Will changed culture improve GM's vehicles?

@meanjoe75fan I think back to when my dad road tested a 1959 Buick LeSabre and then a 1959 Oldsmobile 88. The cars had essentially the same bodies, but the Buick “nailhead” V-8 was completely different than the Olds “Rocket” V-8. The Buick “no shift” Dynaflow was much different than the Olds 4_speed Hydramatic. The Buick had a torque tube driveshaft while the Olds had an open driveshaft. The Buick had coil springs in the back while the Olds had leaf springs. I got to drive both cars and they certainly drove differently. Ten years later you couldn’t tell much diffence between an Olds and a Buick.

As long as ceo’s get paid at the end of the year on a bonus they make for one year’s profit, long term investment is way down on the list of necessary expenses.

Yep my memories were always that the various models were different. Sometimes it was body features that were more pleasing, or mechanical items, but other times it was the interiors. They just seemed to appeal to different audiences. As they tended to merge all the parts to be universal, the differences were less dramatic. I never bought the idea that there was tons of money to be saved by eliminating the divisions. Maybe the real goal was to eliminate dealerships which seemed to also make no sense.

One problem I have with GM is the re-badging of cars. A lot of Daewoo, Opel, etc. You don’t even know who to blame.

Admittedly our last GM car was a '70’s Nova. Friends have Yukon’s and they have been fine.

My own experience with the big 3 has been with Dodge and Ford, none of them compared to the Toyota’s we had. Even my '97 Kia was better. That, and the resale value being high for the imports, sways a lot of buyers in that direction. So the big 3 have to offer bigger discounts and with the $ being strong, that is one tough competition.

GM has manufacturing in many areas, including South Korea, Europe, China, and North America. Holden is now manufactured in South Korea, in addition to what used to be Daewoo. GM took Over ther partner Daewoo because Daewoo was not up to the challenge. GM had too much invested in the partnership to let Daewoo continue to perform poorly. Toyota, Honda, Daimler; you name the global brand and they all have international manufacturing. That’s just business these days.

My family members GM vehicles and those belonging to relatives and in-laws hold up pretty well so I can’t rip GM in that area.

The mechanic in me gets irritated that people at corporate GM get their checks as do the dealers along with the UAW people and the technicians are the ones left holding the bag while doing warranty repairs, recalls, and so on for little or nothing.

A mechanic screws up he gets backflagged. If an engineer, manager, or assembly worker screws up then backflag them and pass the money down the food chain instead of laying the burden on the guy who had nothing to do with R & D, manufacturing, or assembly…

As to the story, I consider it nothing more than PR fluff. Just my 2 humble cents… :smile:

You mean the importance (or perhaps impertinence) of PR isn’t more important than engineering and production quality control??? I’m shocked…shocked…I tell you. :wink:

Dag, you’ve made an excellent point. There have been books written on the problems with that form of compensation package. Many a CEO has gutted a company’s infrastructure to pad the profit line in order to get multimillion dollar bonuses and then, when the company begins to suffer from the cuts, makes a hasty exit.

I think one idea they say they will implement soon is very good. Instead of the car’s computer simply complaining and turning on the CEL when something breaks and needs immediate repair, on some new GM products the computer will now monitor stuff for degradation, and forecast a problem before it happens. The obvious place to do this is the cranking circuit. It will announce that the engine will soon fail to crank, which you have to admit is a pretty good feature, both for the driver’s convenience, and more important, their safety.

If all that’s due to the new culture, I say good on GM.

Now get on with the other problems, like simplifying the ignition switch so all the switch does is enable various 30 ohm relay coils placed elsewhere in the car, rather than forcing the ignition switch to pass large currents. Likewise with other difficult to service switches, like the ones on the steering column.

The obvious place to do this is the cranking circuit. It will announce that the engine will soon fail to crank, which you have to admit is a pretty good feature, both for the driver's convenience, and more important, their safety.

Yeah, it’s a good thing…but wouldn’t that be pretty obvious? I mean, the car labors to start on a 50F day, you first thought’s “Whoa, better get a new battery before winter gets here, or I’m SOL.”

“It will announce that the engine will soon fail to crank, which you have to admit is a pretty good feature”

I admit it’s a good feature for GM . . . for their bottom line

Drumming up battery sales . . . the goal is apparently that a significant percentage of customers will head to the local GM battery, for that new battery


As long as ceo's get paid at the end of the year on a bonus they make for one year's profit, long term investment is way down on the list of necessary expenses.

Good point, dag.

I mean, a company (thinking of the Craftsman line, but could be anybody) has a certain amount of equity built up in the reputation of the brand. Balance sheets are immediate; reputation lags (up to a decade or more). Given the above, it doesn’t take a terribly smart person to see that you can, effectively, “liquidate” your reputation, getting cash in this FY by selling “cheaper” goods…with the resultant loss of prestige/ability to sell at a premium not showing up or 5+ years.

To a casual shareholder, you look like a genius.

I dunno, I’m for more information packages and less warnings. On the start of our 800 mile trip last week, the warning message came on that the battery was very low and would only start the car a minimum times and to see the dealer for a new battery. There was no gauge to see what was actually happening so I ignored it. No problem for 1600 miles. The same message came up when it had 15K on it and they replaced the battery sensor. So instead of a charging light and ammeter, we have to have a sensor replaced? On their dime anyway but seems better to put the money into a ammeter than a sensor and a needless trip to the dealer.

All of the information is built in already to the OBD2 system so its just a matter of programming the messages to display. One thing about Onstar though is that you could call them and they could query the system 24/7 to tell exactly what was happening. That makes some sense to me.

My first cars, a 1947 Pontiac, a 1955 Pontiac, a 1954 Buick and a 1950 Chevrolet pickup had ammeter gauges. When the ammeter read high more than a few minutes after starting the engine, it was time to check the battery. If the ammeter read discharge, it was time to check the generator and voltage regulator. I didn’t_need a display telllling me about the.battery condition. I still don’t understand why we can’t have gauges instead of displays.

I prefer analog to digital, but prefer “glass” gages to the old “spin the magnet” D’Arsenval mechanical movements. They’re far more reliable and highly customizable.

I do, however, prefer that they be supplemented with idiot lights. Gets my attention better.

Bing has made an excellent point that I myself have commented on in the past: why should the system just display a CEL when there’s so much data available in the OBDII system that could just as easily be displayed? Why should I have to attach a reader and download a code when the vehicle’s display could just post the code(s) along with their preliminary information? Heck, for that matter, on today’s glass screens they could display graphs of the signals from various sensors over time or even interpretations. The buyer is paying for all these capabilities, why not let him/her access the data/charts/performance-over-time? These are primarily simply programming changes. They’re not at all cost-adders.

Of course, then I guess they’d get a whole lot of ONSTAR subscription cancellations and perhaps even lose repair business… ONSTAR is basically just using the data from your car’s computer anyway, and may even be using your car’s own computer to do its analysis.

They can’t provide too much info to the consumer; otherwise, the confusion would clear up and the consumer would never return to the dealer for Job One; flushing something.

Keep the proletariat in a hazy fog… :smiley:

LOL, for access to the information I suggested I would gladly support a menu. And I hate menus on automotive displays.

I regularly look up the upcoming weather on NOAA and print an hour-by-hour chart for the next six days projecting temperature along with the probability of rain, snow, and/or sleet. I get an hour-by-hour printout of the four parameters. I post it on my fridge. It’s extremely clear and informative to me, but I’ve showed it to people a few times and they looked at me like it was in Aramaic.

I’d love to be able to access charts like that on my car. But I think you hit on the two reasons I cannot: (1) it would hurt revenue, and (2) the working class is dumb; don’t confuse them. They won’t understand it anyway.

Eyes glazing over. My wife would never allow weather charts on the fride.

What I liked about my Rivieras was that you could go into diagnostic mode at any time while driving and could see the readings on all of the sensors, the fuel settings etc. You had to have the service manual to find out the right keys to push in sequence to get there but was very useful. Any stored or current codes were right there on the screen. And that was 20 year old technology. All it would take would be another file with the same information in the manual of what the codes meant or other useful information.

I would try to explain the feature to other Riv owners but they never seemed to grasp the usefulness of it. When I took the one on a test drive, I just went into diagnostic mode and the salesman was kind of baffled, but I knew if there were any recorded issues. But then, probably right, nobody would really care so the message just says “see dealer as soon as possible”.

A company as big as GM will always have problems. The tip-over Corvair wasn’t fixed until children of GM executives started to get killed by them. When the problem was fixed, sales were finished forever.

The eighties and nineties were a decade of pretend quality. Covering up problems was the only way to be an achiever. This was everywhere, and it was mixed in with budget cutting which made everything worse. You had to cheerfully say that you were improving things with less money.

Ford was filling gas tanks on new cars with an ancient pump until the fire started and caused the reputation of the Contour and Mystique to go down the drain where it stayed because the cars were lousy anyway.

In a big company, many of the people wait for some other person to take action. How the new problems are handled will tell us everything. If things are handled badly we won’t know until it’s too late.

I hope it changes, but know it will be a slow process, at best. Quality has to be designed into cars, something the Japanese emphasized all along, and American companies have done inconsistently. Every part, big or small, should be studied for how it can be improved, or even better, eliminated.

Every so often I’ll see a parts count for a few car models, and the most reliable cars are always made of significantly fewer parts. Fewer parts to wear out, be badly made, or be misassembled.