August 20th, 2009 at 12:18pm
General Motors axes the Vuick, based on feedback from the media and consumers who saw the vehicle. Penske is going to start selling used trucks on eBay. All that and more, plus we’ll introduce you to the guy who’s now going to run Cadillac, Bryan Nesbitt.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. GM axes the Vuick for all the right reasons. Penske turns to eBay to sell used trucks. And we introduce you to the most unlikely executive to ever run Cadillac.
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Thursday, August 20, 2009. And now, a look at the latest in the auto industry.
Just two weeks ago General Motors announced it was coming out with a plug-in Buick crossover next year. Yesterday, GM announced it ain’t gonna happen. Based on feedback from the media and consumers who saw the vehicle, GM decided to axe it. It was pretty bland looking. Remember, GM was supposed to come out with a plug-in version of the Saturn Vue. But when it decided to sell off Saturn, it figured it could make a Buick version of the Vue, simply by slapping a Buick grille on the front end. On the blogosphere it quickly became known as the Vuick. But GM isn’t going to throw that plug-in technology away, so that means it will show up on the other crossovers that share that architecture: the Cadillac SRX, the GMC Terrain and the Chevrolet Equinox. Which of these brands do you think should be the first to get the plug-in technology?
I’ve seen the other future Buicks that are coming and personally, I think they’re playing it too conservatively. Buicks should have bold designs with sweeping curves and lines. The Buicks that are on the way are nice, but they’re not bold. Plus, Buick can’t make up its mind as to whether all its vehicles should have portholes, or only some of them. And should the portholes be on the hood or the front fenders? It seems to be all over the map. And Buick will only make a comeback if these issues are resolved.
But I must say “Bravo!” to the new GM for having the guts to cancel a program it only announced two weeks ago. The old GM would have ignored the criticism and tried to shove it down our throats.
Last week GM announced it will start selling new cars on eBay and now Penske Truck Leasing says that it’s going to start selling used trucks on eBay. According to the AP, buyers will be able to bid on all kinds of vehicles ranging from utility trucks to busses and sedans. The company will also offer financing options to buyers through the auction site. Check it out at Penskeusedtrucks.com.
It was just a few years ago when BIG warranties were the latest marketing rage for car companies. Hyundai started it and a bunch of others jumped on board. But now Chrysler will stop offering lifetime powertrain warranties and go with 5 year, 100,000 mile warranties instead. According to the AP, Chrysler claims that market research shows people prefer warranties with a fixed amount of time, not unlimited. Yeah, right. I guarantee you the reason they cut back was due to cost. SRT and Viper models which were excluded from the lifetime warranty are included in the new warranty, but not the diesels in the Sprinter and Ram.
Well nobody here wanted them, so maybe the Chinese will. According to Gasgoo.com, Chrysler’s new owner Fiat has partnered with Chinese automaker Guangzhou Auto to start building the Jeep Compass later this year in China. Interestingly, the only market in the world where the Compass sells well is Italy. Maybe that’s why Fiat sees hope for the Compass in China.
The Detroit News reports that roughly 5 million vehicles in the U.S. are excluded from the cash-for-clunkers program. Lobbyists for car collectors and antique parts suppliers persuaded the government to exclude vehicles that were built before 1984 because they didn’t want them destroyed or the number of used auto parts to be limited. SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, which represents more than 7,000 aftermarket auto parts makers, was a driving force behind the loophole. Too bad there’s no moron provision in the program. The Associated Press reports that a man in Colorado traded in a near-mint condition 1985 Maserati BiTurbo with less than 19,000 miles on it. Yes, it qualifies as a clunker. He bought a new Subaru.
Coming up next, we’ll introduce you to the guy who’s now going to run Cadillac, who has the most unusual background of anyone who ever held that position.
Twelve years ago I met Bryan Nesbitt, a hot young designer at Chrysler who caught everyone’s attention by designing the PT Cruiser and a number of other concept cars. When Bob Lutz joined General Motors, he hired Nesbitt as soon as he could and put him in charge of the Chevrolet studio. He was quickly promoted to head of design for all front drive cars at GM, then moved to head up design at GM Europe. But now, in a highly unusual move, Bryan Nesbitt was named to run all of Cadillac, the first time a designer has ever run one of GM’s brands, which, when I got a chance to catch up with him, was the first thing I asked him about.
Bryan Nesbitt is clearly one of Bob Lutz’s protégé’s and he could have a lot more left for him in his career at General Motors.
Hey don’t’ forget to join us tonight for Autoline After Hours. Our guest for tonight’s show is Nancy Gioia, who heads up all electric car and hybrid activity at Ford. We’ll be talking about how the grid is going to handle all these plug-ins, about GM’s claim of 230 miles per gallon for the Volt and whether that makes any sense, and anything else we can think about on this topic. So join us at 7:00 p.m. Eastern tonight at autolinedetroit.tv.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.