Don’t you miss Oldsmobile? Yeah, me neither.
One of the main problems GM has is its large number of brands, and the fact that they’ve spread themselves so thin across those brands. They argue that there’s value in those nameplates, since customers want a wide selection. The thing is, they’re half the size they were in their prime, and they have more brands. Here’s a run down of the brands GM owns: Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Daewoo, GMC, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, and Vauxhall. They need to lighten up their load if they want to survive.
Remember the story of Aron Ralston? He was the climber who was out in the wilderness when a boulder fell on his arm and pinned him there. He was stuck, couldn’t get loose, so he did what needed to be done, he cut off his own arm. That kind of action takes giant brass balls, but it saved his life in a case where, otherwise, he most likely would have died. It’s tough to knowingly cut off a part of yourself, but in life or death situations, it needs to be done. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 9 Detroit Automotive Brands We’d Miss The Least, to help the execs in Detroit make the tough choices. Yes, these are drastic moves, but the fact is, this is crunch time, life or death time. Now Detroit just needs to grow a set the size of Aron Ralston. Check it out:
1. Opel & 2. Vauxhall
We’re here at the drastic times, and if GM wants to survive the winter, they have to take some drastic measures. Just last month, the German company SolarWorld offered to buy Opel from GM. What did the cash strapped GM say? “No way, we’ll just get more money from US taxpayers.” People are suggesting that GM Europe is the only profitable part of the company, and that may be, but they’re showing signs of decay too, just like their US counterpart. Why not sell off the resource you can get the most money for, and use that money to restructure here on home ground?
Opel is huge, they’re like the Chevrolet of Europe and the rest of the World. And if GM gets rid of Opel, they most likely need to lose Vauxhall as well, since they’re basically just right-hand drive Opel cars for the UK. It’s a bold move, but the money GM gets from a sale of Opel and Vauxhall will give them the breathing room they need to and make their other brands profitable.
GM has a unique opportunity here: Buick is loved in China, sales there are huge and GM would have no problem selling Buick off to a Chinese manufacturer like the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp (SAIC). Add that money to the $15 or so billion they would collect from an Opel and Vauxhall sale, and things are starting to look less grim for GM.
Buick is dead weight anyway. GM has to look at this as a life or death situation. They don’t have the money to bring Buick back to life or to restart the brand, so sell it off. Can you name a modern Buick model you really liked?
This one hurts me. I always held out hope that Pontiac would return with some kick ass new asskicker, and when the G8 was launched, I thought that was it. But when you step back and look at things objectively, you realize, it’s too little too late. Pontiac is screwed, the excitement is gone and it’s never coming back. That’s just how it is. Pontiac offers zero value to GM, they’re not quality, they’re not small and they’re not green; they’re just another pointless brand hanging on to a dying company. Let it go.
This one should be obvious. No matter what you say about the brand, the fact is that Hummer has been tarnished permanently because of all the enviro-mania. Plus, they don’t sell well; they’re essentially obsolete at this point. GM can wrap Hummer up in a nice package and sell them off to a more dedicated company that can focus entirely on the Hummer line. I’m sure a smaller, more vital company can turn the Hummer brand around by shrinking the size and adding an alt-fuel or eco twist, but GM can’t. They need to unload Hummer as quickly as possible.
Saab has become even more irrelevant than Hummer. I don’t think I’ve seen a Saab on the roads for weeks. They’re just poor sellers. They suffer from a bad combination of high cost/low margins plus one of GM’s smallest sales volumes. Plus the high-end Japanese brands have just outgunned Saab – they’re finished. Although, just like with Hummer, another company could make it work, but not GM, they’re too big and too sickly right now to make Saab profitable.
This one hurts me even more than Pontiac, since GMC trucks are actually good sellers and quality vehicles. The problem is, the market for personal trucks isn’t big enough anymore for both Chevy and GMC. So they need to sell-off or restructure now. GM could sell GMC outright to a commercial truck manufacturer, or they could keep GMC on, and limit manufacturing to the large, business-to-business trucks.
That about does it for GM. A snip here and a slice there, and GM could well be on the path to prosperity. They just need the balls to carry out a bold plan like that. Grow a set, GM, and stop asking for handouts. As for Ford…
Ford isn’t in nearly as much financial trouble as GM, but that’s not really saying much, they’re still in financial crisis mode. They need to take some action equally as drastic as GMs. Ford has been showing signs that they want to unload Volvo and maybe even Mazda, but they need to focus a little more close to home: the Mercury brand.
As far as I’m concerned, Mercury is the most pointless auto brand on Earth. It has no identity of it’s own, and just pumps out mirror images of the Ford line with some silly outdated “almost luxury” option added to boost the price up a bit. That’s all Mercury is, and it’s all they have been for the past two decades. Mercury adds no value to Ford, and in fact, it’s a money wasting enterprise. Mercury needs to go, now.
I like Volvo, maybe not as much as Suzanne does, but I like them. However, Ford is already in talks to sell the company, so it’s probably going to happen no matter what any of us want. If Volvo ends up in the hands of BMW, everyone will be better off. Volvo will be better run, and Ford will get some badly needed capital to rejuvenate it’s business. Ford is the only one of the Detroit Three that really has a fighting chance to make it out of this mess alive, so they need to just go ahead and do what needs to be done.
As for Chrysler, I don’t have a clue what’s going to happen to them. They can’t drop Dodge, and they shouldn’t drop Jeep, so I guess they’re fine the way they are. They just need to do it better, that is, if they don’t get bought out by a super-slim GM that just sold half it’s brands.