Or how GM wants to save themselves. There has been intense media coverage on the Big Three, with their $25 billion, then $34 billion request for funds. Mistakes were made. Lesson 1-you do not fly to DC in your private corporate jet to beg for the taxpayers to dig you out of the ditch you dug for yourself. Especially when all those taxpayers drive Camry’s and Accord’s. Lesson 2-you do not tell Congress that as CEO, you refuse to accept a pay cut to save the corporation you are in charge of running, or ruining.Ã‚Â
The good news is, the CEO’s came back to DC driving hybrids, and will work for one dollar. No one is in greater danger than GM, as they are asking for the most money to stay alive. Here is what we know:
GM has identified four core brands-Chevrolet, GMC, Buick, and Cadillac. Does that shock you? It should. Let’s visit each of the General’s brands.
Far and away the most crucial brand to GM. Forget the Camaro-all eyes are on the Volt plug-in hybrid. Chevy also needs to keep the Malibu fresh to remain a contender. The new Cruze, scheduled to replace the Cobalt, also looks promising. Stay tuned.
Looks like Pontiac is about to be relegated to a niche-brand. This is not a bad thing, and this decision stands to save GM a lot of money. Honestly, does anyone care about the rebadged G3 (Chevy Aveo) or G5 (Chevy Cobalt)? GM has been telling us over and over that Pontiac is the performance division. Wouldn’t it be great if they finally lived up to that statement? A focused line of performance cars like the Solstice and G8 makes sense. All of these other rebadged cars simply dilute the image of Pontiac.Ã‚Â
Saturn was formed in the mid 1980’s with the intent to make a car to rival any Honda or Toyota. It never happened. When the SL sedan finally was sold, it was late, over-budget, and an extremely crude automobile. The competition remained light years ahead, and Saturn never caught up. You know things are really bad when you tap Honda for V-6 engines to power the Vue SUV.
Today, Saturn actually has some nice cars for sale-they are mostly rebadged Opels. The buying public has not noticed. After years of the sub-par SL, and the truly awful Ion, it is a struggle to get people to notice Saturn today. According to CNN, GM is in talks with its Saturn dealers to discuss the future of the brand.
Buick has half the market share of Pontiac, and offers fewer models than any other GM division, yet GM considers Buick one of its four “core brands”. Buick has no halo car, nothing special or extraordinary to set themselves apart. Unless GM has some major plans for Buick that we have not heard about, I am unsure why this brand has such high status. China seems to like the Buick’s, so that is my guess.
You can’t kill Caddy when they are on a roll. They finally “get it” and are building respectable cars. No, they will likely never attain the status of “Standard of the World” as they had pre WWII. But you get the sense the engineers are truly working hard to build a competent car. You cannot knock them for trying.
Again-why? Why is GMC a core brand? GMC has no model unique to itself. You are buying a rebadged Chevy truck or SUV. That’s it. If any brand in GM’s portfolio was expendable, GMC was it. It is mind boggling that GM came back to Congress and identified GMC as one of its four core brands. Utter nonsense.
We reported this past fall that GM had put Hummer up for sale. There were rumors of interested buyers, but as of today, no sale has been made. Although gas prices have dropped, the economy remains in a recession. In a culture that wants to be green, Hummer is perceived as the antithesis of environmental friendliness. Hummer is the price GM paid for the assumption that our appetite for huge, gas-guzzling SUV’s would never fade.Ã‚Â
Saab, who made its fame building quirky, front-wheel drive turbo-charged sport sedans, holds the honor of the lowest selling GM division. GM bought Saab in the 1990’s, but never did the brand any favors. While its competition were falling over each other to improve their cars, the 9-3 and 9-5 cars soldiered on, year after year, unchanged. Attempts to expand the product line were weak and ill-conceived. Witness the Subaru Impreza WRX based 9-2X and the Chevy Trailblazer sold as the 9-7X. No one was fooled, and Saab’s competition had far better vehicles to sell.
Saab’s future in the US is very much in question. There are other models in the pipeline, but at this point, does anyone care enough to keep Saab here?Ã‚Â
Looking back to the 1950’s and 1960’s, it is impossible to think how GM got to where they are today. GM is, sadly, a victim of themselves. The idea used to be that your first new car was a Chevy. And you would work your way up over the course of your lifetime, finally reaching the zenith-Cadillac. But that business model is ancient, and no longer applies today. The US Congress accuses GM of the same-they are hopelessly out of date, and as a business, should be extinct if the principles of capitalism apply.
What we are seeing here is ego and arrogance. What GM proposes should have happened years ago. But it didn’t. Now we must wait and see if these changes can turn the tide, or if GM was simply too late.