Financial Crisis VII – GM, Ford and Chrysler

GM, Ford and Chrysler

We interrupt our regular programming to bring you this topical message. The next installment, Moral Hazard, will be continued at its regular time.

Chevy VoltWe would really like to see the trimmed-down, lean, mean “Big Three” around in 2010. We’d like to see if the Volt is going to be as cool as they say it is.

We’d like to see them come through on the promised fuel efficiencies, alternate energy and hybrid technologies, and we’d like to see cars that are as safe, reliable and mechanically excellent as their worthy Japanese competition.

The CEO’s of the big three came back to Washington today. This time, they drove compact cars instead of flying the corporate jets. The claim is, they presented a more credible package this time.

There’s talk that GM and Chrysler MIGHT enter merger talks, but only IF they get the government package. When asked, “what are you waiting for?” we got an answer on PBS that was slightly less convincing, less adroit and less appealing than PBS got on a similar question to the ambassador from Pakistan.

These Motown boys don’t come across on TV as having the know-how to present a business plan that could convince a local bank to lend money to a struggling grocery store.

One thing the industry does know how to do is come up with a winner: a Thunderbird, Corvette, Camaro, Mustang, or even the reliable, staid old New Yorker. It’s just a pity we have to wait a decade on an average to see a new winner roll off the assembly lines.

If you’ve looked at the new cars on the road today – and this goes for overseas imports too – how many makes and models can you identify without reading the names off the trunk or side panel? Can you even keep track of them all any more? Do you really care? When’s the last time you saw a vehicle that was really exciting?

If I was to stay in the work force beyond a normal retirement age, my next car would probably be a Prius Hybrid. But you tell me: isn’t that one of those cars so ugly only its mother could love it?

Assuming these fellers from the U.S. auto industry still remember how to make cars that sell like hotcakes, maybe they should let the bean-counters set their budgets and financial parameters for them, put on their designer and sales hats, and trim the lines down to a manageable number of winners.

As long as we all have to tighten our belts, GM, Ford and Chrysler should set the example (they now have no choice). It would be nice if the end result of all that belt-tightening was some real excitement  in the automotive market.

Lean, mean, green, and durable … and beautiful.

Isn’t that what it takes to generate sales?
– Part VII of a continuing series –

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