GM Inside News Forum banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
94 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
A recent conversation among knowledgeable auto enthusiasts turned to a subject that surely ranks high among the concerns of Detroit automakers -- image.

How, my colleagues pondered, are General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler Group going to close the perception gap that still separates Detroit-made vehicles from foreign rivals in the minds of so many consumers?

To varying degrees, Detroit's Big Three have worked wonders on the quality front. These days, certain GM brands are outperforming the once-vaunted Toyota in various quality assessments. Chrysler has excellent ratings on individual models. And Ford has made strides, for example, on the previously troubled Focus.

Though perceptions may lag, the fact is that the quality gap between Detroit and imported brands has narrowed dramatically or closed.

In terms of design, Detroit also has moved mountains. Cadillac's edgy new design language clearly has been a hit with buyers, as the brand's sales rebound this past year demonstrates. Similarly, Ford showed with the latest F-150 pickup that its design sensibilities are well tuned to the truck market, not just for exterior styling but also in terms of dramatically improved interiors.

When it comes to powertrains and product features, Motown's offerings are much more competitive and a better value than ever before. For proof, just compare Chevrolet's new Malibu with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord.

Most significantly, the yawning gulf in competitive products between Detroit and the Japanese brands is about to be closed with an onslaught of new models from GM, Ford and Chrysler.

So what's to stop Detroit from reclaiming scads of market share from the Japanese if so many pieces of the puzzle, from quality to design, are in place?

According to my friends, the missing ingredient is image.

Drive around any upscale neighborhood and notice how few vehicles carry Ford, Pontiac, Dodge, Chevrolet, Buick, Chrysler or Lincoln badges.

Ask the successful thirty-

something couple in one of those big homes whether they'd prefer to have a Detroit-branded car or a Japanese or German nameplate in their driveway. The answer will probably reveal a preference for imports.

Driving a GM, Ford or Chrysler product apparently says something less than flattering about your social status, financial condition and general savoir faire.

If that's indeed true, then it's a damn shame and more than a little frustrating. I have seen and driven a fair number of the new cars and trucks debuting over the next year or so from Detroit automakers. They are, in the main, excellent.

Save for that last ounce of refinement, many of Motown's newcomers compete very well with Japanese and German contenders. And were there no badges or other identification evident, it would be difficult to determine the origins of some of the new generation of vehicles.

Of course, image is a critical part of the purchase process. When I go to buy home audio equipment -- about which I know little -- I usually gravitate toward a trusted and familiar brand name like Sony, even though there may be other makes that are just as good and offer more features.

It's clear that Detroit automakers have done much of the heavy lifting to become more competitive -- raising quality levels, improving product design and engineering. Now comes the even harder part -- registering that achievement in the minds of the buying public.

http://www.detnews.com/2003/insiders/0312/...iders-20391.htm
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
43,877 Posts
<_<
Of course it's true. GM (along with Ford and Chrysler) have a 2nd class image. It's been true since about the late 80's/early 90's.
GM also has a lack of brands/cars that are desired by the masses. I mean, you can count the number on 2 hands: Corvette, CTS, H2, XLR, 9-3, 9-5, Escalade, WRX. That's a fraction of the entire lineup.

I don't doubt the strides GM has made over the course of a decade, but things aren't over yet. GM is still in a state of flux. You can't design, test, build, and market in year. You need 3-5 minimum. Plus, the only brand that's been overhauled is Cadillac. Look at it's new image now!! You no longer hear younger people saying "Caddy's are for old people." You hear, "Wow, that ride kicks some serious a$$!" Sure, some people may laugh now... but they laughed 2.5 years back when I got my Saab... and they got their Audis. Not only did they spend more moeny on their A6's, they spend more time getting it repaired, and spending up to 3x as much on repairs than I do. Look who's laughing now... Plus I get better mileage and can out run 'em. But cars like these are few and far between in the GM lineup. Sure, Malibu might be a "better" car than Camry... but those are just words. It needs to be proven. And that takes time.

I do live in a relatively upscale neighborhood... and the ONLY domestic GM/Ford/DCX products of the 7 houses on my block are.... and H2, a Navigator, and an Escalade ESV. The rest are Merc S, G, and C, Jag X-Type, Saab 9-5. THen there's teh LS430, a new Accord, and RL, and a Land Cruiser, a Prius, and a Tacoma. The rest of the neighborhood is pretty much a copy. There are a few Civics, Camrys, Volvos, Maximas. But the ONLY AMerican made cars I see... are the SUV's (and the one DTS).
And in CA, image is everything. And if it isn't a Hummer, an Escalade, or a Vette.... you might as well buy German, Japanese, Swedish, or British.

And this is probably by GM, Ford, and DCX are concentrating on their Euro brands heavily. They carry a better brand than their US counterparts.

But down the road, I think the Big 3 will be able to clean up their image. Only problem is... The Japanese and Europeans won't be standing still.

So... GM had better hurry up and bring Alfa back to the US. :D Caddy, Saab, and Hummer can't do it alone.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
Originally posted by mgescuro@Dec 29 2003, 06:04 PM

GM also has a lack of brands/cars that are desired by the masses.  I mean, you can count the number on 2 hands:  Corvette, CTS, H2, XLR, 9-3, 9-5, Escalade, WRX.  That's a fraction of the entire lineup.
Perhaps, but that is almost half of Honda's entire lineup. ;)

What I see as being the problem are the old models GM sells to make a few bucks here and there, or to appease some UAW-run factory.

Blazer, Astro, S-10, Tracker, Aztek, Montana are a few examples of vehicles that should have been retired years ago, or in the case of the Aztek, instantly. :p

GM keeps these old vehicles around, and someone goes and rents a "2004 Malibu Classic". They see the old interior and 1997 rounded exterior, and think "This is a 2004 Malibu?"

GM needs to cut these festering gangrene limbs off. You don't see Toyota or even Hyundai selling 20 year old product like the Astro on their lots. They can't be making much money on them, so dump them now, and dump the fleet sales or make a new brand called "GM Fleet" and put all of these dated nasty products together. (But then you run into the problem of the people renting them...)

Out with the old, in with the new. GM needs to be firm with the UAW and cut these old products out of the mix --- this will go a long way towards improving the image and quality and reliability of the GM lineup.

The Astro, the prime example, has gotten consistently poor reliability reviews from Consumer Reports. How can having this vehicle be a good thing for Chevy?

Oh, and they need to not put the ancient 3.4L engine in the Equinox, too. :p
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,714 Posts
I agree with many of the points made here...with few exceptions.

One point, though....the 2004 Classic does not wear a Malibu badge on it, which separates it from the 2004 Malibu. (I know and you know the 2004 Classic is basically the same car as the 2003 Malibu, but the average non-automotive person doesn't)
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Unfortunately, GM has no incentive to kill or update the Astro, and every incentive to continue selling it and to spend nothing on changing it.

The Astro is in a class of its own--it is neither a minivan nor a full-sized job like the Chevy Express or GMC Savana. The only other vehicle like it is its sibling, the GMC Safari, so GM has the market all to itself. Why waste time trying to compete?

I'm not making an argument in favor of this position except to say that you really can't blame them for making those kinds of product decisions if you look it at purely from a business standpoint.

OTOH, I think you can make a compelling argument from a product image standpoint--precisely the nerve that this article hits. Sure, GM has done wonders with issues of quality and with coming up with some great new vehicles that are as good or better than their foreign counterparts...

...BUT, if GM agrees with the thesis of this article (i.e. that its image problem affects its bottom line), then there IS a good argument for sprucing up vehicles like the Astro and refusing to maintain deadwood like the Chevy Classic.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,963 Posts
I honestly think that the Astro is a cool van. They should update it, and really preach about the AWD cool factor. Maybe GM could make a car off that line, you know just something that fills a cool void? Like an AWD sedan?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,231 Posts
The problem is, this deals with things that are difficult to predict. Can GM make more money- can it maintain a larger customer base and be the most successful by selling a broader range of vehicles (keeping on the Astro and Classic) and saving money for production of new vehicles by avoiding updates of slow, steady selling vehicles, OR would image eventually make the company more successful by drawing in new customers? It's hard to measure even how much of an effect a vehicle such as the Astro has on GM's image. This is difficult stuff-- it's far too abstract. But all GM can do is use information from the current market and from past successes/mistakes to seed the clouds and hope to control the rain.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
43,877 Posts
<_<
I think Astro is in the same position the Fleetwood/Brougham was for Cadillac. GM puts absolutely $0 marketing the thing... and they still fly off the lots. So, they still make GM a considerable amount of money.

I think there is a market for truck based vans. They also look a heck of a lot better than the Sports Crossover Utilities GM just cranked out.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
14,692 Posts
There are only 2 Astros on my local dealer's lot. LT trim sells for 30+ thousand.

Even with all of the auto goodies, who is going to pay over 30K for an Astro?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,840 Posts
I own a Safari SLT AWD and would own 1 again

#1 Size U-VanAWD too car like,won't haul my boat, G-vanAWD just too big

#2AWD (wouldn't no how to drive 1 without it now)

#3 comfy seats thinking on a 4 hr ride this weekend I wouldn't even mind these seats in my house.

#4 Very trouble free (other than fuel pumps)

#5 The only thing in it's class

Cons

Gas milage,front leg room,though to work on,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,882 Posts
Originally posted by doh@Jun 15 2004, 07:18 PM
I own a Safari SLT AWD and would own 1 again

#1 Size U-VanAWD too car like,won't haul my boat, G-vanAWD just too big

#2AWD (wouldn't no how to drive 1 without it now)

#3 comfy seats thinking on a 4 hr ride this weekend I wouldn't even mind these seats in my house.

#4 Very trouble free (other than fuel pumps)

#5 The only thing in it's class

Cons

Gas milage,front leg room,though to work on,
The Astro/Safari really is a nice format as far as size and the fact that it's truck based. I've often thought it would be worth updating for better ride/handling, a more powerful/efficient/refined engine (put the 4.8L V8 in there) and as you mentioned in your cons, give it some front legroom. That alone is enough to keep me away from them.

Remember the TV commercials from a few years ago where they show an AWD Astro door-sill deep in a creek pulling a trailer of trash out out of the water? I thought that was incredible, and definitely showed that this was no minivan. They could play that up.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top