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  1. #1

    Default DETROIT should have embraced Harley Earl

    Harley Earl's declarations, written over fifty nine years ago and shown below, points to the heart of the matter on why General Motors lost 29 big points of market share over a 27 year period (1982 to 2009) and ultimately went bankrupt. Now that GM is in it's rebirth, hopefully they will regain a winning status.
    Earl was a great champion of diversifying his company away from building large cars, and he and others had originally planned to take this company down a much more harmonic path going into the 1960s...building millions of small cars to meet the demand of the market place. Putting it mildly though, Earl (being a long winning quarterback inside GM with his team) had a formidable collision with opposites and this battle ultimately cost him his career. In any event, this pioneer's remarkably clear vision is seen in this March 1950 GM Folks magazine article; circulation exceeded 480,000 copies.

    More here's_market_share_plunge.htm

  2. #2


    Detroit Today

    Small cars from the 'domestics' sending shockwaves

    Michael Vaughan,
    Date: Thursday Feb. 16, 2012 10:53 AM ET
    Now don't stop reading and run screaming from the room when I present you with the following list:
    Chevrolet Vega, Ford Pinto, AMC Gremlin, Ford Festiva, Chevrolet Spectrum, Dodge Colt.
    There you have a sampling of some of the worst trash the Detroit automakers ever forced upon the unwitting public.
    These were the "sub-compacts" or "economy cars" that the geniuses in Michigan thought could compete with the original Volkswagen Beetle and later the Japanese sub-compacts from then little known companies like Toyota, Honda and Datsun. What a joke.
    It was the 1970's when the first "Arab Oil Embargo" caused gasoline shortages and never-before-seen high prices. The mighty U.S. car industry really had no answer and the Japanese car companies got a free pass to the world's largest car market.
    By the early 80's, however, the price of oil dropped like a stone. There was cheap gas again and one of the aforementioned Detroit geniuses discovered you could get twice as much money for your pickup truck if you stuck a car body on top and called it a Sport Utility Vehicle. Yippee! The cash flowed and everyone went back to sleep again and forgot all about "economy cars."
    Then what happened after 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center? Oil spiked again and after a brief slump it's never come down. And what are we hearing from the Middle East today? More threats of embargoes. Do you think the price of gas is likely to go up or go down in the future?
    But this time it's different because, after two bankruptcies and one close call, General Motors, Ford and soon Chrysler all have small cars compacts and subcompacts- that truly are competitive with the best in the world.
    Over at Ford it's the Fiesta and the Focus. At GM it's Sonic and Cruze. At Chrysler it's the Dodge Dart on architecture from Fiat that's coming soon. Getting the "domestics" back in the small car game is a huge change in the automotive landscape. It gives small car shoppers a lot more to think about before they sign on the dotted line.
    Let's take a look at the Chevy Sonic as one of the characters in our little melodrama. Remember the Chevy Cavalier? You should because they sold millions of these horrible little boxes over a 23-year period.
    They weren't half as good as the Japanese competition but, because GM had invested so little in the car, they were able to sell them cheap, cheap, cheap. For two decades the Cavalier reinforced the perception that GM didn't have a clue about building small cars. And in spite of all the promises made about the Chevy Cobalt it really wasn't that much better.
    But an interesting thing happened at GM as they stared into the financial abyss. They realized they actually were a global company and began pulling together all the engineering and design talent from around the world to focus on doing a few products really well by all working together. Ford figured the same thing out a little later.
    The Sonic is part German, part Korean, part Chinese and part North American. That Internet thing lets workers around the world collaborate without ever stepping on an airplane.
    As a result the Sonic drives like a German car, is styled like an Asian car and has the comfort and quiet of a cushy American car.
    It's called the Gamma platform and it's the basis of GM's global subcompact front-wheel drive automobiles. These vehicles will be built almost identically at factories in the United States, Germany, Spain, India, Korea, Mexico, Thailand, Venezuela and China.
    You might actually be able to make money on small cars if you do it like that.
    So, should the small car buyer consider Sonic when he or she knows that the Japanese and Koreans have written the book on small car quality and performance?
    I think the answer is yes and check out the Fords too. It's strange that while GM is losing market share in Canada where compacts and subcompacts are a huge slice of the market it's building its best cars ever. It's the perception issue. People remember that the Cavalier was so horrible for so long.
    I can't say that the Sonic is the very best subcompact out there because there are so many good ones. But I'm enjoying driving one. There are some goofy features like the instrument cluster that is supposed to look like one off a 90s motorcycle but hey they're trying to sell these things to Gen Y.
    The Sonic is nimble, comfortable, sporty, economical, quiet and fun to drive. All the analysts expect there's going to be huge growth in compacts and subcompacts in the next few years as the result of fuel prices and government regulations. How amazing it is that a GM car of all things would be totally competitive in the space.

    Read more:

  3. #3


    DETROIT should have embraced Harley Earl

    Maybe we would have seen something like this.

  4. #4


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009


    Instead of big or small, how about if they had just made a f---ing car that would actually go up and down the f---ing road, without the aid of a towtruck. Contrary to popular myth, that's how the Japanese got into a market that Detroit OWNED! It wasn't gas mileage! Unless you count the combined mileage of the car and the towtruck! in the '70s Ford and GM started producing Chryslers. That is what killed us.

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by 9mile&seneca View Post
    Instead of big or small, how about if they had just made a f---ing car that would actually go up and down the f---ing road, without the aid of a towtruck. Contrary to popular myth, that's how the Japanese got into a market that Detroit OWNED! It wasn't gas mileage! Unless you count the combined mileage of the car and the towtruck! in the '70s Ford and GM started producing Chryslers. That is what killed us.
    Exactly. I owned a '75 Mercury Monarch, and I've joked ever since that had I not gone to work at Ford in '78 that would have been my last Ford product ever, only it's really not a joke. That car was so awful I would have been overjoyed to trade it in on an Accord around '79 or '80, and would have been a happy Honda owner ever since.

    Now, with regard to small cars, we (and I'll say we since I worked for Ford long enough to retire from there) foisted substandard crap (Pinto, Vega, Chevette, 1st gen Escort, etc., etc.) for so long that we completely lost credibility with American buyers. The shame is it only took the Detroit companies 40 years to realize Americans were deserving of the good stuff.

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