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Put up or shut up time for design.

April 24th, 2006, 11:15 am

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Mr-914
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GM is hiring more designers at the same time as they make drastic cuts in their labor force.

"The corporation believes in what we are doing," Ed Welburn, vice president for global design, said in an interview this month at the New York auto show.

It seems like one of the put up or shut up times for design. Let's hope GM can pull off some magic.

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April 24th, 2006, 11:49 am

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mmjohns
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GM is ultimately a dead company.

1. Junk bond status - check

2. Overreliance on SUVs - check

3. Workers get 80-90% pay even when the plants are offline - check

4. Each worker supports nearly 3 retired workers - check

5. Oil at $75/barrel - check

6. Losing market share - check

The list just keeps on growing and it isn't going to get better anytime soon. I just wonder how many millions upon millions they can keep losing down the money hole and still keep the doors open.

If I were a transportation designer over there I'd be trying to get a job at Honda or Toyota right about now.

April 25th, 2006, 9:26 am

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i don't know...

chrysler did it.

they were in the shitter and they turned, in part, to design. it worked.

true, they received a government infusion, gm probably won't.

i don't think gm is dead yet. i know a few people who thought chrysler would pull it out. they did. all those people that guessed right made a KILLING off it.
"Furniture that is too obviously designed is very interesting, but too often belongs only in museums." - MBJ

April 25th, 2006, 9:51 am

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mmjohns
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Yeah but Chrysler was in a better position financially than GM is now. The number of pensioners that each Chrysler employee has to support is lower and so are the healthcare costs that they build into the price of each new car.

My dad is in a labor union and his group said years ago that the UAW workers at GM were negotiating themselves right out of their own jobs. In every contract they asked for more and more and it has become a huge drain on the company.

On top of the insane labor agreements they have, Bob Lutz also dropped the ball on hybrid and other fuel efficient vehicles instead pushing for the production of more and more heavy SUV's like the Tahoe, Trailblazer, Yukon, Suburban, Envoy, H1, H2, H3, Escalade, etc. Their SUV list is insanely long.

They totally ignored the small car market because they can't compete against the Japanese and Korean cars that are out now. Honda and Toyota just hand them their own ass every year. When Bob Lutz started the GM blog to ask people what they would like to see in the cars the top comment was "stop making ugly cars".

They can bring in all the designers they want but unless they let them actually design something attractive, GM isn't going anywhere. With our luck we are going to be given more great examples of GM design like the Aztec and Monte Carlo (or the "batmobile" as I like to call it).

At least Ford is trying to make their cars look more like Nissan's. I saw a Ford Fusion next to a Maxima the other day and there are definite rip offs.

Personally I think GM should be buried in a shallow grave. Nothing lasts forever.

April 25th, 2006, 1:25 pm

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GM definately has the cards stacked against them. However, I think it would be best for GM to admit they can't compete against Camry and Civic. They can compete in any other vehicle category though. The good thing for the GM designers is that their contributions can be the difference in making their products stand-out in the current market of bland (or just not bold) Japanese cars and their clones.

This means trying new concepts (like Aztec), returning to classic American roots (Mustang/300) and mining categories thought to be dead (hatches, wagons). This isn't a bold idea for a struggling company...it's exactly what Lee Iacocca did to turn Chrysler around (Minivans...what's a minivan? and the Le Baron at a time when there were 2 on the market).

Like so many things, I'm cautiously opimistic about GM. Though, I'm excited to see what kind of radical thinking they may throw to the market in their death throws.

April 26th, 2006, 2:58 pm

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fark, iacoca warned about helth cost and pensions to the public in the '80s.

914 has it right: i am interested to see what they can do. there is an assload of talent at that company. design alone aint gonna do it. even if gm does go bankrupt, it doesn't mean the end of the company. i have no preference towards american cars and don't consider them when i make a purchase.

i wouldn't count them out just yet.
"Furniture that is too obviously designed is very interesting, but too often belongs only in museums." - MBJ
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