Dealer goes to bat for Olds, GM brass
To the Editor:
After reviewing articles about the Oldsmobile meeting at the National Automobile Dealers Association convention in Las Vegas, I felt compelled to balance the scale.
Oldsmobile has been in my family since 1937, and no one knows better than I how emotional it is to my father and my family to see it end.
Dealers certainly vented at that meeting, but I fear some of the good suggestions will be lost to insults launched at General Motors management.
I have spent the past six years on councils, working to improve the relationship with GM.
I was instrumental in patching up the relationship between GM and NADA. In my opinion, that relationship weakened a bit in Las Vegas.
Bill Lovejoy, GM's group vice president of North American vehicle sales, service and marketing, has been more of an advocate for dealers inside GM than anyone else has. He has been working with teams of dealers reviewing all major initiatives that GM is doing or considering.
Together those teams decide whether the initiatives live or die. Oldsmobile was not included in this process, and CEO Rick Wagoner explained why. Lovejoy has personally reached out to NADA in a way none of the other manufacturers have, a fact that is undisputed.
One dealer launched an insidious assault on Darwin Clark, GM's vice president and general manager of industry-dealer affairs.
The dealer implied that Clark publicly made negative comments about dealers. Other accusations were even more insulting.
Clark's integrity is his life's best achievement. However, that dealer loved all the attention from the press.
Debra Kelly-Ennis went unrecognized. She is one of GM's most talented marketing managers.
She reached out to the councils from day one. She would have made a difference with this division. If she had had that job two years ago, Olds might still be around.
I have criticized many GM initiatives, and I am certainly outraged by Olds' demise. But I do believe we will be treated fairly.
If any of the suggestions made are possible, we are fortunate to have this regime to execute them. Bill Lovejoy and his group will rebuild trust.
JON J. AGRESTA
Kill the brands, save the models
To the Editor:
I'd like to share a few thoughts about the declining market shares of DaimlerChrysler and General Motors.
DaimlerChrysler simply needs to reinstate the 7/70 warranty.
Forget the rebates; the consumers want quality.
GM doesn't have to kill the Oldsmobile name completely. It could be used as a model designation. I would do the same thing with Buick.
Here are some examples.
The Olds Bravada could be the Cadillac Oldsmobile, and the Buick LeSabre and Park Avenue could be the Cadillac Buick and the Cadillac Buick 225.
The Olds Intrigue GX and GL could become Chevrolets, and the Intrigue GLS could be the Chevrolet 442 with a 4-liter Northstar engine. The Olds Alero two-door could become the Pontiac Grand Alero.
The Chevrolet Silverado could become the ChevyGMC Sierra, and all other Chevrolet and GMC trucks could carry ChevyGMC names.
This marketing concept would eliminate the overhead of three brand names. The savings in management salaries alone would provide money to keep GM on top of the automotive world.
THOMAS M. DEJA
The writer works for the U.S. Postal Service. He is a former auto service writer and salesman.
Farewell to Olds, but not his '49
To the Editor:
So Oldsmobile is gone. Who cares?
Great cars are not created using smoke and mirrors.
Look for Buick and Cadillac to follow shortly and for General Motors to merge with Toyota.
When the 'Smithmobiles,' also known as 'cookie-cutter cars,' were introduced (under Roger Smith in the 1980s), the handwriting was on the wall.
How long can success be carried by a name alone?
In the case of Oldsmobile, the name no longer had any relationship to the great cars Olds once made.
It may, in fact, have been another reason new buyers scorned the make.
Who wants to drive a car with 'old' in its name?
Unless it is like my 1949 Olds 98 (see photograph), a little roughed up here and there (hit a bear a few years ago) but still doing 500 miles a week in all kinds of weather all over New England.
The writer is a consulting engineer and attorney.
Dealer critiques GM ad charges
To the Editor:
Your Feb. 5 article about General Motors' 'new' ad groups omitted one very important fact.
Two years ago when the ad groups were eliminated, GM retained the 1 percent charge on the dealer invoice that we as Chevrolet dealers were contributing to the ad group. At that time, our group in central Florida had combined contributions of about $250,000 a month, all of which was being spent on television in our market.
GM will not account for the $250,000 a month that we were spending.
After the dismantling, we all joined the co-op program, and an additional 1 percent was tacked onto the invoice, further reducing our dealer markup.
Now, GM wants another 1 percent for the new and improved ad group. GM does this because it says that our 'share of voice' in our market is less than Ford's and Toyota's.
Yet over the past two years, GM will not account for the more than $3 million that we once spent.
I am not one of those dealers who complains about takeaways.
I own three Chevrolet dealerships, and I spend $230,000 a month in media, so I know the value of advertising.
My complaint is this: If we give GM another 1 percent, that will be a total of 3 percent off our already slim markup.
To GM, I say: Don't ask us to spend ours when you won't spend yours. Don't cut your budget and then ask for more money from us.
To my fellow dealers, I say: Make your regional ad rep show you his budget. Make GM account for the money it kept two years ago and then make your decision.
Jim Rathmann Chevrolet
Was it, perhaps, a language snafu?
To the Editor:
In your Feb. 5 article 'Eaton: Deceived or deceiver?' you suggest that Robert Eaton was a party to the deception about the so-called merger of equals.
Instead of suggesting something nefarious by Eaton, isn't it possible that there was a miscommunication between what Juergen Schrempp intended and what Eaton understood?
Such a miscommunication would be consistent with the statements you attributed to Tom Stallkamp in the article, and it is also consistent with people whose native languages are different, such as Schrempp and Eaton.
HENRY J. OECHLER
The writer is an attorney.