April 14, 2024 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

Memo to GM: If you build it…:

They will come. Well, maybe.

As you’ve probably read elsewhere, these are daunting times for the corporate giant General Motors. At some levels, its financing arm is doing better than its car divisions. Nobody is buying Pontiac Aztecs, but the few unlucky souls that did are keeping up their payments.

My father used to trust Chevrolets. Of course, that was another time in America. A time when a brand had trustworthy product behind it. Now, when we buy a name, there’s no telling exactly what we’re paying for. Consider this: The government moves against counterfeit blue jeans, unauthorized knock-offs made offshore. The famous blue jean company thanks the government, then announces it is closing all its U.S. facilities and will now manufacture its “American” jeans in the same country that was producing the illegal knock offs. Question: Which product is “counterfeit”?

I know it’s over, this nostalgia for American goods and, worse, the nostalgia for American jobs. GM has already announced it is, again, laying-off thousands of people. If GM simply folds… disappears from the mainland and becomes another great, trustworthy American “brand” wholly manufactured in China… aren’t we going to be at least a little sad? Sad, say, for the army of downsized workers who will, most likely, get screwed out of their pensions?

Let’s at least throw out a few ideas that might help us save General Motors. I offer these ideas to GM free, since each of them has been sitting right in front of GM’s face for decades.

Hybrid and Alternative Energy

GM, I ask you: Has remaining the oil industry’s beeotch helped you at all in the 21st century? Why did the Japanese beat you to selling the most successful hybrid? Because they understand selling hardware, while GM seems to believe its cars are really software for the seemingly more important oil industry. Where is your competitive hybrid, GM?

And with so much time to do so before now, why haven’t you already marketed a reliable car that runs on fuels produced by U.S. agriculture? Sure, I can answer that question. But I’d like to hear “Because we’d rather see our children die in oil wars” from your lips.

The Safety Mobile

Going back at least to the days of Tucker, the auto industry has fought to keep safety out of car design. Regardless of the cost in human life. Now, an aging boomer generation wants to live forever. You could make at least one truly safe car, which will probably look something like a Dyson vacuum cleaner, and begin by marketing it to aging boomers wiling to pay extra to walk away from crashes. Then let that technology trickle down into the cars you should be building for people of modest means, such as the workers who used to be employed at your plants.

This development should also lead to an affordable but safe car for young people. Small, light, trendy but deadly cars are marketed to teenagers. Then the beer industry uses sex and rock music to sell them beer. Then young people die in those cheap, unsafe cars. Would parents buy a safe small car for their children? Could there be a modicum of viable style in these cars? Could GM possibly wake up from the coma it has been in since the oil crisis of the 1970s and begin building something drivers can use instead of bulbous rolling jokes like the Cadillac Escalade? I’m not sure. Ask a former employee.

This Week’s “Know Your News” Quiz

1) Citigroup will pay $2 billion to

(a) settle a class action on fraud.

(b) use Paris Hilton in commercials.

(c) kill English with words like “Citigroup.”

2) Italy voted this week on

(a) new pasta shapes.

(b) limits on fertility technology.

(c) the Pope’s mind control technology.

3) The “Buddy Holly Bandit” was

(a) a winner on “Star Search.”

(b) caught by Anaheim police.

(c) Caught? That’ll be the day!

Answer Key

1) (a) “We’re sorry… honestly.”

2) (b) “We’re pregnant…honestly.”

3) (b) “I’m the Big Bopper Bandit… honestly.”

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