Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why Are General Motors' Execs Trying to Shoot Themselves -- and Us -- in the Foot?

Do General Motors' executives have any clue as to what it takes to win over young buyers these days so they can begin to recoup the market share they once had and start creating jobs again?

Two things in recent weeks have convinced me that they do not. As a result, GM workers and Gov. Jennifer Granholm will continue to be blamed for the automakers' poor performance and loss of market share.

Item Number One was a visit to San Francisco. I'm pretty sure every fifth car in the city by the bay is either a Prius or a Mini-Cooper. Does GM make either one of those? I don't think so. Does GM have any desire to make anything like either one of those? We'll see how much effort it puts into bringing out the plug-in electric car it has promised, after killing an electic car a few years ago.

But GM won't do well in California -- the biggest market in the country -- until it does market those kinds of cars. Yet Governor Granholm will get the blame for jobs lost here because of the company's poor judgment.

Item Number Two was GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz's recent comment that global warming is a "crock of shit." Scientific evidence for global warming is overwhelming. When people objected to his ignorant comment, he basically said what he believed was none of their business.

"My thoughts on what has or hasn't been the cause of climate change have nothing to do with the decisions I make to advance the cause of General Motors," he wrote.

Why don't I believe that? Is it because he helped lead the company's opposition to higher fuel standards for years? Could be.

Comments like Lutz's will not play well with young people who actually want to have a world with a decent environment to grow old in. They won't help GM sell more cars in San Francisco or California -- where gas is around $3.50 a gallon. And you can't regain market share while kissing off the biggest market in the country.

Nor will Lutz's comments help GM in Washington, where Democrats control the House and Senate and probably will by even bigger -- and greener -- margins come November. So Lutz will shoot off his mouth, while GM workers and Michigan's economy pay the price.

Somebody offer this guy a buyout.

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