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The King of Common Sense
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Did anyone read the highly critical article of Dan Neil about Pontiac G6? After reading the article, I was ready to dump my GM stocks, but, good thing I didn't because it went up Thursday and I'm ahead after 2 weeks. :thumbup:

RUMBLE SEAT / DAN NEIL
An American idle
The Pontiac G6 is a sales flop. At General Motors, let the impeachment proceedings begin.

By Dan Neil, Times Staff Writer


At the moment the news broke, I had written two words of a review of the Pontiac G6: "Dump Lutz."

On Monday morning, the news came that General Motors North America Chairman Robert Lutz and Group Vice President Gary Cowger were "relinquishing" their duties with GM North America to assume unspecified roles in GM's global product development and manufacturing efforts — compared with the high-profile role Lutz has occupied, this is like "extraordinary rendition" to Pakistan.

Although GM's chairman and chief executive is Rick Wagoner, Bob Lutz — also known as "Maximum Bob" — has been the point man for GM policy and future product design, the Great White-Haired Father, the Man with the Golden Gut, the auto industry's most quotable and charismatic executive in a town where charisma is scarcer than banana trees.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FOR THE RECORD:
Car review —A review of the Pontiac G6 in Wednesday's Highway 1 section included a photo of a G6 with a six-speed manual transmission. The G6 that was reviewed was a four-speed automatic.

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In his 3 1/2 -year tenure, GM has lost something like 3 percentage points of market share. I was about to make the case that, given GM's current China syndrome — North American market share dropping to its lowest point in decades, and market analysts, sensing no real momentum for reform within the company, downgrading the company's bond ratings to near-junk status — someone's head ought to roll, and the most likely candidate would be the numinous white noggin of Lutz.

Cashiering Lutz, I would have argued, would be a positive sign for the street's analysts that the company is serious about accountability. Indeed, it had to be Lutz, for symbolic reasons that go beyond the car business. Of course, the responsibility is not solely his, but the culture of executive exoneration has to end somewhere, and it's not going to be in Washington, D.C.

However, given recent events, I have to revise my story. To wit: Dump Wagoner.

It was Lutz, after all, who candidly averred at a Morgan Stanley meeting last month that GM might have to phase out some of its product lines, even using the word "damaged" to describe Pontiac and Buick. In the ensuing furor, Lutz claimed his remarks were taken out of context and over-hyped by the sensationalist media, like that scandal rag Automotive News.

Wagoner memo to Lutz: Stop making sense.

GM is a morass of a business case, but one thing seems clear enough, and Lutz's mistake was to state the obvious and then recant: The company's multiplicity of divisions and models is turning into a circular firing squad. How can four nearly identical minivans — one each for Pontiac, Buick, Chevrolet and Saturn — be anything but a waste of resources? Ditto the Four Horsemen of Suburbia, the Buick Rainier, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and Saab 9-7X. How does the Pontiac Montana minivan square with Pontiac as the "Excitement" division? Why, exactly, is GMC on this Earth?

For a company so utterly devoted to each of its 11 brands — counting offshore badges such as Opel, Holden, Vauxhall — the overarching strategy seems to be to flatten the distinctiveness out of all of them in the name of global efficiencies. Take Saab, poor Saab. The new 9-3s will be built in Russelsheim, Germany, alongside Opel Vectras. The 9-2X is a badge-engineered Subaru WRX. The 9-7X is a Chevy Trailblazer built in the Nordic enclave of Moraine, Ohio.

Other recent Wagoner miscues:

GM utterly missed the boat on hybrid gas-electric technology and lobbied Congress not to raise fuel-economy standards on the grounds that meeting higher standards would divert funds from critical research in the ultimate propulsion technology, hydrogen fuel cells — an argument that, shall we say, lacks authenticity. Today, GM has no hybrids of consequence on the street, while rivals Toyota and Honda are selling as many as they can build.

As part of a product reorganization, GM announced last month that it would speed up development of new SUVs and trucks in the pipeline and slow-walk development of rear-wheel-drive Zeta car projects. So, let's see: At a time when SUV sales are cliff-diving, GM proposes to speed up big SUV development and 86 the mid-size, rear-drive future products?

This reallocation of deck chairs seems pointless when the real problem is the massive overhead of a company that cannot find the will to downsize. Capitalism, remember, is creative destruction.

However, the best case for a putsch in GM's Renaissance Center offices is this: The cars aren't selling.

Honestly, it takes some sort of perverse genius to make the Grand Am, the car the Pontiac G6 replaces, look like a showroom winner, but the G6 is selling at about half the volume of the unloved and unlovely Grand Am, which dates to the 1980s. Even a multimillion-dollar giveaway of G6s on "Oprah" in September wasn't enough to fire up sales of this car.

Six months into its life, the G6 has thousands of dollars on its nose and analysts are calling it a flop. Last month, Pontiac offered more incentive money as a percentage of MSRP than any other brand, a full 16%, according to Edmunds.com.

The G6 is not an awful car. It's entirely adequate. But plainly, adequate is not nearly enough.

Exterior styling: The G6 sedan, based on the same stretched-wheelbase platform as the Malibu Maxx, has its wheels in the right place, nicely quadratic and corner-wise. There are a few odd proportions that add up to a kind of visual consternation: The car's front tapers around the headlamps like a school eraser; the rear deck is more a rear bustle, with an arm's length of sheet metal over the rear wheel wells; and wheels and tires themselves seem small when, at 17 inches in the GT package, they aren't really.

Meanwhile, the detailing of the bodywork makes the skin of the car look eggshell-thin. I wonder how many buyers look at this car and wonder what is behind the billboard?

Interior styling: The GT comes with comfortable leather-lined bucket seats, nicely bolstered with heaters. I like the soft grip on the hand brake. That exhausts my praise for the interior.

The center console is a plastic fantastic with the now-familiar stacked boxes of the audio head and climate controls, and we know what comes with familiarity. This is pretty much a style-free zone in a larger moor of monochromatic plastic and vinyl.

The G6 does have a couple of fun features, both optional: an oversized moon roof that folds back in sections so that, lined up on the roof, the car looks solar-powered; and a remote starting function.

Some options are less fun: Side-impact and curtain air bags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes and traction control are all cost-extra options on the base model.

Performance: The GT model I drove had a 3.5-liter iron-block V6 under the hood, good for 200 horsepower and no surprises at all. And — though I can't believe I'm writing this sentence in 2005 — this pushrod six is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. It is because of this powertrain that the phrase "thrashy and unrefined" has become the hackneyed cliché that it has.

The electric steering is numb and oddly weighted. Though I thought the ride was very nice, the handling is pushier than a mortgage-refinance telemarketer. The car has zero appetite for hard driving. You want excitement from the "Excitement" division? Try to get this thing to turn in a sharp corner.

Bah.

This is an uncompetitive product, an assertion borne out not by my say-so but by sales numbers. When ballclubs have losing records, players and coaches and managers get their walking papers.

At GM, it's time to sweep the dugout.
Pontiac G6 GT

Base price: $23,925

Price, as tested: $28,280

Powertrain: 3.5-liter V6, four-speed automatic, front-wheel drive.

Horsepower: 200 at 5,600 rpm

Torque: 220 foot-pounds at 3,200 rpm

Curb weight: 3,380 pounds

Zero-60: 8 seconds

Wheelbase: 112.3 inches

Overall length: 189.1 inches

EPA mileage: 22 miles per gallon city, 32 mpg highway

Final thoughts: What a car looks like when the wheels come off


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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - General Motors Corp. has pulled its advertising from the Los Angeles Times over what it called factual errors and misrepresentations in the newspaper, a spokesman for the automaker said on Thursday.

GM did not say how much it spent on advertising in the Times, one of the largest U.S. newspapers, or how long the ban would continue.


"General Motors decided this week to cease advertising in the Los Angeles Times based on strongly voiced objections from our dealers in California about factual errors and misrepresentations in the Times' editorial coverage," said GM spokesman Brian Akre.


The Los Angeles Times, owned by newspaper publisher Tribune Co., said it was examining GM's concerns.


"We will look into any complaints GM has about inaccuracy or misrepresentation and will make any appropriate corrections," spokesman David Garcia said by e-mail.


GM did not specify what spurred it to pull its advertising, but Times auto writer Dan Neil on Wednesday published a critical column about the company's brand strategy and called on GM to "dump" Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner.


"We recognize and support the news media's freedom to report and editorialize as they see fit," Akre said. "Likewise, GM and its retailers are free to spend our advertising dollars where we see fit."

GM Stops Buying Ads in The Times

By David Colker, Times Staff Writer

General Motors Corp. on Thursday pulled its advertising from the Los Angeles Times over disagreements with car reviews and other articles that have appeared in the newspaper.

The world's largest automaker said the move was "based on strongly voiced objections from our dealers in California about factual errors and misrepresentations in The Times editorial coverage."

A GM spokesman would not specify the errors or say which articles caused the rift.

Times spokesman David Garcia said that editors at the paper, which is owned by Tribune Co., had "heard some concerns from General Motors and are examining them. We will look into any complaints GM has about inaccuracy or misrepresentation and will make any appropriate corrections."

A GM executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Wednesday's review of the Pontiac G6 by Times Pulitzer Prize-winning automobile critic Dan Neil was particularly offensive.

Neil wrote that "GM is a morass of a business case" and called for the ouster of GM's chairman and chief executive, Rick Wagoner. Among other things, Neil took the company to task for not more aggressively developing fuel-efficient cars and focusing instead on SUVs.

Neither The Times nor GM would disclose how much the automaker spent on advertising in the paper.
 

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I do'nt make mistakes.
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Dave 330i said:
Did anyone read the highly critical article of Dan Neil about Pontiac G6? After reading the article, I was ready to dump my GM stocks, but, good thing I didn't because it went up Thursday and I'm ahead after 2 weeks. :thumbup:

"We recognize and support the news media's freedom to report and editorialize as they see fit," Akre said. "Likewise, GM and its retailers are free to spend our advertising dollars where we see fit."
This reminds me of a recent reprint in Car AND Driver of their attack on an mid 70's Opel. It pissed off GM too, with the same reaction.

The problem is, as Americans, we want GM to build a good car. If they built something even close to my 330Ci, in quality, style, and performance, I'd buy it. Instead, they come out with an over-priced G6 that doesn't even measure up to a much-cheaper Accord. I drive GM rental cars all the time, and they are garbage even before they're beat to death at 20k miles.

The GTO is close to what I mean, although I'd prefer it to look a little less like a Cavalier, be built to high quality standards, and not be an import. Why buy American if its not made here? That, and its the only car outside of the Corvette and Cadillacs that I would even consider over the competition. GM stock is definitely not a long term hold.
 

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Not Wearing Pants
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That's the very real risk mags/newspapers run when they're actually critical of manufacturers. That's also why most mags/newspapers treat manus with kid gloves. Ya never really see RT/MT/et al tear into a crappy product...when someone does, this is the fall out.
 

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Do the interns get Glocks
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This is my favorite quote:

Performance: The GT model I drove had a 3.5-liter iron-block V6 under the hood, good for 200 horsepower and no surprises at all. And - though I can't believe I'm writing this sentence in 2005 - this pushrod six is mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. It is because of this powertrain that the phrase "thrashy and unrefined" has become the hackneyed cliché that it has.
:rofl:
 

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King of Rear Clunks
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philippek said:
That's the most brutal car review I've ever read. I love it.
You should read reviews of American cars in foreign mags. They make this one look like he wants the G6 to run for president.
 

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swinging a big stick
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Did he mention that the car is getting a six speed auto and a much more powerful engine for 2006?
 

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•••••••
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philippek said:
That's the most brutal car review I've ever read. I love it.
Their Ford Five Hundred review was even harsher.

There is no soul to this car, and it's about as sexy as going through your mother's underwear drawer. Except for those who need the oversized trunk to carry their assisted-mobility scooters...

...

The seat itself feels like one of those extra-high hospital toilets. Where is the nurse call button?
 

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Dan Neil's definitely the best American car writer in the business, and one of the best in the world. The guy didn't get his Pulitzer for nothing.

--Andre
 

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philippek said:
That's the most brutal car review I've ever read. I love it.
I get to TiVo a show called "Autoline Detroit". Every week I watch to see how they're gonna bash the big three this time. It's a blast.

The only time they don't rag on a domestic is when they invite a company rep for an interview. :rofl:

It's really sad in a way, but I hope it can serve as motivation for the domestics to stop making crappy cars.

I understand that millions of car-buyers don't have a clue as to what a "good car" is, and they just buy on either price or "loyalty". Wanna sell to them? Fine. But please don't make it your only product offering.
 

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http://www.pontiac.com/g6/index.jsp?brand=

You guys are nuts. According to the web site, this car features:

- Racing inspired analog gauges
- Adjustable interior
- Automatic transmission with manual shift
- Electronic throttle control
- Chrome tip exhaust outlet
- Full function traction control
- Cast aluminum wheels.

I mean, what more would you want? If you can't pull the ladies in this car, you are a wimp.

j/k :angel: :bigpimp:
 

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Happy Trails!
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The LA Times should get props for printing an unpopular review in GM's eyes. It hurts to lose the ad revenue but the truth about GM hurts too.

I have a friend whose family worked for GM. He can get the cars with the employee discount (which is pretty cheap - I forget the percentage.) He drives a few year old Alero right now as a commuter car. He told me that the next car he buys will be a Japanese one because the GM brand is so inferior, both in quality (the car has had more front rotors replaced in 2 years than I have replaced in my lifetime) and in the don't-give-a-ding attitude from the GM dealer and corporate when there are problems. Add in the driving experience that is about 10 years behind the times and I can understand why he'll switch.
 

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Will_325i said:
I understand that millions of car-buyers don't have a clue as to what a "good car" is, and they just buy on either price or "loyalty". Wanna sell to them? Fine. But please don't make it your only product offering.
Apparently, millions of car buyers do have a clue- and that's why GM is doing so poorly.
 

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I hope GM stays in business, if only to act as fodder for hilarious reviews like this.

I recenlty rented a Grand Prix from Avis-- must've been the version right before they started calling it the "G6". My expectations were so low, that I was actually pleasantly surprised. The seat cloth was sort of nice and the interior design was ok-- better than past GM efforts atleast. Definitley cheesy, but you expect that w/ the General.

I actually sort of enjoy driving GM rental cars like this one. There's something "big and nasty" about them that's kind of unique and enjoyable (in a perverse way). I drive in a completely different (and indifferent) fashion. I like chirping the tires and feeling the toruqe steer. I like hearing the "we build excitement" pushrod 6 growl away, and the abrupt throttle tip-in. I like the cheesy boomy stereos. I like the "ice-cold" A/C. I like the cheesy startup sequence where all the needles sweep up and down, and the LCD excitedly proclaims "GP" in red pixelated text. I like the old-school foot parking brake. I like the very fast power windows, and large cupholder. I like taking corners a bit fast and feeling the ludircrous amounts of understeer. Its all so ridiculous that I actually have a grin on my face when I'm driving one of these things. Makes me want to eat lots of McDonalds, buy lots of stuff at Walmart and put a big Slurpee in my cupholder. Of course, I'd never buy one. But, there is some fun to be had. I'd rather rent one of these mastadons then a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord-- just for the experience. With the exception of the Mustang, I don't feel the same way about Ford's products. The Taurus just pisses me off. I'll admit that sometimes, wehn the mood hits me, and I'm driving my BMW, I actually wish I was driving a ridicuous GM car. Its kind of like getting a craving for junk food I guess.
 

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robg said:
I hope GM stays in business, if only to act as fodder for hilarious reviews like this.

I recenlty rented a Grand Prix from Avis-- must've been the version right before they started calling it the "G6". My expectations were so low, that I was actually pleasantly surprised. The seat cloth was sort of nice and the interior design was ok-- better than past GM efforts atleast. Definitley cheesy, but you expect that w/ the General.

I actually sort of enjoy driving GM rental cars like this one. There's something "big and nasty" about them that's kind of unique and enjoyable (in a perverse way). I drive in a completely different (and indifferent) fashion. I like chirping the tires and feeling the toruqe steer. I like hearing the "we build excitement" pushrod 6 growl away, and the abrupt throttle tip-in. I like the cheesy boomy stereos. I like the "ice-cold" A/C. I like the cheesy startup sequence where all the needles sweep up and down, and the LCD excitedly proclaims "GP" in red pixelated text. I like the old-school foot parking brake. I like the very fast power windows, and large cupholder. I like taking corners a bit fast and feeling the ludircrous amounts of understeer. Its all so ridiculous that I actually have a grin on my face when I'm driving one of these things. Makes me want to eat lots of McDonalds, buy lots of stuff at Walmart and put a big Slurpee in my cupholder. Of course, I'd never buy one. But, there is some fun to be had. I'd rather rent one of these mastadons then a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord-- just for the experience. With the exception of the Mustang, I don't feel the same way about Ford's products. The Taurus just pisses me off. I'll admit that sometimes, wehn the mood hits me, and I'm driving my BMW, I actually wish I was driving a ridicuous GM car. Its kind of like getting a craving for junk food I guess.
:lmao: :lmao:
 

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robg said:
I hope GM stays in business, if only to act as fodder for hilarious reviews like this.

I recenlty rented a Grand Prix from Avis-- must've been the version right before they started calling it the "G6". My expectations were so low, that I was actually pleasantly surprised. The seat cloth was sort of nice and the interior design was ok-- better than past GM efforts atleast. Definitley cheesy, but you expect that w/ the General.

I actually sort of enjoy driving GM rental cars like this one. There's something "big and nasty" about them that's kind of unique and enjoyable (in a perverse way). I drive in a completely different (and indifferent) fashion. I like chirping the tires and feeling the toruqe steer. I like hearing the "we build excitement" pushrod 6 growl away, and the abrupt throttle tip-in. I like the cheesy boomy stereos. I like the "ice-cold" A/C. I like the cheesy startup sequence where all the needles sweep up and down, and the LCD excitedly proclaims "GP" in red pixelated text. I like the old-school foot parking brake. I like the very fast power windows, and large cupholder. I like taking corners a bit fast and feeling the ludircrous amounts of understeer. Its all so ridiculous that I actually have a grin on my face when I'm driving one of these things. Makes me want to eat lots of McDonalds, buy lots of stuff at Walmart and put a big Slurpee in my cupholder. Of course, I'd never buy one. But, there is some fun to be had. I'd rather rent one of these mastadons then a Toyota Camry or Honda Accord-- just for the experience. With the exception of the Mustang, I don't feel the same way about Ford's products. The Taurus just pisses me off. I'll admit that sometimes, wehn the mood hits me, and I'm driving my BMW, I actually wish I was driving a ridicuous GM car. Its kind of like getting a craving for junk food I guess.
GM is similar to fat girls and scooters...lots of fun, just don't let your friends catch you with one.
 

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philippek said:
GM is similar to fat girls and scooters...lots of fun, just don't let your friends catch you with one.
:D Another strange thing that happened when I was driving the Grand Prix-- I had this urge to go and slap on a bumper sticker that said "Kickin' ass and taking names". :confused:
 

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Happy Trails!
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philippek said:
GM is similar to fat girls and scooters...lots of fun, just don't let your friends catch you with one.
:rofl:
 
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