GM's way behind and keeps fading
I read Charles Child's March 8 column on General Motors marketing, and I couldn't agree more. I'm not in the auto business. My father was in it all his life, and I've followed it.
GM fails to realize that it's still product that gets you market share. When Ron Zarrella arrived, all GM did was look at who bought a bunch of tired products and devise market segments and strategy to fit the products. Ford and DaimlerChrysler do a much better job of finding out what the market segments want and building a product to suit.
GM's inertia is exemplified best at Cadillac.
Look how long it took to bring the Catera over from Germany -three or four years for a basically cosmetic facelift.
Meanwhile, the competition was building better and better cars. Result: a poorly timed, mediocre product.
Then, there's the Escalade. How many years did they study that one?
I see no NEW products at GM, just copy-catting the successes of others.
GM keeps building sedans in six divisions when the sedan market is shrinking. It is still so many years behind the rest of the industry in so many respects.
If GM has made progress in managing itself, it's pretty well disguised.
The rest of the world is moving at such a faster pace that GM continues to lose ground (and market share).
The writer owns Virginia Controls Inc., which makes electronic control systems for elevators.
An unneeded bit of GM-bashing
I am writing about Charles Child's column about the Chevrolet Impala and the Pontiac Bonneville in your March 8 issue.
I really think Child is caught up in this phase of 'it's acceptable and trendy to criticize GM' - in the same fashion that male-bashing has become a common and acceptable practice.
Truly, GM deserves criticism for many miscalculations over past years and especially the numerous restructurings during the past couple of decades.
In regard to the built-in TV and VCR that were introduced on the Oldsmobile Silhouette Premiere and will soon be offered on the Chevrolet Venture and the Pontiac Montana, GM is simply staying competitive. Aftermarket manufacturers are already offering those accessories, and other manufacturers will soon have them available on their minivans as well.
Child is really off target when he states that GM did not realize economies of scale by sharing platforms to develop the Impala and Bonneville.
The new Impala is developed on the same platform as the new Monte Carlo and the recent Chevrolet Lumina, Pontiac Grand Prix, Oldsmobile Intrigue and Buick Century and Regal.
The Bonneville shares the G-body platform with the upcoming Oldsmobile Aurora V-6 and Aurora V-8 as well as the current Aurora and Buick Riviera, Park Avenue and the new LeSabre.
I think most people will welcome the fact that GM is no longer making cookie-cutter designs from the same platforms.
I applaud GM for the upcoming versions of the Impala and Bonneville for offering two full-sized cars off very different platforms. That will decidedly give them very different characteristics, especially in regard to driving and handling.
I would like to think that GM has really turned things around. Recent sales of some new models have proved that.
The writer has worked in several phases of the retail auto industry.
35-day month demands study
So Cadillac thinks there are 35 days in December!
I think I'll re-read my sales contract.
The writer works in marketing.
Pickups feel sting of GM order mess
As a General Motors dealership, we were advised in early March by our marketing managers not to take any sold orders from our customers for new pickups. That is interesting because we were advised weeks before that sold orders dating back to last August would probably not be built.
We have found ourselves in a position of advising truck customers who have been loyal to our dealership and GM for many years to buy a Ford or a Dodge.
We have no idea when we can get pickups for our customers equipped the way the customers want them.
In early March in the Vehicle Order Management System, GM had the ability to build only 1 percent of trucks in the most requested models.
Even when an order for a vehicle can be placed, it does not mean that it will arrive at the dealership the way it was ordered.
Recently, GM's 'all-knowing' computer deleted ordered options from Blazers and S10 pickups. The last loaded S10 extended-cab 4x4 we ordered was built without cruise control and tilt steering wheel.
We would like to believe it will get better, but I think I can smell smoke.
ROBERT M. GUNDERSON
Another acronym for GM system
After speaking to dealers at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in San Francisco and attending the General Motors make meeting and reading your Letters column, I would like to suggest a better acronym for the GM Vehicle Order Management System, based on this name: Vehicle Order Management Information Technology.
Surely, there must be a better way.
STANLEY BALZEKAS III
Balzekas Motor Sales Inc.
The writer was a GM dealer from 1983-89.