I am responding to comments by Jim Bunnell, General Motors' North Central regional general manager, in your Oct. 24 issue ("GM to dealers: No big incentives.")
Bunnell implied that dealers should go out and start selling and stop relying on rebates. It was funny and alarming because it demonstrates that GM, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler group executives have little or no understanding of what is involved in selling new or late-model vehicles in the retail market today.
What is most disturbing is that they don't realize they have nearly destroyed the automotive cycle that sustains all of us. It started innocently enough with Joe Garagiola some 30 years ago when he launched Chrysler's now infamous marketing ploy, "Buy a car, get a check."
The Big 3 then came up with a slew of consecutive innovative marketing plans: long-term financing, then 0 percent, then 0 percent with long-term financing, then bigger rebates, and on and on.
Finally, when they ran out of desperate ideas, along came the mother of all programs: employee pricing.
I invite Bunnell to our dealership to meet the next good repeat customer who wants to trade his 2003 pickup. The customer's monthly payment is $650, and he wants to keep it about the same.
He has little or no money to put down and has $9,000 negative equity.
Mr. Bunnell, you have the floor. You are going to close this deal. We will all be right behind you, yearning to learn your miracle/magical close so we can overcome this condition we all experience every day with most of our loyal repeat customers.
GM, Ford and Chrysler have dried up an ocean of viable customers to the point that it is now just an understocked pond. From all of us on the retail level, thanks so much.