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Old 04-26-2009, 09:51 AM   #29
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This is a systemic problem prevalent throughout the US corporate world.

Short term greed, ignorance and a holier than thou attitude has lead to the fall of many once great and innovative American companies.

Xerox
Westinghouse

Kodak
Polaroid
RCA
Magnavox
Fisher


The list goes on and on.


I see a frightening pattern here
I would submit we can predict another to your list. With corrosion issues and a no pun intended tarnished reputation, our friends at Airstream indeed qualify for all of the above and more.
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:09 AM   #30
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It is a sad, sad affair. I grew up in a GM family. Both Grandpas retired from GM, dad retired from GM and now my dad is worried about losing his pension. He just lost his health insurance. What's next?

I'm an owner of a Pontiac Vibe (which is basically a Toyota Matrix), but have always liked the Pontiac line, except for Aztec.

I agree that GM had/has too many product lines and needs to go back to the basics.

I'm up visiting my family in Lapeer, MI (next to Flint) and its also sad to see the Michigan auto industry going to the waist side. This 9 week layoff this summer might help, but only time will tell.
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Old 04-26-2009, 12:24 PM   #31
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As a car guy... I've been following the drama in Detroit and wondering what will become of the car company I grew up with... GM.

Take a gander at this article about restructing ideas and how brands could be use to aid or hinder the transitions.

The Big Money: Good GM/bad GM - Careers- msnbc.com

I would love for GM to slim down, stop trying to be something for everyone and focus on products lines that can complete with the imports.
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Old 04-26-2009, 03:52 PM   #32
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The two worst quality cars I ever owned were both by Toyota. The third worst was a Nissan. Cheap plastic parts that easily broke.
I'm not claiming that US cars are better. But, it was not quality that broke the bank. You cannot compete in the race when you carry an anchor around your neck that the other guy does not.
It will all sort out with time. The ultimate winners will likely be startups. Someone who comes up with a 300 mile per replenishment vehicle , performing at lower than current energy cost, that you can carry home a heavy load from Lowes in. I have no interest in being green if it means a teeney vehicle, or, exorbitant energy costs to haul a AS cross country.

Tom
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Old 04-26-2009, 04:30 PM   #33
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In my earlier years, I bought a brand new 66 GTO, as I remember it was just over $5K, out the door! Those were the days of cheap gas, when cruising on the weekend was a fun time out here in sunny California!

I traded in my early 60's Corvair Spyder (turbo) when I bought the GTO...wanted some 'off the line' performance for a change!

Along about 69, I bought a 68 Ford GT500KR Shelby Mustang at a dealer's auto auction - it was a ragtop, lime green, was a Ford rep's car and had only 1,700 miles on it - paid only $3K for that 'like new' machine, and it's pretty much been mostly Ford's in our garage since then, with a few GM exception's along the way...

Sure wish we'd kept the GT500KR...sadly we didn't, and I see some of these same models going for OVER $300K at the Barrett-Jackson auctions!!!!

We ran into Carol Shelby one year up at Tahoe when he still owned the Ford dealership and a motel there - we stayed at his motel and were driving the 500KR, got some pics with him and the car - wish I'd had him sign the dash or something - but who knew how big these cars would become!

The 60's were a fun era to be young and into cars out here in California! The popular cars had their own personality, and could be identified at a quick glance...not as today, when so many models look like so many others!

Where's my time machine...I want to go back and enjoy em' again!
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Old 04-26-2009, 04:43 PM   #34
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I never understood the many lines in GM, why not streamline? Who buys a Buick anymore?? Why GMC when Chevy trucks are the same? Saturn is a good line but why not name them Chevy? Hummers are novelties, I really never thought they were long for the world except in the military, and why not produce one under the chevy name?
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Old 04-26-2009, 06:03 PM   #35
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Crystal ball sez:

GM:
Saab will have a new owner before 1 July. Speculation includes a Norwegian consortium including Th!nk electric, Koenigsberg, and a couple of financial organizations. It's too bad GM never really figured out what to do with Saab, but that's a different topic.

Opel/Vauxhall (GM's other European elements) will have a minority stake owned by a capital investment firm. Possibly an Asian one, but possibly not.

Saturn has a prospective "buyer" who will use the dealerships to distribute product sourced elsewhere. I do not know if this will be China, or Peugeot/Citroen, but either seem possible.

GM's US product will mirror Ford's: Chevy, Buick, Caddy. If GMC survives, it will be because of franchise agreements, I think, with the former Pontiac/Buick/Caddy/GMC dealers which likely required a true "truck" component.

I think this is the right mix for GM. Buicks were down a lesser percentage than the auto market as a whole last year (26% vs 33-35%), and the Enclave seems to be the best received of the Lambda platform. Also, I understand that Buick made money for GM last year. Further, the 2010 LaCrosse appears to be derived from the 2009 European Car of the Year, the Opel Insignia. It (in Buick guise) has been getting good reviews on the car show circuit and automotive press so far. I think there was room for either Buick or Oldsmobile, but not really Pontiac, which apparently lost money each of the last couple of years. Personally, I could not imagine owning a Caddy, but a Buick ... much less baggage. I think "Century" and I go "Umm, maybe not," but if you start saying GNX or Grand National, now you have my complete attention. Actually, the V8 LaCrosse seems to be better done than its Chevrolet and Pontiac cousins. That too, is another story.

The GM of 18 months from now will be a powerhouse I think. Getting there will be painful to watch.

Chrysler, OTOH, I am less certain about. Fiat seems pretty intent on getting trucks, minivans, and Jeeps, and I think Sergio M. would rather acquire these through an orderly CH 11 arrangement than through a Ch 7 furball.

As far as the other... Corporations have a 3-5 year view and this probably isn't sufficient. One of government's valid roles is to guard against the excesses of unrestrained capitalism: Company Stores, Child Labor, building in flood plains, usurious interest rates, etc. I'm of the opinion that a coherent energy policy would have averted most of the recent chaos in the US auto market, much as responsible oversight would have averted the financial turmoil, but that is my opinion only and YMMV. [edit: the energy policy thing seems to be important to Ford and GM CEO's too, so maybe I'm not all alone.]

The Rick Wagonner "dismissal" was, I think, much misrepresented. The corporation borrowed money and agreed to provide a viable plan. They presented a plan which assumed an increasing market share (20% vs realistic 18-19%, GM's 2008 share was 19.6% and dropping, removal of Saturn, Hummer, and Saab brings them to 18%. How they intended to get to 20% is a complete mystery) of a much larger than expected market (GM forecast 12M vs virtually everyone else forecasting 10-11M) with increased profitability on less profitable vehicles (GM forecast 30% on a market skewing toward cars. Their margin has been about 30% on a market skewed toward more profitable trucks). Treasury saw these as hopelessly optimistic and could have called in the note there and then - a private company might have. The CEO took the "F" and Fritz is now running the show. This has promise, and the removal of Pontiac is key.

As Bob Lutz said (paraphrased): "We need fewer brands and we need to market the poo out of those."
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Old 04-26-2009, 07:56 PM   #36
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Nostalgia

I don't know what's going to happen to GM and I hope they survive, but who knows?

GM had the styling and quality in the '50's. They had 50% of the market. They got fat and happy and ossified. When they brought out the Saturn in the '90's, they made everyone know it was going to be totally independent and different. It succeeded quickly, so what did GM do? In a few years they brought it back into the fold of ossified executive bad decisions and as of late, they are Opels. Were they jealous of the child they had created because it had a better reputation than the rest of GM? These execs at GM are overgrown children resisting change and whining when people won't buy their cars. Not every car and truck they've made has been bad and some people have good ones and good for them. Bob Cross loves his Suburbans and he's nobody's fool, so I know you can get a good GM vehicle. The GM cars of the '70's and '80's were so bad, GM's reputation was destroyed. You don't lose market dominance by accident.

Back to nostalgia.

I went looking for the '54 Pontiac Catalina, probably a Star Chief with the longer trunk, and didn't find any 4 door hardtop convertibles, so that part is teenage memory issues. A couple of years ago I saw a '49 fast back Pontiac and it didn't look that much like my memory, so we fantasize.

Here's some '54 Catalinas. It apparently was the name for the 2 door hardtop convertibles. Not the same color, and not three tone, but what do I know? Those early '50's Pontiacs were good cars, though people remember the Chevy's. Now I want one, but my memories are probably better than the real thing.

Gene
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Old 04-26-2009, 08:47 PM   #37
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I had a 55 chevrolet with a punched out 283- 301 cubes, ran Hilborne FI, 3 speed, 4:56 posi, Mickey Thompson 8" cheater slicks, 90-10 shocks , back in 68. I routinely would wax the goats with trips and 4 speeds.

As far as I'm concerned pontiac died 40 some odd years ago, finally getting around to the burial.
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Old 04-26-2009, 09:54 PM   #38
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Wouldn't you rather have a Buick?

I had to respond to the post about why anyone would buy a Buick... I bought one two years ago, and have 21K miles on it without a problem, and 3 synthetic oil changes and two tire rotations to show for maintenance..

For the record, it is a Lucerne CXL, with leather and V6, gets 21 mpg, is quiet, handles well, has every possible electronic gizmo except Nav system, and cost $26K in 2007. I traded in a Mercedes S420 that ran up $14,000 in maintenance costs in the prior six years, and got 16 mpg on premium fuel, and was noisier.. The Mercedes was facing another $6K in repairs (A/C and Ignition harness) when I traded it..

Why a Lucerne? I looked at Lexus, Toyota Avalon (Lexus clone), Ford 500/Taurus and Chrysler 300, since we actually carry passengers in the rear seat and golf clubs and luggage in the trunk. The Buick has room in the back seat for people and their legs. The Buick is quieter, offered better or comparable mileage, had a bigger trunk and has consistently shown higher (J.D. Power) quality than any other US make. The Lucerne's come down the same assembly line in Detroit as the Cadillac DTS, and share a whole bunch of parts, for about $10K less.

FWIW, in China Buick is a legitimate luxury brand, and anyone thinking of an Accord, Altima or Camry (or their higher priced cousins) ought to at least drive one before dumping on them...

As for GM's higher "labor costs", post-bankruptcy those will become taxpayer costs, through PBGC and Medicare/Medicaid. GM supports tens of thousands of retirees every month.. The Hyundai plant in Alabama does not support a single retiree.. The math isn't so difficult...
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:21 AM   #39
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CrawfordGene said:
"US cars have been largely behind the times for decades, living on past glory. The executives at these companies have been delusional and the people who actually build the vehicles are victims of bad executive judgment."

Perception vs. reality is one of the major problems that has caused problems for US car manufacturers in the past five years. The tide turned in the seventies when Detroit turned out crap and the gas "crisis" pushed buyers to Hondas and Toyotas. However, Buick topped Toyota in the JD Powers quality assurance program this year and Lincoln and Cadillac are right in there with Lexis and MB. Yet, the perception remains that Detroit doesn't know how to build quality cars and buyers flock to Honda and Toyota dealers with closed minds and open wallets.

If you think Detroit CEO's were delusional, wait until we get a hedge fund manager who's under SEC investigation calling the shots!
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:43 AM   #40
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As for GM's higher "labor costs", post-bankruptcy those will become taxpayer costs, through PBGC and Medicare/Medicaid. GM supports tens of thousands of retirees every month.. The Hyundai plant in Alabama does not support a single retiree.. The math isn't so difficult...
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Perception vs. reality is one of the major problems that has caused problems for US car manufacturers in the past five years. The tide turned in the seventies when Detroit turned out crap and the gas "crisis" pushed buyers to Hondas and Toyotas. However, Buick topped Toyota in the JD Powers quality assurance program this year and Lincoln and Cadillac are right in there with Lexis and MB. Yet, the perception remains that Detroit doesn't know how to build quality cars and buyers flock to Honda and Toyota dealers with closed minds and open wallets.

If you think Detroit CEO's were delusional, wait until we get a hedge fund manager who's under SEC investigation calling the shots!
I couldn't agree more with these two posts.

I have 3 GMs in the stable right now. 2 1996 Impala SSs and one 2004 3/4 ton Suburban.

The 96s are pretty good, not great, but hey they are not luxo yachts, they are mean machines. The 04 Burb has been great. About 20k of what is categorized as serve service since most of it's work is 4x4 in winter or hauling the 3+ton tralier around. I had the hitch issue and some corrosion on the rims, but GM took care of all of it in a day and I was back on the road. Mechanically and fit and finsh, I would also agree this truck stands head and shoulders above the 1985 Suburban we had years ago.

Ameneites within the 04 are comparable to that of a Caddy. Been in the Escalade and it's basically got a bit nicer trim, but the underpinnings are the same.

All in all, I would not hesitate to pickup another domestic vehicle made by etiher GM or Ford...but I'd only buy Ford if GM was gone.

The thing I don't get is why folks are allowing the gov to put hundreds of billions to the banks and not hold their feet anywhere near as close to the fire as they are with the auto industry. Moreover, why is it that folks get all bent out of shape about even 50 billion going to the domestic automakers when the amount in bankruptcy, benefits, and unemployment would dwarf anything anyone has talked about in terms of dollars going in on the front end for support now rather than later?

Say GM folds up shop, guess what happens to the bulk of the parts supply? It dries up short term, but enough to put a hell of a dent in the economy and the lack of parts and such would not be limited to just GM, nearly everyone uses Delphi and other parts tagged by GM.
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Old 04-27-2009, 09:55 AM   #41
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Someone pointed out "why so many GM brands"... the arcticle that I referenced in post #31 had the first paragraph that I've seen that explained it. Snippet below:

"Back when GM ruled the world, the idea was that you bought a Chevy, then you moved up to a Pontiac, then an Oldsmobile, then a Buick, and finally you arrived at the pinnacle of the GM brand ladder, lordly Cadillac. Not long after, you were measured for a pine box. It was cradle-to-grave branding of the most ambitious sort."

That explained why my grandparents were very pround to own a buick and finally a cadillac. The branding must have been in the water after the great depression.
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Old 04-27-2009, 10:11 AM   #42
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Someone pointed out "why so many GM brands"... the arcticle that I referenced in post #31 had the first paragraph that I've seen that explained it. Snippet below:

"Back when GM ruled the world, the idea was that you bought a Chevy, then you moved up to a Pontiac, then an Oldsmobile, then a Buick, and finally you arrived at the pinnacle of the GM brand ladder, lordly Cadillac. Not long after, you were measured for a pine box. It was cradle-to-grave branding of the most ambitious sort."

That explained why my grandparents were very pround to own a buick and finally a cadillac. The branding must have been in the water after the great depression.
Bottom line avarice.

At one time there 100's of automobile manufacturers. Mostly coming from the buggy and carriage production lines. As horses vanished from the street, someone had to come along and provide transportation.

A growing company eyed other manufacturers that were doing well, but probably not financially stable.

Oakland was a wonderful car. General Motors bought them, and thus we had the Pontiac.

Also we are a nation of varied economic brackets. So make a car for those who can afford the make and model.

You may question the 1,000,001 models, options and colors. The auto market is very large. The problem with all American automobile manufacturers, they woke up too late as to what the auto buyer wanted, and that includes quality, design and reliability.

When you loose market share it is hard to compete. You can't raise your prices, and profit margin and hope to be there hereafter.
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