AD #1345 – More GM Recalls, Lack of Incentives Hurt Silverado, Slow Viper Sales Explained

March 31st, 2014 at 11:46am

Runtime: 7:54

- More GM Recalls
- Recalled GM Cars Don’t Lose Value
- What Mary Barra Will Say to Congress
- Lack of Incentives Hurt Silverado
- Slow Viper Sales Explained

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Hello and welcome to a brand new week of Autoline Daily.

Well over the weekend, General Motors added about 1 million cars to its recall list, and people are wondering what the heck is going on. First GM told its dealers to immediately stop selling the Chevy Cruze with the 1.4 liter turbo engine. But GM did not give any reason why, or explain what’s wrong with the car, but it sure sounds serious. Also, GM expanded its recall of the Chevy Cobalt, HHR, Saturn Ion and Sky and Pontiac G5 and Solstice to include model years up to 2011. Prior to this the recall only affected cars through the 2007 model year. Even though the newer cars were not defective, GM shipped 95,000 defective ignition switches to dealers and auto parts stores, and some of those newer cars were repaired with the defective switches. Imagine that. You bring your car in because it has a defective switch and they replace it with another defective switch. GM said it was easier to recall all the cars than try to track down the ones that were repaired this way.

There’s a fascinating legal twist in this expanded recall. By including cars through model year 2011, the legal onus and any liability now falls on the new GM. These cars were built after the bankruptcy, so GM can not push those legal claims on the old GM, also known as the Motors Liquidation Company. But unless those cars were involved in an accident because of the defective switch, it’s hard to see how those owners have any kind of case against GM. At least one class-action lawsuit was filed claiming that owners have lost value in their cars, Autoline Daily found that they will probably have a hard time proving their case. We contacted Automotive Lease Guide, Kelly Blue Book and Black Book and found that the GM cars involved in the lawsuit have not decreased in value. In fact, they have gone up. That’s because there is still a general shortage of good used cars, and entry level used cars are in the most demand. So it’s going to be hard to win a lawsuit claiming your car has lost value when in fact it’s now worth more than it was last month.

There’s another reason why GM is announcing so many recalls right now. Tomorrow and Wednesday, GM CEO Mary Barra will be testifying in front of Congress, and the company has to make sure it leaves nothing to chance. The last thing Barra needs is to admit under questioning that the company still has potential recall cases pending and has not taken action on them. Barra needs to show that GM is being extremely proactive if she is to convince Congress and the public that GM truly is putting the safety of its customers above everything else. That’s why all these recalls are being announced right before her testimony. Another thing. A high level source inside GM tells Autoline Daily that Barra will announce a string of initiatives to show that GM is taking bold moves to regain the public’s trust. I don’t what those initiatives include, but we’re going to hear about it tomorrow.

Sales of Chevy’s new Silverado pickup have been disappointing so far this year and we thought that a lack of styling difference between the new and old truck might have something to do with that. But another possible reason could be a lack of money on the hood when compared to its competitors. Ram currently offers on average nearly $6,000 per truck of incentives, which is 35% more than Ford and its F-150 and 46% more than Silverado. GM may want to preserve profit margins but if sales continue to fall don’t be surprised if the amount of incentives for the Silverado start to rise.

The assembly plant that makes the SRT Viper is going to shut down for a couple of months. Coming up next Ralph Gilles, the CEO of SRT, explains what’s going on.

Ralph Gilles the head of design at Chrysler and the head of the SRT brand was our guest on Autoline After Hours last week. We asked him what the heck is going on with the Viper and here’s what he had to say.

(Ralph Gilles’ Viper sales explanation is only in the video version of today’s show.)

By the way you can watch that entire episode right now on our website at or catch it all on YouTube. Just look for the Autoline Network.

And that wraps up today’s report, thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.

Thanks to our Partners for embedding Autoline Daily on their websites: Autoblog

98 Comments to “AD #1345 – More GM Recalls, Lack of Incentives Hurt Silverado, Slow Viper Sales Explained”

  1. jim Says:

    what is the name of the manufacturer of the defective ignition switches?

  2. G.A.Branigan Says:

    Why do customers,(or potential customers) have to point out sloppy fit and finish and poor quality materials to SRT? Have they no eyes themselves??

  3. alex wellington Says:

    #1 W. L. Coyote tells me it is “ACME” Ignition Switches, inc.

    #2 Not to mention the horrible overheating in early Viper interiors.

  4. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ #1: I believe it was Delphi.

  5. Mike Says:

    So, did the defective GM switches pass their DVP&R and then it was later discovered that the original standard was not tough enough? If it can be shown that the switches never really passed testing, then GM is in trouble. If the real issue was in deciding how heavy the should have been planning for the extreme limit key chain to really be, then maybe that is not as big a deal. Who really knows how to set a standard like that?

  6. dcars Says:

    At 100k apiece the Viper is a hard sell. The Corvette (at 52k) is a better car, but then the Corvette is better than most super cars.

  7. dcars Says:

    I’ve read that Delphi told GM it didn’t meet their spec. and GM bought it anyways.

  8. XA351GT Says:

    G.A. I think it’s a matter of if they are willing to buy a inferior materials and fitment that is more money in their(SRT) pocket. They are realizing that people expect more. They want and expect more from their econocars so to think that they could get away with that on 6 figure car would have been suicide.

  9. Bradley Says:

    How old is that stock footage of the DC area? I would guess late 1990s by the sample of cars shown.

  10. Todd T Says:

    Silverado incentives are well above $6,000 currently. The full amounts are not being “captured” as incentives because GM is not showing some of the total discount as cash incentives, but rather as MSRP discounts. Case in point a current ad for the 2014 Silverado 2500 HD 4WD diesel crew-cab LTZ: $4,250 “Total Cash Allowance” (cash incentive) AND $4,724 “Discount off MSRP” (would not be captured as an incentive) for total discount of $8,974 in what GM is calling “Truck Month Total Value”. I don’t know if that “month” is March or April to be honest with you. But, another ad has a total of $7,541 on another Silverado, only $3,500 is expressed as “cash allowance”, while another $3,291 is “price discount” and $750 is “option package discount”. Incentive tracking has always been incredibly complex, but it’s getting more-and-more so, and as a consequence it’s getting less-and-less accurate. The reality is that “real” numbers are only known internally, but each manufacturer. That number is getting to be as difficult to know accurately as is what a manufacturer spends on warranty claims per car.

  11. XA351GT Says:

    Barra should just pull a (Lois) Lerner and plead the 5th. If they let the IRS get away with it how could they hold someone who just took over the job. The people explaining this should be her predecessors that were supposedly running the company while this mess was happening.

  12. Buzzerd Says:

    The lack of money on the hood of the Silverado could defintley be the the problem or part of. A friend who is a GM salesman has told me before that when GM has say 2.9% finacing and $6,000 rebate and Ford has 0% financing and $3000 rebate, he has had customers storm out of the dealership becuase they won’t give them 0% like Ford even though they are getting more cash back and that could be a better deal if you pay off the vehicle early or at the very least the same in the end.

  13. alex wellington Says:

    9 I always have fun dating old movies by the latest car models appearing on them. But you can only specify a lower limit (eg 1997 or later)

    This time I looked at the video again and freezed the frame where it shows the Capitol. There were two large banners with 1881 (or most likely 1891) and 1991 written on them.

    So there is a good chance the video was taken in 1991… when a Mercedes 300 SEL (soon to be replaced with the fat big ones of 1992-99 model years) went for 67,000 (over $130k in today’s $) and had a lousy, underpowered 177 HP and 188 lbft 3.0 I6.

  14. G.A.Branigan Says:

    @ Dcars: I read that same article this morning.Delphi told GM that the switchs were faulty,GM told Delphi to go ahead with what they had if they wanted more contracts.

    @ XA351GT:Yup,if I were to walk into a SRT showroom and seen sloppy/bad fit and finish,and cheapass interiors,I would leave without said viper.

  15. alex wellington Says:

    #11 If Barra pleads the 5th it would be a huge embarrassment for GM (as if it does not already have two huge black eyes, a broken nose and a dislocated jaw)

    #12 The problem with the Silverado is the damned PRODUCT, the Ram is doing great and so is the F 150. There was not a worse launch of a new truck than the new Silverado in decades.

    The styling is not just atrocious, utterly anti-aerodynamic brick, with a grill as flat as a building facade, but it is also the same damn styling they had 20 years ago!!!

  16. alex wellington Says:

    #13 Or maybe it read 1993? September 18, 1993, was the Capitol’s bicentennial. But the fuzzy numbers did not look like 3s to me.

  17. G.A.Branigan Says:

    As I see it,Barra really has no choice but to be upfront about the mess the whole world knows she inherited.GM is gonna get the big bite in th’ butt and it’s well deserved,however they will do what’s right,own it,and become a better more responsible company.If not,it will be gone.

    What I want to see in this,is the actual person responsible for ordering the KNOWN BAD switches get his or hers ass handed to them with criminal penalties.Blood baby,I want blood….

  18. Drew Says:

    Delphi was the supplier of the switch.

  19. George Ricci Says:

    Ralph Gilles,

    You cut production of the Viper in 2013 by third and now in 2014 you have a 412 day supply. You admit that the car has not met your 1500 -2000 unit target and now you’re closing the plant and laying workings off for 10 weeks. Yet you say you have customer orders that can fill the plant? Sorry Gilles I’m not buying it. You would not be losing all this money on the plant shutdown and laid off workers if didn’t have a big problem on your hands.

  20. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Back to yesterday’s discussion, and Pedro’s car shopping.

    Four cylinder Camrys have had timing chains since the 2002 model year.

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Viper costs too much, especially compared to a Corvette, and pipeline has long since been filled for people who want the novelty of the car, and its V10 engine.

    I suspect Viper would be like Corvette, in that a lot of buyers would want to “spec it out,” rather than buying one off the lot. That doesn’t help matters, especially with what, in best of times, is a very low volume car.

  22. XA351GT Says:

    George Ricci, It sounded like he was saying “Hey look we have all these cars already at dealerships, so let’s FORCE anyone who wants one to buy what is already built instead of getting what they really want” To me this is another slap in the face of the buyers. If I’m going to plunk down up to 140K I want EXACTLY what I want not settle for what is available. Which to me is what it sounded like he was saying.

  23. alex wellington Says:

    Gilles’s defense of the pathetic Sales of the Viper was a steaming pile of.. lame excuses. Give me a break! He pretended they care about the resale value of existing Vipers and that they had 2,000 orders that were not filled. Yeah, right. And I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you, Gilles. What a bunch of 100%, USDA pure fertilizer!

    He could have been honest and told us that they are bleeding billions from the Viper, or at least hundreds of millions, over its 20 year life so far, but they decided to take the loss as it is their “HALO CAR”. I could buy that.

    Of course, there is Porsche, VWs both Halo Division AND huge cash cow, with humongous profits alleged at $25,000 per Porsche car or SUV sold.

    That is the benefit of Automotive EXCELLENCE, a word that has all but disappeared from most makers.

  24. John McElroy Says:

    Thanks to Todd T (#10) for great insight on Silverado cash incentives vs. MSRP discounts. Quite insightful.

  25. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Could they just put Viper production in the corner of a regular assembly plant, and build them to order, like some other expensive, low volume cars are done?

  26. GaryPaul Says:

    This is a long one so skip my comments if you like….;-)

    Regarding Viper sales—with a 400+ day supply I doubt it can be attributed solely to the colder snowier Winter we had or the fact that it is clearly a car to be driven only in Summer. But lets see if I am wrong and it soon starts selling like hotcakes. With only a couple thousand made each year a 400+ days supply is a serious concern. The explanation that they could not shoehorn in one of the large V8′s they have is yet to my mind another problem with the Viper platform because use of one of their big V8s like on the upcoming 600+ hp Hellcat Challenger, would lower the price of the thing A LOT and then production could go up and the thing could still pull 700 hp but be a V8 powered beast (which sounds way better anyway. I don’t like to predict but I think that they will figure out how to shove a V8 in there or they will just lunch (throw out) the Viper platform as it costs too much to keep around and keep improving when there are fierce competitors all around it. And even though it offers a lot of car for the money, many purchasers of these types of vehicles for over $100,000 don’t want to walk into a Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep/ Fiat/ Ram/SRT/Plymouth /Desoto (sorry –got carried away) to buy a cool supercar. The other factors like the fact that nobody wants to regularly drive it indicates it is a cool aggressive vehicle and I like that but vehicles like a Hellcat Challenger make more sense and people would actually see them being driven around in reasonable numbers and you might even be able to advertise once in a while!

    And even there—in the Pony car/muscle car/ performance car/rwd performance field we have some problems—-you see the heart of the Mustang/ Challenger / Camaro vehicle field price range should be (for the 2015-2016 years) at about $25k-40k. If they make a really cool higher power special car like a Mustang Bullitt or a Mustang GT350 or or a Camaro Z28 the need to get away from making “An Instant Classic” (you know with “limited production”) & priced at $55,000-60,000 out the door or higher and make the vehicle at a maximum of $45-50K and let your engineers and designers do what they can within that price ceiling… Engineers love challenges like that and this will keep these types of vehicles on the boil in people’s minds because they can covet them and afford them! (O

    Oh yeah—and while they are at it—if the new 2014 Corvette has an override to allow any color combination with any interior shade, why not allow that option with the upcoming Mustang and 2016 (new platform) Camaro? Hell if I want white interior combined with Dark Blue exterior–why can’t I order that? Heck I would even pay a small amount to get the combination I wanted! This would help break the “Any Color you want as long as it is in combination with the interior we demand to you to take” rule.

    And oh yeah—another way to juice up excitement in these pony cars is to offer a “Delete package” –a package that eliminates certain power-robbing/extra cost features (like a/c, or ridiculous 12 speaker stereos, or leather upholstery). And combine the a/c delete package with an engine detail option where you get chromed valve covers and cleaned up engine compartment WITHOUT the dreaded massive plastic lunch tray that more and more engines carry today and some flash without weight and yeah—you can open the hood and actually point to the valve covers!–hah. –Oh yeah and just because I don’t want leather upholstery does not mean you cannot design a really fine looking cloth interior with red pinstriping and somehow–yes somehow I will live with an MP3 4 speaker stereo that will already destroy my hearing… the rest of you guys can continue with multi -speakers and climate control, and cooled leather and giant engine lunch trays). They could even make it special order only once or twice a year so the quality will stay high at the assembly point.

    —where are the product planners on all this?

  27. pedro fernandez Says:

    Boy, oh boy more and more bad news for the General, and I thought I was having a $hitty month!! But Kit, the Camry models I was looking at were all from the 90′s in early 2001 or 02 they made the thing bigger and crappier IMHO, I wish I could find one from the early to mid 90′s in really good shape, those were better built, poor man’s Lexus.

  28. Kit Gerhart Says:

    26, I’m with you 100%, especially on the interior/paint color and cloth seats.

  29. pedro fernandez Says:

    Looking at a nicely kept 2000 Rolla, but the guy put in rims, low profile rubber and a loud muffler, I think I’ll pass on that one, the others have the 3 speed tranny, being there, done that, This ain’t easy folks! Also some have after market, lousy paint jobs, maybe accident?

  30. Kit Gerhart Says:

    27, That’s what I suspected. Too bad they didn’t use the timing chain engines in the earlier generation.

  31. XA351GT Says:

    Gary Paul, on your delete package suggestion, I’m afraid that will never happen as that is where the profit is in all those needless options. I remember when you didn’t order a package your ordered each specific option and color combo you wanted if you special ordered your car. Now you get what they give you. That is why back in the 60s and 70s there were so many odd option combos. Just try to buy a base model of anything that doesn’t have some kind of option or package on it at a dealer. I remember Pontiac advertising the Solstice for 20K . The lowest price I ever saw on the lot was 23K.

  32. Kit Gerhart Says:

    You could order a ~$20K Solstice, and I know someone who did, but even the “zero option” versions of most of today’s cars have a lot of un-needed stuff. If you can get any car in the U.S. without power windows, it would be a price leader Versa, or something like that.

  33. XA351GT Says:

    Kit that was my point . You could order it ,but I never saw or knew anyone who found a stripper model on the lot. It used to be you special ordered to get things you want . Now you special order to get what you DON’T want.

  34. alex wellington Says:

    I was reading the latest car mags (May issues) at B&N yesterday afternoon, and one of them had some crazy comparisons of new vs used cars that have about the same price.

    By far the craziest was one comparing the new (universally thumbs-down-ed) POS Mirage from Mitsu, at almost $20k, to a low-miles Bentley-like Behemoth VW Phaeton from 2005 or so.

    The Phaeton was made in the same glass building in Leipzig, Germany (in the former East Germany lands) alongside with the Bentley COntinental and Silver Spur.

    But the comparison had a V8 Phaeton. The one that is more related to the Bentley was the W 12 one, using the same basic engine that these Bentleys had.

    Very few Phaetons were sold in the US and a small fraction of them had the W12, so it is hard to find one near you, and also they did not lose their value as you would expect, due to their rarity.

  35. alex wellington Says:

    Well, I went and did a search, and found 41 Phaetons in all USA, and four of them had the 6.0 lt W 12, but they were not that expensive. As low as $12,000 for a 55k mile specimen. As the others were $20k or so and had more miles, I suspected damage and got the above carfax report free (from cars sold by dealers), this has a v ery detailed history of service and repairs for the first two owners, but the third owner did not do much to the car.

  36. Kit Gerhart Says:

    33, Yeah, you special order to get what you don’t want, but for the most part, you don’t have much choice, even if you order.

  37. pedro fernandez Says:

    I gotta get wheels b4 my free rental expires on Fri, this ain’t easy, I wish I had more time to choose, also looking at used Chevy Prizm, but again most of them come with the 3 speed tranny. I’m starting to think I’m better off looking at Elantra.

  38. HtG Says:

    37 not looking for a civic because of the timing belt, Pedro?*

    Check this Craigslist advert

    * i think the interval is 100k k or 7yrs

  39. pedro fernandez Says:

    Civics demand a premium over here, HtG, perhaps because there are not as many around as Corolla and how many people like Honda, specially the tuners.

  40. GaryPaul Says:


    #17: Yes accountability is problem all over the big corporate world and perhaps most of all at the “Old GM”. But for gosh sakes, today it still exists everywhere and apparently to a considerable degree at GM! Remember it is a team world today where there is no “I” and combined with the often endless position changes by management (in order to be knowledgeable about how every major department of the company runs–which does not work to develop balanced executives anyway), you end up with a nice fat slice of UNACCOUNTABILITY MAXIMUS… so that those who are often the least accountable go up the chain of management to help keep the ball of unaccountability rolling happily along…

    Yet somebody somewhere at GM had to be leading a team where the team or the manager of the team signed off on not taking action after recognizing years ago that the part was not up to standards. Somebody had to say something like this in their own mind, somewhere at some point at GM: “Not up our standards–Golly not my problem–see yah!” The GM Bamboozle at its finest… (The GM Bamboozle: My description of the way GM won’t come clean that I have described here before. It’s cultural goo characterized by:
    1. A lack of Accountability.
    2. A lack of decisive leadership.
    3. A lack of clear internal or external goals guiding the “team” to where they are going.

  41. HtG Says:

    DC is lousy with Civics for some reason.* Low priced as well

    *spooky, like Saabs in CT

  42. HtG Says:

    Accountability@40 that may be why GM hired Valukas to investigate what happened. As a former US attorney and the Lehman investigator, he’s also going to have personal relationships with the US attorney’s office in NY. Fewer misunderstandings, hopefully

  43. Darren Says:

    12 people dies as result of defective ignition in GM cars. 25,000 died in a year due to hospital acquired infections and 60,000 died from doctor prescribed pain meds. So what is the priority here?
    I just bought a 2014 Ram crew LTD cause a $10k discount. I could have been happy with any brand on market today. I usually buy GM pickups.

  44. pedro fernandez Says:

    The number of dead people is not important, what’s important is that they lied and tried to cover up and hide their heads in the sand hoping it would just go away and by some divine intervention, the problem would just go away.

  45. alex wellington Says:

    44 The evidence shows they kept making CRAPPY cars with CRAPPY parts until very recently. It is really unbelievable “how the mighty have fallen”, a company that was, for decades, the biggest company not only in the US but also in the World, which used to dominate the US market, with more than 50% market share, saw itself dwindle over many, many decades of utterly incompetent, arrogant CEOs in bed with the UAW.

    That 50% (almost 60%) of the market went down to 40, then 30 (GM empoloyees were wearing silly “29%” (market share) buttons at some time, as if this was some worthwhile goal, getting HALF their peak market share), but instead, they fell to below 20%, now at 18% barely, and of course they went bankrupt in the process.

    Tomorrow’s (and then April’s) sales will be very revealing, to see if the overall market was better than March 2013, and specifically if GM’s share was affected by the disastrous scandal.

  46. GaryPaul Says:

    Yes #31 XA351GT thanks for your thoughts and I agree with you mostly.

    Regarding the Delete package —this would be applied only to high performance cars (Example: Even though today’s Mustangs finally came of age with even the base V6 model quite powerful by the 2011 model year)—the manufacturer could limit this “Delete Option” to only be ordered on the high performance Mustang lines like the GT or the future Bullitt or the GT350. It would be obviously less severe than what Chevy did with the Camaro Z28 –even working on the bow-tie emblem to make it more aerodynamic!–and would include elimination of a few obvious items that add cost to the vehicle; weight to the vehicle; parasitic drag to the vehicle (like an A/C compressor—until they all become electric that is!); and that mess up the engine compartment (this would mainly be throwing out the lunch tray, adding a little chrome, & throwing out the a/c compressor and associated pipes and tubes so you can see the dang engine instead of a plastic airport runway). Thus making the vehicle a “collector car” (if you want to call it that) for the regular guy—more expensive yes but not ridiculously so at all, and only available on one or two of the high performance Mustang or Camaro or Challenger variants… Yes limited in availability but heck even Honda offered a/c delete on the S2000 at one point—how come Honda can have it but a GT350 (in the future) or a Bullitt or a Mustang GT can’t order this –say once a year in spring? It couldn’t be that hard or costly to do this and since it would be a once a year option it would appeal to the street machine crowd and certainly cost less then engineering these rather overpriced cars like a Z28 (I am impressed, again with the vehicle & the performance for the buck according to the couple of tests so far, but it is just too much $$ for the vehicle price classification– and if you were to actually pass down the engineering tricks learned on the Z/28 they would be considerably for naught because the platform is being redesigned for 2016 model year) The idea is to generate buzz and excitement and real performance for a reachable price point….

  47. GaryPaul Says:

    In actuality you would not get any discount for the delete package as it would add the factory engine dress up “kit” in combination with the deletion items all in one package
    and so the cost to the manufacturer would be nil.

  48. GaryPaul Says:

    #43: Yes you are right—the quality today is so much better than it was in the 60s and i for one am thankful and aware of it im spite of our present day concerns. As bad as the 50s and 60s quality was it perhaps hit its worst level in the early 1980s and I was there—it was B A D —but you know without competition from Japan (such as Toyota and Honda that step by step attacked quality issues from the early 50s) and now from a whole lotta companies from Asia and Europe we would not have been forced into improving. It seems that the product development process is much improved—first methodically since about 1990 and then with more passion starting with Lutz input (although imperfect it was helpful but too late to stop the eventually bankruptcy).

    The systems that we have in place today still get things done–and yet—time and again I saw that people at GM and Delphi would be hot and cold—One guy getting things done like a man cutting down tree after tree and building a house and being responsible AND another guy eating hot dogs while sitting on a log and doing–literally–one hour of work a day and quick to attack anybody doing more than their own lazy level of work ethic. And those bums would are generally not assessed in any meaningful way so that the truth that they are on the payroll for no reason is lost in the deep labyrinth of the corporation. But even then –when there are good guys pulling for themselves & the bums– good vehicles can be manufactured.

  49. Bradley Says:

    13, 16

    Good catch!

  50. GaryPaul Says:

    #43: Yes you are right—the quality today is so much better in general than it was in the 60s and i for one am thankful and aware of it in spite of our RELATIVE present day concerns. As bad as the 50s and 60s quality was it perhaps hit its worst level (relative to the growing Toyota qualities)–in the early 1980s and I was there—it was B A D —but you know without competition from Japan (such as Toyota and Honda that step-by-step attacked quality issues from the early 50s) and now from a whole lot of companies from Asia and Europe we would not have been forced into improving. It seems that the product development process @ GM is much improved—first methodically (but too slowly) since about 1990 and then with more passion starting with Lutz input (although imperfect it was helpful but too late to stop the eventually bankruptcy).

    The systems that we have in place today still get things done–and yet—time and again I saw that people at GM and Delphi would be hot and cold—One guy getting things done like a man cutting down tree after tree and building a house and being responsible AND another guy eating hot dogs while sitting on a log and doing–literally (yes literally–and brazen about it)–one hour of work a day–and quick to attack anybody doing more than their own lazy levels of work ethic. And those bums would not be assessed in any meaningful way so that the truth that they are on the payroll for no reason is lost. Toyota has those people but there are less of them, just as Toyota has “Monday-Friday Cars”, but again a lot less of them. But even then–when there are good guys (as PDL said–the True Believers) pulling for themselves & the bums– good vehicles can be manufactured.


  51. GaryPaul Says:


    Yes I recall the 29 pins —oh brother. Here is my letter printed in Automotive News back then touching on the pathetic troubles with GM back then:

    My Letter to Automotive News on March 25, 2005:

    LETTER TO THE EDITOR: GM’s problem is mainly GM

    Regarding “Downsizing Detroit” and General Motors’ recent problems, I have this to say:

    No one should support GM until top management is held accountable. As Carlos Ghosn demanded when saving Nissan, measurable, worthwhile goals must be stated publicly and accomplished within a rapid time frame, or management must go.

    Terrific vehicles are the measurable foundation of long-term health. GM has been crowing about a product onslaught.

    What onslaught? Four newly styled nine-year-old minivans? A dearth of five- or six-speed automatic transmissions? The underpowered five-cylinder Hummer H3 to come? An endless series of duplicated SUVs? A refusal to retire yester-tech 3.8-liter V-6 engines? A plethora of low-tech automatic transmissions?

    The way GM operates, don’t be surprised to see a new decree that all executives must wear “25″ pins to signify maintaining 25 percent of the market so folks like Buick dealers will be motivated to order 2005 Lexus-challenging Taurus – oops – I mean LaCrosse models with their gear-deprived four-speed automatic transmissions and yester-tech 3.8-liter engines.
    [note: the new Buick LaCrosse looked surprisingly like the old stale Ford Taurus]

    With four or five redundant divisions squeezed between Cadillac and Chevrolet, not even Toyota or Honda could manage the menagerie of mediocre models that GM claims give it an advantage.

    If $2 billion can be thrown at Fiat, why not just pay off dealers and eliminate redundant vehicle divisions like Buick, which are filled with not-gotta-have products?

    We must expect accountability from GM now, or the company will disintegrate.

    And hey, it did disintegrate—who’da thunk it?

  52. HtG Says:

    50 I hope we find out what happened with this ignition switch, in the fullness of time. If Barra can use this episode to drive the culture in the right direction that will be great, like Mulally broke the warring silos culture at Ford.

  53. GaryPaul Says:


    Uh Oh…
    there’s that horrible accountability thing again—I can imagine GM employees running for cover over who knew what when about this ignition plunger and spring problem

    Yes GM has a some pretty good stuff out there now–it still needs work, but nevertheless round two of “EMERGENCY AT GM” is about to start (Round One was the original 40 year crisis starting in the tail end of the 50s, taking 10 years to sink in, another ten years to fully take effect and then the downhill from 1980 until bankruptcy)

    To survive GM needs this Mantra hammered into every executive and I mean like NOW:

    I. Our main goal is to build the best car in every price class.

    II. Problems are wonderful–we crave them because they are opportunities to solve; to engineer; to conquer. Although Mulally is not perfect his idea to have managers get up in front of colleagues at regular meetings and say:

    Help me—I have a problem. This is what it is…Who can help me solve it?

    And attack the problem like a Moral war with gusto—because GM is in a war now and they better realize it and use it as an opportunity. Heck Steal the Mulally idea now and roll up your sleeves and get to work—!!!

  54. Doug Says:

    What happened to the background music?

  55. GaryPaul Says:

    now for some lighter news….

    i had a chance to drive the new 2014 Corvette–and yeah it was a hoot!

    This is why it is so disgusting about this recent situation….which brings up yet another problem for the former BIG THREE—least of all Ford— but effecting them all….

    And that’s the relationships with suppliers–they must be tight and full of trust and full or cooperation or the quality of your vehicles will suffer. And it isn’t just the quality of the part–it is the attention that the supplier will give to issues when interacting with the manufacturer…

    With Chrysler supplier relations has gone up and down like a yo-yo just like the company had done for decades… With GM its been more like a slow steady slide…

    Without this relationship being tighter and the T R U S T increasing GM will never make the best quality vehicles…

    It may seem that I disrespect GM–not so. I want to see it succeed but in a sense it got so many billions of dollars–& over S10 billion it the government lost when it sold its share in GM at the price it did…

    So GM should be thankful—and yes–the employees in general ought to work harder; work smarter; revel in a competitive challenge; innovate; fiercely compete. I am seeing some of this but not enough!
    **Again I like the new Corvette,
    **the new full sized pickups (but the need a restyle and bring the darn price closer in line with the market–heck you can always raise it later can’t yah? Yah lower the $$ on the Volt by $7500! sheesh….)
    **the new “small trucks” are too damned big but if they are under $20K and can handle 2000lbs in the bed and tow 3500lbs in a base 4-cylinder model for under $20K that will be an attractive price point, although these 2 ton+ “small” trucks still have no full length bed–I mean my relatively tiny Ford Ranger has a bed over 7 feet long!
    **the new 2016 Camaro will finally get back to a real “Pony Car” size instead of being muscle-car sized and styled like a pony car as the present model is. The ATS platform appears to have very good quality but there is scuttlebutt on a bunch of little troubles on the Cadillac ATS… (could this be related to supplier part issues? —perhaps so)
    **The big GM Suburban and derivative tanks seem quite impressive and the grill on the Chevy is different but handsome!–Come on GM get to work on the Pickup–I bet the design is already locked in for an update and will be here soon—there’s just too much $$ being lost over a measly (but thorough) grill change (which i think is half the exterior style concerns).
    ** So there’s potential at GM but they have to get serious now or the GM Titanic bow will start to sink and the Govt would be hard pressed to help again!
    ** I think they will make it but if they hit 16% of the market as PDL was indicating, watch out, because the amortization of costs will start disappearing…

  56. GaryPaul Says:

    OK you guys—now I’ll stop chatting for a while –had the day off!

  57. HtG Says:

    Did anyone see this piece in AutomotiveNews, wherein congressional staff name the GM engineer that signed off on a change to the ignition?

    As I read it, it’s like GM decided the switch required less torque resistance than the supplier thought was right. Again, it reminds me of the changes Bob Lutz made when he came in to work on product. He wrote in ‘Car Guys&Beancounters,’ was it, about doing away with hoary company rules on making cars. I’m only BSing, but could there be a connection?

  58. HtG Says:

    Barra and NHTSA director, Friedman, release testimony. These are the prepared statements.

  59. HtG Says:

    Here’s a tough quote from Friedman’s prepped testimony(p.3)…

    “This was a difficult case pursued by experts in the field of screening, investigations and technology involving airbags that are designed to deploy in some cases, but not in cases where they are not needed or would cause greater harm than good.

    GM had critical information that would have helped identify this defect. (-my emphasis)

    With that and other information in hand, we can look for lessons learned from this experience that may further improve our process.”

  60. Kit Gerhart Says:

    51, That brings back (too recent) memories, of 7 TrailBlazers, that underwhelming 5 cyl engine, and the rest. I agree with all of what you say, including its being time for the 3.8 V6 to go, but I know people who were PI$$ED when they dropped that engine. I don’t think they had driven many Honda V6′s.

  61. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I like the new Corvette, and it is a relative bargain. If I were in the market for a new, high performance sports car, it would be high on my list. I also like the ATS and CTS, but if I were buying a car of that type and price, I’d probably buy something else. Maybe it shouldn’t be this way, but the Cadillacs need to be less expensive than a Benz or BMW. If the “new Cadillac” can re-gain its reputation as a maker of serious luxury cars, they should sell well at similar prices to the Germans, but that will take time.

  62. HtG Says:

    Hey, that sounds a lot like what Peter D is ‘ranting’ this week

  63. aliisdad Says:

    Wow, I just wanted to say “yes, yes, and yes” to so many of today’s comments.. I’ll just say that a anyone who would buy a General Motors or Chrysler product should be institutionalized for their own protection!!!!!

  64. Kit Gerhart Says:

    63, Huh? Both GM and Chrysler have some good products.

  65. Bob Aubertin Says:

    Aliisdad where does it hurt? I have a Great Dentist, a Wonderful Cardiologist and a Fantastic
    Neurologist that could help you with your condition.

    You see #63 I was cured and when I was released, I had the Taxi driver take me to a Chrysler showroom where I bought a Brand new 300C and a friend of mine who was released bought a Brand new Cadillac CTS-V.

    So #63 go out there and buy yourself a Brand new Chrysler or Cadillac and get rid of your pain.

  66. alex wellington Says:

    #51 Thanks, great letter! Too bad they did not listen to you… You were even prophetic in talking about that moronic deal between GM and Fiat, where GM lost $4 billion total, it invested $2 bill, got NOTHING out of it, and then had to pay another $2 bill to get out of the Fiat Deal!

  67. alex wellington Says:

    I returned to this site this morning assuming that almost everybody would have ganged up on me for my GM comments, but was quite surprised to find the comments posted after I left almost unanimous in agreement to mine!

    I hope GM can avoid another bankruptcy, as a long-suffering US taxpayer I have every interest in them being healthy and prosperous. And especially as a MI resident!

    But if it does, it should NOT be bailed out again.

    In other news: Top Gear had an article about the upcoming big SUV the BMW X7, cited how BMW was losing customers to the Big Merc SUV the GL. Top Gear is expecting BMW to unveil the X4 soon, but also to extend its offerings above the X7 with still bigger SUVs, the X9 and X11.

    I bet the X11 will be so effing huge, it will need to escorts carrying “Wide Load” signs in front of it and behind it.

  68. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Chevy made an X11 in the early 80′s.

  69. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I don’t read PDL often, too much negativity, but I just read that one, and yeah, he agrees with me exactly on Cadillac pricing. Also, he agrees that they have some good cars. He sure has a lot of hate some people at GM, though.

  70. alex wellington Says:

    From the NYT (Subscription required)

    “Cobalts Were Seen as Lemons From Start, Data Shows

    Owners of the Chevrolet car complained about power steering failures, locks opening and closing and doors jamming shut long before the car became known for having a deadly ignition defect. ”

    Cobalts were on sale until even a couple years ago. I remember TB praising his SS variant. So much for the myth that “GM stopped making crappy cars many years ago”)…

  71. alex wellington Says:

    68 Gotcha! APRIL FOOLS!!!

    Did you really believe that they will make an X9, let alone an X11?

  72. Kit Gerhart Says:

    My friend’s Sunfire, immediate predecessor to the Cobalt has over 200K miles and counting, with very little repair. I guess the Cobalt was a rare step backward from its predecessor.

    Apparently not all Cobalts are bad, though. I know someone who has one, and has had no problems, and I know two owners of the related HHR who love them.

  73. alex wellington Says:

    69 PDL is negative because he has to. If he was reviewing Boeing or any other large successful, well run company with good products that people actually need, and not GM, he would not be as negative.

    But I am glad you agree with his point about pricing of the Caddys. Both the RWD ATS and CTS are good cars. However, if they want to compete with Mercs and BMWs, they should not be priced the same. The Lexus LS has, for decades, significantly undercut the Merc S class and even the E class! By as much as $15k in 1990, when it went for $35k base price, while the cheapest S class went for $60k and the cheapest (and smaller, and no V8) E class for $45k or so.

    Caddy obviously miscalculated, hence the huge inventories of CTS and ATS.

    Another problem of the CTS and ATS is that they are one-trick dogs, they sacrifice room, trunk space etc to performance and handling. But the people with $ that buy luxury cars want everything, and in fact BMW and Merc have recently de-emphasized handling (which is still more than adequate, and nothing like wallowing FWD domestics or imports), and strengthened interior room, fuel efficiency, and of course luxury.

  74. HtG Says:

    71 yup, got me. I was shaking my head wondering what is the matter with those people at BMW. I just blamed the customers. Luckily I didn’t share my advice that they get it over with and paint the dammed things yellow.

  75. Kit Gerhart Says:

    “Did you really believe that they will make an X9, let alone an X11″

    Not really, but you never know, given the direction they are going. A Cadillac has replaced the 3 series as the “ultimate driving machine,” and they are building a “MINI” that weighs within 100 pounds of a Subaru Forester.

  76. Kit Gerhart Says:

    73, Also, MB and BMW have more complete lines of power trains, with the diesel in the E-Class and 3 series. If I bought a car in either price/size class, that is what I’d want.

  77. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’ve been seeing a new CTS near here, and I think it looks great, but ~$50K, to start, is too much money.

  78. alex wellington Says:

    March sales have started to come in, and Chrysler is up 13% (vs expected 2% for the industry). BUT they did it by giving Rams away!

    “This month, Chrysler offered an average incentive of $5,598 per truck on the Ram 1500, 35 percent more than the Ford F-150 and 46 percent more than Silverado, according to data dealers provide to researcher J.D. Power and Associates obtained by Bloomberg News.”

  79. alex wellington Says:

    75 I am aware, but don’t really believe that anything will be the new 3 series any time soon, especially the ATS.

    The new M3 and M4 are the size the 5 series was 20 years ago. The new 3 is the 1 and 2 series.

    I don’t know why they made the MINI so heavy though.

    I find it remarkable, on the subject of weight, that the CR-V weighs a mere 3300 lbs and still passes the safety tests, while the aging Equinox is 500 lbs heavier.

  80. HtG Says:

    AW, what do you say to the argument that MSRP isn’t as important as lease cost per month? Is MSRP a little bit of bragging for an owner, or does it keep people away?

  81. HtG Says:

    I see so much pricing is the set up for making people excited about getting a deal, viz JCPenney or OldNavy, etc.

  82. alex wellington Says:

    80 I never leased and I never bought a car with monthly payments, I paid cash every time.

    But there are plenty of luxury cars and makers that offer attractive leases, sometimes it makes sense to lease rather than buy. This is esp true for some EVs and plug-ins recently.

    Back to Chrysler sales, besides giving away Rams, Jeep sales were quite strong thanks to new product.

  83. alex wellington Says:

    80 I did not address the rest of your Q. MSRP is quite fictitious. Even if you get the alleged % profit each make and model brings to the dealer, even these numbers are not always accurate because the dealers get all kinds of special deals.

    Inflated MSRPs can be used for bragging, true in the past where many buyers would even leave the sales paper on the car window.

    They also explain part of the steep depreciation when you buy a new car and drive it one block and half a mile.

  84. Kit Gerhart Says:

    79, The MINI that weighs almost as much as a Forester, and only ~100 pounds less than a CRV, is the Countryman, which is much smaller and less roomy.

    A basic MINI hardtop like mine weighs about the same as a Honda Fit. I guess the new MINI hardtop may be a little lighter, but still heavy for its size.

  85. alex wellington Says:

    Ford is in too, up 3%, but Lincoln up 31%. Linc sales may have been depressed a year ago though.

  86. alex wellington Says:

    And I don’t know if this is a really clever April Fools on the part of, but I just read that

    “GM results (March sales) delayed due to a computer glitch”!!!

  87. alex wellington Says:

    I was right above. Lincoln sales, while up 31%, were still pitifully small. ALl of Lincoln sold what the 3 series sells in an average, not a good, month!

    Nissan was up 8% too.

  88. Kit Gerhart Says:

    85, So they sold 131 Lincolns, up from 100.

  89. alex wellington Says:

    88 I bet the ELR will best them, up 100%, they will sell 194, up from 97 units.

  90. Kit Gerhart Says:

    89, That many?

    Regarding leasing, et al, I don’t remember the percentages of lease vs buy, but I’ve read that a majority of “luxury brand” cars are leased. From lease ads, it seems that a lot of these leases are heavily subsidized. Either that, or people are willing to pay more for these off-lease, and almost off-warranty vehicles than I would expect. Are there leasers out there who can clue us in?

  91. alex wellington Says:

    off lease 3-yr old vehicles are usually certified used and have plenty of warranty when sold.

  92. alex wellington Says:

    But TESLA made the Autonews sales charts for the first time, with a very strong 1,507 units.

    These are Tesla S and many of them are the 250 mile range top of the line models that sell for S class money.

    S class or 7 or especially A8 never sell that many in one month.

  93. alex wellington Says:

    92 and the ELR was priced outrageously high, at $75k, to compete vs the Tesla S, which is similarly priced. But the ELR really does not have what it takes, it is vastly inferior to the ELR.

  94. alex wellington Says:

    #93 I meant, of course, the ELR is vastly inferior to the Tesla S.

    Toyota sales were up 5%.

    GM sales? Apparently it was not April Fools, the results ARE delayed because of a computer glitch!!

    How ironic can this be on the very day of Barra’s testimony about the flawed ignition switches.

  95. Kit Gerhart Says:

    92. Pretty impressive, especially since the Tesla would be a second or third car for most people. That, of course, can change when/if the charger network becomes more comprehensive.

  96. alex wellington Says:

    95 Yes. And when using a supercharger, most people will just wait 30 min and charge it 80% (assuming the battery was really low at the start), instead of waiting another 30 or 40 to fully charge it. This may reduce battery wear.

    And the plan is to make these superchargers solar powered. Eventually. They are designed with that in mind.

    60′ showed the Tesla S dashboard and it looked really good with the giant screen etc.

  97. aliisdad Says:

    65, Thanks so much for your concern.. I think my condition might have been caused by the worry when I drove GM and Chrysler cars that they were going to break down or parts would come loose at anytime… It might have been caused by frustration and stress trying to get help from uncaring dealer service departments or company “customer service” people.. Then, again, it might have been the worry about that we could be ruined financially by the loss when we traded the cars off early just to be rid of them and their problems… Or, maybe it was the constant noise of rattles and squeeks..
    You would think that all the sitting in the dealer service department waiting area would have been soothing, or maybe all of the nice drives going back to the dealership service departments might have been peaceful, but it just did not seem to help the condition..
    Thankfully, we finally found some help and were finally healed.. We tried Dr. Mercedes, Dr. Subaru, and Dr. Toyota, and not the condition has been cured completely and I am now at peace…well almost, since sometimes something “triggers” memories dealing with GM/Chrysler stuff… I am happy to say, though, that it is getting better as time passes from when we had all those bad experiences with them.. One down side to the cars that we have now is that we have to depend on GPS to find the dealerships since we have go there so seldom for repairs it is easy to forget where their dealerships are!!!
    Please, my friend, don’t give up..There is hope for you too!! You have taken the first step by admitting that you go to GM and Chrysler dealerships… Next, don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed because you got taken in by them.. It has happened to many of us before we found the cure… I am happy to refer you to those who helped me, and I just want to encourage you that there is hope for you, too… Gmchrysleritis can be cured (either by changing brands or being injured in an accident from something undisclosed like.. say, an ignition problem…).. Good luck, my friend…You can do it, too!!

  98. Bob Aubertin Says:

    Hey 97,

    So I if understand correctly you Never change your motor oil,spark plugs or brakes on your Benz or your Rice Burners.Amazing!!!

    This is the Last Word.