OT: Why General Motors is doomed

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Arrogance had all to do with their failure. Countless times I witnessed Oldsmobile reps denie the obvious that they built an inferior product. When you replace hundreds of the same part year after year with no attempt to improve because you are the leader in sales it eventually catches up with you. Oldsmobile had been dying off since the mid 80's. There were and are simply too many quality alternatives available. Regardless of overlap, if you build a quality product it will continue to sell. Look at Toyota and Lexus. Plenty of overlap there. Nisson and Infinity, there too. VW and Audi, well they are still fooling some people.
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Leon wrote:

You really don't have a clue how GM works if you think that.

--
--John
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Having worked directly with GM for 18 years I probably know better than you.
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Well that was a rather unfair response I gave you here. Basically the American automobile builders had this arrogance that they felt that they were world leaders in automobile production. They WERE. Then the Japanese car builders began to really take hold and the American automobile builders continued to build the same quality. They simply thought that their larger percentage of sales in the US would dominate. To day we see what effect that has had. Oldsmobile just happened to be the weak one at the time that GM needed to drop a car line. Until the late 80's GM was still adding divisions. Saturn was one, so overlap was not so much a problem. Lack of sales from mediocre quality eventually lead to the Japanese taking control.
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Leon wrote:

As compared to what? They were essentially identical other GM product lines--that was _the_ major problem, there was no longer anything to differentiate them sufficiently, just as the parallel example w/ Chrysler...
I don't believe the representation of product by factory reps was a bit different in nature w/ Olds than any other GM line (nor Ford, Chrysler, Toyota, Honda or any other manufacturer, for that matter). All make decisions of that type based on their perception of what is the most cost-effective solution for them. I had Olds' from mid-70s thru late 80s and they each lasted for at least 140 kmiles w/ no significant maintenance problems other than one for which I blame myself for using Quaker State, not GM/Olds. I had no more difficulty w/ what little warranty work was required from them than any other distributor I've ever experienced.
Could they have done something different/better? Of course, very few companies (or individuals, for that matter) can say otherwise. Was their demise from "arrogance"? Not in my estimation.
You may disagree, that's your perogative.
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No compariwon needed. Year after year, time and time again it became routine to replace the same parts for the same reasons. 10 to 20 times a week for the same part. Many of the replacement parts were stocked in quantities equal to oil filters.
They were essentially identical other GM product

That is nothing new and duplication works for Toyota and Nissan Motor company just fine. Seemed to work well for Apple computers also when they offered different colors. Apple sells the same thing just different variations of appearance. Time and time again factory reps would promice that they were going to get it right this time as new models were being introduced.

Well Good for you. You were lucky. I too drove Oldsmobiles I worked for an Oldsmobile dealer for about 10 years in upper management and had to deal directly with the customers. I assure you the norm was a crappy product by comparison to the Japanese products.

You were not there as the Olds reps would turn down warranty claims because our delaership replaced too many of a certain item. Tell me that is not arrogance. They basically said, we know that there is a problem and we are paying you to make the repairs however you repair more than the Olds dealers in your area so we are going to kick back the claims that put you over the region average.

I don't have to disagree, I know the truth.
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Leon wrote:
>Arrogance had all to do with their failure. Countless times I witnessed >Oldsmobile reps denie the obvious that they built an inferior product. ...
IMHO, "arrogance" is a term that applied to the entire US auto industry.
Can think of no better example than GM's approach to providing a US diesel engine for Oldsmobiles.
Rather than build a new diesel engine, a new engine program was about $100-$150 million in those days, they chose a short cut.
Mill the head of a 10:1 combustion ratio gasoline engine to achieve a 20:1 ratio required for diesel.
Forget about a new crank, larger bearings, etc, required to handle a higher compression ratio engine.
History has domumented that disaster.
As someone who spent much of my career around heavy industry, (auto, steel, chemical, machine tool, etc) Detroit is heading down that same slippery slope that the steel industry went down a generation earlier.
Those who fail to learn from historical mistakes are doomed to repeat them.
Lew
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EXACTLY!
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snip
snip
I too (currently) work at a multi-franchised auto dealer and have done so for 30 years. I watched GM's quality plummet in the 80's while Japan was introducing products. As a dealer for both Honda and Mazda, believe me when I tell you quality was not all that great. Honda's transmission's, brakes and head gaskets were a constant source of our business. Mazda's engines, brakes and transmission contributed as well. The difference between our GM customers and import customers was profound and two-fold.
The typical GM owner rarely had their cars serviced (with us) and when they did, it was just an oil change. OTOH, the import owners bordered on religious about servicing their cars (at the dealership) with us. Secondly, Honda and Mazda stepped up when it came time to fix the known problems, well out of warranty. This became an interesting problem for them. The State started to get complaints about the un-stated warranty. We had to stop saying it was under warranty (past the regular warranty period) and were required to call it dealer good-will.
*Today, the quality difference between the worst built cars Hummer, Jeep, Mazda, VW, Mitsubishi, Land Rover, Saab, Isuzu (mostly imports) and the best, Lexus is very small. With normal maintenance, most any car will outlast your desire to drive it.
The real difference is going to be your relationship with your local dealer and the dealer's relationship with the factory.
Dave
* http://www.jdpower.com/autos/brand-ratings/
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The dealer I worked for at various times owned Oldsmobile, Honda, GMC, Buick, Mazda, and Isuzu.
I primarily was over Oldsmobile, Honda, and Isuzu. We had the Olds franchise since 1965, Honda from the start with the 600 sedans in the early 70's and added the Buick GMC, and Mazda in th eearly 80's. Isuzu came in 1986. I really do not recall a real problem with the Honda compared to Oldsmobile. We typically serviced 400 to 500 Oldsmobiles per week during the summer and 80% were owned by oil companies and banks in the Houston area.
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Anyone with any sense knows that without a significant breakthrough in battery technology, electric cars are only a sick dream. As a Saturn Dealer, we were dealing with EV1's and they were a pain. It was a very happy day when that program ended. (Anybody want an EV1 charging station?)
The current crop of hybrid cars - (another cruel joke played on the unsuspecting public) are really only out there to appease the "green" people. They too will go the way of the EV1 and dodo bird.
If people were serious about fuel emissions from cars, they would require any car/truck made before 1995 to be scrapped. They would also change the license fees to be 0 on a new car/truck and increase year by year. Finally, require all gasoline vehicles to use 30% ethanol and all diesel's to use 30% biodiesel by 2010.
Dave
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Teamcasa wrote:

I don't know a single person with a Prius who isn't happy with it. Maybe you're referring to the American excuses for hybrid technology.
Hybrid technology isn't likely to go away any time soon. Even if fuel cells come on line (hopefully DAFC and not hydrogen BS) it is easier and cheaper to create a fuel cell hybrid than a vehicle fully powered by a fuel cell.
Mike
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Michael Daly wrote:

Huh? How do you figure? The point of a hybrid is that the engine charges the battery when there is excess capacity available. You can't charge a fuel cell.

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J. Clarke wrote:

No, but you can still charge a battery. You want a 200 hp fuel cell? That's going to be a big fuel cell. How often do you use 200hp? Rarely (probably never, but most drivers think and buy with their penis). Instead, install a fuel cell for the power you need on a regular basis and store extra energy in a battery for acceleration - just like a Prius with an Atkinson cycle engine - turns an engine that is something like 80hp into a power plant that accelerates like it was 40% more powerful.
Reducing the size of the real power supply (engine, fuel cell) reduces weight and cost. In the case of an internal combustion engine, you get a real increase in efficiency too. Adding the battery is a small price compared to the alternative.
Mike
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Michael Daly wrote:

So now you're going to have a gasoline engine, a battery, _and_ a fuel cell? What is the fuel cell supposed to do?

It is? Why?

This kind of remark is one of the reasons that environmentalists get branded as whackos. Leave personalities out of it. If you have a statistic to present present it without commenting on the character of others.

So you're saying to use a hybrid with a battery and a fuel cell but no conventional engine?

Do you have numbers to present to support this view or are you just in love with your own notion?
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J. Clarke wrote:

Just a battery and a fuel cell.

Have you seen the size of fuel cells? 150+kW is big. The 1kW solid oxide fuel cells proposed for extra electric power in cars in the next couple of years is about the size of a briefcase IIRC.

Well, if I get the time, I'll dig out the stats from the transportation engineering courses I took over thirty years ago. Basic conclusion: the info any car buyer gives you is bogus. They don't buy on logic, they buy on ego, image, jonesing and just about anything other than common sense. Lots of studies have been done and the results are depressing - they point to the difficulty in getting people to accept common sense solutions to transportation problems. Worse in the US than in Europe, for example, since the Europeans take to mass transit much more readily.

Yes.
Ummm, hybrids _do_ get better fuel economy, don't they? I first studied hybrid technology over thirty years ago and the numbers that worked for prototypes back then still work today. Costs are better today because of major improvements in battery technology. Hybrids aren't rocket science.
Using a small power plant to provide average capacity and setting some aside for peak demand is a common solution in a number of areas other than cars. Water systems for example - you can lay pipe and build _huge_ pumps to provide peak demand or build a water tower and run a smaller pump at average demand to keep the tank full. The tank + gravity can provide for peak demand.
The only time this doesn't buy you anything is when demand is fairly constant. Hence there is little need for a hybrid locomotive outside of a switching yard. If the train is running on a steady grade at a fairly constant speed, power requirements don't fluctuate much. Ditto a car on a long stretch of highway - that's where the hybrids can barely do better than conventional. My 14 yr old Civic VX gets almost the same highway fuel economy as the new Civic Hybrid (4.5 l/100km vs 4.3). In the city, the Hybrid is way better.
Mike
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Michael Daly wrote:

A 85 KW Ballard 902 is about the size of a full-tower PC.

Well, now, rather than whining about it you should figure out a way to actually use that information to sell your solution.

Fuel economy is not the only cost driver.

All of this comes under the heading of "if you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance bury 'em in something else". Try presenting some life cycle cost numbers and some numbers for lifecycle environmental impact.
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J. Clarke wrote: <snippage>

Funny, that's just what I'd have asked of you, but then I'd not expect lucid response.
J
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The story so far.
Dubya admits that it's time for the US to stop being so dependent on foreign oil.
A technology, developed in large part in US universities in the '60s and '70s, referred to as hybrid gas-electric, has been available for a number of years as a commercial product from a number of companies. This technology provides significant fuel savings while providing adequate power for modern autos and light trucks.
The nay sayers claim it won't work in spite of the obvious evidence that there are real products on the market that use the technology. The nay sayers claim that it is an evil conspiracy on the part of nasty environmentalists to destroy American life. The nay sayers claim that it is the environmentalists who are out of touch with reality.
I wonder if these nay sayers are all descended from buggy whip salesmen.
Mike
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snipped-for-privacy@sme-online.com wrote:

<plonk>
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