QOTD: Pointing Fingers at General Motors?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
qotd pointing fingers at general motors

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 [s]expert[/s] 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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  • HotPotato HotPotato on Dec 02, 2018

    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.

    • Matt51 Matt51 on Dec 02, 2018

      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.

  • DAC17 DAC17 on Dec 02, 2018

    What he said! +1

    • See 3 previous
    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on Dec 02, 2018

      @Matt51 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!

  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html
  • Kevin Ford can do what it's always done. Offer buyouts to retirement age employees, and transfers to operating facilities to those who aren't retirement age. Plus, the transition to electric isn't going to be a finger snap one time event. It's going to occur over a few model years. What's a more interesting question is: Where will today's youth find jobs in the auto industry given the lower employment levels?