Nobody Likes GM?

Posted by: David Kiley on June 2, 2009

Does Nobody like GM?

It is amazing to me how little slack the bi-coastal media is willing to grant General Motors. None. And what passes for analysis on TV is shocking.

For months and months, we have heard anchors and pundits on CNN, CNBC, Fox and MSNBC berate General Motors for lack of innovation and failure to deliver more fuel efficient vehicles to the public. The comparisons with Toyota and Honda on this point have been constant. And for good reason, though the actual accompanying analysis in these discussions has been less than illuminating most of the time.

As coverage unfolded yesterday, one of the recurring themes of commentary, continuing this morning, has been…”Oh boy…this focus GM has has now on greater fuel economy and offering smaller vehicles….there isn’t much profit in those vehicles is there?…Americans don’t like these fuel efficient vehicles unless oil prices are high and they aren’t that high now….Danger Will Robinson!!!! Danger!!!!How will taxpayers get our money back if GM isn’t selling those high profit gas guzzling trucks and SUVs?”

Give me a break! Which is it? Is GM dumb and backward because it didn’t have the Prius ready when gas prices turned high last year? Or is it dumb and backward because it is investing in smaller vehicles, smaller more efficient engines, batteries and hybrids?

Does it occur to any of these pundits that Toyota was investing in the technology that led to the Prius and its other hybrids in the mid 1990s when oil was cheap. Car companies cannot invest in technology and vehicles to deliver in real time. They have to keep innovating all the time because vehicles and engines take years to develop and you can’t bank on what the economy or energy prices will be when it is time to release the vehicles to the public.

In other words, smart companies don’t just study for the test they have tomorrow. They keep learning, studying, creating and innovating all the time to be prepared for anything.

Perhaps if General Motors drops the name, and changes to Chevrolet Motors, Cadillac Motors, Volt Motors of some such, the media that doesn’t follow GM week to week, but only when the company is crisis, will agree to stop looking at the company through the weird set of glasses it has been wearing for the last eight months. Nah.

Reader Comments

Schmeltz

June 2, 2009 11:58 AM

Thanks David for your astute observation. I'm glad someone in the media seems to "get it". There is so much stuff being spewn by many other media outlets that is just plain ignorant. The example you cited is a good one as it exemplifies the sort of "darned if you do, darned if you don't" mentality out there. The Volt for example, will likely lose money in the first generation and people will scream bloody murder about that. But, if GM wouldn't be pursuing a technology like the Volt, then people would scream how woefully evil and ignorant GM is for not pursuing a fuel efficient drivetrain. I'm not apologizing or defending GM here as they did a number of foolish things in the past, but the media outlets should at least do a good google before they open their mouths about a lot of things.

Will

June 2, 2009 12:32 PM

Negative media sells, and both GM-Bashing messages strike a nice nerve on the American viewing public.

Bashing GM for building gas guzzlers, while ignoring the fact there was a substantial market for them, hits that green chord that is oh-so-popular these days no matter how pie-in-the-sky it gets. Blame GM for building the SUV's, not the public for wanting them, nor the customers for buying them. Toyota built the Prius, and that's where it has gotten its protective green halo from. For GM's sake, I hope the Volt takes off, because that's about the only chance GM has to get a similar bullet-proof "Green" aura.

When GM says "We surrender, no one's buying the gas guzzlers anyways.." the media flips its head and attacks the bailout in general. Saying small cars have no margins with the big 3 is largely accurate, but moreso is saying that the bailout is a gift instead of a loan. Lately, it's moving faster and faster in that direction, but a bailout weary public who has memories of bad quality and gas guzzlers just eats up this new message.

How often do you recall a promo for a local news station to be some positive message? Usually it's death, fear, and intimidation. "Tune in at 9 to find out what may be killing you RIGHT NOW. at 10 it will be too late."

Paul (Vw)

June 2, 2009 7:38 PM

>>> Nobody likes GM?

Is there much to like right now?

>>> [a] Is GM dumb and backward because it didn’t have the Prius ready when gas prices turned high last year? [b] Or is it dumb and backward because it is investing in smaller vehicles, smaller more efficient engines, batteries and hybrids?

Both.

The two points are not mutually exclusive, though how you (and perhaps the "bi-coostal media" ) are framing it sounds slightly off.

Perhaps we could rephrase it this way...I'll try and remain true to your phrasing as much as possible:

"[GM is] dumb and backward [--I'd prefer different adjectives--] because it didn’t have [appealing vehicles with reasonable gas efficiency] ready when gas prices [temporarily] turned high last year[. It is also] dumb and backward because it is [trying to build the Volt which has a ridiculously high price which will far outweigh any economic advantage of the energy efficiency.]"

There. We've managed to unify the "bi-coastal media" punditry...

...speaking of which, I read a piece on the NYTimes today which is worth a read:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/opinion/02brooks.html?_r=2&ref=opinion

miath

June 2, 2009 9:48 PM

why they don't tack about the 830.02billion the iraq war cost,and all the company suck million from the war,,CNN and the rest,,is funny id so easy to crucified gm..

foolhardy

June 3, 2009 9:20 AM

That's because all those underlying arguments are correct, even if mutually exclusive. What the public is saying is F*** you to GM!, for screwing up, and then landing us the bill. The public doesent know enough or care enough about the Car industry to follow industry minutia, but the do know when they're getting hosed. And the media, which are lap dogs of the public mood are delivering the connective dots.

kevin

June 3, 2009 12:22 PM

David made a great point,
Toyota and Honda were investing in hybrid technology when it was cheap because they were looking into the future.

GM had the opportunity to do the same... But they looked the other way. GM was too busy looking to line it's pockets by outsourcing jobs, fighting the electric car and maintaining it's sweetheart relationship with big oil. If GM hadn't killed the electric car they wouldn't need a bailout. If GM had lobbied congress for universal healthcare rather than fighting environmental mandates they wouldn't have such high operating costs either.

Nobody likes GM because their own greedy decisions lead to their demise and now the tax payer has to save their butts... Many of GM's products and/or components are manufactured in Mexico or Canada. My toyota was made in Freemont CA. So I ask, who is the real "American" car company?

Orion

June 3, 2009 12:30 PM

We will never again buy cars from a car company that has a unionized work force!!!

D.Shaw

June 3, 2009 1:09 PM

America was built by Americans. In American towns by American workers. In the United States by Republicans by Democrats by Independents by American Citizens. This concept has always sustained our nation. Americans working for America. So, enlighten me again...Why do I want to buy a Toyota or Honda????? Child of the Greatest Generation and proud wife of a Viet Nam Vet and United Auto Worker. Key Words: AMERICANS UNITED

Javes

June 3, 2009 1:46 PM

Well... Yes, it is blown a little out of proportion. However, GM has been making horrible decisions since... a reall long time. If they wouldnt have taken the Bailout money, they may have still gone under, but personally, Id respect the company more. Ford got the hint much sooner than GM, started selling off thier extras earlier (aston martin, rover, jaguar) and didnt take the Bailout, and they are moving along just fine. Good management and planning brings prosperity. and vice versa in GM's case.

Javes

June 3, 2009 1:51 PM

(Oh yah, BTW, Honda Prius is NOT green. The area around the mines for the batteries is studied by NASA becuase it has properties similiar to that of the moon. In fact a Hummer over it's entire lifetime is more "green" than a Prius just in it's [prius's] production)

pl672

June 3, 2009 2:50 PM

GM is just not getting it. I am a 41 year old mother. I have a 1996 honda accord, 1999 volvo, 2001 jeep and a 2008 chev. impala. My kids, husband and myself regret the 2008 impala purchase. GM just can not build cars anymore. I would be glad to let GM know why I love my other brand of cars and and the jeep better. I did not purchase those vehicles for the gas mileage. The sad thing is I grew up on Chevrolet and never thought I would own anything else.

Ron

June 3, 2009 3:19 PM

I would buy anther GM product if they would make sure that the so called rail dust (brake dust) would be taken care of. No product should ever have that type of problem ignored. Take care of the problem. My Silverado truck and my White Eqoinex is just covered with little rust looking spots. Be a leader and take care of it.

D. Deyhle

June 3, 2009 9:12 PM

I have been a loyal GM owner continously since 1960 when I bought my first vehicle. They have served me well with little or no problems. A couple even went over 160,000 miles with the same motor, transmission, and AC. I never considered an import believing we should support "Made In America" but what has happened with the bond holders isn't right. It will be with much regret when I drive away with my first new Honda.

eddie

June 3, 2009 10:50 PM

hey all you can pretty much say im married to gm. All of the vehicles ive ever purchased has been in the gm family and through the years there vehicles has lasted longer gone further in mileage and also in innovation and fuel economy so to anyone bashing gm i bet you do not know about gm's products. Do not judge of nothing you have no knowledge of!!!

jinks

June 4, 2009 1:17 AM

I have only one thing to say F-u to the news people and all the people who say gm sucks, all you tree huggin freaks , save the planet go grenn, screw you , gm is not to blame , consumers are to blame, you wanted to have tahoe/sububran ,did you need it no! you wanted so gm made it and it got rich off it and then all of a sudden oil companys raised the price of gas ,now your crying blooddy murder, i bet all you green people would go out and buy a hummer or tahoe if gass prices dropped to $1.00 a gallon, so don't go blaming general motors for your unhappiness, you know dame straight when you bought your suv, what the gas milage was, you were just lokking at putting yourself in higher class. you were making a statement cause i guarenttee you didnt need to buy a hummer ,you could of easyly but a trailblazer or equinox
so bascially stop hating gm for cashing in on your selfishness and greed

truly loyalist to gm
long live chevy
jinks

Westernfan

June 4, 2009 9:18 AM

Do you suppose a "Buy American" campaign might be more successful now that the taxpayers are essentially stockholders in the new GM? In the past, such campaigns were largely unsuccessful because they were seen as a blatent plea to support overpaid and undermotivated unionized workers.

Westernfan

June 4, 2009 9:36 AM

Why would GM have stopped building Trucks and SUV when they were selling all they could build, and grossing over $10k per vehicle? (and who predicted gasoline was going to $4/gal?)
Toyota & Co. have been building smaller vehicles for markets with smaller roads, higher fuel costs, and frankly, smaller passengers forever- is it any wonder they're stronger in smaller passenger vehicles?
The best examples of lousy quality out of GM are 20+ years old- pay attention, people!
Sure, GM screwed up big time by abdicating the small passenger vehicle market, (and letting their costs spiral out of control) but what incentive did they have to enter a market where they (historically) never been profitable?

matt

June 4, 2009 11:24 AM

i agree fully with you guys how can the media be filled with such incompetant people. gm and ford have more fuel efficient models then toyota and ford sold more cars then toyota in the first quarter of 09. aside from that saying gm makes bland cars is rediculous i am more attracted to gm cars then the bland gas sippers toyota makes. the prius a bland overpriced car that gets good mileage. i could buy a ford fusion or a chevy malibu that gets 42 mpg for much much less. o and by the way where was the bashing when toyota lost 8 billion dollars this first quarter.

BuddySm

June 5, 2009 6:22 AM

Long Live GM. I am the proud owner of 4 and soon to be 7 GM products; all ranging from 1978 to 2010. I have relatively few problems with my older vehicles and none with my new ones. I even have a so called non green small coupe (Cobalt) that gets 37+ mpg. So go beat that Toyota and Honda. I also own 1 SUV and and 2 Trucks that get relatively good feul milage to boot (17+mpg with a V8).

ps

June 5, 2009 8:05 AM

Western fan- The big 3 (especially GM and Chrysler) should have hedged their bets, even if it involved JV's or importing via Vauxhall and Opel.With the ascendency of middle class India and China as fuel consumers, how could management think that gas would flex between $1 to $2 forever? They had a decade to prepare but continued with their crack whore like addiction to the gaz guzzling tanks. These MBA morons should have thought about supply and demand. Funny, Chrysler did okay with cars like the Omni and K-Cars, which sold pretty well. Rebadged Opels with a Saturn badge are nice too. Pure managment incompetence.

Marv

June 5, 2009 10:08 PM

I have always owned only GM cars and trucks, and I have owned many, many of them, 17 at this time. I see a lot of comments on here about how great fuel milage is with a Japmobile but their bigger suvs and trucks suck gas compared to GM vehicles of the same model. I own a 2007 GMC 1500 stretch cab pick-up 5.3 engine and it gets 21.6 highway mpg, I also own a 2004 Pontiac GTO 6sp that gets 27.5 highway mpg and over 18 city with performance that is eye opening. As far as I know no other brand comes close, but until the government and the union no longer own or have a hand in the operation of GM I will NEVER buy another GM product. My 2007 Ford F150 is fine and sucks gas but the government doesn't run the company. Also If you think your jap car is built in America you may want to do some research, they are assembled, not built here.

mahana

June 6, 2009 3:15 AM

The initiative taken for the concern is very serious and needs an attention of everyone. This is the concern which exists in the society and needs to be eliminated from the society as soon as possible.
Motorbike transport

Paul (Vw)

June 8, 2009 10:32 PM

From Ps:

>>> Chrysler did okay with cars like the Omni and K-Cars

I bought a new 1988 Dodge Omni. Got 44pmg on the highway with it. Put 178k miles on it. When I finally sold it, it still had the original clutch and stainless steel exhaust (quite a feat for the salt-laced winter roads of upstate New York). I loved that car. Chrysler should never have strayed from cars like that.

ps

June 10, 2009 12:37 PM

Marv- you better check YOUR facts. Domestic contents on most Hondas and Toyota BUILT (not just assembled here) are equal to or greater than your beloved F150. 25 years ago what you said was true but is not the case any longer with many transplants here. And your use of Jap gives a good indication that those evil guys over the pacific make you uncomfortable.

Wes

June 10, 2009 2:14 PM

I've owned 5 GM cars which have all been excellent and I love GM. Among my crowd, I'm a die-hard supporter.

Yet looking in, GM has made a lot of mistakes. First, as already discussed, they focused everything on trucks and very little on cars from 1995 to 2005. With the exception of the Corvette, name one GM car that is appealing from this time period. Most of them are worthy of rentals and Bob's used car lot for $77 a week. Even the Camaro was sorely outdated by 2000.

Looking back from 1988-1995, there were some great GM products like the Olds Cutlass Supreme, Pontiac Grand Prix, Lumina Z34, etc that were equivalent to anything made by foreign companies in both comfort and features. From 1995-2005 anything made by Toyota/Nissan/Honda was superior to GM.

From 2005 GM is taking another good look at cars, such as the Cobalt, the 2008 Malibu, the 2006+ Impala, Buick Lucerne, etc. There are all good cars moving forward, but were lost in GM marketing and desire to be all things trucks.

I hope the new GM focuses more on cars, building profitable cars, comfortable/safe/reliable cars.

Paul

June 13, 2009 7:31 AM

I've owned 4 GM products over the years. 2 were used when I bought them and 2 were new. The first one I bought was a 84K5 Jimmy with 6.2L diesel. It was gutless and got ok fuel milage and parts were continually falling off. From fuel pumps and starters to door handles interior pieces the truck just wouldn't stay together.

My next GM product was an 85 s10 Jimmy with the lovely 2.8l v6. The milage was worse then the K5 and the 2.8 was completely worthless, from head gasket faults to a bent crank shaft.

I followed with 2 new Chevy's figuring that the prior owners had induced the problems by not doing proper maintenance.

My 95 3/4 ton suburban with a 6.5l Turbo Diesel got alright fuel milage for it's size (about 18 highway) but I was plauged with problems... transmission shifted at random, injector issues, PMD module failure every 22000 miles, windows falling out of the track, seats tearing just from gettin in and out of the vehicle, and finally the engine shooting 2 cylinders out at 100K miles... On a Diesel!?

I gave it one more shot in 1999 with a S10 extended cab pickup. It was again a gutless truck with a 4 cylinder engine and a stick shift. Mileage was absolutely horrible... I never got over 18 mpg highway and it wasn't uncommon to get less then 12 city. At 17K miles I had to pay over $4000 to replace the engine computer. It wasn't covered by the the bumper to bumper warranty only the initial 12k mile defect warranty. This follows going into the shop twice for the power steering pump quitting, once for a passenger side ball joint wobble, and 2 u-joint failures. I had to fight with the dealership on every single one of the issues listed above. To say the least when I traded in my 99 s10 in mid 2000 I vowed I would never own another GM product. It just isn't worth the hassle at the dealer ship dealing with substandard designs.

I've since owned a Toyota that I beat the living hell out of and it still just ticks along with minimal issues 180000 miles later. Yes it's under powered with a small 2.5l 4cylinder, no it doesn't have your standard ammenities of power steering, power windows, cruise control, power door locks or even air conditioning. But it has never let me down and other then standard wear and tear parts like clutches, oil changes, timing chains, brakes and batteries it is still running strong and is supprisingly fun to drive!

So even if it's not made in America I'll buy a product that I think I can get the most out of. Even if I have to pay 5 to $10000 more then the American equivalent I will do it for the piece of mind of knowing that if there is a problem 1 it will be fixed with no hassle, and 2 it will be fixed the first time!

Arnold

June 21, 2009 8:58 AM

I owned a 1989 S-15 Jimmy 4x4 with the 4.3 which got 21-23 highway and operated for over 12 years and 400,000 miles requiring a penny pinching 19 cents per mile operating cost over it's life, (including purchase price sales tax, and interest on loan and all repairs and maintenance).

I then bought a 1997 Chevy S10 4x4 used with 47,000 miles and drove it until last November with little issue.I hauled, pulled and drove it just like I did my previous Jimmy getting 20 to 22 MPG Highway.

I no longer travel, but the last road trip in my new Silverado showed up with a 20MPG with the 5.3 Flex-Fuel engine. and this with a load of 1200 lbs in the bed.

Patricia

July 16, 2009 3:17 AM

I can only say that I wish that I had bought a Honda!! I am a Union person and felt an obligation to buy American! Wish I could do it over again. I bought my 97 Chevy S-10 in late 96 with 11 miles on it, brand spanky new. The alt went out on it, the fuel pump 2 times and the AC before the warranty even expired. Had a few other issues prior to the warranty expiration too. The fuel gauge read backwards! The fuel pump repair corrected that but to date the fuel gauge no longer works. The inside door handle broke off - how many times do you manually roll the window down... at the bank and drive-thru's? The 3rd door latch broke 2 times - twice the dealer repaird it and it is now broken again. The rear view mirror fell off, all the knobs inside have broken off. Both of the exterior door handles are dangling because the screws that hold them in place came out. The rear sliding window latch fell off. The cables that hold the back gate up broke off long time ago. The entire cigerette lighter thingee just came out of the hole. The antifreeze that they insisted be used caused gunking and overheating problems. What a piece of work this truck is!! I drove my truck approx 4 blocks to work and 4 blocks home everyday and weekends were mostly only runs to the grocery and HomeDepot. As of this date I still don't even have 100000 miles on it. I am not rough with my vehicle - this truck is just a piece of Junk! A Honda will be my next choice. GM can go under for all I care. Patricia in Atlanta

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