Is Anyone Dumber Than a GM Executive?
By J.S. Smith
I am hardly a snarky, cheer-as-the-Titanic-sinks sneerful spectator. I root for the home team and I’m a life-long member of the GM family. Indeed, I worked on the assembly line many years ago at Lansing’s GM North Assembly Plant making Grand Ams and Achievas.
But GM’s management is quite simply stupid. Astonishingly so. Case in point from Autoblog:
Testing of the Chevy Beat is officially underway. . . The Beat will make its production debut sometime in 2010 and will go on sale in Europe in early 2011. As previously reported, the Beat won’t be making the trek to the U.S. until it meets the fed’s crash-test standards, so we won’t get a shot at the Beat until the next generation arrives – whenever that is.
The monumental short-sightedness of not bothering to have the Beat US-certified boggles the mind. It qualifies as less a business move than a bowel movement. The people in charge at GM shouldn’t get salaries from anyone. They should be cleaning chewing gum from sidewalks.
This is particularly egregious in light of the fact that Toyota is bringing the 2009 Yaris 5-door hatch to the states. And Ford’s decision to build some of its tasty Euro models in North America. Even more offensive is the fact that when the Beat (as well as the Trax and Groove) was first displayed at the 2007 New York Auto Show – yes, in the US – and GM had the nerve to pretend that there was a possibility of one or more of the models might be sold in the US if they were well-received by the media and public. Well, they were well-received, partially because of a contest sponsored by GM for the public to vote for their favorite of the three, but it was later revealed that GM had no intent of ever selling them in the US – at least in their first generation. (N.B.: You can still vote on the site; since the Beat was in the lead with 887,666 votes, at least GM may have been listening to customers by greenlighting that one for production, although they mostly were asking US consumers and not the global audience that will get the car instead.)
Not only was GM being idiotic in its decision to not have the Beat available for sale in the US in its first generation when consumer demand for small, efficient vehicles is at a fever pitch, but the company was also dishonest about its intentions and plans for the small cars with the public. An executive team that obviously sneers at small cars (and their smaller profit margins) while instead focusing its collective energy on large crossovers and trucks is not one that excels at contingency planning.
This is how you go from a 50% market share to under 20% in a generation. Trained monkeys could do better than the crumb-bums in the RenCen.
PS: Yes, Chrysler has even bigger problems, but given that they had a nine-year relationship with Count Daimler-cula, I am more willing to cut them slack.
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