Showing posts with label Chevy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chevy. Show all posts

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sonic is a Hedgehog

Just noticed this evening, Chevy has renamed their lowest end car from Avio  to Sonic.  Note to Mary Barra.  Sonic is a Hedgehog.  Any kid knows that.  It's as bad as when Chevy named a car Beretta years ago.  Everyone knows Beretta is an Italian handgun. 
    Picking a car name is an important part of marketing it.  So far Chevy has been screwing it up.  Volt is a unit of electricity, not a hybrid car.  Cruze is a height challenged movie star. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

GM gets a lady CEO

This was all over the news.  Mary  Barra is a old time GMer.  She started with GM 30 years ago and is still there.  She is an engineer and comes up thru manufacturing, which is closer to the core of GM than the bean counters who preceded her.  I figure any woman who lasts 30 years in place like GM has gotta be pretty competent, or she would not have survived.  Of course, I never heard of her before now, but then I don't follow Detroit news much.
   The real question for the survival of Govt Motors, is she a car person?  Can she bring to market cars that sell?  Can she champion  new cars that sell the way that Iacocca's Mustang, Arkus Dutov's Corvette, and Bunkie Knudsen's GTO did?   Cars that make enough of a dent in popular culture to be the subject of pop songs.  As opposed to GM's current lineup that  is so bland that only renta-car companies like them?
  For GM's sake let's hope.  A lot of this is perceived value.  Back in the good old days, Chevy had more perceived value than Ford.  Used Chevys sold for more money than used Fords.  This was due to good styling, that successfully steered a middle course between too radical and too stogy.  Chevy engines were less troublesome and more powerful than Ford engines.  Chevy 409's dominated NHRA drag racing.  A generation of block head GM management has pretty much destroyed this legacy.  At this time, Toyota commands more respect than anything from GM.
  Ms Barra first needs to understand that GM  is a huge company, which means it has to compete for the center of the car market.  Which is the low cost four door four passenger sedan, the commute to work car and the go to the store car.  GM needs to gain share in this market.  This is Chevy Cruze and Impala turf.  GM needs a well styled, competitively priced car in this market segment.  Real volume.  About 12 million new cars a year are sold in North America.  Of this, a quarter, say 4 million cars, are plain four passenger sedans.  That's enough volume to keep GM going.
   Contrast that with Corvette.  There simply ain't enough guys with Corvette money to keep GM alive.  It's a great car, but you need a bread and butter seller to keep a behemoth fed.
   How to proceed?  Simple stuff like reliability and ruggedness is a good place to start.  Some favorable mentions in Consumer Reports.  Some top of the charts gas mileage.  For instance Cruz is only doing 30+ mpg, whereas you need to hit 40 mpg before anyone cares much.  Cruz has a good deal more horsepower than it needs.  You can trade off power for gas mileage.  A 40 mpg 60 hp car is a better seller in that market segment than the current 28 mpg 138 hp car.   The old VW Beetle was perfectly driveable with only 36 hp.  The Dodge Caravan's were driveable with 80 hp and a lot more weight and airdrag.
    Better styling.  The current Cruz is nose heavy and bland.  The silhouette is round, slopes up the front, slopes down the back, boring, and so many others have it too.
   Anyhow,. Mary Barra has her work cut out for her.  She has to get decent sellers designed, and then force them thru all the institutional resistance and NIH, get them on sale, and promote them properly.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Used car prices

Scanning the used car mail box stuffer today, just to see what's what.  We have one year old Cadillac CTS (the four passenger Beemer wannabe) for $30K.  Whereas we have bunch of pickup trucks going for more.   Used to be a Caddy was worth twice as much as a pickup truck.  Not anymore.  For real value, try a Chevy Suburban for $47K.  Plain four door drive-to-work and go-to-the-store  sedans, Toyota, Chevy, Kia, and Ford run in the $16-$20 K range.  Used. 
   I wonder what will be available when my Mercury Grand Marquis wears out and needs replacement?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

What's good for General Motors?

According to a Wall St Journal op-ed, retreating from the car market and specializing in SUV's and pickup trucks is the way to go.  Going head to head with Toyota, Honda, and Ford with the Chevy Malibu is a bad idea.  Or so says Holman W. Jenkins Jr in a Wednesday op-ed.
  I disagree.  GM is a huge company; it once commanded better than 50% of the entire US car market.  To remain a big company, you have to make a mass market product, selling in the millions, to stay in business.  Right now the high volume car product is a smallish four door sedan.  GM cannot survive on niche products like Corvette.  There simply are not enough guys with Corvette money to keep the lights on at a behemoth like GM.  There are more enough people who just need a plain old car to get to work, bring home the groceries and take the kids to school.  Like a Malibu, or (the competition) a Camry, an Accord, or a Fusion. 
   GM needs to make a Malibu that is just plain better than the competition.  They can do it.  They did it in the good old days.  In the '50s and '60s GM owned 50% of the market because their cars were better looking, better handling, and more dependable than Ford, Chrysler, or American Motors.
   They could start with better styling.  The 2012 Malibu is bland, with bulbous front and rear ends.  Then they could find a car salesman to redo the marketing on the web site.  To attract customers GM lists desirable features of the Malibu.  These turn out to be 33 mpg (fair), fancy sound  system (do I care when I have an Ipod?) , a computerized backseat driver with "Turn by turn" voice navigation, and Bluetooth.  None of which I care about either.
  What about engine power, trunk room, interior size (how many kids can I fit into the back seat?) brakes, cornering, roof racks for skis and bikes, transmission options, miles between oil changes, front or rear wheel drive, you know, those car things.  GM is trying to sell the car on MPG and vehicle electronics alone.  They don't seem to care about making a decent car, which can take the curse off a day long drive with kids on board.