Thursday, December 18, 2008

Changing General Motors

I am having a difficult time understanding the proposals General Motors is considering to ensure its future viability as America's leading auto manufacturer.  Right now, GM has the following brands available in the US:  Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, HUMMER, Pontiac, Saturn, and Saab.  The corporation is teetering on the brink of collapse and needs government assistance to survive.  The proposal put forth by the corporate "big wigs" includes streamlining operations through a reduction of brands.

That's a good idea.  What I question are the brands they want to cut.  Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner presented a plan that focuses on Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC.  Saturn and Saab would be sold.  GM has been looking to sell HUMMER for months, but who wants to buy a division of overpriced gas guzzlers in this economy? All things considered, I think the focus is misdirected.  I think GM should focus on Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, Pontiac, and HUMMER.

Chevrolet is GM's bread and butter brand.  There is a model to meet every price point and every need within Chevy.  But, dump the Aveo and replace with the Saturn Astra.

Cadillac offers executive style luxury fit for the President of the United States, with nice flair appealing to an active, middle aged demographic.  Caddy can take in the Saturn Sky and offer it as a more affordable roadster.  Think Mercedes-Benz SL and SLK.  The GMC Acadia/Saturn Outlook could become the SRX, putting Caddy's crossover offering on the same platform as the Chevy Traverse and Buick Enclave.

Buick offers luxury with less flair, great for the older demographic.  But, they need to bring back the classic Century, Regal, and Park Avenue nameplates.  The Saturn Aura could become the Century.

Pontiac should be the niche sports car division that GM Vice Chairman for Global Product Development Bob Lutz envisions.  The G8 is "Gr8!"  So is the Solstice.  The G5 is an unnecessary Chevy Cobalt clone.  Dump it.  The G6 is a decent car, but doesn't fit the Pontiac mold.  The upcoming G3 really doesn't fit the mold.  Buick-Pontiac-GMC vice president Susan Docherty calls the G3 a short-term bridge product.  I call it a tremendous waste of resources.  It's not attractive and it's not sporty.  The Torrent can go to HUMMER as its entry-level offering.  

GM won't be able to sell HUMMER so the iconic brand should replace GMC as the niche truck division, minus the luxury vehicle marketing.  Let's face it-- who spends that kind of money to possibly destroy their vehicle in the back woods?  Lower the price points, develop the Hx concept as a Jeep Wrangler competitor and take in the Pontiac Torrent as the entry-level HUMMER.

With Saturn models spread to other divisions, GM's "new kind of car company" which became just another kind of car company, would become a former car company.  

Saab should just go away.  The models are unattractive and don't sell well anyway.  Maybe someone in Sweden can buy it back.

Consider these model recommendations:

Astra (from Saturn)

Escalade ESV
Escalade EXT
ZLR (from Saturn Sky)

Century (from Saturn Aura)
Regal (current Lacrosse)
Park Avenue (current Lucerne)


H2 (special order only)
H4 (based on Hx concept)
H5 (from Pontiac Torrent)

This would reduce the number of GM nameplates to 32 from 48, spread across five brands with much less duplication.  A big wrinkle will develop over what to do about current Saturn dealers.  I don't have a suggestion for that one.

Oh, Good Evening!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Simpson Sentenced

I’m not criticizing anyone’s opinion, but comments from various people on television, radio and elsewhere have me wondering why some folks want to feel “sorry” for people who clearly
do stupid, criminal things and expect that those individuals should not face
justice for those mistakes?  I’ve heard several people call the O. J. Simpson sentence, “excessive.” But, the judge-- while
known for tough sentences-- was only following Nevada law which requires a
mandatory minimum 15-year sentence for two of the charges for which Simpson was
convicted. Is the sentence excessive for the crime or is it just excessive because it applies to OJ Simpson?

I've also heard people say O. J. couldn't get a fair trial anywhere in America based on what happened in his 1994 double murder trial in which he was accused of butchering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.  Certainly, everyone in America knows who O. J. is and has an opinion about the trial 14 years ago, but what was unfair about this most recent armed robbery and kidnapping trial?  It’s hard to think he was treated unfairly this time around when so much of the evidence against him included recordings of his voice planning the “raid”-- for lack
of a better word-- and images of him and his co-defendants carrying out those plans.  Members of the jury have said they felt prosecutors had a weak case until the incriminating audio and video tapes were presented.  The recordings compelled the jurors to convict, according to those who spoke with reporters.  So, what was so unfair?

I would appear that O. J. Simpson got what he had coming to him based on the crime committed.

Oh, Good Evening!