Pontiac Solstice Forum banner

1 - 10 of 10 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,570 Posts
Good artical. I think just about everyone knows what to do with GM except GM. But we got to remember, GM's not really in the car business, it's in the please-the-fickle-shareholder business. GM's management is no doubt made up of people biding time till retirement, their next job or too busy defending their little fifedom to really be serious about challenging the imports. It's a corporate teet to suck on till it's dry.

Bob Lutz is a good start, but without support, he too is just killing time till his next job. Everyone at that company has to sit down and say to themselves, "What kind of car do I want to drive?". Not what kind of car the focus groups want, or what kind of car the market research people say, or even what kind of cars are selling over at the imports. Simply, "What kind of car do I want to drive?", and then build it. When they do that, they'll be in the car business.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
554 Posts
:agree They seem more interested in cutting to the bone to make money rather than building cars with some vision to garner more market share
 

·
Mod Emeritus
Joined
·
7,468 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I think the problem with GM isn’t the number of divisions, but how it goes about differentiating them. Whats the real difference between a Chevy, Pontiac, or Buick? Its certainly not content since they basically overlap each other in regards to engines, options, etc. They tune their ride a little differently, give some unique little details, but essentially there is not much of a difference.

I think this is because GM is still trying to compete against itself as it did 25 years ago when it had a larger market share. How to attract a Chevy buyer to Buick? Convince him the Buick is a “premium” car. What’s the real difference? A slightly softer suspension and some fake wood grain on the dash. How to sell a Pontiac? Tell someone it is “Sporty.” What makes it such? Plastic side cladding, nicer wheels, and more cockpit oriented interiors. Yet, they are all basically the same cars.

When a consumer thinks of Premium, they think nicer quality leather, nicer engines, smooth ride that also handles well, maybe some chrome or brushed aluminum interior accents, bigger tires and wheels, etc. When they think of sporty, they think of cars that are quick, with razor sharp handling and reflexes. Buick and Pontiac are rarely either of these, and that is a problem.

When their competition was Chevy, telling someone Buick was premium with a couple hunks of chrome and a nifty marketing campaign worked. (The divisions also had their own engines and other components in those days too). These days, the competition is Lexus, Acura, Audi, etc and compared to them, Buick’s tarted up Chevy’s don’t cut it. No Buick can match the handling and response of an Acura, the quality of materials and workmanship of a Lexus, or the power train beauty of Audi.

On the Pontiac side of it, a Grand Prix GTP makes for a nice Pontiac, and it is fairly quick for a Sedan. In fact, I think its one of GM’s better products. Still, it has trouble when compared to the Nissan Altima and Maxima, Honda Accord V6, or other simlar sporty cars. It can hold its own in a straight line, but it has some difficiencies compared to others. Move down to the Grand Am, and there are a host of other sporty compact sedans that trounce it in handling and acceleration. Interiors are still a problem too.

I think the comment about bean counters is right on! Instead of throwing so much money into marketing their cars to convince people they are something that they really are not (since its not fooling anyone anymore), its time for GM to throw the money at turning those cars into the cars they are pretending to be. Throw the R&D money into the Epsilon platform, and turn it into a performance standout. Throw the money into Buick, and get it some more modern engines, and better interior appointments. If GM builds a fantastic car that truly beats the competition in its market segment, they won’t have to advertise the heck out of it. As Kevin Cosner said in Field of Dreams, “If you build it, they will come!.”
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
535 Posts
Once again John, I can't agree with your statements more. :yesnod

Too many repackagings of the same product. *You can put a Versace dress on me, but I'd still be one ugly woman!*

As far as ad dollars, I agree as well. I have much greater memory of GM commercials as compared to import ones (goofy Mitsu excluded) but it does not make me more inclined to purchase one. Though that may be our enthusiast side again.

As far as interiors, I am in the minority I suppose. I have never much cared for import interiors. I hate colored interiors / plastics other than tan/black/grey. I don't like the Honda "sitting at a picnic table with gage pod" feeling. I like my dash to carry across the width of the car at the same height as where the window meets. I also find in general that GM proportions are more to my liking. By that I mean, the range of tilt on the steering wheel, the pedal to steering wheel distance, to the height of the center arm rest where my hand falls easily at the shifter.
 

·
Mod Emeritus
Joined
·
7,468 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I generally don’t care to much what the interior looks like. Certain things can catch my eye like fancy gauges or whatever, but I cannot think of one car interior that has made me want that car. I could probably live with any interior in any car, if I otherwise liked the car. Heck, my daily driver is a Jeep Wrangler, and if you have seen the inside of one you will know it is not where Chrysler spent its development money!

Unfortunately, interiors seem to be a big sticking point for GM with potential consumers. Some of their plastics don’t look as nice, or are not as soft, or whatever else the complaint is. They really aren’t complaint about function, but appearance. Some of their new cars are better (G6 comes to mind) but its still not perceived to be as nice as an import. Since it’s a big deal to many buyers, it is an area that hurts GM in attracting people back to GM.

I think GM’s interiors are fine, and I wouldn’t give it a second thought if I was shopping. Unfortunately, more people are giving it some thought. It still may not be a make it or break it item for most consumers, but quantitatively with other perceived problems it does hurt GM.

The most maddening thing IMO is that they can do better. This isn’t Subaru selling a few hundred thousand cars a year with a limited R&D budget, its General Motors. They can do better and they should. Fortunately, I think their most recent cars show that they are starting to realize that and are beginning to do better.
 

·
Senior Member
Joined
·
5,600 Posts
I mean, why does every GM division have to offer an SUV. Heck, they are probably late to the party anyway. I hear station wagons (ie "crossover" vehicles") are making a comeback. How long are SUV's going to continue to hold their market share when people get back into a car and remember how much easier it is to park, has a place to leave muddy boots in the trunk and gets better fuel economy while being faster and better handling. Not saying their aren't folks that will always own a pickup or a "Blazer". But are SUV's really here to stay and does Cadillac really have to offer one?
 

·
Mod Emeritus
Joined
·
7,468 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I disagree a little about the SUV's... to a point. SUV's are hot and trucks now outsell cars, so it probably is important to be diversified enough that most divisions have one. They have also essentially been what has saved GM so far. They make big profits on SUV's, and sell a lot of them. GM would be bankrupt without them. So for the immediate time period they are very important.

Cadillac is an ideal place to sell SUV's too. Premium or luxury SUV's have been selling very well, and the Escalade has become a pop star and rap star hit, which gives it extra brand recognition. They make a fortune on those things! Their other SUV is also a crossover, the SVX based on the Sigma car platform (CTS, STS, sedans). That one has also been a popular SUV.

Now, I think they have outdone themselves with the Trailblazer platform. They offer this SUV under 5 brands, starting this summer. This includes Chevy, GMC, Buick, Saab, Isuzu, and you could also toss in the defunct Olds Bravada.

They have other crossovers that have been successful and have received some praise too. The Buick Rondezvous has been a good seller, and may have kept Buick afloat recently. Unfortunately its platform-mate, the Aztek, has not been as successful. GM's Theta platform has also produced some good smaller SUV's. To date the Saturn Vue and Chevy Equinox. These two are truly different. The Saturn is plastic, uses a Honda powerplant, and is not as big. The Equinox is bigger, uses a GM powerplant (3400 China sourced V6) and has truly distinct styling. There is also going to be a Pontiac version, the Torrent, which was introduced this week in LA. Equinox has been selling very well too.

Finally, they may have more SUV success for GM. On the crossover fronts in the Malibu Maxx, which is closer to station wagon than SUV, and the HHR (also intro'd in LA) which is more crossover-like. Saturn and Buick are scheduled for a new crossover as well in a year or two, and Saab will get a version of Subaru's new crossover (the B9X). Aside from the trailblazer clones, GM seems to have done a decent job of differentiating their SUV's, and having a good cross section of vehicles to meet current and near term market demands.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,570 Posts
Fformula88 said:
Now, I think they have outdone themselves with the Trailblazer platform. They offer this SUV under 5 brands, starting this summer. This includes Chevy, GMC, Buick, Saab, Isuzu, and you could also toss in the defunct Olds Bravada.
I think they also use this platform for the SSR and the up coming Hummer H3 don't they? Have to agree with both you and Jimbo on the SUV issue, I totaly simpathise with Jimbo, I was completely bummed out when brands like Caddilac and Lincoln had to start selling trucks. Just seems very beneth them and selling to the lowest common denominator, but as Ff88 points out, that's the reality.

They need those things right now, they do sell well and make up for the losses on the losey car offerings they have now. Eventually America will rediscover the car, given good design, and hopefully then they can start to phase the trucks out of the luxury car brands and back to the truck brands where IMO they belong. I'm hoping for the emergence of the sport wagon in American car design. It's a regular staple in Europe and I think it could be here too. A fun to drive car with utility. :thumbs
 

·
Mod Emeritus
Joined
·
7,468 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
AeroDave said:
I think they also use this platform for the SSR and the up coming Hummer H3 don't they?
Your right, and wrong. The SSR is on the Trailblazer platform, but the H3 is not. The H3 is based on the new Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon pickup truck platform, and will share their I-5 engine.

The SSR is an example of how to do platform sharing right too! Use the same underpinnings, but create a different vehicle up top. The rest of that platform are badge engineered SUV’s. They look the same, ride the same, and aside from a couple of them offering some different features (GMC’s convertible bed, Buick’s AWD) they are essentially the same thing.
 
1 - 10 of 10 Posts
Top