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Dave@Moon

Saving GM

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CNBC tonight aired a new documentary called Saving General Motors. It's a one hour piece on GM's current situation and it's recent & coming efforts to correct it, done with GM's full cooperation. Rick Wagoner and Bob Lutz are interviewed continuously through the show.

<span style="text-decoration: underline">Anybody remotely interested in cars should watch it.</span> It was on a 9:00 PM this evening (EDT) and will be on again later tonight at 1:00 AM (EDT). <span style="font-style: italic"><span style="font-weight: bold"><span style="text-decoration: underline">Tivo/tape it!</span></span></span> Hopefully they'll also put it up for viewing on the CNBC web site.. Presently they only have a few 1-2 minute teasers posted on their web site that are viewable.

Despite the less than neutral source material (this was effectively a GM production), it's remarkably frank about GM's plight and position. It also documents some pretty impressive efforts on the part of the company to change.

One thing that struck me, however, was what wasn't said. After a while I kept an informal count in my head of how often each GM "Brand" was mentioned. Chevy and Cadillac were mentioned many dozens of times. Buick was mentioned slightly less, still in the dozens, but almost exclusively in reference to China. One division was mentioned the same # of times as Oldsmobile (twice), and that was Pontiac (once in the intro and once when the Pontiac G6 was mentioned as one of the products of a plant where a bought-out interviewed worker worked). Hummer was shown once, negatively of course, but never mentioned. GMC was never seen or even mentioned one time in the entire show. Neither was Saturn or Saab.

Since GM was a big part of this production, I think what wasn't said may be as important as what was.

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BTW, about 1/4 of the show was taped inside the GM Heritage collection. Bob Lutz using a 1959 Cadillac to explain what's missing from today's cars is <span style="text-decoration: underline">not</span> to be missed! cool.gif

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I missed the beginning but caught the part on the new Camaro. I have been in the heritage collection. Wonderful. I teared up. I will admit it!

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A very good show with some frank discussions.

I hope they can turn it around, sounds like they are on the right path, hope they can get it done in time.

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Checking the CNBC web site there's one more viewing listed:

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> CNBC's "Saving General Motors" will re-air on Sunday, August 10th at 10PM ET.

</div></div>

This will likely be the last chance to see it.

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did they mention dexcool antifreeze or the fact that the poorly designed "plastic /rubber" intake gaskets have made

gm cars ticking time bombs..better to buy any other make than a 4-10 year old gm car...

yes I drive a pontiac, always have. makes me sad to see what is happening, like a cancer patient you just cant help....

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: jeff b (zeff 40)</div><div class="ubbcode-body">did they mention dexcool antifreeze or the fact that the poorly designed "plastic /rubber" intake gaskets have made

gm cars ticking time bombs..better to buy any other make than a 4-10 year old gm car... </div></div>

The very first thing that was addressed in the show was vehicle quality. If you look at the teaser videos I linked you can see part of that. A large part of the quality discussion was done in the form of an interview with <span style="font-style: italic">Consumer Reports</span> head of car testing (who's shown putting a Cadillac CTS through some very unCadillac-like drift testing).

He testifys as to the massive improvement in GM quality in the latest models, flatly stating there's lttle or no difference with Honda/Toyota/etc. But he is careful to qualify that with the caution that 5-10 year data is not available for any of these models yet and that this is at least as important as anything you find out by testing new models. I think he may have had the ultimate durability of components like you mentioned in mind.

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GM drove away most of their customer base years ago. I was a GM fan for years until they sold my father a 1980 Pontiac Parisienne Brougham diesel that was a terrific lemon.

This was the first new car he bought in his life, at the age of almost 60 a reward for a lifetime of work. What a ripoff it turned out to be.

He never bought another GM car in his life and most of his family followed suit.

I only know 2 kinds of GM buyers left today. One is a rapidly thinning group of die hards who would eat poopoo on a stick if GM sold it. The other group is like my brother who traded a Dodge minivan for a Pontiac minivan only because they offered so many incentives it was $7000 cheaper.

My garage mechanic friends tell me nothing has changed. GM quality is still the worst they can shove out the door and get away with.

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Rusty, I probably should not be sticking my big mouth into this conversation but quite frankly can't stop myself. Yes, I worked for GM and yes I was a dealer (Service rep, service director and later dealer..notice the emphasis on service?)

Did GM produce some crappy quality in the past? No question about it. However, I saw first hand how the quality started to change in my dealership with 13 technicians. Not a huge store but we had a very busy service department that won nationals awards each year. The warranty worked dried up! Quality was pretty close to my Honda store and the data supports that.

The J.D. Powers Quality surveys definitely have proven that GM quality and customer satisfaction has risen dramatically. Do the imports still produce great quality? Sure, but GM now offers great value for many consumers.

28 years is a long time to hold a grudge, isn't it? grin.gif

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Steve Moskowitz</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

28 years is a long time to hold a grudge, isn't it? grin.gif </div></div>

Steve, sometimes it goes beyond 28 years..........I have a sister-in-law that once owned a 1970 Ford that had some issues...........She's been a Jap lover since. Go figure. As far as I'm concerned 90% of Americans will never go back. Sales are proving it and it's a shame. We now make as good or better cars.

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I hope to see that program, living North of Canada (Detroit) that will be very easy to do, via my DVR (Tivo).

Do they show the effect the shunning of domestic brands has had on south east Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, as well as Ontario? It's pretty scary around here. The housing market bust is amplified many times over here by thousands upon thousands of households have lost their ablility to pay for those homes.

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I think its no different than years ago. Some liked Fords, Some liked Chevy's etc. If you bought one car and it was a lemon, then you bad mouthed the marque for awhile. I've owned American, Japanese and now a VW and have not had a real bad one in the lot. Had a Ford van, the engine blew at 140,000 miles, had a Nissan, the engine blew at 130,000 miles. Head gaskets both times but can't say that I hate the marque due to it. I put plenty of miles on the car and got my use out of them. Own a VW Jetta now and love the car, with no problems yet. Next one will be a Cadillac, I like the styling. I think you can get a lemon in any car. The problem I see today is if you take Nissan, Toyota, Hundai, Kia etc and put them side by side they all look alike. We need to have more styling in our cars. That's what made the U.S. automobile companies different.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> The problem I see today is if you take Nissan, Toyota, Hundai, Kia etc and put them side by side they all look alike.... </div></div>

That's it exactly, Mike. I pointed that out to a friend recently, as we sat at a red light in a local town. Everywhere you looked everything was colored shades of grey, the highway, the cars, the sky (It was cloudy that day). No wonder so many people are going postal nowadays. They're depressed.

We need more color in life to perk everyone up! smile.gif

Wayne

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Steve Moskowitz</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Rusty, I probably should not be sticking my big mouth into this conversation but quite frankly can't stop myself. Yes, I worked for GM and yes I was a dealer (Service rep, service director and later dealer..notice the emphasis on service?)

Did GM produce some crappy quality in the past? No question about it. However, I saw first hand how the quality started to change in my dealership with 13 technicians. Not a huge store but we had a very busy service department that won nationals awards each year. The warranty worked dried up! Quality was pretty close to my Honda store and the data supports that.

The J.D. Powers Quality surveys definitely have proven that GM quality and customer satisfaction has risen dramatically. Do the imports still produce great quality? Sure, but GM now offers great value for many consumers.

28 years is a long time to hold a grudge, isn't it? grin.gif </div></div>

Not at all. I recently bought a Lincoln after swearing off Ford products in 1976, because of a mess called a 1971 Mercury station wagon.

I wouldn't have bought the Lincoln except a friend needed some quick cash.

I've been buying Chrysler products for years with good success. When they go sour I will turn to Toyota, Honda or some other foreign car as I have exhausted all the American makers.

When every other car maker on earth has let me down, I will give GM another chance.

Have you ever heard the expression "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me?"

We aren't talking about a 2 bit candy bar here. We are talking about an investment of thousands of $$$$$ bucks.The average family cannot afford to throw away their money.

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In the 70s when GM was losing sales due to crappy quality they immediately took action. The advertising department devised the "GM Mark of Excellence" campaign to boost the public's perception of GM quality while the factory kept pumping out the same old junk. If anything quality got worse.

I worked in garages and body shops for over 20 years. Some of my friends still do. I also keep up with newspapers, magazines etc.

GM has been making the same claims of "you can trust us now! We aren't swindling the public with crap anymore!" for 30 years and as far as I can see it's still more spin than substance.

I also have no sympathy with GM or the auto workers. 25 years ago an auto worker friend gave me hell for buying a foreign car (a Renault). At the time I had a GMC van and a Pontiac car in the driveway as well as the Renault.

I told him "wait a second. I make $5 an hour and you make $20 an hour. Are you telling me the $5 an hour man should lower his standard of living to subsidize the $20 an hour man? You can go to hell".

GM and the auto workers have been milking the auto business for years, swindling the public, and taking out more than they were putting in. Now they are crying because they have hit the bottom of the barrel.

Whose fault is that? What have they been doing for the last 40 years? The writing has been on the wall since the 60s but all they have ever done is to look for a gimmick to trim the suckers one more time.

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Rusty_OToole</div><div class="ubbcode-body">

I've been buying Chrysler products for years with good success. </div></div>

I'll have to agree with you there. I'll take Chrysler over GM any day.

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In the 70s when GM was losing sales due to crappy quality they immediately took action. The advertising department devised the "GM Mark of Excellence" campaign to boost the public's perception of GM quality while the factory kept pumping out the same old junk. If anything quality got worse.

I don't remember which make it was, but I was helping a friend at a service station, opened the door to move the car and the "Mark of Excellence" tag FELL OFF. Kinda ironic. I do like my '89 Reatta & '90 Bonneville...very few problems..Jim

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<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: Dave@Moon</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Checking the CNBC web site there's one more viewing listed:

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> CNBC's "Saving General Motors" will re-air on Sunday, August 10th at 10PM ET.

</div></div>

This will likely be the last chance to see it. </div></div>

BTT. You've got about 2.5 hours to set the VCR as I type this.

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Here's a must read to understand how GM got where they are today: "While America Aged" By Roger Lowenstein, Available at you local library or at Amazon.com. ISBN # 978-1-59420-167-7.

It outlines in vivid detail the mess that they are in with retiree pension and healthcare benefits.

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My pop was a die hard GM guy. Even though his BROTHER was a draftsman for Ford in Dearborn. Pop was a printer and the local Chevy dealer (Hallman's in Johnstown PA) was a customer of his and he always supported his customers by buying their stuff or shopping at their stores. Anyhow that made for some interesting family reunions.

Over the years I have owned many vehicles, domestic and import, with varying results.

The worst was either my 75 Cosworth Vega that ate second gear on a regular basis and had electrical problems worthy of a Jaguar; or one of a pair of 83 Renault Alliances that decomposed before my very eyes. The best was probably my 90 Geo Prizm, a rebadged Corolla that went 80K without ever seeing anything other than routine maintenance (1 of 3 Corollas I have owned).

I DO think GM is giving it the old college try. My Silverado runs flawlessly and my wife's Saturn Aura XR is almost (but not quite) in the same league as many of Europe and Japan's finest. The new CTS and Malibu are wonderful cars as are the latest crossovers.

I always had a soft spot for Pontiac (and before I die I will own a 66 Tri-Power GTO), and we had no problems with a couple of Grand Prix we owned, but right now they seem to be either coming up with half hearted efforts or their timing stinks. The Aztek was, to me, the ugliest thing ever to ride the road. The newer GTO just didn't have the styling that it needed. The G6 to me looks bland and the G8 may be a great car, but in the age of $4 a gallon gas it may be timed just wrong.

GM either needs to get the brands differentiated as they were back in the Sloan era, or eliminate the overlap. I just don't see how they can continue the wide variety of brands when just about everybody else covers the market with 2-3 (a'la Scion, Toyota, Lexus). I wonder of the long term viability of Pontiac and ponder if the next round of changes will see the middle lineup changed from Pontiac-Buick-GMC to Saturn-Buick-GMC.

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I see no way that GM could improve on the 1991-2005 Buick LeSabre and Park Avenue with the 3.8 engine. They've been the best cars we've ever owned. The '91 was recently sold with 197,000 miles on it and is still taking a lady back and forth to work. Buick met their Waterloo the day they replaced the Park Avenue and LeSabre with those new "toy cars".

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Today a car is simply a car. They all look like crap with crappy colors -- toy cars that look like jelly beans. The exceptions that have a little bit of good looks are the Dodge and the Mustang and they look something like cars from forty years ago. Some trim, bright colors, maybe some two tone lines would improve the cars' desirability. For years pickup trucks have been flashy while cars have been drab. The better cars have been servicable, if boring. The best description of what is wrong with Buick, for example, was defined in an article written by the Editor of the Buick Bugle last month. They simply do not make anything today that makes you want to buy a new car, unless you're down on the rims. Apparently the first cut back that GM made back in the 80's was in the the Design and Styling Department.

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how about adding a ten cent insert to the intake to prevent coolant leak into the intake so widespread that an aftermarket company tooled the replacement part? Or using a weatherable grade for the tailight buckets (probably twenty five cents a side there) to prevent the mounting boss failures. I could go on - the purchasing dept designed too much of those cars for me to consider them any sort of standard of excellence.

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Agree with the comments about the Lesabre and Park Avenues; good cars, very reliable, not bad to look at (not stunning) but oh so economical to operate.

The new Lucerne and Lacrosse are great looking cars; arguable about whether they are 'best in class' in the looks department; that is simply in the eye of the beholder. The problem I have is I can't fathom sinking $30-35K into a depreciating asset. A great, well-cared for Lacrosse or Lucerne that is 1-2 years old can be had for 50-65% of its original MSRP. Would anyone here want to own a mutual fund that goes down 40-50% in two years? Didn't think so.....

The 'saving GM' question will become clear when the dust settles from the recent oil price hikes, whether Israel attacks Iran, whether the new president does something(s) stupid in the Middle East.....AND whether GM can bring new smaller cars to the market that are priced right, operate right, and are desirable to buy and operate.

If GM has a great 30-45 MPG car that is at or below $20K that will stand toe-to-toe with the Japanese brands that are still coasting off of the quality image they built in the 80's and 90's (but is fading fast today) then they may have a chance.

Anyone know any magic Jeannies that could help out GM????

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