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$16-something for my car now. Holy schnikes. I paid just over $20K for my Linear with just the cold weather package last September, and now I can get a NEW Linear for $3-4K LESS than I paid?

Is anyone else (not just 9-2X owners) just a little miffed at GM/Saab for treating their owners like this? I was telling my wife the other day about it and was saying how glad I was that I believed Subaru would never undercut their used-car resale like that. I know GM is in trouble, but yipes!

On the other hand, I'm hoping they do this again in 2 years so I can get a loaded 9-3 SportCombi. :)

Can I speak any MORE out of both sides of my mouth? :)
 

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What was the residual for your lease? I'm curious how different the purchase price - residual is for people who bought before the rebates and people who bought with them.
 

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I don't think you should be miffed. Realistically speaking, cars are usually priced higher when they launch and the first on the block to get the car always pays through the nose. Also, customers earlier in the model year pay more than later in the model year. Just wait for the SportCombi. You probably will get a lease loyalty incentive ++ . That's the nature of today's car market. :roll:
 

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I would never normally get such an expensive car as the Combi, but I'm tempted. 3 1/2 years left on the 92x and she's mine!

Well, if GM is still in business, and if Saab is still around. I hope Saab is still around - owned by someone else. GM? Well who cares.
 

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duck_man said:
I would never normally get such an expensive car as the Combi, but I'm tempted. 3 1/2 years left on the 92x and she's mine!

Well, if GM is still in business, and if Saab is still around. I hope Saab is still around - owned by someone else. GM? Well who cares.
You should care about GM, because there is no other deep pockets OEM who is going to swoop in and save the Saab brand for you (unless, maybe, you're ready for a Chinese owner like MG Rover?). The auto industry is fiercely competitive and there are certainly other prominent examples of very cool brands that just lose, lose, lose, money for their parent corporations (Jaguar-Ford and Smart-Mercedes are the first that come to mind). It's really easy to just slag GM, but if you like the brand and want more product, don't be so quick to rush to judgment. :nono;
 

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BlkKat said:
You should care about GM, because there is no other deep pockets OEM who is going to swoop in and save the Saab brand for you (unless, maybe, you're ready for a Chinese owner like MG Rover?). The auto industry is fiercely competitive and there are certainly other prominent examples of very cool brands that just lose, lose, lose, money for their parent corporations (Jaguar-Ford and Smart-Mercedes are the first that come to mind). It's really easy to just slag GM, but if you like the brand and want more product, don't be so quick to rush to judgment. :nono;
smart-mercedes? what is that...i though mercedes was with chrysler
 

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SpAcEmAn SpLiFF said:
smart-mercedes? what is that...i though mercedes was with chrysler
This is the smallest mercedes that is being made. You see them in Europe everywhere. They are quite cute
 

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BlkKat said:
You should care about GM, because there is no other deep pockets OEM who is going to swoop in and save the Saab brand for you (unless, maybe, you're ready for a Chinese owner like MG Rover?). The auto industry is fiercely competitive and there are certainly other prominent examples of very cool brands that just lose, lose, lose, money for their parent corporations (Jaguar-Ford and Smart-Mercedes are the first that come to mind). It's really easy to just slag GM, but if you like the brand and want more product, don't be so quick to rush to judgment. :nono;
You might be quite right that GM is saving Saab. However, there is a right way and the wrong way of saving the Saab. Ford is doing an excellent job with Volvo whereas GM seems to be doing a poor job with Saab, although I do have high hopes for the Combi.

Ta-ta, janusz
 

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philosophicaldreamer said:
You might be quite right that GM is saving Saab. However, there is a right way and the wrong way of saving the Saab. Ford is doing an excellent job with Volvo whereas GM seems to be doing a poor job with Saab, although I do have high hopes for the Combi.

Ta-ta, janusz
One could well say that Volvo is "saving" Ford.
Or that the corporate name should be Volvo-Ford..
GM, once so powerful and mighty, with nearly a 60% American market share; but that was then, this is now.
Can GM be saved ??
They can, IF ,they have management smart enough to comprehend why Saab was able to survive for all these years..
IF they take the trouble to understand the Japanese success story..

GM must swallow their pride, which could kill it.
 

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earthworm said:
One could well say that Volvo is "saving" Ford.
Or that the corporate name should be Volvo-Ford..
GM, once so powerful and mighty, with nearly a 60% American market share; but that was then, this is now.
Can GM be saved ??
They can, IF ,they have management smart enough to comprehend why Saab was able to survive for all these years..
IF they take the trouble to understand the Japanese success story..

GM must swallow their pride, which could kill it.
As a Volvo fanatic, I am more than willing to concede that maybe it is Volvo saving Ford:cheesy:. But whatever is the case I hate to think that GM is going to ruin the reputation of a car company like Saab. Neither 9-7 nor 9-2 should have happened,:nono; unless they have been truly designed by Saab people who have their own unique take on design. There is no doubt that Saab needs to change in order to stay competative; but this change should not happen by sticking a Saab badge on a non-saab car. You are so correct that GM should figure out what has made the Saab company successful for so many years and then try to improve on it; rather than take design short-cuts. I am still mildly optimistic that GM knows what it is doing with Saab. However, I am hoping that maybe Volkswage, Mercedes, or even BMW would take upon themselves the task of acquiring Saab so to preserve its European flavor that makes European cars so attractive. I would hate to see Saab becoming another Japanese incarnation that neither the followers of Suburu nor the followers of Saab want to see it. Let's hope that there's a method to GM's madness, for otherwise I don't think that we will be able to enjoy these quirky automobiles in ten years time.

Ta-ta, janusz
 

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General Motors, is in trouble, as is the rest of the the American automakers. Gas prices have led to the decline the US auto share. (we can thank dick cheney for that one). As for Volvo saving Ford, that is ludicris, with the number one selling pickup and suv on the road. The one difference between GM and ford is that ford loses money on cars, and GM tries to make its money back. Where Ford makes its money is thru their credit department. Over 80% of their profit comes from people financing thru ford and not a bank.

Personally I don't know if Saab would have ever survived without GM, yet saab continually loses money for their parent company. While I agree about the 92 and 97 never should have been made, I think saab needs to go back to hatchbacks.
 

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9000MAPTUN said:
General Motors, is in trouble, as is the rest of the the American automakers. Gas prices have led to the decline the US auto share. (we can thank dick cheney for that one). . . . I think saab needs to go back to hatchbacks.
You are giving too much credit to the power of Presidency or Vice-Presidency, I should say. If anyone is responsible for our gas-price woes is Congress with its insane regulations concerning building new refineries, and as the result no one wants to invest in building these things. Market is quite flooded with crude, it is the refinary capacity that is not there. Anyway, I do agree with you that American auto industry should start thinking about going back into building mid-size cars and not those bloody trucks and SUVs that make us dependent on entirely insane part of the world. I also agree that Saab should go into hatchbacks and stationwagons, like combi. I am truly hoping that the days of SUVs are numbered so that we can go back to normal driving. I am quite tired of all those people who drive these behemoths and have no regard for others. I noticed an interesting correlation: bigger the car the less regard for others.:nono; Oh, well . . . things will surely change, let's hope.

Ta-ta, janusz
 

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Look guys, I wanted to tell you that I am a GM employee. I've had an interesting career and worked for several other popularly disdained employers, so I permanently live in a flame-proof suit. I'm also very interested in marketing and brand equity issues, and I just bought a 9-2x, so I've been following a lot of different threads on many different Saab boards with interest. Let me tell you how it looks from my side of Detroit.

I think the chairman of GM, Rick Wagoner, is doing a good job with a lot of serious business issues that have been with the company for decades. Since I work for GM, I am familiar with the company's problems as well as its strong points, and I can say that I have seen enough GM bashing to know that a lot of it comes from very uninformed sources who just want to take the easy road and say nasty things because it's easier than thinking about the facts. GM is short of money, short now, was short two years ago, has been short for a while. On the Saab side, Saab does not sell enough vehicles today, did not sell enough two years ago, and has not sold enough vehicles for a while to be a profitable business in which to invest (though, yes, perhaps, GM might have been able to clip Volvo's wings a little bit more). There are many products (mouths) to feed here, and it's a fact that GM is supposed to try to make money, so yes you can say that GM has not adequately funded Saab. On the other hand, throwing good money after bad doesn't help pay the utility bills around here. Hence the 9-2x and 9-7x, which WERE adapted (of course not designed from the ground up) with involvement from Saab designers and engineers in Sweden. Somewhat of a Hail Mary pass I agree, but if you were running the ship, not sure if you'd have a more brilliant idea given the circumstances. Ford may have done well with Volvo, but they are losing their shirt on Jaguar.

I was not in any way involved with plans to build these two newest vehicles, and to be honest, I don't really like SUVs either, even though I wouldn't have a job or a paycheck without them. That said, I think the 9-7x is actually pretty nice-looking outside and inside and should not be considered a discredit to the brand (if you can recover from the idea of adding trucks to the Saab lineup). I hope you can give it a chance because people in the market for luxury vehicles are definitely interested in luxury SUVs. Keep in mind that GM was late to the party with the Cadillac Escalade because our executives didn't think that a luxury car brand could successfully sell a big truck. Well, see where that ended up? Late to the party, but it did very well once introduced and made good money for GM and improved people's perceptions of the coolness of the Cadillac brand. Regardless of whether or not you like SUVs (and I don't myself, because I love small sporty cars), this was a correct business decision and it is helping to rejuvenate Cadillac. Hopefully, the 9-7x will do the same for Saab. I'm sorry if people are angry that the kinds of luxury buyers who will buy it would not be people that they would like to drive behind or invite over to dinner, but in the end, the purpose is to sell more vehicles, so there will still be a Saab. I hope you can live with that. After all, if you went to a party and saw a jerk wearing your same brand of shirt, would you blame the shirt manufacturer?

OK, now let's address the 9-2x. If you can imagine for a second that you had never heard of a Subaru Impreza, this is a pretty cool car on its own merits. And that's how I assess each car I drive - because it is, in the end, an entertaining transportation device with a large amount of industrial design applied to it. The global engineering in the auto industry is incredible - right or wrong - there is very little purity out there anymore - it's just better or worse disguised. As for the 9-2X, I think the front end with the Saab-designed fascia looks great. And I love how it drives compared to other well-regarded small cars that I have driven. Now let's go with the assumptions (correct) that Saab wouldn't have a 9-2x unless it could substantially share its engineering with another vehicle and that it badly needs more sales. Here is my personal perspective. My car in black reminds me a lot of the look of older generation Saab hatchbacks - just visually. I am just learning about Saab model history, so I'm not going to make a fool of myself by telling you which model it most reminds me of. But visually, snobbery about badge engineering aside, I think it fits in with the family just fine. Second of all, I really like Subarus as well, so it's not like it's on some embarrassing platform. Subaru is a great little company in its own right. If you read the posts on this site and others from more open-minded long-term Saab owners, they like to point out how many different platform borrowings and technology sharing exercises Saab has gone through over the years with many different OEMs. The Subaru connection seems to fit here as well. Third, it seems to me like this is a very durable and fun car that someone could love to death and keep around for decades which also fits the Saab brand equity very well. I personally don't care if the ignition is in the wrong place and my dashboard looks Japanese. The car is basically what I need + more, including the Saab brand, and if I like it and the Saab service, next time I buy a car, I'll probably need a mid-size sedan, so I'll buy a 9-3 Sport Sedan.

The way I look at it is, the company tried to get a few feelers into a few different market segments (1st luxury car and SUV) to see if there is any hope for more investment in these segments. Just jumping in with 100s of millions of dollars and hoping the water is warm, doesn't always work out and the company just doesn't have that kind of money right now. YMMV, but I do think that the people who buy these two vehicles are going to be very happy with them.

I respect the right of the Saab purists and people who don't like GM to complain about the company's decisions. However, I do detect tons of groupthink and just general disgruntled *****ing among people of this type. Make sure you're not one of them - doing your own analysis of the facts is the truly independent way to live your life! Isn't that supposed to be a hallmark of a Saab owner? So, the last thing I want to tell you is that uninformed criticism does hurt both Saab and GM. GM is stuck in a cycle where perception = reality rather than reality = reality and it will take GM years to dig out of this hole if it even can. So, what I'd like to ask is that at a minimum, you don't bash products you haven't driven, you do speak positively and often to others about those Saab products that you do enjoy driving yourself, and you try to keep an open mind. Please know that I do appreciate your business, since most of you are already Saab customers, and I didn't come to this board to pick fights. I only want people to rethink things when they say things like "GM, who cares" because I honestly believe that is the wrong approach for helping to save the Saab brand. Not to mention, very bad for the American economy, in case you care at all about that.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
BlkKat said:
Hence the 9-2x and 9-7x, which WERE adapted (of course not designed from the ground up) with involvement from Saab designers and engineers in Sweden. Somewhat of a Hail Mary pass I agree, but if you were running the ship, not sure if you'd have a more brilliant idea given the circumstances.
Exactly. I've seen LOTS of complaints here, but few solutions on which Saab/GM could've embarked instead.
I'm sorry if people are angry that the kinds of luxury buyers who will buy it would not be people that they would like to drive behind or invite over to dinner, but in the end, the purpose is to sell more vehicles, so there will still be a Saab.
Right again. This brand has proven that it has limited market as-is. Is it because people moved away from the brand once GM took it over? Nope. The name of the game is grow or die. Saab needs to grow, as it can't just keep making cars for the fanatics like us. That said, I think the 9-3 SportCombi is a little "thank you" that is getting thrown our way. I hardly think it's a "mainstream" car. It's Saab's way of offering something to the traditional Saab buyer once again, and I think we all have to forgive the company for trying to expand its base beyond traditional Saab niche. I actually appalaud them, however hideous I, myself, believe the new 9-7X to look. :eek:
As for the 9-2X, I think the front end with the Saab-designed fascia looks great. And I love how it drives compared to other well-regarded small cars that I have driven.
Agreed. I think it really has the most perfect suspension of any small car I've driven. It's so comfortable over the road, and yet I can still take the corners without losing any grip. Compared to my 2002 Subaru Outback Sport (basically an Impreza), this car feels like it's got the sports suspension of a MUCH more expensive car in it. I love it.
The car is basically what I need + more, including the Saab brand, and if I like it and the Saab service, next time I buy a car, I'll probably need a mid-size sedan, so I'll buy a 9-3 Sport Sedan.
I'm going for the SportCombi. :) So, Saab probably just got me an upsell. Add AWD and it's probably a sure thing.
 

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BlkKat said:
Look guys, I wanted to tell you that I am a GM employee. I've had an interesting career and worked for several other popularly disdained employers, so I permanently live in a flame-proof suit. I'm also very interested in marketing and brand equity issues, and I just bought a 9-2x, so I've been following a lot of different threads on many different Saab boards with interest. Let me tell you how it looks from my side of Detroit.
Not to mention, very bad for the American economy, in case you care at all about that.
I fully understand your reasoning, and trust me that it brings me no pleasure to see GM going under, especially that it will drag Saab with it. However, the problem with your arguments is that you seem to ignore history. It used to be that GM had 60% of the market. They were the largest company in the world, and "what was good for GM was good for America." The fact remains that the executives running GM have been running down for decades this company to the ground. The fact that Honda or Toyota can manage their factories in the States and GM has problems does indicate that there is some kind of managment problem that GM leaders are not willing to acknowledge. I do agree with you that GM has been doing a very good job with the Cadilac brand, but as far as Saab is concerned GM's creativity has been much more questionable. I don't think that anybody is blaming the employees of GM. It is the managment with its lack of imagination that is the problem. GM needs to become bold in its car designs, and taking a Saab brand and coming up with 9-7 and 9-2 is anything but a sign of creative boldness. I would argue that what GM has done to the Saab is nothing less but dangerous to the brand. The only hope that I see is with Saab 9-3 combi, which does look like a very good car. GM needs a visionary at its helm not a guy whose only solution to GM's problems has been shutting down factories and laying off people. Saturn was a good start, and it took about ten years for GM to mess it up. I am hoping for the sake of this country, GM's employees, and the car industry in general that one of those days the Board of Directors will have enough vision to hire a true visionary that will take GM out of its doldrums. I would suggest that instead of hiring another bean counter, GM should hire someone with the passion for building and designing cars, for I don't think that the people who have been running GM for the last twenty years have had any passion for cars.

Ta-ta, janusz
 

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Not Ignoring History

Philosophicaldreamer, I don't think I'm "ignoring history." Here are my thoughts in response.

1) I think GM's share loss was inevitable given the rise of global competition, while you attribute it to mis-management. The amount of share loss attributable to mis-management and the amount attributable to Economics 101 type market forces is infinitely debatable - so, let's not...I'm sure everyone else will be glad we didn't. But, also from the history books, I'm sure you know that if GM had sustained U.S. share at the 60% level, it would have been deliberately broken up like A,T,&T (since that was a real possibility several decades ago).

2) I agree that management especially failed to acknowledge one specific problem connected directly to point 1 above - it's much easier for a company to grow than to shrink. People naturally prefer happy times and optimism and growth to a negative outlook and managing decline. I believe that this is what led to many of GM's management missteps - failure to accept the inevitability of share loss and the strain on corporate cash flow and profits from not downsizing in conjunction with share loss in a timely fashion (rightsizing). Also, despite the dull bean-counter stereotype, GM executives have also sometimes been too passionate about various GM brands - which is why Oldsmobile lasted so long and GM even nearly took on relaunching Alfa Romeo in the U.S. recently. (Good luck with that, FIAT! I dare you! :D ) I consider that this kind of passionate mismanagement accounts for how GM ended up with Saab in the first place and why it's still around.

3) What's good for GM is still good for America. GM has hundreds of thousands of well-paid employees in the U.S. (and many in Canada) and even more retirees who hope to be able to hang on to their good wages, health care, and pension benefits to maintain the standard of living that is the American dream. Auto industry jobs are very much at risk of being completely lost to overseas (parts production is moving to China quite rapidly right now). And, unlike the Japanese and Korean automakers, all of our profits (such as they are) stay here. Theirs are mainly repatriated to their home countries unless they are building plants. Economic "creative destruction" is a great theory, but from what I've seen personally, communities just don't rebound from the loss of manufacturing jobs. The jobs just leave, people retire or take massive pay cuts, and that's it.

4) I still say that Saab's problems are caused by a lack of self-generating profits to fund new product development coupled by a shortage of money elsewhere in the corporation to subsidize it. That's also true of Saturn (another brand I really like), which has never generated a profit and has cost GM about $10 billion in losses. It's not just raw creativity and management imagination at issue. There are plenty of GM designers worldwide who can draw a hot sketch in two days. From there, it takes 100s of millions of dollars to put a new car on the road, and the car has to make that money back - and nowadays, it needs to share its platform with a bunch of other entries that can make money as well. Lots of cool GM concept cars have been shot down for financial reasons. I would rather argue that GM is too cautious and fails to double-down on making big financial bets to ensure that newly-styled product is always available in a timely fashion than to make it an issue of raw creativity or management imagination.

A bunch of other issues have been raised - passion, visionary leadership, etc. etc. Much easier said than done, and I'm almost out of space and time. Just one quick example...When I was in grad school, Jac Nasser was thought to be a visionary and that ended up quite badly both for him and for Ford...
 

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BlkKat said:
Philosophicaldreamer, I don't think I'm "ignoring history."
In theory I don't disagree with you with the one exception: I still think as a consumer that GM has not been creative enough. Yes, we can assign all the above mentioned market forces as the cause of GM's demise. But the fact is that Chrysler was in the same position and Lee Iaccocoa got hired to turn around the company. Instead of blaming all these extraneous conditions, he came in, acknowledged the problems within the company and came up with the minivan that revolutionized the car industry.

I give you one example: for years in our family we used to have a Volvo and a Buick. My wife loved Buicks because her father did. And to be honest when Buicks were new, they were quite nice cars. However, after five years of use these cars would start falling apart: the plastic trim rattled and broke off, seats would sag, etc. My old Volvos on the other hand could go ten and fifteen years, and they still would be fun to drive. And back then Volvo was not subsidized by Ford, and that small Swedish company would manage to produce cars that could go 300K-400K miles without much problems. I have had six Volvos, and all of these cars have been not only durable but fun to drive. Look at today's Chrysler’s designs. Yes, many of these designs are not my taste, but when I see those new Chryslers I think to myself that at least these guys are trying. The only time I think of some kind of GM's creativity is when I see new Cadillac--I give you that.

I do understand your concern with people who have retired or still work for GM. It would be tragic if GM went under. I also fully agree with you that I do prefer to see American car companies succeed then see all these profits go over seas. But I will argue that until I see GM's Board of Directors and the CEO come out and say that we have screwed up and we need serious reorganization of the company, instead of telling us that all these external forces are making us fail, then I don't see any hope for GM. It is like being an alcoholic: you have to first acknowledge that you have a problem before you can start fixing it. If Honda, Toyota, Nissan, which bytheway used to be in crisis itself few years back, can succeed in the American market, I don't see why GM should be so paralyzed.

As far as Saab is concerned, I agree with you too that Saab needs to become more profitable if it is going to stay afloat. At this point, however, I think that Saab would be better off with Volkswagen or BMW than GM. Look what BMW has managed to do with this dying British car Mini-cooper. They revitalized this brand so successfully that they cannot keep up with its production. We should remember that BMW is a tiny privately owned German car company, and they still can take a dying brand and perform miracles. This is why I hope that a European car company will get hold of Saab because this way Saab will not lose its European flavor. Taking Saab and turning it into another Japanese incarnation will inevitably result in its demise.

IT’S NOT THAT I DISAGREE WITH YOUR ARGUMENTS; I just think that after we account for all these things that contribute to GM’s woes, it ultimately is upon GM’s shoulders to figure out why this one time powerful car company finds itself grasping for breath whereas other car companies continue to succeed.

Yes, some people like to say that people like me sit on the sidelines and complain about GM’s woes without having solutions. The fact is that unlike the upper management at GM that is making tens of millions of dollars in salaries for failing, to be somewhat facetious, we complainers are not getting paid for finding solutions. But at least as consumers we express our displeasure with GM’s state of affairs by walking away from its product. And if GM wants to succeed, then they need to figure out how to run this company creatively. Buying Saab and Fiat is not a sign of creativity. Anyone can go and buy stuff. It is what you do with that stuff that shows your creativity. If GM had done with Saab what BMW has done with the Mini, then I would be applauding. GM, however, managed to come up with 9-7 and 9-2.:evil: To paraphrase Jack Nicholson from As Good as It Gets "think SAAB and get serious!":)

Ta-ta, janusz
 

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philosophicaldreamer said:
In theory I don't disagree with you with the one exception: I still think as a consumer that GM has not been creative enough.


OK, I can concede this point to you. It's true. If GM were more creative, we would have more market share and Saab might be better off. Glad to see that you don't disagree with me on so many other things. :lol: I said above that I know GM has problems. The reason why I'm writing is to try to influence your thinking, not to whitewash GM's past mistakes. And, I'd like to let you know what things look like from inside the industry

So, there are still a few other things that I'd like to comment on based on your post.

philosophicaldreamer said:
the fact is that Chrysler was in the same position and Lee Iaccocoa got hired to turn around the company. Instead of blaming all these extraneous conditions, he came in, acknowledged the problems within the company and came up with the minivan that revolutionized the car industry.


No, Chrysler was not in the same position. It was in much worse financial shape than GM ever has been. Despite Iaccoca, Chrysler has not gained any spectacular market share over the years and had to merge with Daimler in order to preserve itself. The Iacocca story is a good story, but it's not exactly an analogous situation. It is however, an example of the publicly visible "visionary"-type of leadership which you think GM needs.

philosophicaldreamer said:
I give you one example: for years in our family we used to have a Volvo and a Buick. (BlkKat says - insert stereotypical bad domestic quality story here)


OK, I'm sure your past experience was representative. All domestics used to have lower quality than European cars - now the reverse has become true according to recent quality studies. (Note: the auto insiders are currently aghast at what has happened to Mercedes over the last few years.) But, you've been arguing that GM was not creative and that's why it has slumped. But then you mention underinvestment in product quality leading to considerable consumer discontent. I would actually agree more with that than your creativity argument.

philosophicaldreamer said:
Look at today's Chrysler’s designs. Yes, many of these designs are not my taste, but when I see those new Chryslers I think to myself that at least these guys are trying. )


Design is Chrysler's only big competitive advantage - they better be trying harder than everybody else. Sure, the press loves the 300 and it is selling well. However, not all of their highly styled cars are selling well. And one thing you should allow for in your reasoning is that boring designs can be profitable (e.g., Toyota). That is factual. (I take no stand here on whether GM's designs are boring, creative, or in-between. YMMV.)

philosophicaldreamer said:
But I will argue that until I see GM's Board of Directors and the CEO come out and say that we have screwed up and we need serious reorganization of the company, instead of telling us that all these external forces are making us fail, then I don't see any hope for GM. It is like being an alcoholic: you have to first acknowledge that you have a problem before you can start fixing it.


Every quarter when Rick Wagoner does the internal quarterly earnings broadcast, he tells the employees that GM's profit margins are unacceptably low and that we are not earning enough return on the money we invest in our business to satisfy Wall Street that we have a solid future ahead of us. And then he explains what we are going to do about it (won't bore you with the lengthy details). He knows quite well there is a problem. He himself, may not have all the answers, but he has hired a very well-regarded team of GM outsiders to work with him to fix these problems (Lutz, Devine (the CFO), Syzgenda (the CIO), etc.). BTW, Bob Lutz is being carefully watched by the media - he is essentially supposed to be the product visionary you claim GM needs and the auto press just loves him. So, if you want to take a look at the effects of hiring a visionary...take a look at the Pontiac Solstice and then the Chevrolet HHR on the web. He absolutely insisted on both of those vehicles getting built and will be held accountable for their marketplace results. The main problem now is that every possible major decision is a very hard one to make - close a plant, kill or save a brand, etc., etc. There are just no easy answers. That's what I was trying to explain by detailing the various burdens that GM has in terms of legacy cost issues.

philosophicaldreamer said:
At this point, however, I think that Saab would be better off with Volkswagen or BMW than GM. Look what BMW has managed to do with this dying British car Mini-cooper. They revitalized this brand so successfully that they cannot keep up with its production. We should remember that BMW is a tiny privately owned German car company, and they still can take a dying brand and perform miracles.



Yes, it's nice that BMW got one money-making "miracle" out of their disastrous purchase of Rover. But, isn't it rather selective not to mention that they couldn't make a go of Land Rover or MG Rover? MG Rover just died a horrible death recently and may be reincarnated as a Chinese domestic brand! And I still want to see how long Mini can play out as a trendy niche brand. In Europe, maybe for as long as they are built, because they love small cars there. But in the U.S.? I think it will decline just like the Beetle and PT Cruiser.

philosophicaldreamer said:
This is why I hope that a European car company will get hold of Saab because this way Saab will not lose its European flavor. Taking Saab and turning it into another Japanese incarnation will inevitably result in its demise.
I wonder how you feel about Mazda/Volvo/Ford platform engineering? Or don't you worry about that as a Volvo lover?

philosophicaldreamer said:
IT’S NOT THAT I DISAGREE WITH YOUR ARGUMENTS


Halfway through, I needed to remind myself when to quit. :D So....

philosophicaldreamer said:
philosophicaldreamer said:
GM, however, managed to come up with 9-7 and 9-2.:evil:
philosophicaldreamer said:
philosophicaldreamer said:
...in summary, we can be friends if you agree to like my car better. I want you to take a look at the following two sites and see if they make you feel any better about the 9-2x and its origins. I leave the 9-7x up to those owners to defend.


http://www.ai-online.com/issues/article_detail.asp?id=514


http://www.saab92x.com/
 

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NICHE--your word and our future

BlkKat said:
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...in summary, we can be friends if you agree to like my car better. I want you to take a look at the following two sites and see if they make you feel any better about the 9-2x and its origins. I leave the 9-7x up to those owners to defend.
To be honest I don't think that we disagree with each other so much. I think it is a matter of emphasis rather than blatant disagreement. I also fully understand that you know more about GM than I do. I am a spectator only who not only hates that GM is struggling but also hates the idea that American car industry in general has such a hard time competing with Japanese manufacturers. Yes, Japanese make highly reliable cars but they are so goddamn, pordon my French, boring. Everytime I get into one of my friends' Hondas or Toyotas I wonder what they see in those cars. I will take Peugeot or Renault any minute of any day over a bloody boring Honda. Even my Saab 900SE that is nine years old has more character in its steering wheel than Honda Accord has in its entire body. I still think that under the right managment American car industry could become very profitable. I would suggest that instead of trying to replicate the success of Japanese industry that American industry starts looking at perfecting niche production.

What do I mean by this? Philosophically speaking the world due to technological revolution is going away from mass production. More and more consumers are looking for unique, designer products that are not a result of market dominance. Think Apple computers! Niche appeal is the future of industry. Even pharmaceutical industry is already talking about making designer drugs for individuals. So instead of producing 1 million Buicks or one million Saabs, GM should start thinking about how to produce with PROFIT a number of various car models that appeal to relatively small number of consumers. I know so many people who seek out products that "masses" do not desire. I know it will sound strange, but I, for instance, prefer to drive a nine year old saab than a brand new Honda. Why? Because I like the quirkiness of Saab design. I remember when I got for the first time into my Saab, put the gear shift in reverse, and both the reverse lights in the back and in the front lit up. I simply smiled. How many cars on the road do you see that have reverse lights not only in the back but also up front? And the old Saabs are loaded with these idiosyncratic designs that make them so charming.

It will take a truly creative genius, on the scale of Henry Ford, who will figure out how to make fifty thousand cars a year in a profitable manner that will appeal to a limited number of consumers. If I were running GM, and knew anything about car industry, what I would do is to become boldly irresponsbile. I would seek to develop a variety of niche designs with the understanding that my profits would not show up next quarter or next year, but hopefully they would show up down the road when GM would become a truly dominant car-niche manufacturer.

You mention that "every quarter when Rick Wagoner does the internal quarterly earnings broadcast, he tells the employees that GM's profit margins are unacceptably low;" this tells me that he is an unimaginative bean counter. You want to inspire your employees and not depress them. Don't tell me what I am not doing . . . tell me what I can do. Don't tell me that Honda is selling billions of cars today, tell me that you think that I can design cars that will make Honda blush. Simply put, what he should be telling the employees is that "I want more creative ideas. I want madening creativity that will inspire all of us." My office would be always open for anyone who would want to walk into it and show me his or hers new idea. Yes, the vast majority of these ideas could not be implemented for variety of reasons but some would find the light of the day. If I were him I would be running up and down the GM's corridors trying to inspire the creative spirits of my engineers and workers. I would be a sucker for imagination, for successful design requires imagination. I would reward people for having unique ideas, even if these ideas were never implemented.

You know that it often takes time and money to come up with the next great idea. If you are creative enough money will come to you sooner or later. But if all you are concerned about is maximizing profit without any substential investment of time and money, you are shooting yourself in the foot. I haven't met Mr. Wagoner, but he sounds like my students: He lacks the virtue of patience. It takes patience and perseverence to succeed. You know that well. When Japanese after the war started to manufacture their cars people were laughing at them. Did they say I want to see profits tomorrow? No, they waited patiently and refined their manufacturing processes.

I truly believe that mass production is on its way out. And those car companies who realize how to make inexpensive, high quality, low number production cars will dominate the future. To put it simply, the problem with Saab is not that Saab sells somewhere around 150K cars a year, the problem is that their production is still too expensive. There is a niche market for weird Saabs, and GM has to figure out how to cater to that market successfully. Turn my Saab or Volvo into another incarnation of Honda, and I will be riding buses. More educated the average person gets the less patience will he or she have for mass produced stuff.

As far as your 9-2 is concerned I will say that it is a nice car. It is a nice car, and I have no doubt that it drives well; but its Saabness has been seriously compromised. I know that you will surely appreciate this: Next time you have an opportunity to drive a 900NG or 900C take it. Sit down inside the car and look at its dashboard, and seats, and drive it. When you sit in the old Saab you have no doubt that you are in a Saab and not Honda, Mercedes, or Toyota. Niche is the name of the game. And the game is about to seriously start.

I guess I am like you: I can't shut up:cheesy: but I enjoy exchanging ideas with interesting people because I inevitably learn something new. Hence, I hope you have a nice day tomorrow. Who knows you might come to work and your big boss might say to you "surprise me with something new," instead of telling you that this fiscal quarter sucks.

Ta-ta, janusz


P.S. You know that there is in France a company that still makes these Citroens 2CV, despite the fact that Citroen stopped making these cars long time ago. There is someone out there who is still making money on this niche market.:cheesy:
 
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