid 90s. It seemed like a great vehicle… at first. And I actually needed one back then as I was on a major outdoors kick (mountain biking and fishing). Then came the terrible gas mileage and ill handling. After one near accident I was done. Previously I had driven nothing but small, sporty cars and long term I just couldn’t deal with increased stopping distance, body lean/roll, lack of feedback and general softness of how SUVs performed in terms of driving dynamics. However most people want an isolated driving experience and SUVs offer that in spades.

        Anyway you can blame me for the death of sedans – I don’t own one, have zero desire or need for one. I have 3 vehicles: two 2 door coupes and a truck. In the past we owned sedans (a Civic and a Passat) but never used the back seats (no kids) so we went back to coupes. Actually my ideal vehicle is the hot hatch type because I find hatches the best configuration for everyday use.

        • 0 avatar
          Glenn Mercer

          I completely agree re the “feeling” of being safer. It is interesting how primal this is, though. Owners who could not tell you if their vehicle has 8 or 10 airbags, or whether they are multi-stage or not, or who chose AWD to be safer in the snow but have never considered a snow tire, just feel safer sitting higher up. Hardly seems rational to me BUT let’s face it, if we were all rational we’d never buy any new vehicle again, and all be driving 5-year-old RAV4s….

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Ironically, I don’t like sitting up that high, and when I’ve driven something like a CR-V, I find it more challenging to change lanes because I’m afraid I might miss a Miata or motorcycle that’s alongside and lower!

            And I can’t get a car’s gas mileage out of a CUV! Just! Can’t!

    • 0 avatar
      xtoyota

      Glenn you nailed it…….. most modern sedans are damn hard to get in and out of

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Reputations- good and bad- take time to build. In the 30 or so years leading up to the bailout, GM cemented its reputation as a truck & Corvette company that also churned out crappy cars. Today, the cars are a lot less crappy- I’d argue not crappy at all actually- but the momentum of that reputation continues on, and most likely will take as long to reverse.

    So no, it’s not CAFE, or stupid crossover drivers who are bad people that need to be exterminated (at least according to the B&B and ICEs)- it’s GM as a company from 1970 or so through about 2012. The son is bearing the sin of its father…. or to put it another way, General Motors Company is paying for the stupidity and incompetence of General Motors Corporation. There’s nothing else to it.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @sportyaccordy….Exactly !!!!

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Concur. By the way, Oshawa assembles pick-up trucks and also I believe some surplus Equinox production. Previously it manufactured the Camaro. It is a ‘flexible line’ that can easily be converted to fulltime truck/van/SUV/CUV assembly. And doesn’t the Baltimore plant manufacture transmissions?

        So how is the demise of the sedan market directly responsible for the closure of either of these plants?

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          There was an interesting article on Jalopnik (although I hate to reference that other site.)

          https://jalopnik.com/making-good-cars-isnt-enough-1830678090

          I don’t agree with every point but I do agree that part of the problem was perception and that there are people who just will not consider certain brands, no mater what.

          Like the hybrid or electric buyer who says – “Sorry I just can’t see myself in a Chevy.”

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            I pretty much copy and pasted my reply to that article here.

            That AutoExtremist dude says it all the time- “it’s the product, stupid!” Thinking more about it, up until very recently, I can’t think of a time GM had competitive mainstream product across the board. The US mainstream hey day was the period of time before the foreign invasion. Once Honda/Toyota landed it was game over. So it’s really more like 60-70 years of crap

  • avatar
    ajla

    I bought a BRAND NEW Charger RT in 2014 and I bought a BRAND NEW Kia Stinger GT in 2018.

    How many internet complaint points does this earn me?

  • avatar
    Rnaboz

    I think there are many points:
    1) They spent all this money on R&D, so they have to ensure the new tech succeeds. Manual transmissions do not work in a connected road, so no more for you. If we don’t build them, you can’t have them.
    2) Poor product=poor sales.
    3) Cafe
    4) If vehicles become too expensive, just lease them. The manufacturer will own it from new, then onto the used market, until the battery dies and they fit in a new battery.

    Just thoughts

  • avatar
    John R

    “I’m starting with the man in the mirror
    I’m asking him to change his ways…
    If you want to make the world a better place
    Take a look at yourself, and then make a change!”

  • avatar
    threeer

    While I have always seen the general economy as a three-legged stool comprised of government providing an environment conducive to manufacturing at home, corporations beholden to more than just their shareholders and consumers worried more about their friends, neighbors and family than the cheapest good on the lot or shelf…ultimately I lean towards the majority being laid at the feet of the consumer. Why do we have a $300B trade deficit year over year with a country that would just as soon see us rot? Because we want it cheap. Why did GM cancel six vehicles? They weren’t selling. Why are they shuttering plants instead of moving production into those facilities? Because they can build the vehicles the consumer has “voted” for with their dollars cheaper elsewhere…

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I’m inclined to agree threer. Do I spend an extra $3 to buy a paint scraper made in USA at Lowes? Yes. Do most people? Perhaps not.

      But I’m as problematic of a consumer when it comes to the automotive realm as anyone, I refuse to plunk down $30k on a rapidly depreciating NEW car. My only “voting with my dollars” in the automotive realm comes down to avoiding shoddy Chinese tires and parts. I just spent $40 on an OEM expansion tank on the Audi rather than the $20 “UroParts” cheapo option or the $30 Meyle (that’s also probably Chinese), we’ll see where that’s made.

      • 0 avatar
        vvk

        This is very good thinking, I generally follow the same logic. Plus, hopefully, there is less of a chance to get a counterfeit product.

        I am surprised you are in an Audi, given your love for Toyota/Japan cars. Audi is so “not Toyota.”

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          vvk this was a conscious decision to see how the other half lives :p

          It’s been a bit of a mixed bag these first few months, and it isn’t just any old Audi but one previously owned by some sketchy Russian Baptists who rebuilt it out of a wreck and I suspect turned the odometer back at least slightly. It’s got some chinese replacement body work, an okay respray, but also some solid maintenance records from the last 5 years (was a customer car of my brother’s).

          I gotta say I’m starting to “get” it, but would never recommend this car to someone who doesn’t have time to DIY troubleshoot and access to affordable repair work to fall back on.

          • 0 avatar
            vvk

            Lol, that’s not surprising. I was just curious.

            Audi is second tier in German hierarchy. But at least you didn’t get an Opel, the “embarrassment of the German car industry.” Maybe next time you will work up the nerve to get something with RWD for an authentic German experience.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            vvk I was specifically in the market for something to be my winter commuter, the A4’s AWD played into that nicely. But I’ve admired things like the W124, W202, and even W210 Mercs from afar, as well as E39 and E38 Bimmers. The A4 popped up, had a good known history and a good price so I jumped at it.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        Thinking the Mahle is the OEM for this part, for this car.

        • 0 avatar
          cimarron typeR

          Both my BMW and Merc. indy mechanics used Mahle parts regularly, you’d be fine with them.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          There’s an interesting and real difference between what Mahle was making for VAG in the 90s and what is sold by Mahle now, and that applies across the board to all OE suppliers for almost all marques. A lot of the Mahle stuff is Chinese made, to a decent standard perhaps but nonetheless it’s not “true” OEM. I’m curious to see what shows up from ECS tuning in a few days.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    Good sweeping generalization Corey, but don’t blame the victim.

    GM’s sedans in their class routinely sell half of what Toyota and Honda sell. Hyundai, a relative newcomer has been able to develop some relatively strong sales figures, although this year’s Sonata is not competing well.

    None of Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, or BMW or Mercedes have announced plans to stop manufacturing sedans. Even VW continues to design and sell sedans. Therefore they must have found a way to make a profit on them.

    GM ‘shot itself in the foot’ when for many years it offered uncompetitive or inferior products to these other manufacturers. It destroyed much of its ‘brand loyalty’ and ‘brand equity’. To some degree both Toyota and Honda sell based on their reputations from the 80’s and 90’s.

    GM has largely been unable to regain the trust of the mass consumer market. Even when building vehicles that are genuinely competitive. Senior management was not able to create a new image. How many under 40’s believe that Cadillac has the same cachet as Mercedes/BMW? How many are willing to pay over $30k for a Malibu or over $35k for an Impala? How many actually cross-shop GM’s small cars with Toyota or Honda, or even Nissan and Hyundai.

    The top 10 selling sedans in the USA to date in 2018 plus 2 other pertinent vehicles and their performance versus the previous year, all rounded down.

    Camry 262k -6%
    Civic 255k – 10%
    Corolla 235k -11%
    Accord 215k -11%
    Altima 166k -16%
    Sentra 165k -1%
    Elantra 148k +4%
    Malibu 107k -23%
    Cruze 104k -26%
    Fusion 124k -21%
    Sonata 80k -24%
    Impala 49k -13%

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I agree Arthur. Yes the segment is in decline currently, but Ford and GM seem to be acting in a manner that is more about giving what stockholders want to hear in the near term, rather than taking a balanced approach longer term. By just cutting and running from entire segments while chasing fads (A Ford or Chevy Bird/Lime scooter, are you kidding me?) I have a hard time taking them seriously.

      Make a lifted Cruze hatchback “crossover” with plastic paneling, bring that stupid Blazer over to one of the North American union plants.

      They should have known better in regards to the optics of shutting down a bunch of factories in the middle of a strong economy and further kicking the rust belt in the gut.

      Heck, WalMart of all companies had a big marketing push about investing 250 billion into American made products to sell in their stores a year or two ago.

      • 0 avatar

        The other thing to consider here is the GM sedans which are cancelled are primarily US market products. They are not world products like with the Japanese and Korean offerings.

        Efficiencies of scale.

        And the Accord, let’s go with that one for example. That’s made in a US factory which makes MANY other successful things/crossovers. It’s not made by itself. These GM factories were making one or two unsuccessful sedans, or an EV which nobody is buying.

        Now, is the lack of EV marketing their fault? Yes.

        • 0 avatar
          BobinPgh

          2 years ago my mother was interested in the Chevy Volt. None of the dealers around here had one that she could buy, test drive, or even look at. She ended up buying a Cruze. I understand about why some people buy CUVs, because me getting into the Cruze is like when the original astronauts had to get into their Mercury spacecraft – You didn’t get into it, it’s more like you put it on.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        When are the optics of closing idling plants and laying people off ever good?

        And what exactly is the value of GM staying in shrinking segments they have to take a loss to stay in? I agree that the scooters and autonomous tech talk are silly, but the way things are going, one way or another GM & Ford’s mainstream sedan sales were trending towards zero. The only question is whether or not to arrive there on the market’s terms and timeline or the company’s. Not very smart to allocate plant capacity, marketing dollars etc to dying models… and while cars like the Cruze and Impala weren’t class leading they were still competitive, and yet still could not maintain market share or sell profitably.

        So just like with Ford- what do you suggest GM do instead? Convert all their mainstreamers to RWD and offer an LT1 + Getrag 6 speed? Bring back the land yachts of GM’s hey day? Enlighten us

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          They could have allocated the Blazer to Lordstown or Oshawa.

        • 0 avatar
          Hummer

          Why would they use the shoddy Getrag over the Tremec?

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          “what do you suggest GM do instead? Convert all their mainstreamers to RWD and offer an LT1 + Getrag 6 speed? Bring back the land yachts of GM’s hey day? Enlighten us”

          Why are you trying to pin this stupid strawman on me? That’s quite intellectually weak.

          All you had to do was read what I already wrote:
          “Make a lifted Cruze hatchback “crossover” with plastic paneling, bring that stupid Blazer over to one of the North American union plants.”

          “one way or another GM & Ford’s mainstream sedan sales were trending towards zero.”

          Technically EVERYONE’s sedans are “trending towards zero” at the moment. At some point BOF SUVs like the 4Runner were “trending towards zero” yet Toyota stuck with it and now they are selling more than they every have before (120k+ units annually). Reconfigure plants for crossovers, make fewer sedans for the time being, but don’t announce you’re just getting out of entire segments for some brownie points from investors while absolutely tanking any name recognition and resale of existing nameplates.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Stop making sense.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            The difference between GM/Ford and Honda/Toyota is GM/Ford’s sedan sales are trending towards zero much faster than the rest of their segments, and GM/Ford was paying rather than making margin on the way down.

            And even though US labor is supposedly only a couple hundred dollars extra, when you factor in tariffs and the already low margins on mainstream sedans that can absolutely make a difference when GM’s main market is China. It sucks that the workers bear the brunt of incompetent management but domestic manufacturing in the US is beyond the point of no return for sedans.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        There are quite a few analysts who think we’re at the end of a strong economy, not the middle.

    • 0 avatar
      brettucks

      Good info – wonder how VW can stay in the market with nothing on the list and questionable (or at least sporadic) quality… Im guessing bmw/marcedes get high enough profit.

  • avatar
    riggodeezil

    I’m only pointing one finger at GM. It’s the same one I’ve been pointing at them for 40 years. See if you can guess which one. I don’t care how much Car Mooks sing the praises of “modern GM quality”. I will never, ever buy another product from them. If I’m partly responsible for sending them to the morgue then I’ll drink to that.

  • avatar
    KingShango

    If i had to point fingers they’d be aimed directly at Roger Smith, Jack Smith and Rick Wagoner. Those guys ran GM for nearly 30 years and during that time GM fell further and further behind.

    You can hardly blame consumers for wanting a more dependable vehicle that’s also more fuel efficient.

    • 0 avatar

      The quantity of new trucks sold in the US every year shows that people here don’t care all that much about fuel efficiency.

      • 0 avatar
        KingShango

        While I generally agree with that sentiment, there’s still a huge market of people that do care about fuel efficiency. Toyota doesn’t make the Prius for fun. And let’s not forget it was the oil shocks that opened the door to Japanese competition while the big 3 kept cranking out gas guzzling tanks.

        GM should’ve been making sweeping changes 30 years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        When they’re cracking 20mpg on the highway and delivering 17-18mpg in mixed driving, with gas prices where they’re at, I don’t blame people for not being scared off from trucks due to concerns about fuel cost. Now, how much they’re paying for those trucks on ever-longer loans is another discussion entirely.

      • 0 avatar
        sportyaccordy

        Trucks have become a lot more efficient, so people do care about fuel efficiency- just not enough to change vehicle types for it.

    • 0 avatar
      dukeisduke

      Don’t forget about Bob Stempel, too.

      • 0 avatar
        Weltron

        Bob Stempel at least tried to do something. But the problem was that he was only at the helm for two years before the board voted him out, and before that was just under the shadow of Roger Smith. Then he had a recession while trying to undo some of Smith’s screw ups.

  • avatar
    Yankee

    Spot on Corey! Glad someone had the guts to say it. You see the usual chorus of ICEs telling you why you’re wrong, but typing from an office doesn’t change corporate decision making like buying new from a dealer does. I’ve been working on every kind of car imaginable sold on these shores for 30 years. Of course GM builds crap. So does Ford. The only thing worse is a Chrysler Jeep product. American consumers bought into the whole marketing cache of the annual model change (ironically created by GM) and has paid the price of desiring newness over quality ever since. Wish I had a nickel for every customer I saw that stretched their budget so far to make the monthly payment that they can’t afford air in the tires when they need it, much less maintenance and repair. It’s all about status, and small fuel efficient cars just don’t have it in this country. So we continue to repeat the pattern of buying bigger, selling off when gas goes up, learning nothing, then buying bigger again when gas goes down. Lather, rinse, repeat, and keep those dividends rolling in to the industry stockholders while you do it.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    “But that’s not what modern consumers want. Consumers post-1992 want utility and adventure. They want the appearance of an active lifestyle via a capable vehicle, even though they’re just going to drive their fat ass (while texting) from the strip mall to the chain restaurant for a sodium-laden dinner. And the ICE is a marginal minority who talks a lot online and doesn’t buy brand new cars, so they don’t matter. I know because I am one.”

    One minor correction there, they want a capable LOOKING vehicle.

    These are the Starbucks of the world. Well marketed and give the appearance that people want regardless of the actual product.

    • 0 avatar

      Correct, appearance of capability. See Niro.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Corey, I believe that you you actually drove a Niro, so who could you make such a sweeping and primarily incorrect statement? The Niro is in actuality a very good ‘small wagon’ (akin to a larger Vibe/Matrix or Elantra Touring or perhaps even a raised Lancer or Optra wagon), with good visibility (for current cars), a slightly raised road clearance, decent headroom providing an improved over sedans/hatches ease of entrance/exit/egress, good to outstanding MPG’s and some rather unfortunate cladding.

        In short a very capable vehicle, whose cladding will ‘fool’ very few and without the AWD/4wd option not marketed as an off-road or lifestyle vehicle as much as an ‘energy efficient’ vehicle.

        • 0 avatar

          Arthur calm down.

          I like the Niro. It is space efficient and from all accounts good to drive. It’s also good on fuel.

          It’s being marketed as a crossover – which it is not, because it does not have AWD available. That’s my primary beef with it. The cladding and CUV marketing are not accurate. But the *appearance* is there, and that’s what matters.

          The appearance will fool many.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Appearances can be deceiving.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Corey, How did you arrive at the conclusion that I was not ‘calm’?

            According to Wikipedia (which is always correct): “The term “crossover” emerged as a marketing tool. A 2008 CNNMoney article indicated that many consumers cannot tell the difference between an SUV and a crossover. A January 2008 Wall Street Journal blog article called crossovers “wagons that look like sport utility vehicles, but ride like cars”.”

            An almost exact description of the Niro.

            Yes, the Niro is marketed as a CUV and appears on the same CUV page as the Soul. Another vehicle without AWD/4wd capability. And for years Kia in Canada also marketed the Rondo as a CUV/crossover. On Kia Canada’s site the exact wording is “The crossover built for tomorrow. Roomy, versatile and fuel-efficient, the Niro is one capable crossover-hybrid”.

            Based on this, I would ‘assume’ that those who acquire Niros do so because of their hybrid power and then due to their rear cargo room and not due to any perceived off-road or sporting performance.

  • avatar

    Besides the obvious quality/reputation problems that persist with GM from their well earned shitty vehicles from the 80’s on into the early 2000’s, I blame their terrible commercials.

    Chevy “Real people” adds are the worst commercials ever made and should be shown in advertising classes as a prime example of what NOT to do.

    The Buick “WHAT THAT TINY THING IS A BUICK *SHOCKED FACE” adds are a VERY close second.

    Not to mention Chevy truck adds before that hammering Ford for Aluminum and a useful tailgate step, only to go to a Composite and very complicated expensive tailgate step.

    Their advertising and marketing hasn’t done them any favors and that lays squarely on management.

  • avatar
    arach

    I’m going to still point my finger at Mary Barra- But I also would do the same.

    They are paying too much attention to MARGINS and not enough attention to profit and customer Life-cycles.

    In many ways I think it is an issue of public companies in the US. GM will sacrifice its 10 year out future for the next quarters gains.

    Mary Barra knew investors wanted to fire her. The only way she could keep her job was to take immediate short term action to appease investors. In doing so, she is sending GM towards future failure and struggles, and hurting our nation… but that is the nature of public companies. Of course she wants to preserve her job. To HER it doesn’t matter what happens in 5-10 years if she has no job at GM….

    So CEO incentive plans are not aligned with what is best for the company long term, but rather this quarters earning reports.

    This only happened after investors started calling for her head.

  • avatar
    an innocent man

    >…have lower mandated fuel economy targets,…<

    I was wondering if CAFE played any role in this.

  • avatar
    TheDutchGun

    Why would GM move other products back into factories in locations where the labour costs are out of control.

    They have cheaper options elsewhere.

    Any resulting drop in quality is a problem for whoever the executive regime is 10, 15, 20 years down the road.

    If there were no agreements still binding from the bailouts, they are under no obligation to keep those plants open or to continue producing those unprofitable models.

    I’m no GM apologist. I’ve never owned one and probably never will. I just don’t see any issue here. People in the private sector without the benefit of a union are made redundant all the time. There is no constant news cycle on their plight and no 5 week extension of unemployment benefits coming their way.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      But what of companies that have received billions of dollars in government bail-out money and tax credits, in return for promises of continued employment/operations?

      There is the implied contractual obligation of ‘good faith’ and it appears that GM may not have remembered that.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Good faith? Faith is the business of religion, and in corporate America, all pray to the temple of the dollar.

        All that matters are this quarter’s numbers.

        • 0 avatar

          I was discussing this earlier internally over on Slack. The days of implied good faith and the gentleman’s agreement are long over. Unless it’s contractually obligated via the bailout/loan/etc, it doesn’t exist.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            Under common law, the duty to act in good faith is an implied obligation of any contract entered into in Canada, be it written or verbal. The Supreme Court of Canada confirmed this as recently as 2014 in the Bhasin v Hrynew decision.

          • 0 avatar
            TheDutchGun

            Not sure how this is bad faith in reference to a bailout received 10 years ago which these moves are not in violation of. To the governments involved, lesson learned I guess. If Gm’s decisions here lead to their ultimate downfall and they come crying again, don’t pick up the phone next time.

  • avatar
    Matt51

    “Before playing the blame game, ask yourselves where the real issue lies here in 2018. You’ll need a mirror.”

    Bullsh*t.

    The move to SUV’s isn’t GM’s fault. However, losing 4 US and 1 Canadian factory, but keeping everything running in China and Mexico, now that IS a GM choice. Just wait until Trump gets done b*tch slapping Mary “Immelt” Barra. The difference between US and foreign assembly is only a few hundred dollars per car, but among other negative things, outsourcing erodes the US tax base.

    Building good, but second class, vehicles in every category is a GM choice – or as Bob Lutz once said, you won’t sell very many cars if you are everyone’s second choice.

    Hiring a lot of young people in the last few years, and watch – they will now layoff mostly older workers. GM will get a low cost, but ineffective salaried workforce. Remaining employees will know how disposable they are.

    GM has made too many bad choices – overinvestment in China (watch what happens in the trade war), too much money wasted on Cadillac, far too much money lost in “vaporware” – the electric car. Electric cars will be a small amount of the market, divided among many manufacturer’s. GM needs a position, but don’t go all Saturn over electric cars. Referencing Ross Perot on how much money was spent on Saturn.

  • avatar

    Why does Car and Driver constantly ranked GM SUVs at the back of the pack. If you are going to concentrate on making SUVs why not do it well.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      Well Car and Driver (which, given the slow death of passenger cars, should change it’s name to CUV and Driver) does like driving dynamics more than, say, Consumer Reports. ie, they are more willing to put up with something Italian or British made than your average consumer, provided the vehicle drives well, or has certain performance metrics.

      The Tahoe is still a money-maker, and there are plenty of Equinox drivers. Neither are my first choice but if I lived out in the woods a used Tahoe (but more likely a 4Runner) would be on my list.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    It’s GM’s fault, along with the sky high labor costs the UAW has inflicted on them. The decades of poor quality as a result of cutting corners attributed to their higher labor costs are simply catching up with them. I also wouldn’t discount the bailout hanging over them, I absolutely know several people that have said they will never buy another GM car and they held to their boycott. It doesn’t take that many former loyal buyers to create a real headache.

    GM should have every advantage in the world, not only did it get an enormous taxpayer bailout where they got to wipe the debt clean and inject fresh taxpayer cash that they never paid back, they also were allowed to apply their bankruptcy amount towards future profits to the tune of $45 billion. Talk about a sweetheart deal, and yet they are struggling?

    Regarding consumers and why they won’t buy GM “American”, a lot of the foreign competition is more “American-made” than the Big 3 now. So that emotional appeal simply doesn’t resonate like it used to. And if “guilt” is how you’re selling cars anyway, you’re doing it wrong.

    Also, Mary Barra, promoted from Human Resources to CEO, is a disaster that’s only looking out for a few quarters profits and her own bottom line.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Direct UAW/Unifor labour costs reflect only hundreds of dollars on each auto assembled. And have decreased in comparison to their non-union competition since the bailout.

      The legacy issue with wages is that the D3 for decades competed only with each other. So as long as GM/Ford/Chrysler’s wages were comparable with each other, it did not matter how much they paid.

      Once imports became widely acceptable following the original fuel crisis, then began to be seen as more ‘reliable’, then finally began manufacturing in North America, that is when D3 auto wages became a factor.

      However the auto workers are/were not responsible for the incompetent management and terrible decisions made by the executives of the domestic auto manufacturers.

      A well screwed together vehicle, like those manufactured in Oshawa, is still dependent upon the lowest priced parts used and the engineering and styling decisions made.

      Workers in Oshawa consistently rank very high in quality and efficiency, yet that was unable to save their jobs.

      • 0 avatar
        jacob_coulter

        Did you ever stop and think WHY the Big 3 seem to have so many quality control problems? Did it never occur that all of these legacy/union costs has to take a bite somewhere?

        It doesn’t mean the workers themselves are stupid or lazy, but if you have to pay one worker $25 and hour at Company A and Company B is forced to pay $50 an hour and is saddled with all sorts of antiquated pension/healthcare costs for workers long gone, something has to be cut to make the product price competitive.

        So it makes perfect sense that a company without those costs can put more into quality and less into labor costs.

        But people keep parroting this line that somehow it’s just bad luck that keeps happening to GM.

      • 0 avatar
        Big Al from Oz

        Arthur,
        You can also add pension, health, insurance, etc to the cost of every worker.

        Add to that the new increase in raw material (thanking Trump).

        Add to that a poor business model (architecture) within and outside of the US that isn’t globally competitive.

        These costs all add up.

    • 0 avatar
      ZoomZoom

      “I also wouldn’t discount the bailout hanging over them, I absolutely know several people that have said they will never buy another GM car and they held to their boycott. It doesn’t take that many former loyal buyers to create a real headache.”

      I am one of those people who said I’d never buy another GM car and I’ve held to my boycott. My decision was actually made in 2004 before the bailout (due to quality and inability of GM to fix my car), but the bailout is actually the stronger reason now.

  • avatar
    cicero1

    While is far down the list, it has to be said GM marketing and the ad firms it hired deserve some fault – Chevy has had the worst commercials for some time, Buick not far behind.

    as an aside “They want the appearance of an active lifestyle via a capable vehicle, even though they’re just going to drive their fat ass (while texting) from the strip mall to the chain restaurant for a sodium-laden dinner.” I drive a GM 2 door but live an active lifestyle (distance running, hiking etc) and never text and drive so i must not be representative of the general market.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    None of the vehicles lost represent any real loss to the company, they’re all examples of why GM is in the toilet to begin with, cheap FWD 4 cylinder cars sold at a discount because it’s just another vanilla entrant in a horribly depressing segment.

    And of course Mary Barra is best left as a useless activist and should never have made it higher in the company than assistant designer for the Cruze. She is horribly inept in her job and frankly couldn’t run a lemonade stand.

    General Tso’s Motors is going down the toilet, I have a driveway full of GM products and have spent an ungodly amount of my money on their products and parts for 20 years now. I believe my Australian built GM will be my last. FCA has a good 90% chance of getting my business next go around.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I grew up in a GM family.

    Until we needed a small truck to do some wood hauling. And the 1984 Nisan truck was cheaper – as I remember it – than the Chevy/GMC full-size of the time.

    Then Oldsmobile diesel fiasco in my dad’s 98. After that he went out and bought a ’87 Nissan Stanza to do his 40k miles a year in. And proceeded to buy two more of them – used – to use and abuse. I ended up with two of those high mileage cars.

    He didn’t buy a new GM product until he retired.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Your overall theme of consumer choice is right, if not the details.

    IMO, the success of CUVs is less about image and marketing and more about practicality. CUVs in general are more spacious than a sedan at the same price point, have a better greenhouse for visibility; the higher hip point is easier to get in and out of for an aging and out of shape population; have a rear sear that you can get into, don’t have to sit on the floor, and have actual headroom as there is no sloping roofline; the cargo space is accessible through the large hatch vs. the irregular and small aperture of most sedans now; the suspension is not tuned for Nuremberg lap times and the tires have sidewalls for a more comfortable ride; availability of AWD is a major consideration for large sections of the country.

    As the TTAC writer with No Fixed Abode opined, Americans want their ’55 Chevy and CUVs are the most current equivalent to this ideal passenger vehicle. And it’s not just the US, but Europe and China markets are trending the same way also.

  • avatar
    JoDa

    Chopping dead wood from your company is a good thing. Had GM done that all along, they would not have gone bankrupt. Corporate Entropy needs to be eliminated constantly…always and everywhere. Unbelievable that GM held on to Opel as long as they did. That was just fiducially irresponsible.

  • avatar
    FWD Donuts

    GM is just a foul organization from Mary’s office to dealer showroom. Stupid designs. Good technical innovation — yet either packaged or marketed like crap. An inability to overcome a reputation for poor quality. Customer experience nothing short of a nightmare at the dealer level.

    Lots of manufacturers can design, build, and sell passenger cars profitability. Meanwhile, GM comes up with a halfway decent alternative to Tesla’s technology — and stick their electric drivetrain in a dopey 5 door they can’t give away.

    First GM flushed its epic market share over 40 years. Then it went bankrupt. Now the same old, same old. Just wait for another downturn. The working stiffs lose their jobs. The executives ask their assistants to order up another company car.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    And to follow up re: my comment above – duh, it’s always been about consumer choice. How else do you explain the cars GM, Ford, and Chrysler produced during the early to mid-70s???

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    GM says it’s betting the farm on electric and autonomous vehicles. Unless a game changing battery technology breakthrough is imminent that doesn’t make sense.

    The most expensive electric car is hard pressed to do 400 kilometres (250 miles) without a lengthy recharge. Performance is halved in cold weather. Finding a place to plug-in is challenging. Imagine the lineups at highway service centres on holiday weekends!

    Consumer demand even with massive government subsidies, which are winding down, is near zero. My best guess is it’s a ploy to extort more corporate welfare from government.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Yeah I’m not buying the future technologies bit either. This is all about cutting the dead wood, doubling down on more profitable vehicles which are actually selling (SUVs / trucks) and moving production to Mexico and China. The thing that caught people off guard is that the economy and job market is good right now so the last thing you would expect are plant shutdowns. If anything the leverage move here is to increase pressure on the getting more foreign taxes in effort to given GM products a competitive advantage (IE: much cheaper price point). Currently the Korean manufactures have the “value” market locked up. This once GM’s bread and butter.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    I drive sedans and like them, I have also driven wagons and likes them, if I needed a new car tomorrow, the only one I would consider that GM axes would be a La Crosse and truth be told only used so really I can not blame GM for killing cars that we the driving public did not buy. Yes I think maybe they should have left one big car around to soak up as much market share as they could in a seems like soon to be dead segment, I guess the malibu is that car for them. They baled on minivans and left the market to FCA and the imports ( that are made here) so maybe they are right here also. Really the only car I can make a case for saving is the Volt , but to GM the have the Bolt and I guess most folks would rather have that vs a Volt. maybe something will end up in some of the closed plants but keep in mind that product will come from somewhere else so someone else will be out of a job. You can not blame GM for the Govt not attaching more strings to the bailout. The public has spoken and they mostly do not want cars. Would it be nice if the Blazer was made in one of these closed plants , maybe, but if your going to pick one, maybe it should be the Canadian one , it seems to have the best rep for pumping out good quality.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Farago was and continues to be right. It’s about the brand.

    Cadillac can’t sell the CT6 because the brand is dog sh**. The CT6 isn’t dog sh**, but the logo all over the car is. Sedan sales are down everywhere, but there is very little compelling about the CT6. There is no reason a Model S/S Class/7 Series/A8 lease party would consider a CT6 because Cadillac the brand is dog sh**. It’s the same story for the other brands.

    Chevrolet cars – dog sh**. The cars aren’t, but the brand is.

    Buick – dog sh**. It’s for old people.

    Corvette – cheap interior and fast as hell.

    Chevy Trucks and full size SUVs – good

    GMC – Chevy Truck with bigger logo and cool names like Denali and Yukon.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    It all started with CAFE during the 1970s to the 1990s, which shifted many car buyers into trucks, minivans, and SUVs because those vehicles got weaker MPG standards and could therefore still be had in the large sizes and motors that US consumers actually wanted, while cars kept getting degraded in size and power and made more aero which made entry/exit more difficult for aging baby boomers and people with young kids. Then the Japanese came in with CUVs such as the RAV4, CRV and Forester that pretty much drove like cars (because they were just jacked up cars), gave good fuel economy, and had the higher seating position and easy entry/exit that many people wanted. The Germans came in with performance SAVs/CUVs like the X5 that drove like sports sedans but with utility and AWD. Detroit contributed by civilizing their pickups (and related SUVs), adding 4 door variants and some tech to improve fuel economy and/or bump up performance (Raptor, Tahoe SS, Jeep SRT, etc.). So basically you now have a couple of generations of vehicle buyers who have mostly driven or been driven in truck like vehicles since they were kids, and who can get great fuel economy (RAV4 hybrid, X5 diesel) or super car performance (X3 M40i, Macon Turbo S, Raptor, etc) in a vehicle that can carry the family or a load of building materials or tow a boat, and the manufacturers actually make big profits on them because they use relatively few platforms (scale economies), and/or are relatively low tech, and/or consumer love them and load them with profitable options. Yes an actual car might get .5 mpg better, or get to 60 in 5.7 seconds instead of 5.9, or corner at .95g instead of .92g, except almost nobody cares because trucks, SUVs, CUVs are more than good enough (and blow away any car from the 1970s-80s – remember the 165 hp Corvettes?).

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Corey’s view is only half the issue. The most significant issue is the shrinking and evaporation of US vehicle manufacturers.

    Global manufacturers outside the US have gotten bigger at the expense of US manufacturers. This will continue and accelerate if and while the US manufacturers are protected in the unique fashion that has been occurring for decades.

  • avatar
    deanst

    The difference between GM and Toyota is that when a market shift occurs, Toyota will cancel 1 or 2 models, not close any plants, not create any drama, and introduce a few more models in the growing market segments. GM will leap up and down and shout – “It’s a market shift no one anticipated! “. “We must take drastic action!” “Cut a half dozen models!” “Kill 5 plants and thousands of jobs!” Financial analysts can ignore the costs associated with doing this, as it’s a “one time charge”, look at the status of the new GM with all models in high margin segments, and proclaims “bravo GM!”

    The reality is that GM was building vehicles like the lacrosse and regal which never had a chance of being profitable. Honda and Toyota manage r & d costs better, share the costs over larger volumes, and have a higher average selling price to better absorb fixed costs.

    Recent events merely continue the never ending trend of the Detroit 3 retreating into high margin trucks and cuvs. Until they actually develop superior vehicles with better brand equity, this trend will not stop.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    From a former contributor to TTAC who is also an auto auctioneer: “The greatest threat is the Chinese government. We have allowed a system where American automakers have become de facto second class citizens in joint ventures within the country, and the Chinese government has created a protectionist and increasingly nationalist approach towards foreign interests. As far fetched as it may seem now, the current tit-for-tat trade disagreements may flare up to a point where domestic automakers can’t effectively compete in the world’s largest market.”

    From today’s Star, listing the remaining auto manufacturing plants in Ontario, the number employed in each and their products. Looks like Ontario is highly dependent on the continuing health of Fiat-Chrysler.
    Ontario’s auto production
    1) Fiat –Chrysler (Brampton): 3,583 people. Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger.
    2)Fiat-Chrysler ( Windsor): 6,108 people. Chrysler Pacifica, Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid and Dodge Grand Caravan.
    3) Ford (Oakville): 4,500 people. Edge ST, Edge, Flex, Lincoln Nautilus and Lincoln MKT.
    4) GM/CAMI (Ingersoll): 2,272 people. Chevrolet Equinox.
    5) Honda (Alliston): 4,200 people. Civic and CR-V.
    6) Toyota (Cambridge, Woodstock): 8,000 people. RAV4, Corolla, Lexus RX 350 and 450h (hybrid)

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    This was a well written rant, with some humor attached to a serious subjet. Strong work .

  • avatar

    I am really enjoying this GM hate fest. Let’s have a GM hate-in tonight. I will bring the chips, who will bring the soda?

  • avatar
    BobinPgh

    One thing that GM could do to slight improve their public relations might be to plan to demolish the Detroit-Hamtramck plant and donate the land to a land bank that people could buy property from. When GM built D-H they took out Poletown, a working class neighborhood that from the pictures, seemed to be a decent neighborhood, to build a place that built cars that not enough people wanted. Now that the place will close, the least GM could do is give the land back so people could possibly rebuild a new neighborhood. If GM later needs a large plant, there’s always Lordstown. At the very least, it’s better than letting the place sit and rot.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt51

      Oh, GM will not spend a single dime of their $4 billion yearly free cash flow (to increase to a projected $10 billion after these new plant closures) to benefit Detroit. View it as another GM finger to the Michigan sky. If we ask them nicely,GM might ask their Chinese masters if there is anything China could do with the plant? Comrade Xi has some pretty creative people working for him, they might think of something.

  • avatar
    63whiskey

    GM can’t get it through their skulls that Americans will not buy ugly junk that no one wants.

    They ruined the Impala…they didn’t just kill it, they they’ve been napalming that name since the 1990s.

    They killed Oldsmobile, which although Olds was puking out junk no one wanted in the late 1990s, it showed signs of trying to head in the right direction at the turn of the Century. GM has somehow managed to keep Buick on life support because it sells well in it’s new Chinese fatherland, and has built a few moderately successful SUVs.

    I agree with the fact of their evil globalist agenda…instead of forcing cheap junk onto dealer lots like they did 35 years ago…they are now forcing cheap euro/Japanese knock off junk on us in high numbers.

    I’m not even sure what Cadillac has been trying to prove for the past 15 years…it sure ain’t working either.

    One fact is no one buys 4 door sedans…Yet Toyota, Honda, Mazda, and even ugly Nissans, ugly Hyundai’s and Kias continue to sell well.

    Even Old people have given up on brand loyalty from GM. Used to be if you got behind an old geezer driving to slow, it was a large Buick or Cadillacs land yacht. Now it seems they have moved on to Toyotas mostly.

    GM just doesn’t build cars that reasonable people that value taste want. Their redesigned pickups look a preschhooler designed the front end, and scribbled visciously outside the lines while trying to color it. Their is not a single newly designed car or truck in their lineup that I think looks remotely attractive anymore.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Mary Barra is not responsible for designing product nobody wanted, or underinvesting in future technology. But she is responsible for cleaning up the mess of the people who made those decisions, and pronto, or there won’t be any GM. And that’s what she’s doing.

    There’s always going to be a Greek chorus of blowhard bozos at the end of the bar who can’t stomach a lady boss. But make no mistake, if it were a dude taking these exact same actions, we’d hear approving shouts of “that’s capitalism, he’s making the hard decisions, suck it up snowflakes!” It’s gross as hell.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt51

      Rubbish. I have made similar comments regarding poorly performing male CEOs. If Barra as CEO is not responsible for poor product, who the hell is? The buck stops where? Barra is not saving GM, she is liquidating the company, one piece at a time. Her outsized spending on electric cars, at the expense of other products, is just another hole she is digging, such as – the Silverado is not competitive with Ram or F150? Who the hell is responsible for that? This is Mary Barra’s team. Closing factories in the US, but not in China or Mexico, is tone deaf. Mary “Immelt” Barra. She is very good at extracting money from GM for herself, just like Jeffrey was at GE. Oh, she is also good at laying off the salaried workforce that makes the company functional. She has no clue what personnel are required to get the job done.

  • avatar
    DAC17

    What he said! +1

    • 0 avatar
      DAC17

      What he said, meaning hot potato… Amazing how much everyone on these boards knows about running a car company the wrong way. Apparently Barra should be fired and Matt51 should be hired immediately, for the good of all employees and shareholders. Don’t know why the GM board hasn’t figured this out yet!

      • 0 avatar
        Matt51

        DAC17 –
        So we are participating on a car forum, but should never criticize management? Maybe you are on the wrong forum.

        Yes, the board needs to take action. Once the increased profits Barra is projecting doesn’t occur by 2020, she will be canned. She is promising increased free cash flow of $6 Billion per year.

        I once worked at GM many years ago, now retired. I also worked at GE many years ago. I have seen good executive management, and I have seen bad executive management. Yes, fire Mary Barra, and hire someone who knows what they are doing.

        DAC17, so you think Barra is not responsible for poor product? Then who is?

      • 0 avatar
        Matt51

        This forum was partly built on the GM death watch series, which correctly criticized GM management at the time. Oh, but Mary is all knowing, we are not allowed to compare her to, say, Rick Wagoner.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          BREAKING NEWS: Bloomberg just announced that China has agreed to reduce, remove tariffs on autos.

          That’s gotta be good for something, even for GM. More GM vehicles to China, if you please.

          Thank you, President Trump!


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