To the Editor:
In his Dec. 10 column on the Chevrolet Malibu, Rick Kranz pointed out a key problem that General Motors and the other domestics face on the comeback trail (Dont be too quick to crown the Malibu). Even with great product, it is going to take a long time to regain the confidence of the American car buyer.
The Saturn Aura and the Malibu are outstanding products in many respects, particularly perceived quality. With actual quality at parity with the Japanese, GM had to make that added product investment to reassure skeptical buyers. Not only will those products not break, but they look like they wont break.
The next tasks are getting on the list, being shopped and being bought. They will require significant marketing expenditures, and they fly in the face of the current industry practice of launch and abandon. GM must get potential buyers into the cars and must get actual buyers to feel smart because they got a tremendous value. That goes well beyond running a few catchy ads during launch.
The Malibu should do better than the Aura because of the size of the Chevrolet dealer organization. Ultimate success, however, depends on how much GM supports those great new products with effective marketing for an extended period. Further, the next-generation Malibu must knock our socks off again. I hope that will happen.