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I heard on the news that GM is losing billions of dollars. Someone has to explain this to me. In order to recover from this they need to sell more cars. pretty simple idea. To sell more cars then need to come up with cars people want? in the case of the Solstice they found a winner and they can't (or won't) make enough to fill the need. maybe they should interview someone in 7th grade to run the company, they might have more business sense.
 

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Stuck On Stupid

Yesterday's NY Time's:
DETROIT (Reuters)

In an industry where 'product is king,' General Motors Corp. (GM.N) is in dire need of attractive new vehicles to rule the road, analysts say, mostly dismissing a move by the ailing auto giant to cut jobs and close plants to save billions of dollars a year.

``The overall product mix for 2006 is reflective of the short-term thinking of GM,'' Fleetham said. ``GM's overall offerings are more representative of the 1999 mindset than the needs of today. The consumer of 2006 has environmental concerns, is mindful of fuel economy and is more style-conscious.''

Warren Evans, a GM employee at the Oklahoma City plant since 1983, said he and many workers at the plant were skeptical of GM's decision to retool the plant several years ago. "When they put this new product in there, the SUV, I knew it wasn't going to work out," he said. "The market was already flooded with the SUVs.

"The engineers, to me, they're stuck on stupid. They never talk to us, the people on the line."
 

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I was thinking about making a thread talking about what GM cars you can think of that actually had/have STANDOUT styling, but this thread sort of fits the bill. I don't think we need to talk about the engineering design or the quality stuff, just pure styling, both inside and/or out. Like it or hate it, does the car have any true standout style? And for the sake of keeping things current, I'm not going to mention anything older than say about 5+ years.

Here's my short list (please forgive me if I forgot a division) of cars that imediately pop into my head, in my opinion:
Buick = Riviera
Cadillac = STS, CTS, the convertible (XTS?)
Chevrolet = Corvette, Camero
GMC = None
Hummer = H2, H3
Oldsmobile = Aurora
Pontiac = Solstice, Trans Am/Firebird, Grand Am, Aztek, Bonneville, Vibe
Saab = None
Saturn = Vue

By the way, if you want to flame me go ahead, I can take it. But it might be more possitive to just add you own opinions. :)
 

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mceb said:
Ain't as easy as it sounds.
:agree: And I'm tired of hearing about their styling. It's all of these writers that are stuck in the past. I think they're just pulling up info they had 10 years ago and changing the dates. And GM's "outdated styling as opposed to what comany with great styling? Nissan, Honda, Toyota? Bland, boring, me too designs. It's hard to tell one from the other. GM actually has some decent looking product int the pipeline. And daring designs carry great risks. When they pan out, it looks like genius. But when it fails, they look like they don't know what they're doing. Everyone likes to bring up the Aztek in these discussions, but most people fail to mention that it got a great reception when it was a concept vehicle. GM has problems, but styling isn't the problem. Oh, they have their share of uglies, but no more so than the Japanese competition that the media loves to rave about.
 

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GM has problems, but styling isn't the problem

Couldn't disagree with you more.Styling IS probably their top problem.Old folks and die hard Chevy etc will always buy GM product no matter what they put in the showrooms but let's face it most of that market is rapidly getting older.When I spoke with a younger Pontiac salesman on the lot the day the Solstice tour rolled in he said all of the dealership agrees they just don't have that many cars stlyed to atract a younger market that's current driving imports.
 

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Underdog64 said:
GM has problems, but styling isn't the problem

Couldn't disagree with you more.Styling IS probably their top problem.Old folks and die hard Chevy etc will always buy GM product no matter what they put in the showrooms but let's face it most of that market is rapidly getting older.When I spoke with a younger Pontiac salesman on the lot the day the Solstice tour rolled in he said all of the dealership agrees they just don't have that many cars stlyed to atract a younger market that's current driving imports.
Great way to stereotype. In the west a lot of oder people buy Japanese cars. If you check the markets, you will see that the domestic manufacturers stronghold is in middle America, and it cuts across age demographics.
So then, what company has this great styling? Certainly not the Japanese companies. Oh, yeah, I forgot, all those beautiful Sentras and Civics. Give me a break. They come out with "new" models and they look like the previous year's models. Those cars have no style whatsoever. It's hard to distinguish one brand from the other. And if GM's buyers are all older people, then they should be building market share because America is aging. Oh, and that Pontiac salesman you talked to, he'd better look out on his lot, because the G6 looks a lot like Japanese cars. And has he heard of a little car called Solstice
 

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Cheap

I think one of the biggest issues that no one seems to hit on is GM cars feeling and looking "cheap." I'm not talking about the quality of the parts, or the build of the parts/cars, but the fact that they feel and look cheap.

This is especially true of the interiors. It's usually loose, unrefined, bubbly styled, squishy feeling, shiny "vinyly" looking, and cheap. GM's leather is typically more like thick "pleather" than fine leather. Even flagship vehicles have cheap interiors. For example, I haven't gotten a chance to check out the newest Vette's, but the ones from 1997 to now had lousy cheap feeling interiors.

Now if you go disagreeing with me than you obviously have no clue what I'm talking about, so let me try to explain it another way. For example, there is a difference between the "way" a Delta Faucet feels compared with a cheaper brand. Same goes for Schlage door handles. These higher end brands have a solid, firm, precise feeling.

Go check out your Solstice (if you have it yet). See if your climate controls are like my wife's car. The two outside knobs turn very nice, and click smoothly into their setting, but the center one turns harder and squishes into it's settings.

This may not be a big deal to you, but it's exactly things like this where European and Japanese cars succeed and GM fails. If someone sits in a car and it looks and feels cheap, then they are going to look else where.
 

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Bonzo said:
Go check out your Solstice (if you have it yet). See if your climate controls are like my wife's car. The two outside knobs turn very nice, and click smoothly into their setting, but the center one turns harder and squishes into it's settings.

This may not be a big deal to you, but it's exactly things like this where European and Japanese cars succeed and GM fails. If someone sits in a car and it looks and feels cheap, then they are going to look else where.
Must be an issue with your car. Mine works and feels fine.

Yeah, that Japanese plastic is far superior.
 

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Editguy said:
Must be an issue with your car. Mine works and feels fine.

Yeah, that Japanese plastic is far superior.
You obviously have no clue what I'm talking about and that's fine. If it doesn't bother you, more power to ya. But many people CAN tell the difference, and it does matter.

1-1/2 years ago I really wanted to spend less money, get my GM discount, and buy an Equinox. Styling wise it was pretty cool, but the thing is so cheap it should embarrass GM. That thing is pure CRAP! So I went elsewhere.
 

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turbomangt said:
In order to recover from this they need to sell more cars. pretty simple idea.
Not really. They need to reduce their cost per car. If you loose money on every car you sell, selling more won't result in a profit.
 

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Bonzo's right. Educated consumers are sophisticated in their tastes and expect (demand) better performance for their money. I agree that GM has been stuck on stupid.

Management hedged their bets and lost. Unfortunately, middle class America is getting the screw big time, not only from GM but in all sectors.

This multi-step plan is their strategy to get out from under the negotiated agreements with the Unions over retirement health care.
 

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Bonzo said:
You obviously have no clue what I'm talking about and that's fine. If it doesn't bother you, more power to ya. But many people CAN tell the difference, and it does matter.

1-1/2 years ago I really wanted to spend less money, get my GM discount, and buy an Equinox. Styling wise it was pretty cool, but the thing is so cheap it should embarrass GM. That thing is pure CRAP! So I went elsewhere.
What is it that I have no clue about? The knob, or the plastics?

The Equinox is a cheap vehicle, and was meant to be a cheap vehicle. You should have been looking at Trailbalzers or Envoys. Both are excellent SUV's.
 

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solli4me said:
Bonzo's right. Educated consumers are sophisticated in their tastes and expect (demand) better performance for their money. I agree that GM has been stuck on stupid.

Management hedged their bets and lost. Unfortunately, middle class America is getting the screw big time, not only from GM but in all sectors.

This multi-step plan is their strategy to get out from under the negotiated agreements with the Unions over retirement health care.
So, the millions of us that buy GM vehciles are uneducated and unsophisticated? You do know that the Solstice is a GM vehicle? ;)
 

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You do realize that almost all cars sold in America are made with American parts by American workers. There are very few IMPORTS anymore. In fact, the only mid-sized sedan not made in America is the Ford Fusion. Even its platform partner the Mazda6 is made in America.

Honda and Toyota have better plastics because they pay for it. They all have access to the same Plastics companies. GM and Ford just never asked or were willing to pay for the good stuff. You get what you pay for.
 

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Editguy said:
What is it that I have no clue about? The knob, or the plastics?
What I mean when I say "feeling and looking cheap."

The Equinox is a cheap vehicle, and was meant to be a cheap vehicle. You should have been looking at Trailbalzers or Envoys. Both are excellent SUV's.
The Equinox was meant to be in expensive, but inexpensive does not have to mean "cheap" feeling. Don't confuse the two.

Trailblazers and Envoys may be excellent in things that matter to you, like ride, performance, and quality, but both have plenty of areas where they are cheap (I wonder if the new "GM does it yet again" Saab version is any better?). My boss has a Trailblazer and that interior is plenty cheap, and it definitely has the pleather leather I spoke of. I used to have a Tahoe, and that thing had plenty of cheap things too, along with the climate knob issue and the pleather leather. My friend just got rid of his high end Yukon Denali XL (Which by the way, his newer 2004 Denali was way worse than my old 1997 Tahoe when it came to cheap, which shows GM does digress) and got a 4+ liter BMW X5.

If you can't tell the difference between that high end X5 and a high end Yukon Denali when it comes to "cheap", then I say again, you have no clue what I'm talking about. It's not a bad thing, you just don't see or feel a noticable difference. :)

You are the Editguy, and you hate when people like me butcher the written word (I do my best though, except my spelling sucks, so please forgive me :) ). You notice it, and it's important to you. But you know, most people just don't give a crap. It's sad isn't it. Well I think it's sad that GM made a concious decision to say "it's good enough, people don't care," and make things that look and feel "cheap."
 

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Even GM knew the Equinox and Vue had cheap interiors. That's why they changed them for 2006. Ford, Honda, Toyota, Mazda, Hyundia, and Jeep all had better quality plastics inside their vehicles. The 2006 models are vastly improved. Thank you Bob Lutz.
 

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GM has many problems, but I am not sure styling is really one of them (as a whole). Their niche vehicles all generally have good styling (Solstice, Sky, Corvette, HHR, SSR, XLR). They reinvigorated all of Cadillac with their art and science design theme. The CTS, STS, and SRX have all been hits. Their mainstream cars are not outrageously styled, but that is generally what is wanted in the segment. The new Impala and Monte Carlo are good examples. The Impala is a clean design that is not too over the top in any one way, but still is unique enough to be recognized as an Impala (no confusing it for a Camry). Monte Carlo basically share the front end, but has the fender flares and rear end design to be recognized as a M-C. The Pontiacs have also been generally well received in styling lately. G6 has been gaining traction, and the coupe looks great in ¾ rear view. Some think it is too much like a Solara, but I bet they never saw one in person. In person, it’s sleek lines makes the Solara look like a flabby overstuffed pillow.

No, styling really isn’t the problem.

Besides, getting too far from mainstream with styling can be extremely risky, and even if accepted it is often a short term fix. For every styling hit, there are probably 5 misses. Those misses, if big enough, can cost a company a LOT. Just look at the Aztek. GM went out on a limb, failed, and paid dearly. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to take many of those risks on mainstream cars. Especially since the buyers of most of your mainstream cars just want a tidy looking design that doesn’t offend. (Hence the reason Camry and Accords sell so well. Family sedan buyers don’t necessarily value styling as a top priority). Usually, cars that are big hits from styling have short shelf lives too. Look at the New Beetle, PT Cruiser (even the Jeep Liberty). They were hot for a year or two, and are now back to normal sales paces and prices. Hot at the moment styling always becomes stale when the next flavor of the month comes out.

In other words, there are other factors that are far more important to selling bread and butter cars than styling. It is here where GM has lacked.

Lets look at the top sellers Camry and Accord. What they really offer people is high perceived value as a total package. I want to stress “perceived” too, since many of these qualities are assumed by buyers based on reputation, past experience, etc. Also, everyone ranks their important qualities different. Hence the reason there is so many variations and choices. But essentially, people perceive these cars to offer superior levels of engineering, refinement, build quality, and long term reliability. GM on the other hand, is perceived to have inferior levels of engineering, refinement, build quality, and long term reliability.

Now I know, some will argue that GM is far better in the regard these days. However, what is important at the moment is that GM is thought to be inferior in this regard by an ever increasing number of people. There are reasons why, and GM (and Ford too) have earned this reputation. They have gone through periods of offering unreliable vehicles (early 90’s especially for GM). They have had some very substandard interiors (check out the ’03 Ion sedans, forget the gauge location, the interior was still junk. They have made improvements since). Their engines by and large have more mechanical noise to them, and are more course. Their transmissions are still largely 4 speeds, when people feel 5+ is becoming the standard making them look “behind the times” Same for their reliance on pushrod engines vs OHC engines. They have long been infamous for build quality problems. Improperly fitting body panels, large gaps in panels, poor fitting interior pieces, none drive train related pieces that wear out or fail prematurely.

This has happened for so long, it has convinced people that GM simply has a chronic problem of over promising and under delivering, where as many other companies, especially Toyota and Honda, are seen as doing far better jobs at delivering on these counts.

This is where GM must improve. In many ways, they already have. Anybody who thinks GM interiors are still junk should go sit in a 2006 Impala sedan. It is far, FAR better. Very nice and stylish, good materials, etc. Some of their newer cars (G6, Cobalt, Impala) are getting far better in build quality, with close, tight, and even body gaps. GM’s newest pushrod V6 engines (3.5L, 3.9L) are quieter and more refined then past motors. A 6 speed auto is slowly making it’s way into the lineup. Warranty claims are down suggesting far better reliability.

But, they still are not really class leading cars. They are now in the hunt (just read the magazines, they have given recent GM vehicles some favorable reviews). It is a good step.

But they need to keep it up, and they need to be consistent. To do that, these cars must hold up over time, and next years, and the year after that. GM must get every aspect of their cars up to the expected levels of quality, design, and engineering of the class leaders in the industry and keep it there. Only then will the rebates be able to disappear and ghet people to come back to them. It will take time too, because people who are very skeptical will need convincing. Even then, I bet most won’t come back unless their new favorite brand does something to push them away.

In that veign, I think GM needs class leading interiors. Class leading powertrains, which probably means a new family of DOHC engines cheaper to produce than the Caddy high feature V6, but with good levels of power, refinement, smoothness, and fuel efficiency. The 6 speed auto is already on the way. Then, they have to be willing to put the money into continual improvements to keep these areas all class leading. If they do this, their cars could be styled just as boring as a Camry or Accord, and people will buy them at or near MSRP in droves.

Everything else is just a band-aid, and GM can no longer try to heal itself with just band aids.
 
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