My industry is in large part driven by automotive sales. So when I say that General Motors deserves to die, I say it despite the negative impact it will have on my well-being.
But it really does deserve to die. Much like Chrysler deserved to die (but got government money instead) and now appears to be ready to die again (or more likely get government money instead).
General Motors has been manufacturing cars that are less reliable, less enjoyable, less comfortable, and less well-engineered than its Japanese counterparts for decades now. Decades! They’ve had this long to re-engineer, re-tool, re-design, and re-brand. They’ve had their chance. They’ve made vehicles that fewer and fewer people actually want to buy, and while their Japanese competition have been putting out solid vehicle after solid vehicle, General Motors has been chasing market trends around and failing time after time to actually catch those trends. When the market wants small cars, GM invests in SUVs, pickups, and crossover utility vehicles; when the market wants SUVs, pickups, and crossover vehicles, GM has just figured out that they’ve made a few too many small cars.
Contrast this approach to Toyota, who practically created the hybrid market before oil even reached sky-high prices earlier this year! Toyota is predicting or creating markets, while GM is (unsuccessfully) chasing them around. And while GM tries desperately to re-tool, Toyota has cornered the market.
It must have come as a shock to Toyota when GM announced the Chevy Volt, it really must have. GM doing something before the Japanese? Unheard of. Yet the Volt is still — still! — just a concept car without a marketable prototype.
The one single GM product that could spark some life into its flaccid branding, and it’s not even a production car, or even close. The one thing. All the while GM has to decide what to do with its insane pension and medical load, deal with cratering sales in the US market, production costs that haven’t gone down due in large part to ridiculous collective bargaining agreements with unions who have done more harm (by far!) than good, and a general public who sees them mostly as a cheaper, crappier alternative to the Japanese brands.
I think we got into this mess with a lot of short-term thinking. A lot, a lot of short-term thinking. I think we got into this mess because GM has been chasing the market instead of being the market. GM has never learned how to do something well and keep doing it well. Toyota, who used to be a joke of a brand, has consistently proven that it wants to — even if it’s just perception and not reality, even with that caveat — do something well. Whether it does or not is a good question, but whether or not it does is moot, since people think it does. That’s all that matters.
Honestly, I wouldn’t buy a GM vehicle any more. My wife’s Sunfire is a testament to the general inattentive and slovenly design and manufacturing practices GM is rightly known for: it’s neither fun to drive, nor nice to look at, nor able to drive 10,000 km without something or other failing, nor worth anything at resale. It seems designed by gorillas, engineered by apes, put together by monkeys, and generally not worth two bananas.
If my own GM experience has been that bad, is it any surprise that that the public at large are now voting with their dollars and saying that their experience has been that bad too?
General Motors deserves to die. It probably won’t: the governments of our various countries will prop up the guttering skeleton until Ford, GM, and Chrysler together are a third of what GM was ten years ago, because we as MPD socialist/capitalist countries seem to believe in privatizing profits and nationalizing losses. But at the end of the day GM richly deserves to be consigned to the dust-heap of history, as hard as that may be to see.