Entries in GM (81)
Q: Colonel Good Morning, you are looking invigorated this morning, how is the coffee.
A: Guys, good morning, the cappuccino is good, invigorated is complementary makes me feel a little younger.
Q: What is it with connecting dots.
A: Although the car business is about product, vehicles, and a bunch of other stuff, especially with the myriad of pundits that share their thoughts/opinions. Its also about connecting dots, especially if you have been in the business a few years/decades.
Q: Do you have some examples of connecting dots, and perhaps epiphanies too.
A: Decades ago on the 401 with a 5 cylinder diesel, I had an epiphany that diesel engines are good for trucks not cars. It endures to today, the VW thing flies under our radar.
A: You can connect a ton of dots, we are in the people business through cars. The dots still connect like decades ago, its all changed and nothing has changed. The change is that we focus on technology, instead of people. We should connect the same dots...resonating with 2015.
A: Its a sedan with a V8...that simple. Connect all the dots you want for decades, its still a sedan with a V8 with waftability. An SUV is a truck.
A: Its the family kicker, everyone goes through a stage in life where you need a family kicker, very useful, gets kicked around, and with AWD is even more versatile.
A: If you are a gear head performance is paramount, and you have your own preference for what performance is all about. Its enduring through the decades.
Q: How do you understand performance...
A: In my case its a V8, its Chevrolet...
Q: Sounds old school...
A: It is old school performance that connects a ton of dots, memories, emotions, experiences, learning curves, bruised knuckles, drag racing, Trans Am and Can Am racing, to name a few. As well as mechanical cars...
Q: How about trucks...
A: Working trucks are performance machines, you quickly connect performance dots between a working truck and old school performance. Its a fascinating intellectual exercise.
A: Has made obscene horsepower possible in cars from a performance perspective. Vehicles are dramatically safer with technology. From punch cards to hand held smart devices...its truly impressive.
Q: Technology has democratized horsepower...connect more dots please.
A: Back in the day it was a wild camshaft, ported heads, a monster carburetor. The catalytic converter in the early 1970's killed all of that, the fun was gone. Technology enabled horsepower again. Back in the day performance cars were in their own way "lethal weapons" when used foolishly, not the case today.
Q: Massive horsepower is safe today...
A: Precisely, back in the day it was safe with select individuals, not the masses. The reason that back in the day everyone stopped at 425 HP. Its the same dots reconnected with technology.
Q: Connect dots with Chevrolet...
A: I grew up with GM, at a time when GM ruled the automotive world in North America. Its been a lasting, enduring influence. Chevrolet is the small block which is still around today, it was easy to get small blocks, and increase the power. Think about it...hot rodding still exists.
Q: The 1979 Camaro connects a bunch of dots for you...
A: Absolutely, its a mechanical car, warmed over small block, carburetor, 4 speed, a clutch pedal, positraction, miserable brakes. Its my own barn find that I have owned since new. It connects a gazillion dots from another time, and to today. The rumble from the small block is as timely today as in 1979.
Q: Care to connect a few dots with Mercedes-Benz...
A: By the early 1980's GM had absolutely lost its way, a ride in a 450SEL (116) was a complete revelation as to what a proper sedan should be back then. Experiencing a 6.9 for a few days was a mind altering experience. The cars had archaic features compared to a Cadillac, but the performance was on another level.
We will continue...
Yes...the Dog Days of Summer...quiet, relaxing...really, not this year.
In case you always missed it, and possibly want to share your thoughts on the future of the auto business, take a look at Vision 2020.
Think about this...we feel that in 2015 with the inexorable progress of various technologies, the disruptions created by technological applications. You need to be engaged in provocative thinking. Agreed folks around you might think that you are a shit disturber, but keep it up just the same.
Just like you need to be your own editor, you need to provoke your thought process. Agreed...discretion is a competitive advantage when being provocative.
Especially if you are in the auto business, provoke yourself.
Everyone has an opinion, everyone can quickly publish their thoughts, everyone can embellish their brand, and everyone can massage their egoes. How many truly engage in provoking? What do you think?
The General Motors Tech Center in Warren Michigan has been recognised as a National Historic Landmark. What is the big deal? Way back in the day the Tech Center was the equivalent of buildings/campuses that are going up in Silicon Valley today.
A few decades back The Colonel had the unique opportunity to visit the Tech Center, back then being in the auto business it was a totally cool informative experience.
On a different note, its gratifying to see the level of participation in the Parapan Am Games in Toronto. While raising the awreness towards folks that have various limitations.
Pebble Beach...peruse the RMSotheby Digital Catalog...some extremely interesting cars.
Our usual old cars from the Carmel Concours on the Avenue 2015...enjoy.
You have surely noticed that every manufacturer is on a constant search and quest to save money in one fashion or another. From increased common platforms, and components, to a variety of alliances to share more components.
Finally comes the time to put all this stuff together and turn it into a car (vehicle), obvious that finding the least expensive area/jurisdiction on the planet that makes sense is always on the agenda. Part of being competitive is emulating the other guy that seems to have an advantage, and then the other guy too...and so on.
Lets look back a few decades or even longer...
Back then when manufacturers made a decision to open an assembly plant in Canada, the lower value of the CDN dollar was always a factor, as well as health care, and probably a bunch of subsidies too. Lets also keep in mind that from the auto pact onward there has always been car free trade between Canada and the US.
For decades it made sense to assemble vehicles in Canada, and ship them to the US.
Going even further back...Henry Ford quickly understood that paying a decent wage enabled his employees to afford his product.
With the increased prominence of Mexico as a cheaper jurisdiction to initially assemble components, and now vehicles. Lately it seems all wrong to assemble vehicles in Canada.
You have to wonder what sort of spreadsheet Ford is using to justify investing additional money at their Oakville plant, while other are finding Canada too expensive for one reason or another. Toyota has the same spreadsheet as Ford for their Cambridge plant.
Operating a robot in various jurisdictions must be close to the same cost...reflect on this for a moment.
Imagine for a moment Mercedes-Benz shutting their Sindelfingen plant, or BMW the Munich plant, or Porsche Zuffenhausen, or VW Wolfsburg.
In Canada, GM is synonymous with Oshawa, Ford Oakville, Chrysler Windsor....
As you know today's pick ups are big, yes...really big compared to the same trucks of a few years ago. While the most popular configuration is the crew cab with the short box. Agreed these pick ups mimics full size cars of a few decades ago, especially luxury cars from back in the day.
If you have looked at pick up prices they are certainly in the luxury territory, you can get a mid size car from MerBimAu (Mercedes-BMW-Audi) for the same price. Not fair to call them them luxury vehicles, although the features are comparable to luxury cars. Its still a truck, and they still drive like a truck, they are not sport sedans.
Its also the classic layout of body on frame, a 2 speed transfer case with a low range on the 4x4 version (the majority). They can still carry a load, or pull a substantial trailer.
Although they are huge, with parking sensors, blind spot monitors (you cannot see a car on the side of the truck) and back up camera. These truck are easy to maneuver in tight spaces or park.
Fuel economy is not spectacular, but reasonable considering the size and especially the frontal area which pushes a good amount of air on the highway. Yes...the Ram has the Eco Diesel which is quite economical for a pick up. Similar to luxury cars from back in the day, the gas tanks are substantial in size.
How do pick ups from the Detroit 3 compare as of year to date May?
Ford F Series.....................46,868..........48,060
Total..............................123,689.........117,884 a 5% increase
Ford has been having supply challenges with the F150, yes dealers are not happy.
GM has benefitted from the Ford supply challenges.
Ram keeps on going.
Is it the presumed lower price of gas, or the expanding love affair with pick ups that encourages more sales?
What do you think?
This morning The Colonel is with us, lets see what it is about the Riviera.
Q: Good Morning, you look well tanned.
A: Yes...working outside on week ends will do that.
Q: What is it about the 63-65 Riviera?
A: Lets start with Buicks of that vintage that have always fascinated me for a myriad of reason.
Q: Do you have a few reasons.
A: The nail head engine with the spark plug covers, and marine green was always of interest.
Q: The Dynaflow transmission
A: Not so much, it was hideous at the time compared to an Hydra Matic in Oldsmobile or Cadillac.
Q: Back to the Riviera
A: The 63-65 Riviera's were totally cool in their day, and they still are. Brilliant styling, with a European look about them.
Q: The styling was the first thing.
A: Absolutely, those cars were cool, they looked cool, European, flowing lines, a luxury coupe by today's perspectives. The grille, hidden headlamps, small tailights.
Q: The nailhead
A: Obvious the nailhead, ideally with dual quads merely enhanced the coolness of the car. Remember that 50 years ago nailheads had a hot rodding history too.
A: The dash for its day was stunning with the center of the dash and console, wood paneling, and an almost 4 bucket seat layout.
Q: You could almost put a center screen like today's cars.
A: Precisely...really cool dash for the day.
Q: Its was not a sports coupe.
A: Buicks by their DNA were cruisers, and the Riviera was the ultimate cruising coupe.
Q: We heard rumours that at one time you were looking for a Riviera.
A: Yes...casually looking, and never landing on the right car, the right opportunity, the right deal. Its like the pieces of the puzzle never wanted to fit.
Q: Then life progresses, and other priorities take center stage.
A: Yes...and just imagine old Rivieras in Montreal, and corrosion, need I say more.
Q: But its still a cool car
A: Absolutely, a 63-65 Riviera from my perspective is still a a very desirable cool car.
A compelling Cadillac video...Dare Greatly.
With quotes from "The Man in the Arena"
Is this the "reset" moment for Cadillac?
We sure hope it is...
Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, make yourself comfortable with a cappuccino and biscotti.
Agreed its been chilly this week.
Stuff that caught our attention:
"Pick Up sales have exploded due to cheap gas" - Really?
"The Canadian consumer will save billions at the pumps" - Agreed, although CMS (Citizen Main Street) will pay up all over the place to compensate for the lower dollar.
"GM had a record year in Canada in 2014" - Really, a distant 3rd behind Ford and Chrysler in Canada. Its a record alright.
"Oil might reach $40 a barrel" - Everyone in the oil business will keep on pumping the stuff to uphold cash flow.
"Self Driving, connected cars" - Its inexorably moving in that direction, although with CES this week there is some hyperbole.
"Making a dent, leaving a mark" - This week we were quickly reminded how some folks prefer to leave a mark on the world...and its not love.
As if you needed a reminder, next week is the Detroit Auto Show (NAIS)...the start of the season.
Our usual old race cars from the Old Timer Grand Prix.
Since last week there is a new president at GM Canada.
As you know The Colonel has been associated in one fashion or another with General Motors in Canada for a few decades.
Q: Colonel assume you had an opportunity to have a relaxed lunch with the new president of GM at Fazio's in Oshawa (yes its a far fetched thought)...what would you tell him?
A: Guys its an ambitious thought, although the food is very good at Fazio's. Here goes...
Its shameful for GM to be in 3rd place, do we need to say more...just plain shameful and inexcusable.
Its good, its competent, in some cases brilliant, and others uninspired. Capitalize on the "inspired" models.
Offer comprehensive financial services to facilitate selling the product, being innovative would help to increase sales.
Imagine a "social media" campaign to boycott GM products in Canada if they alter downward the current level of employment in Oshawa.
Q: Simple enough...
A: Simple, but complex, and a real challenge for GM.
Q: Colonel, have you noticed that some of the car lines 50% of the models do well, the other 50% is non performing.
A: Yes...we have driven and reviewed most of them, great product, with poor market alignment.
Q: Poor market alignment, care to explain?
A: There are folks at GM that are paid interesting salaries for doing this...why are we doing this for free?
Q: 'Cause you're a good guy...
A: Lets look at Buick for a moment: Lacrosse is a great car even has the sweep spear, with no identity in the market to attract a younger customer base. Regal another great car without an identity. Verano, proves that Buick has a 30K ceiling in the market. Encore same thing reinforces the 30K ceiling. Enclave, it was inspired from the outset, and now its a mature model in a competitive segment.
Q: Colonel we thought you were going to start with Cadillac.
A: Guys you are sucking me into a lengthy discussion. we have driven most Cadillacs in the past few years, and we are Cadillac fans. They are cool cars, literally world class, in an hyper competitive segment.
Q: Are you saying that its a world class car and GM for one reason or another does not connect all the dots and handicaps the market performance.