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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How to fix GM (by division):

Chevrolet: The bread and butter division, it needs to hit the mainstream and take on (and beat) the Camcord and Civrolla. The Malibu proves GM can take a good European chassis and ruin it. The 4 cylinder is pointless as it gets worse mileage than V6, which itself is a pushrod mutt no enthusist could love. At least make optional a 240hp+ DOHC that can compete with the Accords silky 3.0. The Malibu styling also leaves much to be desired: Whats up with those dorky arches over the wheelwells, why does it look jacked up from the back, and did they forget some exharst hangars? The interior is much improved, but looks plain jane next to the Accord.
Hopefully the Cobalt can compete. The VVT Ecotec is a good start, although its ten years late (when did Honda VTEC the Civic). The styling is blah and dated in my eyes.
The Impala should switch to Zeta ASAP and use the styling from the SS concept. A good all alumium V8 optional of course. Make a 2-door version called Chevelle, it will sell on name alone. Kill the Monte Carlo.
For the love of my balls keep the Camaro dead. The mullets and white trash ran this nameplate into the ground and it will only get worse as the 4th gen ages. Most people laugh at the guidos driving theses cars and you couldnt pay me to drive one, its the automotive equivilent of a sock in your pants( this coming from a guy who kept a picture of a black 94 6-speed lingenfelter in his wallet in juniorhigh). Build the Nomad.

Pontiac: The execitment division. Lutzs idea of an lower priced BMW is good, and God bless 'em for getting rid of the dreaded cladding. The G6 has good styling, although a tad conservative. Hopefully the 3.9 doesnt have the NVH problems of other GM pushrod sixes. The 6-speed manual is an excellent idea. Dump the Grand Prix and Bonneville and make a Zeta 4-door with AWD. Call it G8. The Solstice (and Kappa in general) is the best thing GM has done in ages. It is beautiful and with luck it will spawn a cult following. Make sure the coupe version makes it to production. Also, make the next GTO less conservative, but not cheesy.

Buick: End the embaressment. Spend the 3 billion elsewhere

Saturn: This division should start making hybrids and they should do it 3 years ago. Make saturn into a warm and fuzzy people company like it was in the early 90s. Target the hippies and volkswagon people with ergomonicly perfect, reliable cars-as-appliance. Play "shiny happy people" in the showrooms.

Cadillac: The mechanicals are already good. Upgrade interior quality in the CTS and SRX. The "Art & Science" styling took some chutzpah but isnt all that attractive. Redesign the entire line in the vein the the stunning 16.

Overall

Also, when charging for a leather wrapped steering wheel please wrap the entire wheel, this includes the spokes. This is the most tactile driver/car interface and epitimises GMs cheapness. The entire company need to upgade interiors dramatical. Get quality up. Your not going to change perception by coming in second (but improving!) annually. Dump the groaning 3800, this misfiring stump of a Buick V8 should have died 10 years ago. 4-speed autos are not competive anymore.
To beat Honda and Toyota and reverse perception, GM need to come in #1 in JD Power IQS, have better interiors than the competion, and generally be best in all areas. As it is, GM is perpetually trying to catch up. Here on the left coast, harbinger of whats to come for the rest of the country, Americn cars are looked down on. They sell only on rebates and really are competeing with the Koreans. Now im drunk and sick of writing.
 

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Let Buick take on Lexus, Cadillac take on Mercedes-Benz and Pontiac take BMW.
I can see Buick making it. Especially if the Velite is done right and shortcuts are not taken with the rest of the line.
Poor Oldsmobile could of taken on Audi....oh well. :(
 

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Buick takes on Lexus, Cadillac takes on Mercedes-Benz, Pontiac takes on BMW, Oldsmobile should have taken on Audi....

Mercedes-Benz and BMW compete with one another...Audi competes in there as well...and Lexus is doing just fine competing against those three. Hmmm....

If my basic geometric education serves me:

Buick=Lexus=Cadillac=Mercedes-Benz=Pontiac=BMW=Oldsmobile=Audi

Detroit, I think we have a problem.
 

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I'm kinda with you Lake

I think GM has to stop aiming Buick at Lexus, Pontiac at BMW, and so on
GM is the largest Manufacturer of vehicles in the world. If they worried more about what they are doing instead of what others are, they would have a much better product line.

How many mid size cars does 1 company need? Centary Regal, Intrigue,Alero Grand am, Grand Prix, Malibu, Impala,Monte,Epica each designed to take a little away from brand x or y

Just think of the number of SUV's they have come out with to compete with Explorers,Liberty's,Pacifica's and so on , and the market is getting smaller every year.

Build cars that will bring your customer back to you time and time again.
 

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GM is certainly on a better path than 5 years ago, but it's hardly fixed yet.

One thing that shocks me is that none of the 'strategies' I read out here ever focus on the CUSTOMER. That needs to be the #1, over-arching goal, without any wavering ... focus endlessly on the CUSTOMER, give them what they want. If for some reason customers wanted Buick watercraft, build them the best there is. (Okay, that was reaching to make a point, but you get it).

Toyota is gaining on GM like a speeding freight train. Toyota focuses on what its customers are asking for. Toyota doesn't care what Chevy, Pontiac, Buick, Nissan, etc. are building or selling. It simply focuses on what the customer is asking for, and delivering the best answer it can.

Toyota tends to avoid 'trends', such as the retro thing. It also doesn't sell the same product for 7 or 8 years ... it continually refreshes and redesigns its products to better address the desires of its CUSTOMERS.

Unfortunately, GM has a corporate history of ignoring its expensive customer research. This habit is deeply rooted in its heritage. One example that comes to mind is the 1973 A-Car redesign. Bill Mitchell (otherwise my hero) ignored strong customer feedback that the '73 LeMans design was less appealing. He 'wrote off' this feedback as a reflection of how the clinic was conducted, among other excuses. As a result, the LeMans dropped from 18% of A-Car sales in 1973 to 9% by 1975.

Contrast this with the attitude of Alfred Sloan, who became GM CEO in 1923. He said that “Neither of us ever took any pride in hunches. We left all the glory of that kind of thinking to such men as like to be labeled ‘genius’ [i.e.: Henry Ford]. We much preferred the slow process of getting all the available facts, analyzing them…and then deciding our course.” Sloan was data-driven, and this data reflected customer preferences. This helped drive GM's growth from the 1920's through the 1950s.

in 1977, GM did extensive (and expensive) research on the feasibility of a FWD minivan. It conducted this study because it didn't believe the overwhelmingly positive research it did the prior year on the subject. That research also indicated a strong preference for TWO REAR SLIDING DOORs. GM ignored its customers and missed huge opportunities, especially since it already had a FWD platform (X) nearly ready from which it could have spawned that minivan, as Chrysler later did with the K.

IN 1983, GM asked customers in design clinics to rate its proposed redesign for the 1986 Buick Riviera. The feedback was overwhelmingly against the 1986 design, with customers stating that the design was not consistent with their view of luxury, had low acceptance among current Riviera customers, and had lower perceived value. Feedback indicated that acceptance did not increase with a price reduction. Worse, customers indicated that there was not enough distinction between the planned designs for Riviera, Toronado, and Eldorado. GM ignored this feedback and proceeded to kill those three great vehicles and send those customers forever to the competition.

Likewise, GM's clinics accurately foretold that the 1991 Caprice was not a step forward. GM ignored this feedback, too, and killed that car. GM's rationale was that customers would be more accepting of the new style "in the future."

The 1994 GM clinics on the Saturn LS clearly indicated that the LS design was less acceptable and desirable than the Accord and Camry. Even worse, GM conducted that study with an Accord and Camry that were on the verge of a redesign. The Saturn LS sales results are exactly what GM deserved for taking its eyes and ears off the customer.

There are some success stories within GM from listening to customers. The current Silverado/Sierra underwent a huge investment late in the development cycle to increase cab size ... all based on customer feedback. We all know that the Avalanche midgate came from the voice of the customer.

The lesson? Don't waste time studying what the other manufacturers are doing. Focus completely and endlessly on the customer. Period.
 

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Toyota also doesn take risks, doesnt change there styling, and will continue to make boring, bland, cookie cutter blobs to which no car company can match, yet people flock to Toyota as if they were painted gold.

GM is moving in the right direction. They dont have to go at any certain company, but they need to offer different items.
-Chevy is a bready butter division that encompases all of GM. Sport, luxury, and quality along with style.
-Pontiac is a performance divison and all cars, ALL cars are tuned for sport performance. I dont care if its a Mini van, it better run low 14's, and take a .95g on the skid pad.
-Buick is a luxury division. soft lines and leather with wood and chrome accents. I better not even hear an A-Bomb go off its so quite.
-Caddy is on track, just update the interiors to where it can be the standard over the world.
- Saturn needs fresh styling and not odd ball design like the ION sedan. A reliable car that will get good gas milage, but wont bore you to death. Saturn has the right idea, but not the right design. Hyrbids are a must.
-GMC is fine. Keep making trucks and try having something that Chevy trucks dont.
-Hummer is fine.
 

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Originally posted by bigals87z28@Jul 15 2004, 01:55 PM
Toyota also doesn take risks, doesnt change there styling, and will continue to make boring, bland, cookie cutter blobs to which no car company can match, yet people flock to Toyota as if they were painted gold.
Toyota certainly is not making cars that are too terribly 'exciting', but you mentioned the key point ... people are flocking to Toyota.

Toyota's cars are holding much more value. As a result, those wishing to lease are getting better payments. Those wishing to purchase their Toyotas have vehicles that are holding value.

As much as GM improves its quality, Toyota continues to improve at a greater pace. The gap is not closing.

I would argue that Toyota does take some risks, albeit well calculated risks. The Scion brand is doing well. It takes some guts to get the boxy xB to the market. It can be called whatever by those that hate it, but its selling and turning heads.

Scion cars look fresh and are attainable by the younger crowd. What does GM offer? Aveo, Ion and Cavalier? My children (16 and 19) and their numerous friends wouldn't be caught dead in a Cavalier, Sunfire, or Aveo. I offered to get my daughter a new Saturn and she rejected it and bought a USED Mitsubishi on her own. How will GM reach this group in another 10-15 years? This group, representing future customers, could care less about the GM heritage ... Chevelles, GTOs, etc. That group will be on their second or third Toyota since their Scion took good care of them.

GM pulled ahead so many purchases with its incentive game that June sales were horrible ... the same month Toyota saw another boring, bland, cookie-cutter 10% increase in sales.
 

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Well to ByTheLake and BigAls comments, I'd say that it isn't an either/or situation. You are both right -- GM needs to expand its areas of dominance on many fronts. That's why it is so hard to win in today's market.

Sure, Toyota's regular line-up is boring -- so is Chevy's. Like Chevy, Toyota has a few cars to "spice up" the line - the MR2 Spyder and Matrix come to mind. But, like Chevy, what Toyota is good at is decent bread and butter cars.

Both Toyota and GM offer lines for people aspiring to something more. Toyota has Scion on the low end and some very tasty Lexi on the hight end. GM is full of affordable but interesting cars -- though spread over a couple of divisions (Saturn's Red Lines, Chevy's Cobalt SS, etc.) as well as more expensive offerings like the GTO and CTS.

You need to do almost everything well these days to survive as a full-line automaker. Many are good at most things, but I don't think anybody does it perfectly. Case in point -- for all the things that Toyota does right, Pontiac makes a better Matrix IMHO (in the Vibe) than Toyota does!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I dont believe in customer clinics. That was the Zarella approach in the 90s that gave us the Lumia and Impala and other exceptionally bland cars. The Camry is painfully boring but at least has Lexus quality and refinement at low price. The Mini got a thumbs down in clinics but sells well in reality. Remember the Nomad concept in 99? If GM would have fast tracked that back then it could have come out in 03 and have the customer responce the 300c is experienceing now, maybe even better. I trust Lutzs gut more than clinics.
 

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I was going to mention something along the lines of freenergy's comments. Here, GM is being criticized for not listening to the voice of the customer enough, and other places you'll find them criticized for doing too many consumer clinics soaking the beans, and how they should have the courage to do what they think is right and be a leader.

I don't think it's as simple doing more consumer clinics or surveys.
 

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Originally posted by MelvinJ@Jul 15 2004, 04:33 PM
I don't think it's as simple doing more consumer clinics or surveys.
I never wrote that GM needed more clinics or surveys. My point was that GM has a history of NOT focusing on the consumer.

Today, GM spends money on research to learn what its competitors are spending for various things like information technology, engineering, etc. My point is ... who the hell cares what Ford, Toyota, or whoever spends on its internal support services. Toyota certainly doesn't spend time benchmarking itself against GM. If you're leading a race, you don't maintain the lead by looking back at the next runner ... you focus on the finish line.

Read some of the in-depth research papers on Toyota and Honda. You'll see very focused people following very well documented processes. They don't give a damn what GM is doing. They make evolutionary improvements to everything, from internal processes to the vehicles themselves.

If GM focuses on the customer, and provides what the customer is asking for, it will succeed.
 

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I dont think GM should copy the various other luxury makes with Pontiac-Buick! Let Caddy compete with BMW-MB-Audi-Lexus-Jaguar and the like as they are now more then ever. Let Buick be a more affordable/conservative Luxury alternatave wile Pontiac's specialty is performance. STOP TRYING TO MOVE EACH BRAND UP MARKET GM!! Dont make the same mistake VW is with the Phaeton wile they still have Audi! If they keep doing this all they will have is Luxury cars (except Chevy + Saturn) even Subaru is trying to move upmarket!! :angry: A Buick should have more Luxury and cost more then a Chevy. A Pontiac should cost more then a Chevy and have more performance. Let Buick-Pontiac cost about the same but have very different personalities. Let Chevy cars compete with larger Toyotas and Hondas wile Saturn takes on the smaller models. Shure there will still be some over lap in the size of the cars that they would build but they would all be very different from one another. ;)
 

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someone mentioned in another post a while back that some namplates (like pontiac and buick) could be upgrades on more mundane models (a sporty chev would be a pontiac, and a luxurious chev would be a buick). oversimplified, but the idea there works.

i kinda picture a venn diagram, with chevrolet in the middle. chev could have a few unique products (like bottom end economy cars and the corvette, at the other end of the spectrum). the rest of the chevs could be kept rather plain and value-oriented (the toyota and honda competitors). then, sporty versions of the midsize sedans and coupes could be pontiacs (no malibu or impala SS models... they'd be pontiacs). and luxurious, affordable full-size sedans and coupes would be buicks. all divisions could have some of their own vehicles, but no direct overlap other than with chevrolet. want a luxury silverado? get a GMC sierra. sporty cobalt? that's pursuit (or sunfire, or G4, or whatever) territory.

there's really no need for more than 1 set of overlap (again, back to the venn diagram!) in any type of vehicle. platform sharing is fine, but there's no need to dilute every vehicle 5 ways. caddy could stand alone for the most part, and perhaps saab too. again, sharing platforms but deriving unique vehicles from them.

i guess this isn't significantly different than what GM tries to do now, but i think more effort should be made to minimize overlap. chev has grown so much that it's threatening to crowd out the other divisions. keep chev as the value offering. some guidlines should be set out: every pontiac should HAVE to have more power, and a tighter suspension than the equivalent chev. every buick should HAVE to have a softer ride and quieter cabin than the chev counterpart. no GMC should be priced within $3000 of a chev truck, but should always offer more power and options not available on the chevs (nav system, quadrasteer, etc). some set-in-stone rules could keep GM on track.
 

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HOW TO FIX GM. HAHAHAHAHA! Wrong question to ask me. OK here goes. I announce on Sept 1, 2004 that the CEO, BEAN COUNTERS, and heads of all divisions and their directors, design, powerplant, etc. etc. will be fired if market share goes down in the 05 year. Case closed, period, don't let the door hit you in the *** on the way out. Whoever replaces them gets the same message for the 06 year. Lots of suits jumping out windows but eventually the suits get the message and things get fixed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I think the one relativly simple thing GM could do to get on track is to shorten the time between redesigns. Honda and Toyota redesign most of their vehicles every 4-5 years. Every new design is a little bit more refined, more luxurious, and has a better engines. By doing this they are in effect evolving at a faster pace. I know it would cost emorously, but GM should start redesigning their model every four years or less. They have to do something radical to keep Toyata from becoming #1.
 

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"no GMC should be priced within $3000 of a chev truck, but should always offer more power and options not available on the chevs (nav system, quadrasteer, etc). some set-in-stone rules could keep GM on track."

What? Navigation systems are on their way to becoming standard, or at least expected. You can't strip Chevrolet of convieniences. Conveniences are the core of the market you have mapped out for it. I agreed with everything you said until I hit this part.
 
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