-By Warner Todd Huston
In an odd turn of events, former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz thinks that anyone that criticizes GM is not only “mis-informed” but insists that those “foaming ideologues” that criticize the car giant are “damaging the Republican Party.”
It is interesting that an executive in the company derided as “Government Motors” is trying to direct attention away from his minders in the Obama administration and toward the opposing party, and just before a general election at that.
It is also interesting to see Lutz defending GM as the “future” of the car business. Lately GM has not been turning out the sort of products that puts the company at the head of much of anything. For one thing, value seems to be an area where GM is in the back of the pack. James B. Stewart of the Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney.com found late in April that car shoppers don’t find GM to have much value to its products.
“Indeed, value was a theme I heard over and over,” Stewart wrote, “a reminder that high gas prices and malaise about the economy are having a profound effect on consumers, even the auto buffs who tend to populate car shows. This struck me as a marketing challenge for GM. Much as many shoppers seemed to like the GM offerings, nearly all of them cited models they deemed better values elsewhere at the show.”
If GM is the future of the auto industry as Lutz claims, its products are going to have to give customers the value they are looking for. Thus far they aren’t.
Speaking of the high cost of fuel, GM did seem to lead the field in one area. As Reuters recently reported, it led in inaccurate fuel gages.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on its website it opened a preliminary investigation covering Chevrolet Trailblazers, GMC Envoys, Buick Rainiers and Saab 9-7s from model years 2005-2007 after receiving 668 complaints alleging inaccurate fuel gauge readings.
In fact, there is yet another area where GM leads: in some of the industry’s worst cars. Last month GM found nine of its models in the bottom eleven cars.
Those models ranked as some of the worst in value, safety, and/or reliability, and gas mileage. As David Freddoso quipped, “Thank goodness we put up $80 billion to bail out GM and Chrysler. They are now building such wonderful cars that they have achieved total dominance of the Forbes “Worst Cars on the Road” list…”
Still, Vice Chairman Lutz wants to label anyone that sleights GM as a “foaming ideologue” for doubting the company. One wonders if his spin is merely bluff or something else?