I’m not really a car guy–the brake pedal is the middle one in between the gas-o-tronic lever and transmissionary position switch, correct?–so let me note something certified automobile enthusiast CG Hill said.
To this day, General Motors hasn’t figured out all its brand positioning. Chevrolet, of course, is pitched to Everyman, and GMC to the guy who thinks he’s a trifle too good to drive Everyman’s truck. It seems clear, though, that the Chinese are calling the shots at Buick — not surprising, since they buy more of them than we do — and Cadillac is still trying to reestablish itself as a creditable luxoboat. (Which is more than Lincoln is doing; except for the ancient Navigator, they have nothing that wouldn’t be equally at home in a Mazda dealership these days.)
I basically agree with Mr. Dustbury on this one. The truth of the matter is that GM really did have too many brands in the late 90s/early aughts. What reason did anybody have to buy a Pontiac if it was just a rebadged Buick/Olds/Chevy? The lack of distinction between the marques was confusing.
But now, even with the streamlining of GM’s various brands, General Motors is still a puzzle. While I think Cadillac is still the dream car of middle manager retirees and wannabe hip-hop moguls, what exactly is Chevy supposed to do for the consumer? I guess it’s supposed to be the average person’s car. However, it seems like Chevrolet has some weird identity crisis shit going on when it’s the home of both the gorgeous old-skool performance growler Corvette and the overhyped underwhelming future-car wannabe Volt at the same time.
I think some of this brand confusion comes from the fact that GM is Government Motors. As such, the moving parts within the company are working at cross purposes. I think most of the folks at Chevy want to sell cars. Under the constraints that they find themselves working with, they want to make good reliable affordable vehicles that respond to customer desires.
At the same time, because the left-wing Obama administration wants to use the US government’s official car company to make hopeychangey statements, the Volt has to be pushed no matter what problems arise. The Volt is a mid-sized 4 seater hatchback, yet it’s MSRP is a whopping $41,000. Using a normal household outlet means the car takes 11 hours to charge. If the buyer wants the home charging kit, which takes plug-in time to a more manageable 4 hours, he has to spend another $2000 to get it. Buyers can snag a $7500 tax credit from the government when buying the Volt, which sounds great until you find out that the all-electric Nissan Leaf has a $25,750 (after tax credit) price tag.
Then there are the economic dilemmas created by an automobile which requires the federal gubmint to fork over a $7500 dollar bribe just to make the car even sorta competitive. America is already broke, but apparently we’ve got enough dough for to pay people to buy the Volt. Does this make any sense to anybody not getting a government paycheck?
Looking at all that, what is Chevy supposed to be? The issues revolving around the Volt suggest that GM doesn’t really have a clue. If Chevrolet itself doesn’t know what it’s role is, then it seems kinda crazy to expect consumers to sort out the mixed signals the company is sending to the car market.
Normally, an identity crisis isn’t necessarily fatal to a big company. Coca-Cola recovered from New Coke. Microsoft is still alive after it’s flagship operating system Windows Vista took a shit. But GM, with all its other problems, might not be able to overcome the fundamental issues behind it’s muddled branding.