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Old 12-24-2008, 03:49 AM   #1
The_Blur
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Lightbulb Restructuring Brainstorm for GM

Leftlane reports that Saturn isn't dead yet. It's a romantic notion, but I can do one better.

Before I continue, I remind you that this, like many of my posts tonight, are the consequence of being up for so long and not leaving the office for so long that I probably belong in bed at a sanitarium. I should probably bring that up to my boss who left me here to work a 16-hour shift.

Here is my crazy-genius idea for GM to survive and compete with the market.

Saturn
Saturn is doing a good job of advertising and redesigning cars to look more impressive. The image of Saturn is one associated with safety, so GM should get back to those classic dent-resistant panels.

On second thought, any brand can do that. We don't want GM to look too bland. Maybe Saturn should be advertised differently. We'll take for granted that the idea of "rethinking American" is planted in the minds of a lot of people. Saturn, after all, has introduced some pretty vehicles recently. Let's now advertise Saturn as out of this world.

This is where it gets fun. No one in America can say that they don't like Ferrari or Lamborghini. The style and shape of these cars is just amazing. Let's imagine that such an angular style can be applied to a 4-banger. There's no law that says angular cars have to have 8-cylinder engines in them, so let's take that shape and put it on a Sky and an Ion. Shorter fronts would still be able to fit the LNF if the driver is seated back a couple of inches, and the rear area that those exotic engines are placed can be a small back seat. Suddenly, you have what I would call mini exotics. They'd cost more than the average economy car, but they would look thousands of times better. Do you remember the Cadillac Cien? Take cues from that, make it smaller, and extend the rear window a little bit. Suddenly, you have my image of an exotic Saturn. No one in this price range will be able to compete with that sort of styling. Production doesn't have to be very high for models shaped that way. Dealers could probably price-gouge and still sell out their lots of these rare-looking Saturns. It's a win for everyone.

Pontiac
This brand should be an American BMW, but it should be priced closer to Chevrolet. GM needs to get its notoriety back, and Pontiac is the ticket to being respected. This is a brand that has a unique style that must be maintained. I would advocate bringing back the GTO based on the Camaro platform. I don't think the Trans Am is an option anymore because there were licensing issues that make that car impossible to try again.

Geo
It's been a long time since anyone talked about Geo. The name of the brand is perfect for a line of strictly fuel-efficient machines. Ford's Taurus recently overcame the stuffy, average tradition of its predecessor, so there's no reason to believe that a dead or dying brand is doomed to stay that way. Geo can be revived as GM's fuel efficient R&D brand, featuring both unique and rebadged vehicles that high exceptional fuel efficiency.

The catch is that none of the brands should have the same hierarchy that Chevrolet or Pontiac have. As we all know, top performers get special labels, like SS, GXP, or Redline. For a revived Geo, the only acceptable performer would be a high-performance alternative fuel car. I'll discuss this in more detail momentarily.

The lineup would be simple. Take all of GM's hybrids and R&D on alternative fuels and put it under the Geo name. The simplicity of organizing all of GM's green activities under this brand would easily take Toyota's thunder. As alternative fuel products become more popular, this brand can expand, and other brands will sell more Geo-inspired hybrids. Enthusiasts are sure to want in on the action as well, so bio-diesel and electric performers are a must for future development. I propose that GM, when it gets into a more stable market position, invests in an all-electric Corvette prototype and badge it as a Geo. Give Tesla a run for its money, and sell it at the same price as that Roadster. It doesn't need to have high-production. This would essentially be a niche brand anyway, but the image would be great for GM.

Chevrolet
Chevrolet has a strong heritage, and it should be that way for a lot of reasons. As the strongest marque in the GM line, Chevy has a family image, a performance image, a luxury image, and a green image. These may come in conflict when you put Aveos next to Suburbans, but they are all good for the brand. Advertising for this brand should be as conflicted as its image. It should have racing Corvettes and family-friendly Uplanders.

Bring back some classics. I want to see a Chevelle in the lineup with cues similar to the Camaro. It should be based off the current G8. There's a lot of opportunity for classics like that to come back.

Chevy should have a direct competitor for the Magnum. That car has been a successful enough muscle wagon to earn a competitor.

Bring back the Tracker. I know that it used to be a Geo, but it was most recently a Chevy, and I'm thoroughly frustrated that GM has no car that competes head-to-head with the Wrangler. The fact is that the Wrangler is a cool, stripped SUV that just looks like a lot of fun. If Chevy could build a small SUV like the Wrangler, it should. I guarantee it would sell in small quantities. A Tracker SS would be a great rival for the SRT division.

Hummer
The alternative to the Chevy Tracker idea is to make a small Hummer that people can actually afford to take off-road. If I had the money for a chrome-plastered Hummer, I guarantee you that I wouldn't be off-roading it. The truth is that those gorgeously ostentatious machines are built for anything, but they don't take anything because people are too scared to get a scratch on their ridiculously expensive dirt monster.

Hummer should build a small SUV. It doesn't even have to be an alternative to the Tracker idea. They can both sell it with different styling. Think of this little Hummer as the H0.5. It'll cost half as much; be half as big; handle half the load. Despite this, it will sell because Hummer's image will be a little greener. This can be produced in the same low volumes other Hummers are produced so that Hummer can keep its niche image.

Additionally, every Hummer should be E85-compatible. It's inexcusable that a brand that wastes so much gas on every trip uses ordinary gas. That's just irresponsible. I also want to see some bio-diesel Hummers in the near future.

GMC Trucks
Sell big trucks, not rebadged Silverados. The Silverado will pass the F150 when GM stops splitting its production with the Sierra. Why wouldn't GM want the top spot in truck sales? Every GMC owner knows that their Sierra is really a poorly disguised Chevy. A lot of GMC guys are Chevy guys who just liked the GMC interior better anyway.

At the very least, dealers that sell GMC should start selling Chevrolet equivalents as an alternative in the near future, fading out GMC over a long period of time. GMC dealers should be independent and sell large, industrial trucks. I'm not talking about pickups anymore.

Cadillac
Build the Cien. That thing is gorgeous. Share the basic design cues of that car with some of the Saturn platforms that I described above. Those same cues can be used in a future generation of the CTS, which could feasibly share the lines with a Saturn. The Saturn would be the average exotic, but the Cadillac would be the one everyone wants. It would be the difference between a Camaro LS and a Camaro SS. Both will sell, but it is clear which one has the better numbers. Cadillac should continue to build these new, angular designs with the best parts, most refined tuning, and luxury-oriented goals. I want to see Cadillac beat out BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes in terms of quality and recognition.

GM Performance Parts
Wheels should be as standardized as humanly possible across all brands. Each brand should have unique wheels, but they should all have comparable lug patters and sizes so that someone could go to GMPP and order a wider range of wheels with optional company or GM center caps. In other words, I want to see that every brand's wheels can be changed with that of another brand. This keeps costs down. There should be as few lug patterns as possible in the GM lineup. They should all be standard sizes that are easy to replace.

GMPP should offer as many performance options as possible. This should make Scion a weak competitor. Kits should be produced for every conceivable design. I want to see DJ kits for HHRs and aftermarket lift kits for Silverados that dwarf the quality of marginal aftermarket companies. These parts and installs from GMPP-authorized installers should be granted warranties for a long period of time to show off GM's confidence in its parts. Such warranties should have special terms, much like the Chrysler Lifetime Powertrain Warranty that only makes guarantees if the car goes through routine checkups.

Aftermarket Compatibility
All automakers are integrating their vehicles so extensively that it is nearly impossible to install aftermarket parts. If GM is the one company that is easy to integrate, then tuners will prefer GM cars. The Cobalt will replace the Civic as the car that every kid wants. While the negative consequence of this is that they will install all sorts of stupid crap on their cars, the upside is that GM will get lots of sales. All the real performance drivers don't like FWD anyway, so the fact that a bunch of immature 16-year-old tuners want American cars shouldn't bother anyone because those reckless idiots that blow their money on aftermarket parts that GMPP should be offering allow for our more powerful cars to exist.

Dealer Enforcement
Your dealer is an idiot; therefore, your dealer should not sell GM cars. I'm so sick of stupid dealers. I know that GM promised the US government that it would cut dealers quickly, but I want GM to take its time. Dealers with poor consumer ratings, regardless of whether they are successful, have to go.

I call it the Wal-Mart problem. When a company, such as Wal-Mart, promises a huge staff to help customers, low prices, and products of equal quality when compared to competitors, it is easy to choose that company. Unfortunately, one of the many reasons that Wal-Mart sucks is that those seemingly hundreds of employees are so busy stocking the warehouse of bargain-priced merchandise that they rarely help customers except to anonymously put merchandise on shelves for customers to buy. Every employee seems to hate his or her job, and the fact that managers have a wage ceiling makes it impossible for many quality managers to stay employed. As a result, the good go elsewhere.

What has happened at many dealerships is that one dealer buys a franchise that sells a GM product and commits to selling the best service and products available. What they forget is that they have to have that passion to serve when they have 15 dealerships and hundreds of salespeople. They take for granted their income and fail to enforce that their employees be good people who truly want to serve their customers. GM must weed out these assholes from their dealer network, even if they sell a high volume of cars, because they represent the worst in the car industry. As GM knows, image is very important. GM is still haunted by an image of mediocrity even in the face of some of the best products to ever hit the roads. GM must eliminate dealerships that have bad reputations.
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Last edited by The_Blur; 12-24-2008 at 04:10 AM.
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