I saw one recently in Dallas.  Beautiful.  And I’ve never liked a single muscle car.  They are selling at a premium over MSRP.

Picture 14

It’s really sad how G.M. managed to reinvent itself, only to be done in by the triple-punch of $140 oil (no SUVs), deep recession (no spending), and credit crisis (no auto loans).  No question their refreshed lineup will serve them well as they reorganize.

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It’s been a while since I wrote one of these.  It just wasn’t fun anymore to watch them self-destruct.  But Limbaugh really merits one this week:

He calls on his dittoheads to boycott GM.

That’s, of course, preposterous and even treasonous, as we are talking about the jobs and lives of fellow Americans who happen to be in dire straits at the moment and who would have had it much worse had all of us (the taxpayer) not come to their rescue.

So this strikes me as just another nail in the GOP coffin as it will push Ohio, Indiana and other swing states even more towards the Democratic column.  That’s true even if Rush’s dreams come true (Obama’s policies fail miserably or there is another terrorist attack).

And all for what?  I see no upside for the party.  This won’t get them any additional votes, even in the South.  Maybe better ratings, if that.

In fact, if anything I think this will be helpful to GM (and the administration):

Say Rush gets 20% of his listeners (which total about 10-15% of American adults) on board with this.  That’s about a 2% loss of market for GM.  But every action has an opposite reaction, and if this gets even just 10% of the rest of the country to look at a GM car out of patriotism and solidarity (and perhaps disgust), that’s a gain of 9%.  Resulting in a net market gain of 7%

So thank you Rush!

After having joined the chorus lambasting GM for making cars ‘no one wants to buy’, Friedman this week quotes Bob Lutz to make his point that we can’t have green products without a price on carbon.  Oh, the irony:

Bob Lutz, a vice chairman at General Motors, offers a useful example of why price matters. When Congress demands that Detroit make smaller, lighter, better mileage vehicles, but then refuses to put a higher price on carbon — like with a gasoline tax — so more consumers will want to buy these smaller cars, said Lutz, it is the equivalent of ordering all American shirtmakers to make only size smalls while never asking the American people to go on a diet. You’re not going to sell a lot of size smalls.

It is the ultimate injustice that we deride our auto industry for not making fuel-eficient cars, when it is our government’s failure to have a consistent, long-term energy policy that creates havoc.

Detroit is stuck redesigning and retooling for the fickle U.S. consumer, while Toyota and BMW can count on consistently high gas prices at home, which creates consistent demand for their hybrids, diesels and turbos, whether oil is at $40 or $140 a gallon.

And keep in mind that it takes 3-4 years and hundreds of millions to bring a new model to market.

I can only hope the administration let Rick Wagoner go at GM to buy themselves cover for future management shakeups at the banks.

As Clayton Christensen of HBS details at HuffPo Wagoner was a great manager who was well on his way to fixing the decades of mistakes made by previous chiefs.

Actually, my wildest wishes would be that Rick is hiding in some warehouse right now explaining to Steve Jobs how cars are built so he can take over and bring GM back.  One can dream.

GM and Chrysler

April 4, 2009

There are too many intricacies to the auto bailout, and it is moving way too quickly, to adventure an opinion.

But I will say I am ecstatic they have decided to act separately on the two companies and put Chrysler in the tighter spot.

GM was staging a remarkable turnaround when the crisis hit, and their new models are best-in-class.  Plus the Volt has a good chance of succeeding.

Chrysler on the other hand couldn’t find their way.  They don’t have a single well-designed model except for the 300M.

The Volt looks hot

January 24, 2009

I hope they don’t mess with the current design.  It would be the sexiest sedan in the market.  Lots more pics here.

In GM’s defense

January 3, 2009

I’m glad someone is finally defending G.M.’s Rick Wagoner:

In reality, Mr. Wagoner has presided over the most sweeping transformation of G.M. since the 1920s…

…these moves have largely succeeded and by 2010 should strip $5,000 from the cost of every G.M. vehicle…

…The quality gap between G.M. and Toyota has been closed…

Mr. Wagoner has allowed his designers to recapture car design leadership with products like the Cadillac CTS, the Saturn Aura, the new Chevrolet Malibu and the revived and visually dazzling Camaro. The cliché that G.M. makes only gas-guzzling sport utility vehicles is years out of date.

On the innovation front, Mr. Wagoner was responsible for introducing OnStar, the onboard communications and navigation system, and he has made a huge commitment to lithium-ion batteries, which will power the Chevrolet Volt.

… has globalized G.M. to a degree that it never has been before. The company’s strong position in China has helped support the difficult turnaround effort in North America.

Making him a scapegoat might be politically expedient but it ignores the very tangible progress he has achieved.