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Want To Know Who Is Brand Loyal? Talk To a Cab Driver.

Posted by: David Kiley on January 21, 2009


I think General Motors saw my blog item about brand loyalty and dispatched a particular cab driver to pick me up at my house to rebut my item.

It’s not that I bashed GM in my earlier blog. I said nice things about their newest products, and even a few of the old ones. But I also noted that one of the factors driving GM’s high loyalty rate is that GM has a lot of customers out there who are upside down on their loans, or otherwise have lower resale value than they think. Take a Pontiac Grand Prix to a Honda dealer, I noted, and the trade in and overall deal offered won’t be nearly as good as you get if you go to a GMC-Pontiac dealer.

So, cab driver Andrew T. arrives to take me to an appointment. I was sans car for the afternoon and had an appointment to keep. He arrived in a 1997 Pontiac Bonneville. He wanted me to know that his 12 year old Bonneville had well over 300,000 miles on it. All he has done to the car besides scheduled maintenance is rebuild the transmission…after 200,000. Not bad.

I might have recommended a detailing, though, to get rid of the cigarette stink.

“GM makes the best vehicles on earth,” Andrew proclaimed, as he added that he has nothing but GM cars in his taxi fleet, which includes minivans (“Chevy Ventures are built like iron”), and Cadillacs. He has a 1983 Caddy (pictured above) still in service, he tells me, with 1.5 million miles on it. “I’ve done a few things to it, but it runs great.”

Shouldn’t he get some kind of award from GM for that?

Andrew T is a former Republic Steel executive who also tell me that Japanese car companies used to buy the worst grade steel Republic produced.

And he tells me I’m crazy when I tell him that a NYC cab driver once told me that the brakes on his Honda Odyssey minivan cab lasted 20K or more miles (that’s very good for a city cab), while Ford brakes last about half as long. “I don’t buy Ford models,” he says. “But Honda has the worst brakes in the business.”

I love talking to cab drivers and owners about their cars. Nobody works cars harder. And as I have been looking for a used car to buy, I might just have to look at a 97 Bonneville or an 83 Caddy now.

Reader Comments

David H.

January 22, 2009 1:14 AM

I agree with your cabbie. GM's problem is that they make their vehicles too good. I am still driving my 1990 GMC Suburban with 282,000 miles and a tranny rebuild at 205,000. So basically, GM needs repeat customers, but their vehicles last forever with proper maintenance. Anyway, as they say, long lasting vehicles are bad for business.

t mc

January 23, 2009 6:51 AM

I will seem biased because I work for GM,but I didn't always.I have been driving GM vehicles since 1978 and my father drove nothing but GM.GM takes a unfair beating when it comes to many aspects of the company,but none more than they do on quality.Many of the older cars you still see on the road today are GM vehicles.If you are looking for an old pick up,good bet you are looking for a GM,they last forever.In most cases the body will die before the engine.
GM needs to target the younger generation because there was a period they pissed of a lot of people and they are having a hard time winning them back.The new vehicles they are now bringing to market are the best in the industry and the first people that need to fair to this company are the people who follow the industry.These people have given GM a bad rap for far to long.The quality gap isn't just there anymore,in fact if anything Toyota has fallen back somewhat over the past couple years.
If you are in the market for a new vehicle today consider GM you will be presently surprised.


January 26, 2009 6:48 PM

i agree i own a g.m express 3500 with over one milion miles on [1.041200]runs perfect.the only proablem with g.m. is the look. the models are not top notch.they are not sexy .when i see a women in the road i dont care if she is nice inside or she is a good person.the first think i see is ,she have a nice body.g.m. must build nice cars in order to revamp.

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