Do You Want A Buick That Is Like A Toyota Or "My Father's Oldsmobile"?


#1

American Honda And Toyota Motor America, selling cars in the U.S.A. (or North America) have been cited recently as companies that sell what people want to buy, unlike GM and Chrysler. Toyota and Honda are profitable and GM and Chrysler, not so much.



The U.S. Government would like to see GM and Chrysler making cars that people want so that they too will become profitable.



However, the “news” today tells us that Toyota is no longer profitable in the U.S.

Yoshimi Inaba, who is president and chief operating officer of Toyota Motor America and chairman and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales USA, knows that the down-turn in the economy has not helped and also blames union labor costs and other factors.



It’s intersting to note that he also thinks that the fact that many customers complain that Toyota is a good car, but not very exciting, is partly to blame for Toyota’s lackluster performance in North America.



Questions:

Was GM’s decision to terminate the “WE Build Excitement” Pontiac division and keep Buick a wise decision?



Does the government have it right when they want to see GM cars like Buick become more “what people want to buy” cars like Toyotas have been?



CSA


#2

Well, if the public really perceived Pontiacs to be exciting (or, for that matter, substantially different from Chevies) wouldn’t their sales figures have been better?

My perception–for quite a few years–was that most Pontiacs were simply Chevies with heavy lower-body cladding, a louder muffler, and with 8 tiny A/C vents, rather than 4 normal-sized A/C vents.
In other words, cosmetic differences, but not substantive differences between most Pontiacs and Chevies. I think that my impression was not isolated, based on Pontiac’s sales figures over the past 6 years or so.

While Buick’s sales figures in this country might not be great either, the reason for retaining Buick is the incredible success of this marque in China. If you can sell lots of cars of one particular brand, in one of the world’s fastest growing economies, that would argue quite persuasively for retaining that brand. Apparently Buick’s prominence in the Chinese market is the main reason for preserving that brand.

So, in balance, I think that it was a good decision to retain Buick and to axe Pontiac.


#3

I Think There Are Quite A Few Pontiac Drivers That Are Excited About Driving Their Vehicles.

I agree with much of what you say. However, those subtle little (“not substantive”) differences that you cite are the things that do it for me. I would not be very thrilled about getting out of my Pontiac and into a “comparable”(?) Buick or Toyota. A Smokey And The Bandit La Sabre or Avalon doesn’t conjure up the excitement a Trans Am, Bonneville SLE, or even a little Grand Prix, has to offer me.

CSA


#4

Why do you think that “making cars Americans want” will mean making them like Toyota’s cars? How do you know that is what they mean?

When someone says “I want to see GM make cars Americans want,” it could mean so many different things. GM’s competitive car of the future might look nothing like Honda’s and Toyota’s current offerings.

In my opinion, GM needs to simply do a better job of surveying customers to find out what is important to them, and then deliver. They make fine cars already, but have lost ground to the Japanese in terms of being customer focused. If all they do is try to imitate Toyota or Honda (which they have already attempted unsuccessfully in the past), they will continue to fail.

Just look at this whole “Dexcool” issue. Even if the coolant isn’t a problem, it has turned into a public relations nightmare. For a lot of people, right or wrong, Dexcool has turned into a reason not to buy a GM vehicle.


#5

I’m quite sure that many Pontiac drivers do feel excitement when driving their cars.
Then again, I am also sure that some television viewers feel that Fox News is Fair and Balanced.

In both cases, those perceptions are not necessarily realistic.

(Sorry, CSA, I just couldn’t resist!)


#6

Americans have a wide range of taste; from small sporty cars (mostly bought by younger drivers) to the cushy OFCs (Old Fart Cars) you see at the bingo parlor, country club and other places seniors with good incomes hang out.

GM has the Buick, and Cadillac DeVille series, Lincoln the Town car, etc. These cars are comfortable and have lots of legroom, are easy to get in and out of, and are usually not very efficieint, but that’s not important to the clientele.

Toyota recognizes this market and makes the Avalon, Hyundai has a cushy and quiet sedan as well.

Pontiac used to sell “attitude”, and cookie cutter same Pontiacs got worse repair records that the same Buicks, Oldsmobiles and Chevies. That’s because their owners DROVE WITH ATTITUDE! If you don’t believe me go through all the old Consumer Reports statistics.


#7

When I saw your Topic the only answer that came to mind is “None of the Above”

I just did and all day ride though the White Mountains. The automotive landscape is completely boring (in my eyes) these days. I can hardly tell a crossover from a sedan from a Toyota or GM these days. About the only newer model I saw on the road with some style was newer Mustangs and a nicely done up Mini. I don’t see no stinking “Excitement” out there. He** even my Honda VFR lacks a bit of soul.

Now I know lots of people just want transportation in comfort, but…I see these cars as appliances …they should have Kenmore on the nameplate.


#8

Funny stuff…LOL!


#9

GM made its decision purely on economics. They had to reduce duplicate lines, and Pontiac was not holding up its share of the company. It was the only decision they could have made, wise or not. You cannot turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

The government amazes me by believing that they have any clue what’s “right” in the automotive marketplace.


#10

History repeats itself. In the early 1950’s, GM, as I understand it, considered dropping the Pontiac. From 1940 through 1948, there were, for all practical puposes, 2 Pontiacs. One was an A body model(Torpedo) and shared its body shell with Chevrolet, the other was a B body model(Streamliner) and shared its body shell with the Odsmobile 76 and 78 and the Buick Special. Pontiac had its own inline engines–a flathead 6 and a flathead 8. My first car was a 1947 Pontiac Streamliner with the 6 cylinder engine. In 1949, all Pontiacs were on the GM A body, but continued with the inline flathead 6 and 8 cylinder engines. About 1952, GM was considering dropping the Pontiac. In 1955, Pontiac came out with a V-8 engine and used the GM A body. I owned one of these 1955 Pontiacs–an 860 2 door sedan. The engine had potential, but had an exhaust system which looked like it was designed a blacksmith. This engine had a 287 cubic inch displacement engine.

A year earlier, Buick launched its Century model. It had the larger Buick engine, a 322 cubic inch V-8, but was on the GM B body. The senior Buicks, the Super and the Roadmaster were on the larger GM C body. The Buick Century was an instant hit and was considered a performance car for its day. It was limited by the Dynaflow transmission in the automatic model and rather poor handling. The driveshaft and rear axle were one piece–this was known as torque tube drive. Even so, the Buick had the performance image that the Pontaic didn’t have. I replaced my 1955 Pontiac with a 1954 Buick Special. This car had a 264 cubic inch V-8. Mine had a standard shift and could run circles around the 1955 Pontiac I owned, which wss also a standard shift.

By 1957, Bunkie Knudsen was in charge of Pontiac. He refined the engine that came out in 1955–upped the displacement to 347 cubic inches and generally improved the car. He claimed that “you coud sell an old man a young man’s car, but you couldn’t sell a young man and old man’s car”. The 1957 Pontiac was really a performance car for its day and the GM 4 speed hyrdamatic was much better at transmitting the engine’s power than was the Chevrolet PowerGlide automatic or the Buick Dynaflow. Pontiac by 1961 was winning stock car races. The late Fireball Roberts really gave Pontiac a performance image on the track. By this time, the orginal 287 cubic inch engine from 1955 had grown to 389 cubic inches and beyond. The Pontiac GTO that came along in 1964 helped the perfomance image even more.

Unfortunately, the GM divisions quit competing against each other. Pontiac and Buick both let their performance image slip. The GM cars all began using the same engines. GM got caught slipping Chevrolet V-8 engines into Oldmobile 88’s in 1977. The owner’s manual for my 1978 Cutlass specifies that it could have an engine made by Chevrolet, an engine made by Pontiac, or an Oldsmobile engine. IMHO, this started the long downhill slide of GM. There was no real differences among the Chevrolet, Pontiac and Oldsmbobile models.

Maybe Buick could built a performance model just as it did in 1954. We could have a police show series on television where the officers drive Buicks just as Brodrick Crawford did in the “Highway Patrol” televison shows. The California Highway Patrol did use the 1955 Buick Centurys equipped with standard transmissions. This helped Buick’s image as a performance car.

I think if we let the car men design the cars and limit the role of the bean counters in the automobile companies, our U.S. companies might thrive again.


#11

What Is Fox News? Are They As “Fair And Balanced” As CNN?

By the way, I do enjoy driving my Fieros and the Bonneville.

CSA


#12

I want at least one car that looks like a 76 Chevy 2+2 / Buick Skyhawk with FWD. I used to love tearing up the road with that V-6.