General Motors Company (formerly “Corporation”) today is a shadow of its former self. It sells fewer models through fewer brands since its bankruptcy in 2009. It is reconstructing itself and building itself into a competitive and profitable car company. That transformation appears to be going very well.
Over the years, however, General Motors has often tried to be a trailblazer (no pun intended) in new vehicle design and development. Many of these vehicles failed, but we believe GM deserves a tremendous amount of credit for trying where other companies did not have the creative thought or resources to make a “segment breaking” product. Here are some examples…
Women owning HUMMERs have a strong affinity for ten consumer brands in the USA.
AutoPacific’s Research Suite database that annually collects the opinions of over 30,000 buyers of new cars and light trucks asked which of 27 brands a new owner would buy from. The results from AutoPacific’s Consumer Brands Study clearly show the interrelationship between owners of auto brands and buyers of twenty-seven consumer brands like Walmart, Lowe’s, Apple, Sony, Hugo Boss, Costco, McDonalds and more.
What the study shows is that you likely won’t find a Porsche driven by a woman in a Walmart parking lot, but you are likely to find a Land Rover driven by a woman at an Apple Store. Using these data AutoPacific can develop clear profiles of the dynamics between these auto brands and consumer brands.
Looking only at female buyers, HUMMER buyers were most likely to shop at Lowe’s, Old Navy, The Gap, Walmart and to buy Coca Cola, Levi’s, Axe, LG, HP and Hugo Boss.
The only other brand that came close to HUMMER gals was Land Rover. They were tops in Polo, Methoc, Sony, Gucci, Hugo Boss and HP. They were also in the top five among Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Apple, Starbucks, Costco and Louis Vuitton shoppers.
General Motors’ June 1 bankruptcy declaration was quickly followed by the announced sale of HUMMER to China’s Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Company (June 2) and Saturn to Roger Penske’s Penske Automotive Group (June 5). Having the futures of both of these brands out from under the General Motors umbrella can give many American dealerships and their communities cause for celebration.
It’s been a busy weekend. President Obama is preparing his speech to the country about the future needs of automakers. And, before the dawn breaks on Monday, it’s already being reported that GM boss Rick Wagoner is done. According to sources within GM and quoted by mainstream media, CEO Rick Wagoner will step down at the request of the Obama administration. Does Wagner leaving improve GM’s chances for survival, or was the self-inflicted damage back in November, combined with taking money from the Feds the ultimate undoing of the nation’s largest automaker?
Are we nearing the end of Chrysler? Or the beginning of a new blended family? Or just another day at the rumor mill?
Late on Friday, the first stories began appearing about GM and Chrysler in possible merger talks. And at least in Detroit, dominated the weekend news cycle. GM’s stock went up this morning, but given that the Dow was up 5.6% and GM went up only about 3%, the stock bump might have happened without merger talk. GM closed on Friday at $4.89, a number some say is actually less than the company would be worth in capital assets alone.
All of this merger talk, whether these deals are realistic or not, does nothing good for public perception. The economy is weak, last week’s events on the stock market don’t reassure anyone, and talking about GM and Chrysler perhaps needing to merge to survive only further erodes confidence in American business. While GM and Chrysler LLC, as well as any other maker in trouble right now, needs to consider even unthinkable options and test our common assumptions as they get out of this trouble, this merger does not inspire hope.
AutoPacific: Scoring extremely well with owners, the Hummer H3 won the 2008 Motorist Choice Award® in the premium mid-size SUV segment. With a chart-topping image score, H3 also received higher interior and exterior styling rankings from owners than any other vehicle in the segment. Owner’s scores indicated that they also felt safe while driving, and they applauded the vehicle’s exterior size. H3’s innovative technology and fun-to-drive factor all contributed to the win.
IntelliChoice: The H3 was among the best in overall ownership costs and had the best-in-class retained value and insurance costs.
I recently got a chance to spend a weekend driving the Hummer H3. Needless to say, I was very excited! There is just something about the looks of the vehicle that says, “I can conquer the world”…or at least my suburb. The H3 looks pretty macho with its mil-spec styling cues, despite it being the downsized junior of the Hummer lineup. Overall, the H3 lived up to my expectations initially, but ultimately reality set in regarding its lack of practicality and ease of use for everyday errands and life. It must be noted that I never took the H3 off-road, which is the vehicle’s true strength. Rather, I used it in the context that most Hummer products are used – around town, in the ‘burbs, on freshly paved roads.
After a lovely 4th of July weekend, doing my best to focus energies on anything not related to work (something I hear is easy for most people to do, but I’ve never quite got the knack of), I started my usual workday morning routine at my local Bally Total Fitness. And, sure enough, as soon as I get near the gym TV, there’s the news, dragging me right back to 5:15 am Monday morning reality.
The 5 am scoop in Detroit was the rumor GM is considering dumping more brands, one way or another, and firing more mid-management white-collar employees. (No, UAW, you do not have the corner on losing jobs. I swear.) Of course, by time I was in the office and caught up with e-mail, GM has flatly denied that any brand, other than Hummer, is up for review. We’ll only know the truth of that if GM manages to hold onto the seven remaining brands, and assuming Hummer is sold. Here’s the thing: If GM is not considering reducing their brand count, they should be.
Rumors actually surfaced on this subject last week. In fact, I’m pretty sure it was on my way home to enjoy said holiday weekend that I heard an automotive journalist being interviewed for his opinions on the rumors and what GM should do opine that Saab and Saturn are the likeliest brands to go. Monday morning and it’s groundhog day again. Between that interview and Monday morning, it turned into “news” that GM is considering selling those two brands. Says a lot about how quickly (and recklessly) rumors and speculation fly in this industry, but that’s a story for another day.
Following General Motors’ Board of Directors meeting on Monday, Rick Wagoner dropped the bombshell that the Corporation was considering closing HUMMER, selling HUMMER or completely revamping its product line. Any of these drastic steps could dramatically impact the vehicle fleet on a small 46-home hilltop enclave in Orange County, California.
Among those 46 homes there are seven HUMMER H2s. One family has three H2s with two drivers – two H2 SUVs and one H2 SUT. Clearly these big, thirsty SUVs were purchased before gasoline topped $4 per gallon, but I don’t see folks rushing to replace their H2s with Kia Rios either.
Being as image-conscious as Orange County is, it will be very interesting to see how social pressure to drive something more fuel efficient will impact the hilltop H2 crowd. If it turns out that after months of super-high gasoline prices H2s are not cool anymore, will these folks conclude – as it appears GM has – that they should replace their HUMMERs with something more socially responsible?
Escalade Hybrids anyone?