QOTD: Pointing Fingers at General Motors?

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
We’re committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using links in our articles. Learn more here
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 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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Writing things for TTAC since late 2016 from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio. You can find me on Twitter @CoreyLewis86, and I also contribute at Forbes Wheels.

More by Corey Lewis

Join the conversation
7 of 160 comments
  • 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!

  • Ernesto Perez There's a line in the movie Armageddon where Bruce Willis says " is this the best idea NASA came up with?". Don't quote me. I'm asking is this the best idea NY came up with? What's next? Charging pedestrians to walk in certain parts of the city? Every year the price for everything gets more expensive and most of the services we pay for gets worse. Obviously more money is not the solution. What we need are better ideas, strategies and inventions. You want to charge drivers in the city - then put tolls on the free bridges like the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges. There's always a better way or product. It's just the idiots on top think they know best.
  • Carsofchaos The bike lanes aren't even close to carrying "more than the car lanes replaced". You clearly don't drive in Midtown Manhattan on a daily like I do.
  • Carsofchaos The problem with congestion, dear friends, is not the cars per se. I drive into the city daily and the problem is this:Your average street in the area used to be 4 lanes. Now it is a bus lane, a bike lane (now you're down to two lanes), then you have delivery trucks double parking, along with the Uber and Lyft drivers also double parking. So your 4 lane avenue is now a 1.5 lane avenue. Do you now see the problem? Congestion pricing will fix none of these things....what it WILL do is fund persion plans.
  • FreedMike Many F150s I encounter are autonomously driven...and by that I mean they're driving themselves because the dips**ts at the wheel are paying attention to everything else but the road.
  • Tassos A "small car", TIM????????????This is the GLE. Have you even ever SEEN the huge thing at a dealer's??? NOT even the GLC,and Merc has TWO classes even SMALLER than the C (The A and the B, you guessed it? You must be a GENIUS!).THe E is a "MIDSIZED" crossover, NOT A SMALL ONE BY ANY STRETCH OF THE IMAGINATION, oh CLUELESS one.I AM SICK AND TIRED OF THE NONSENSE you post here every god damned day.And I BET you will never even CORRECT your NONSENSE, much less APOLOGIZE for your cluelessness and unprofessionalism.