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General Motors Ideas

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Topics:  General Motors
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General Motors Ideas

Bill Crittenden
CarsAndRacingStuff.com
April 26, 2006

A few weeks ago Chicago Sun-Times political cartoonist Jack Higgins depicts General Motors as a sinking Titanic.  General Motors is sinking, but there's still time to patch the hole and drain the water before the ship goes down.

So what is to be done?  I admit I'm no expert, but here's what I think can be done, seeing GM from the average Joe's point-of-view.

Build More Exciting Cars

Going to the Chicago Auto Show and seeing the crowds and talking to a few of the folks surrounding Dodge's concept Challenger and Chevrolet's concept Camaro showed a big difference of opinion on the cars.  People liked the Camaro's style, but the Challenger had people reaching for their wallets, ready to deal.

Ford has the Mustang and the GT.  Carroll Shelby has returned to create a few stunning concepts that draw showgoers to Ford's displays.  Dodge is again building American muscle cars with the Charger and 300C.

What does Chevrolet and the rest of GM have?  Ethanol.  While ethanol is a worthwhile idea, it's an add-on that can be added on to almost any vehicle, even the Corvette.  If GM is successful, Dodge can add ethanol capability to the Charger and Ford can add it to the Mustang.  People have got to really want to drive a Chevrolet or a Buick or a Cadillac for GM to sell vehicles.

Pontiac is coming around finally with a little roadster that is very popular and a convertible G6 to compete with Chrysler's Sebring convertible.  Chrysler has practically owned it's niche since the LeBaron.

Chevrolet could use both these ideas, perhaps with a Malibu convertible and a Bowtie version of the Solstice.  Personally, I'd wrap it in sheetmetal reminiscent of the 1954 Corvette and call it the Corvette Classic, but a roadster in any form will do.

Whatever happened to Cadillac's "Standard of the World" label?  All I know for certain is if they used it today, they'd be laughed at.  If Cadillac just produced some of the concepts they've teased us with for the last 5 years, such as the Sixteen and the Cien, they could reclaim that title.

Saturn:  Fix It or Dump It

Saturn, like Oldsmobile before it, has lost its identity.  Saturns were little environmentally-friendly plastic-paneled reliable economy cars sold at friendly no-pressure dealerships.

Nowadays, Saturns are just Chevrolets with different body panels, and they're not always plastic anymore.  The Relay, Sky and Ion are the proof that Saturn's image is diluted, and without a reason to exist, it shouldn't.

Saturn should put the dent- and scratch-resistant plastic panels back on the Relay.  After all, who needs dent- and scratch-resistant panels more than a soccer mom with a few kids?

The Ion needs to be redone.  Maybe basing it on the Toyota-platformed Vibe would be better than making it a restyled Cobalt with a bumper-car steering wheel.

Why does the Sky cost almost $5,000 more than the Solstice on which it is based?  I would think that the Saturn would be the less expensive of the two.

Get Back Into Racing

Okay, Chevrolet is still definitely in racing.  But with NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow and Chevy power under the hood, the time is right to get Pontiac and Buick back into NASCAR's top levels.

Buick could use the youthful image of a skilled rookie driver winning his first race behind the wheel of a Lucerne and since Pontiac is supposed to be all about "Action", what better way to show it than to be involved in the action of the Nextel Cup?

Build a Better Truck

Or at least, advertise a better truck.  Ford's truck commercials show it doing all sorts of impressive stuff, and even the two dopey guys in the Dodge commercials manage to mention the Ram's features.

What does Chevrolet have?  Bob Seger.  I know that's been a while, but then it also shows that whatever commericals they are running these days are pretty forgettable.  Maybe the Silverado is a better truck, but from the advertising I wouldn't know it.

In Closing

Whatever GM does, they need to do something that gets people to buy their cars in an increasingly crowded market.  Whatever they do, they had better do it soon.

Most of what they're doing now:  restyling old minivans, updating gas guzzlers as the pump price of gasoline skyrockets, and offering employee buyouts to reduce costs are just GM's ways of rearranging the deck chairs.

©2006 Bill Crittenden



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