Episode 211 – GM Axes the Vuick, Penske Trucks On eBay, Meet Cadillac’s Bryan Nesbitt

August 20th, 2009 at 12:18pm

Runtime 8:18

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.

39 Comments to “Episode 211 – GM Axes the Vuick, Penske Trucks On eBay, Meet Cadillac’s Bryan Nesbitt”

  1. Thor Says:

    Autoline After Hours is the best Autoline product, especially when they have really good guests. TOnight’s show should be interesting, esp. if they do not throw softballs at Nancy, but rather challenge her claims about plug-ins. (And even if John does not, I am sure Peter De Lorenzo will.)

    This daily was good too. John is 100% correct that Chrysler changed the warranty for COST reasons. I was involved in earlier attempts of Chrysler to reduce warranty costs, for two years earlier this decade. They hired a consulting firm and paid it a bundle, and in turn that firm hired a few summer interns, who wrote a project report or two based on public info (mostly Cons Reports) and then the consultants presented that naive report to Chrysler with next to no additions or improvements!

    The example of the Biturbo owner who scrapped it and bought a Subaru is weird. I would not explain it, as John did, by assuming that the owner was a moron. It defies logic. Maybe the owner was the daughter of the deceased Biturbo owner, and she wanted an AWD practical vehicle instead.

    Note that the biturbo was notoriously unreliable, a veritable POS, which is useless for everyday driving, and more suited for Jay leno’s garage when it can be repaired daily for free and does 100 miles a year only.

  2. Thor Says:

    Re Buick and Vuick, GM made a terrible mistake by closing down PONTIAC, throwing away the baby (the G8) with the bathwater, and keeping the comatose Buick, which does not have a prayer to survive, no matter what gimmicks the salesmen and the beancounters come up with.

    and re the new Caddilac Boss, it is indeed remarkable that he comes from design, but it Caddilac already had pronounced and flashy exterior design, and is lacking in SUBSTANCE instead. Meaning Engineering a superior product than its competitors in terms of handling, quality, ergonomics and even MPG. And John’s interview with that guy, who was laughing all the time (trying to be pleasant? saw nothing funny in his bankrupt Government Motors to justify all this gaiety), and said NOTHING of substance (if he did and I missed it, tell me what it was)

  3. Jonathan Says:

    The Biturbo has to be one of the most unreliable cars ever made. This example being in mint condition, probably fetched more as a turn in, than it would have sold for.

  4. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Equinox should get the plug-in technology. Chevy has the most dealers and the most exposure, so they seem the obvious candidate. GMC should just be dropped, since they sell only near-clones of Chevy trucks and have no reason to exist.

  5. Dave Says:

    I saw the story of the guy trading in the Biturbo for C4C on another news show. The owner stated that he could not drive the car down the street without it braking down and just had it with the car

  6. Kit Gerhart Says:

    I’d like to see Buick sell a sporty station wagon, maybe based on the new LaCrosse. Everyone has a bunch of various size SUV’s, but you have to go to the Europeans to get a wagon. Maybe Buick could change that.

  7. Mouhamad A. Naboulsi Says:

    Chevrolet seems to be the logical step for the first plug in Technology, followed by GMC and Cadillac.

    Chevrolet drivers are economy/value driven and if the plugin is not too far from the standard model, then it will sell

    Mouhamad A. Naboulsi

  8. Art Greenberg Says:

    This has been all over the internet as well as on CNN, so there’s no need to speculate or come up with scenarios. No, it wasn’t the owner’s daughter or anything. Jonathan is correct. The car was costing the owner a fortune in repairs. He couldn’t sell it, so he did a lot better by getting the $3500 in CFC money.


  9. Thor Says:

    “# Dave Says: I saw the story of the guy trading in the Biturbo for C4C on another news show. The owner stated that he could not drive the car down the street without it braking down and just had it with the car”

    Maybe he did not buy a Forrester Wagon but a sporty Subaru WRX, which, although far uglier and much less exotic than the Biturbo, probably has far better performance, even acceleration!

  10. Alex Kajdi Says:


    The Chevrolet Equinox should be the first to get the plug-in technology. Chevrolet is the highest volumn brand at GM in Sales and each model should be offered with plug-in technology were it makes good business sense.

    Buick has not future in the US, maybe China. The Vuick is how GM had been doing business in the past. In come the “Clones”. I agree Buicks should have bold designs with sweeping curves and lines, but those portholes are a waste and should be replace with stylish turning indicators. If it is non-functional get rid of it. Why not just sell Buicks in China like Opel is in Europe. The New GM needs to concentrate product development and advertising dollars on Chevrolet and Cadillac. These are there two core brands going forward. GMC needs to become only GM’s Heavy Duty Truck Division.

    If Penske is selling Penske Trucks on EBay, what about Saturns once he finishes acquiring the brand?

    The Cash for Clunker Program was a crime against the American Citizens who purchase from the used car market and automotive collectors and restorers. The way the Cash for Clunkers Program was run will be the same way the Administration will run the Proposed New Health Care Legistion. It will have no compassion for the timeless classics or sanitity provisions for those that need a little fixing, just simple cost benefit analysis tables. The “Ends” justifies the “Means”!

  11. Thor Says:


    I agree with all you say. Last time I checked, when I worked in China in June 2006, Buicks were so popular a brand, that GM labeled all kinds of Korean Daewoos, which it sells elsewhere as “Chevys” (like the Aveo here and the Matiz in Europe), “Buicks” instead.

    US-type Buicks in China are better looking and have pricier interiors than their US counterparts. They are usually Government cars of some commie functionary, who has a slave (eg driver) tend to the car all the time and keeping its black paint shiny 24/7.

  12. volt 230 Says:

    The main reason GM dropped the Vuick was because the electronics interfered with pacemakers, but instead all Buicks will now come with pill dispensing equipment.

  13. Thor Says:

    On plug-ins, given their high cost and thh elow volumes that will have to follow, GM made a huge mistake by selecting the tiny subcompact Cobalt-clone Volt to do its first plug in. If they instead had put it in a desirable, luxurious Cadillac of some kind, they could have gotten away with a high price (maybe 60k).

  14. paulstewart Says:

    @ thor/larson about the…Maybe he did not buy a Forrester Wagon but a sporty Subaru WRX, which, although far uglier and much less exotic than the Biturbo, probably has far better performance. We all know that, that’s yesterdays news. Tell us about the upcoming Subbie/Toyota coupe that’s to come out in the future, it’s due out in less than 2 years.

  15. pedro Fernandez Says:

    GM dropped the Vuick because the electronics interfered with pacemakers, and I will bet the farm that tonight,s guest won’t say anything negative about the Volt 230mpg farce, I think these Detroit automakers are gonna be nice to each other from now on.

  16. Thor Says:

    As i wrote before, we just can’t keep using MPG when we measure plug-in MPG, for obvious reasons, and we should instead use $/100 miles instead. That way we can include everything, the average no of gallons AND the average no of KWs one uses for a particular mission or annnual miles driven.

    230 MPG may actually be too LOW if the buyer has a less than 20 mile commute (and more than half of all americans have a less than 20 mile comute each day), if one ignores the cost of electricity and only includes the Actual number of gallons of fuel needed.

    For some people (if they never take a long trip), they can claim practically infinite miles per gallon!

  17. paulstewart Says:

    Once again, yesterday’s news by thor/oldnews/larson.

  18. Max Christensen Says:

    As to the portholes on the Buicks, I think it’s a nice link to Buick’s storied past. Perhaps the portholes could be more updated some way, but not eliminated.

    @ Thor

    It wasn’t a Forrester Wagon or WRX. All you had to do was click on John’s link and read the article to see that the BiTurbo was traded for a Subaru Impreza.

  19. Thor Says:

    “# paulstewart Says:
    August 20th, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    Once again, yesterday’s news by thor/oldnews/larson.”

    Perhaps you are too dense to notice, so I will spell it out for you: GET A LIFE and do not babble repeatedly if your fact-free posts are ignored and treated with the utter contempt they deserve.

    PS I will NOT waste any more on my time on you.

    PS2 it is LarsEn, not LarsOn, genius. But I do not expect some hillibilly inbred yahoo to know the difference. Now go deep-fry some chicken in peanut oil.

  20. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    WE need Don Rickles to join this forum, at least then it would be funny.

  21. Thor Says:

    The WRX IS a sub-brand of the Subaru Impreza. It used to be called the “Impreza WRX”

  22. paulstewart Says:

    I free O’ so special he wasted his time on me to possinle pursue a real University degree on his hillbilly yahoo babble. You are not going to get off scott free Bub’ for your yesterday opinions. Reap what you sow. Man up, grow a pair instead of your short hair down there !

  23. paulstewart Says:

    Like I’d give you the the respect of spelling your name correctly, just like I wouldn’t give you the time of day. You a lower case bully. Plain and simple

  24. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    See, now I’m in the mood to watch an old Dean Martin celebrity roast on DVD

  25. paulstewart Says:

    the guests on the tonight show are…

  26. paulstewart Says:

    Foster Brooks, Deano, and Don Rickles.

  27. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    That super hot Ruth Buzzi hitting everyone with her bag, that was comedy back then, w/o the cursing that we have today. They’re not really funny, they just shock with their dirty language.

  28. paulstewart Says:

    Let’s not forget Frank Sinatra & Sammy D. who would show up too.

  29. Max Christensen Says:

    @ Thor

    In case you didn’t catch it late yesterday, most everyone else in here felt the quality of comments had sunk to an all-time low, and yes, some of those comments came from me as well. I did apologize to all the folks here for not acting like an adult. Though you had additional comments after that, I didn’t note an apology from you – not a huge surprise as guys like you typically think they are above such lowly things as apologizing for being an ass.

    Your name-calling comments today to Paul were entirely uncalled for – this isn’t 6th grade, at least not for most of us. Why don’t you Man up and apologize for your rude and crude behavior and then we can continue this forum in an adult and civilized manner?

  30. Pedro Fernandez Says:

    Those were the days, my friend, we thought they would never end, but they did, didn’t they?

  31. Thor Says:

    Max Christensen Says:
    August 20th, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    If you had a CLUE, you would have NOTICED that it was that PS character that STARTED the unprovoked and REPEATED attacks at ME in today’s forum. So it was HIS attacks and NOT my RESPONSE DEFENDING myself that was TRULY UNCALLED FOR. GOT IT? (I doubt it, or that you will even bother to TRY to get it)

    But I expected NO fairness or justice of any kind from the likes of you.

    I am here to DISCUSS issues I am interested in, and NOT to fight with you or that PS character.

  32. paulstewart Says:

    @ Max C. It’s just the Gentlman/Thor critics John about old news, yesterday news. Then he says qoutes ,something about Subbie. And he has no honest response to it. I totally believe in Free Speech, honest,really.But pleasee can he reign it a little, just a little.That’s all I’m asking. I’ll buy the guy a coffee, a beer,a pop. I live in S.E. Michigan. I’m a good guy.Sincerely !

  33. paulstewart Says:

    Thor, please take it easy just a little.If you critic, your smart enough to know you will be critized back.

  34. Art DesJardins Says:

    Over the years my parents owned several Buicks that I and my children had passed down to us that were well built comfortable cars that held up well and were ordered rather than what was just sitting on the lot because my parents knew exactly what they wanted(Dad MIT ’38).
    Their last one was a 1993 Roadmaster that my daughter still drives. The last of the big boat Buicks but with power from a V8 that still got reasonable highway mileage for it’s size(mid 20′s). The older Buicks like the 1963-1966 Rivera were among my favorites. But the basic problem has been years of less than exciting styling and no models like the Grand Nationals or the Wildcat’s of the 60″s. Yes it is a big seller in China and the new LaCrosse looks like a big improvement over many of the models from the last few years. They need more pizzaz in the styling and performance that makes them more fun to drive so that they are at least equal to if not better than the competition. There was some glint if that with the Super models but they did not take it far enough to break the stereotype of the Buick as an old peoples car. It can be a great line of cars again if they look back to their most exciting cars of yesteryear and grab some of their excitement and put it with cutting edge technology to bring Buick into the future. They were a great car and can be again if they keep from badge engineering models like the Vuick then they are aon the right path.

  35. Max Christensen Says:

    @ Paul

    What about me??? Next time I’m in Michigan will you buy me a beer? I’ll bet we could find alot to talk about over a cold one! I’ll pick up the second round!

    @ Thor

    And I’m not here to fight with you either. But I honestly was hoping you might come across with at least a small apology for having a part in yesterday’s discussion, bull session, or whatever we might call it. Regardless of how it started or why it started, you and I had a part in it and owe the rest of the folks here an apology. I gave mine yesterday……… how about it pal?

  36. paulstewart Says:

    No problem, done deal Take care Max C. AND even Thor,take care. Sincerely

  37. C-Tech Says:

    The thrilla in Manilla, the rumble in the jungle, now the battle of the punchlines on Autoline. Just ignore the person issueing the bull$%#@.

  38. Thor Says:

    “Just ignore the person issueing the bull$%#@”

    My Thoughts Exactly.

    PS it is issuing, not issue-ing, I believe. But check it out.

  39. Max Christensen Says:

    And Thor, we WILL be ignoring you from now on ……

    And obviously you are not a big enough man to say a simple apology. I do pity you…… take care.