"New GM" Is Dangerously Close To Being "Old GM" Again

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1st Gear: The GM 'Groundhog Day' Problem


This is going to be a three, or maybe four-gear morning that's going to talk a lot about GM. Why? First of all, it's undoubtedly newsworthy. Second of all, I'll reveal a little bias here: I want all American automakers to succeed and that includes GM.

Chrysler has a long way to go, as we discussed yesterday, but I think they've got a complex vision but at least they seem willing to throw a lot of shit they're doing out in the process. Mark Fields, who at this point might hate us for our frequent jokes in his direction, seems competent and Ford is in the middle of carrying out a successful strategy that's easy to understand.

GM, though. Every time I think GM is going the right way they spook me a bit. Here's the biggest challenge that GM needs to overcome: I can't articulate their vision for the future.

I can tell you what Chrysler is doing. I can tell you what Ford is doing. Hell, I can even tell you what Citroën is doing. Can someone articulate for me what GM's grand vision is?


GM's big successes lately are in building a few extremely good cars. The new Impala is great, the new CTS is fantastic, the new Corvette is better than you'd ever expect, and the Buick Encore is a surprise hit. But… there's only one brand that is good all the way through and that's Cadillac. I can tell you what Cadillac is.

I've invited GM President for North America to come in and see if he can articulate his vision for what GM is going to be.


2nd Gear: GM Is Still Making Big Profits On Big SUV's


I think it's impressive that GM has basically pushed everyone out of a niche that's so profitable, that being the full-size SUV. The new Yukon/Tahoe/Suburban are the standard for big ass SUVs, offering supreme comfort, style, and a presence that few can match.


They're also wildly popular and huge profit centers for a company struggling with the recall mess.


The question is: Wasn't relying on big SUVs for profits at a time when you're otherwise struggling sort of an "Old GM" kind of experience? I don't begrudge GM for making a profit where there is one, and I think it's fair to say that this newer model manages to have more features and be more efficient at the same time.

Still… very 'Groundhog Day' up in here.

3rd Gear: GM Re-Hires Steve Harris


Once again, people have a high opinion of former GM spokesman Steve Harris as he represented the company well in the early 2000's and then again during the Carpocalypse. Thus, his hiring


It may be an extremely wise move, but...

4th Gear: Here's Where The Future Lies, For GM And Everyone Else

The designers who will be shaping the cars we'll drive in the future are largely in their 20s right now, which means if you want to know the future you need to go to school.


The piece above has a little of that "Let's make every car a smartphone" nonsense I can't buy into, but one of the designers makes a fair point:

"There's a shift happening in how cars are understood," said Lee, a Korean American who was raised in Japan and is now applying the paper-manipulation principles of origami to auto design. "In the past, cars were seen as a packaged product you were supposed to receive in full. There was no room for your involvement. We're in an age where customer values are shifting from 'give me a finished product' to 'give me something that I can co-create.' "


Anyone who has ever looked at a window sticker for a Porsche 911 knows that people like co-creating their cars, and like choices, and will happily pay for them.

5th Gear: Skoda Scoops Best Estate Car From Diesel Car Magazine


There's a magazine in Europe called Diesel Car, which is, I'm sure, a stellar publication. How do I know they're stellar?

The Skoda Octavia Estate just won their "Best Estate Car" for 2014. Those are some smart people. Skoda, clearly, makes some of the world's best cars. Congrats to them.


Reverse: The Ford Foundation Still In Service

On this day in 1956, Henry Ford II, the namesake and grandson of the legendary automobile pioneer, resigns as chairman of his family's charitable organization, the Ford Foundation.


Neutral: What's GM's Vision?

And you need to give it to me in less than four sentences.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP

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