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IN DEFENSE OF THE GENERAL
April 30, 2005

The General has been taking more than its share of hits this past month. Automotive publications, including this one, have been quick to write about what's wrong with General Motors. So, the LA Car Blog wants to end this month with a recap of what's right with GM.

Bob Lutz

GM's former chairman of North American Operations and current chairman of Global Product Development Activities brought a spark to the corporation that had been missing for too long. The automotive press has always been a fan of Lutz because he's a car guy and because of his straight-talking style at press conferences. He made no bones about what he thought about the interior designs of some of the GM vehicles. His most positive impact has been on the products of General Motors. He had the interior designers study VW-Audi interiors, and the results are just now coming to fruition. He turned around Pontiac's design approach 180 degrees, and they are now starting to produce some of the most handsome products in the entire corporation. He understood that everyone didn't have to like Cadillac's Art & Science design, but that if a significant segment really liked it, it would sell. In his new position, we expect Lutz to have a further positive impact on the General's products.

Cadillac

When Cadillac first introduced the novel Art & Science design in its Evoq concept car, the critics wondered if Japanese origami experts took over the division's design studio. Audi's TT was all the rage at the time, and compared to the TT's rounded design, the Evoq looked like it was designed by folding sheets of paper into the shape of a car. Since then, Cadillac's Art & Science design has spread throughout its entire line, and they are some of the freshest, most original-looking designs coming out of Detroit. Even Lincoln's design chief expressed admiration for Cadillac's bold new look. Along with the new look came a new advertising campaign that featured Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" song. Then, rap artists started noticing Cadillacs. All of a sudden, Cadillacs are cool again.

Trucks

GM has always made good trucks, and the current line-up is no different. Moreover, some of the latest ones are among the best-looking trucks around. One highly regarded automotive critic asked recently why GMC even exists. GMC exists because people buy the products, and they buy the products because GMC trucks look good and work well. The same goes for Chevy trucks. For the longest time, the import companies didn't even bother to compete with the domestic truck makers. That's changed, but it'll still be a very uphill battle before they alter the dominance the domestics have in the American truck market.

OnStar

Credit General Motors for revolutionizing the automotive satellite service industry. OnStar offers its customers an added layer of safety, security, and convenience. If you lock your keys in the car, you can call OnStar to unlock it. If you're injured in an accident, OnStar can help you get an emergency vehicle to your exact location. The same technology also can track your car if it's stolen. OnStar can even be contacted to help you find a restaurant or stores in the area. A few other manufacturer now have their own version of satellite service, but OnStar is still the best.

Hummer

Hummers have not been the favorite vehicles among some segments of the environmental community. Much of that has to do with the size of the H1 and H2 models, and their gas mileage ratings. Indeed, with gas prices continuing to march up into the stratosphere, Hummer sales have taken a hit. GM hopes to mitigate that with the introduction of the H3 - a smaller, more fuel-efficient Hummer. There are two other things that make Hummers stand out, however. One is their off-road prowess. Hummers are outstanding off-road vehicles. Secondly, Hummers are at the cutting edge of SUV design. In particular, the H2 is a strikingly handsome-looking SUV. It's slab sides and Department of Defense silhouette is trend-setting. We now see Nissan copying it on its latest Pathfinder. Ditto Rover in its new LR3. Even Jeep is showing the Hummer's influence in its latest concept vehicles.

GTO

Last year, I called the new GTO is one of the great performance buys of 2004. This year is no different. The new GTO offers BMW 6-Series performance, handling and comfort for less than half the price. We are talking about a grand touring car with a 400 horsepower V8 motor, rear-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension, a superb interior, and room for four in comfort At its actual transaction price (below $30,000), the car is even more of a bargain.

G6

This is the first Pontiac that is completely devoid of its body-cladding side molding recent heritage. It doesn't seem to show up on the radar screen of most Toyota Camry and Honda Accord buyers, but its design is more attractive than either. Its the first of a line of very attractive Pontiacs that will be coming our way. And if you think the G6 looks good...

Solstice

The Solstice concept car is a knockout. If the production version looks as good - and if Pontiac can keep the base model under $20,000 as promised - GM should have a major hit on hand. Also right on the money was GM's decision to have the Solstice the subject of a public relations project on the hit TV reality show, "The Apprentice." So far, the General is making all the right moves with this sizzling-looking sports car.

Sky

Another great-looking sports car concept car, based on the Kappa platform shared with the Solstice. Word has it that the Saturn Sky has gotten the General's green light for production.

Cobalt

The two-door SS coupe is particularly appealing, but all the models share an interior that looks like it came straight out of a Volkswagen Passat. If this is the direction of GM interiors to come, it's a good thing.

Corvette

We can count on Chevrolet to get this one right. They've never made a bad one. The latest C6 Corvette is, not just the best buy in a sports GT car, it's a world class car.

GM is a giant of a corporation. It's not easy to turn a big battleship around. The same is true for General Motors. But, make no mistake about it - GM is turning around. The aforementioned should be ample proof that, for all the critics and criticism, GM is doing more than a few things right.

http://www.lacar.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=421
 

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Yup....Folks like a dog pile....and I think GM is getting more abuse than they deserve frankly.....Sure Ford is out there selling the bajezzuz out of that lil Mustang...and good for them...but I am convinced Lutz is the man and will take GM to the promised land with his lineup of cars...we are starting to see some of it now and I believe in 06 GM will have a great year.....
 

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As a person with 2 retired GM employees in the family I hope GM does well in the future, but I still see the same old problems. The Cobalt was mentioned earlier. That car is a disaster. The Lordstown plant is swamped with quality issues on the vehicle. You can't even take one out in the rain because of all the glass fit issues. The Solstice is a good looking roadster, but just like the G6, TERRIBLY UNDERPOWERED. To top it off GM advertising is non existent. How often do you see advertisments for a Monte Carlo, Grand Prix, Bonneville or the that wild looking Grand Am (GTO). When people still think it is a Grand Am or a Grand Prix someone has missed the boat on advertising. I've driven GM for years. Silverado, Grand Prix, Vette, now 2 GTO's, but I'm not so sure of the direction they are headed. Last GM made a big thing of how it was going to be quality first. The peoblem I had with my M6 GTO was looked at by and area rep, but I had to get corporate involved before I got any action. The repair was not to my satisfaction still and corporate defered back to the area rep who refused to even look at the vehicle after the repair. I payed out of my pocket to have it fixed correctly. Like I said before, I come from a GM family, but they have peoblems that need to be addressed quickly.
 

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I ahve been driving,gm cars for 17 years.Some of the new cars are the best ever.:cheers
 

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Obviously GM has issues right now. Heck I can't even watch the evening news without GM vehicles being mentioned as some part of a recall or NHTSA investigation. GM is a huge company that will survive and get headed in the right direction in due time. I due admit that 1 of the reasons I bought my GTO is it wasn't being assembled in the U.S. I also have only owned GM vehicles for 16 yrs, but I bought a Nissan Frontier just recently for an everday vehicle because GM offered nothing comparable in size, build quality, or price (uncle works for Nissan saved a ton of money). The longer GM takes to right the ship the more people will look else where.
 

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GM has grown so big that it will take a lot of great cars, with high margin, and high demand to turn around the company. Many of the issues stem from things like the pention plans and health care benefits that are costing them money. Selling 15k GTOs a year is not going to make up for the billions that are lost each quarter. The cars are the result of a fundamental business flaw and not the other way around. Until GM can handle the labor costs, pention, and healtchcare costs, 10 great cars won't turn the company around.
 
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