Major GM restructuring underway


I remember advertisement #1 fondly. I was a kid, and I still don’t necessarily desire a Volvo. But that was impressive to a kid. Even if you didn’t know what the hell they were advertising or why they drove that boxy car over that cliff, bridge, parking garage upper level, whatever it was.


Most end product manufacturers will have offerings that span the profitability range. You don’t find it in cars but other products will even have loss leaders to hopefully lure you into buying the more profitable version later on (or while you’re looking at the one that is cheap and realize you can’t live without the added features of the higher priced one).

Smart marketing/business is charging what the market will bear, not what it cost you to make plus some acceptable profit margin. People want trucks and are willing to shell out more for them. Is taking less a wise choice for the business? Will they sell more if they do? I’m betting not enough to make it a smart move.

What kills me is the idea that the deal is time critical. TODAY we can accept $12k less but tomorrow it’s out of the question…a good way to get someone off the fence and move some excess inventory at the acceptable margin.


Don’t forget the ad they did in the early 90’s showing a monster truck slamming into the roof of a Volvo, and the Volvo didn’t get crushed. Turns out they’d considerably reinforced the stunt car, and a normal Volvo actually sold to the public would never perform that well. They got in trouble for that, but it still helped cement the “Volvos are the safest cars ever” myth.


True or false…those ads by Volvo were very influential into convincing people to buy their cars. At or near the top of auto commercials based on influence.


Heh heh heh, I’m finding this with garage door openers. Driving me nuts. Don’t add much to the product just add a bunch of worthless techy features like wifi, motion sensors, etc. Maybe I’ll start a new discussion-kind of car related.

At any rate the car folks seemingly are spending more time adding techy features that are supposed to dazzle people into buying instead of doing much substantially with the product. Half (just pulled out of a hat) the promotions talk about all their electronic features and forget about the 90% of the vehicle.


I think that’s what the targeted buyers want. Remember, you and I are outside of the demographic that the world tries to seduce (18-34). They want lots of tech. You can build the most reliable car on the planet, and if it doesn’t have a bluetooth receiver for their phones, they don’t want it.


Maybe, but I suspect that it’s more that’s what they think they want and easier to add than mechanical stuff. Sounded like Ford kinda hit the wall on their complex electronics that they thought everyone wanted but nobody did. And then the Mustang-electronically choose the exhaust sound you want? Huh? This is what people want? Exhaust recordings instead of real muffler tones?


I think people want what Ford put into Sync. They just don’t want it to suck. Which Sync does. :wink:


Years ago - late 90s? - when shopping for a new car I looked at VW. The salesman was quick to show me the radio key fob that unlocked the doors and opened the windows - a kinda new thing back then. In those days VWs had just about The Worst record of electrical systems reliability. Some auto heads were saying the ghost of Lucas had moved to Germany when the British carmakers went under. In my mind, electronic wizardry was not a realistic selling point for VW, at least not back then.


Here’s an old post, but hits the VW nail on the head:


Ha ha ha. That’s a good article. I hope they have taken the advice since 2005. My DIL has always had VW. It’s a family thing. Her folks have always had a couple of them. I guess they get rid of them fast enough so its not a problem. Still I cringe a little.

Actually my 59 Bug really had one of the best owner’s manuals of the time period. They covered a lot of stuff like how to reduce brake wear by not braking while going around corners. I used the VW dealer that was close to campus (yeah Cindy’s dad owned it but she was rarely around) and was always happy with their work and pricing for a college kid.
Still it had quirks and left me stranded several times but I was young and could handle it. Maybe they were on their way then and I just didn’t know it. Never had a car though that you had to adjust the valves on every 2000 miles. Never had another VW since then.

Edit: One thing I never did understand is that the radio was wired to always be on unless you shut it off. So if you parked the car, you had to remember to shut the radio off too.


Thanks, texases, for the link to that very enjoyable article.

“… no one actually knows where the electricity goes after it leaves the battery.”
Kudos. Wish I’d written anything that funny.

“To dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free” - Bob Dylan
“Wish I’d written that.” - David Crosby


He told me the computer system interfaces with the radio and often you can’t get data if the radio has been changed.

This is, quite bluntly, typical of German-engineered cars. There’s an instilled attitude amongst car designers in that country that says “it has been designed to be used in this way, and it is completely inconceivable that anyone would ever use it even slightly differently and therefore we are not responsible for what happens when they do.”

I tried to talk my mother into getting an Acura or Lexus for her bucket-list luxury car but she wouldn’t hear of it. Got a BMW. She’s had nothing but problems, most of them caused by block-headed assumptions about how the end-user would operate it.

She finally listened; her new Acura arrives this month. :wink:


Hmmm, I’m going to think about that one. Being half German, you may be on to something. Of course we don’t stereotype here but there is always some truth to stereotypes.


HUGE difference between traits from someone living in a certain community and then extrapolating those same cultural traits to someone of the same nationality not living in that community.


@MikeInNH You lost me, but this was the comment on German designed cars.


To be quite clear, although honestly I suspect you understand this, I was not saying “all Germans are stupid.” I was specifically referring to their car design, although I’ve talked to a number of machinists who will tell you the same thing about their shop equipment.

It’s not a racial/cultural thing, as far as I can tell. It’s an educational philosophy thing. Engineers go to engineering school and are taught to approach design in a certain way - namely to assume that everyone who uses the equipment will read the manual and never deviate from the dictated procedures, and that’s what they do when they graduate and start designing.

And if you go on that assumption, and believe it to be an absolute truth, then why bother going to the time and expense of designing in failsafes for when users deviate from the dictated procedures when that won’t ever happen?


Because ISO and CE safety requirements dictate that you do. A formal risk analysis will include a number of analysis like DFMEA and Hazard and Risk Assessment that specifically detail all the conceivable ways things can go wrong or be misused and the level of harm associated with those actions or conditions.

The manual is accepted as one means of mitigating risk. That’s why you see so many warnings and flags in manuals. However, a manual alone cannot retire risk to an acceptable level when other more robust mechanisms are available. For example, an interlock to prevent harm will have prominent notations in the manual, labels on the machine and electro-mechanical provisions to minimize the potential for harm.

This is globally enforced and not optional in order to be able to sell your product in most markets. You have to subject your product to scrutiny by third party auditors and evaluators to be sure you’re in compliance with these standards.

Engineers don’t get to default to the position, if you’re stupid enough to do that, you get what you deserve! There’s no doubt that those statements are uttered on a daily basis in amazement at the genius ways people find to defeat or sidestep provisions that were thought to be foolproof…

Not sure where you got that impression but that hasn’t been my experience having been through engineering school myself, working in the field for 40 years and employing hundreds of engineers over the years.

In larger companies, the people that write the manuals are technical writers, not engineers. They consult with design and manufacturing engineers to form the basis of the technical content of the manuals, but the formats and wording are done outside of the engineering discipline. It’s quite the opposite as what you think in engineering. Engineers know that only technically or detail minded people will read the manuals and the vast majority of people’s eyes will glaze over if they ever crack the binding or open the PDF. It’s not like a state secret being kept from engineers that people by and large don’t read instructions, they deal with that reality every day in even the internal documentation for process control…


Sure they do, as long as it doesn’t impact safety. That’s why the X3’s center console will go dark if you pair the wrong cell phone to it. They have a list of approved phones. Now, anyone who thinks about it for a few seconds knows full well that no one is going to read that list, and they’re gonna pair whatever cell phone they currently own to the car, and so maybe it’s a good idea to design the system such that it rejects connections from phones it’s not compatible with.

But losing your radio and your navigation screen probably won’t make you crash the car, so it’s a-OK to daisy chain the whole center stack such that when one module crashes, they all die, and then install a bluetooth module that can’t handle backwards compatibility AND has no fail-safes that prevent connecting to phones it can’t handle. There ya go - dumb-headed engineering leads to problems, but they just infuriate the driver rather than make him crash.

Unless you went to engineering school in Germany, I wasn’t referring to you. American engineers often take the opposite approach. I was talking to a design engineer from 3M once, many years ago. She was talking about a new Scotch Tape-based product they were working on (that never ended up coming out, unfortunately). She emphasized that a significant part of the design phase was to sit around and try to think of all the stupid crap some idiot might do with it that it wasn’t meant to do, and how to mitigate the resulting damage. For instance, some dope is going to eat the tape, so use non-toxic adhesive, etc.


I’m an engineer and agree that there is a certain national design philosophy in certain countries.

German industrial equipment is very sturdy and durable provided it gets the specific maintenance the manufacturer requires. The operators would be fully trained in being sensitive to such requirements.

US equipment is often subject to rough use and not regular maintenance. It seems to be more tolerant to this type of abuse than German equipment.

The Japanese believe the best maintenance is maintenance that does not need to be done! They apply overall Asset Management principles to equipment design . Reliability and maintainability are the major focus.

This was not always so; Japanese equipment 60 years ago was not robust and long lived.

The mistake German car makers make is they assume they can apply these German industrial principles to car design and assume the owner will religiously follow these procedures.

I almost bought a Mercedes 280 sedan in 1968 until I read the owner’s manual. It required applying 10 drops of lube oil to the conical drilled openings on each door hinge EVERY 500 MILES! So carry an oil can on a Coast to Coast trip.

Needless to say, I opted for Detroit Iron then with a more forgiving maintenance schedule.