Darwin Hatheway

By on August 18, 2009

While driving the Buick LaCrosse, I asked Line Director Jeanne Merchant a question: what could she tell me about reliability that would persuade me, a satisfied Toyota owner, to jump ship? Merchant gave a pretty good answer, but I was busy trying not to run over traffic cones. In a subsequent phone interview, Merchant said reliability starts early in the process. From design to component testing, from durability tests to audits and feedback, from computer modeling to real world testing, they make sure every part of the car and all its systems are built right and performing to specification. And they take it very, very seriously. “The LaCrosse is very personal to me,” Merchant said. “I’ve worked with it for years. Everybody else involved feels the same way. And the same goes for the other product lines.” Process and passion. Is it enough?

By on August 15, 2009

Like many American car buyers, I place reliability near the top of my “must have” list. Over on GM’s FastLane blog, I told GM they’d conquer [some] Toyota and Honda customers when the American automaker’s ten-year-old cars offered the same service as ten-year-old Toyotas and Hondas. Truth be told, New GM may not HAVE ten years. So it’s no surprise that they tried to wow me with tail fins and technology. When the speeches finally ended in the Proving Ground auditorium, I was invited to sample New GM in the “now.” Our PR handlers gave us a quick safety talk (don’t do anything stupid, obey the traffic wardens) and turned us loose.

By on August 14, 2009

A few weeks ago, I received this from GM Communications: “I’ve noticed some of your comments on our Fastlane blog. We are looking for passionate and influential consumers to participate in an upcoming showcase on August 10, 2010 in Detroit, MI. Would you be interested in a GM-hosted opportunity like this to learn more about our future vehicles and company?” I was more than a little surprised; my FastLane posts are generally uncomplimentary regarding GM’s products and business decisions. “Do they know we own three Toyotas?” my wife asked. “And we gave a fourth to our daughter, who’s happily driving it at 150 thousand miles?” “I think that’s part of it; they want to know what it will take to win me over.” “They could try building cars that are as reliable as Toyotas.” “I’ve suggested that.” “Don’t you dare bring home a GM car,” she warned.

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