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Top 10 Turnaround Tips for GM/Ford/Chrysler

As an economist who cares much about the U.S. auto industry I think it would be helpful to send a clear set of tips to the U.S. makers about the best ideas from readers of this forum to help them turn their products and profitability around.

The best suggestions from outsider car enthusiasts will hopefully seep into their plans and actually take root in future actions.

I challenge all readers to contribute their best (top 10) ideas on this forum and, before July 1, '06 to read as many tips and respond again by voting for the best ideas to be made available for GM/Ford/Chrysler executives to read.

(Please refrain from submitting micro-issue tips such as "Make louder horns on the 2006 Ford Fiestas")
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Comments

  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    http://moneycentral.msn.com/content/Savinganddebt/Savemoney/P33729.asp

    It's that simple. If we all become millionaires, we can buy 2 cars from GM, 2 from Ford, 2 from Chrysler, thus saving the domestic car company's :surprise:

    Rocky
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,075
    10. No FWD Buicks or Cadillacs. Luxury and near luxury cars should be RWD/AWD. Same goes for serious performance cars. Impala SS = RWD. Monte Carlo = RWD. I'm sure a lot of people would like their own NASCAR racer.

    9. If OHC/DOHC is what the public wants, give it to them.

    8. If the public wants hybrids, give them hybrids.

    7. Work with suppliers as does Toyota and Honda. Don't beat them up over pennies. Quality components make quality cars. Maybe the components will cost more, but think of the expense as an investment rather than a cost.

    6. Don't let shareholders push you around and make you focus on short-term gains. Do as your competition does and look at the long-term. Better quality = increased sales = increased dividends.

    5. If you demand sacrifices of your workers, make real sacrifices yourself and set an example. Show them you're serious by throwing away your "golden parachute" and show them you will be just as screwed if the company sinks as the guy on the factory floor. Heck, if I were CEO, I'd go down to the factory floor myself and bolt cars together to serve as an example.

    4. First beancounter who wants to sacrifice quality for cost savings gets fired and is permanently banished from the auto industry.

    3. Just reverse-engineer a Camry and/or Accord and match or exceed the quality.

    2. Get rid of troublesome dealers. You could have the best darn product in the world, yet these idiots will give you a bad reputation. Pull their franchise and give it to somebody deserving.

    1. Concentrate on CARS! You got trucks and SUVs down pat.
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,688
    1. Kill off your "dead" brands....Pontiac, Lincoln.

    2. GM: Push Corvette further upscale. Ditch the XLR after you do that.

    3. Begin an IMMENSE dealer training program to vastly improve the sales and service interface with the customer. WARNING: the "car wars" of tommorow will be won IN THE SHOWROOMS and SERVICE OUTLETS.
  • dglozmandglozman Posts: 177
    Funny, if you take away #10, 5 and 2 - you basically want to be like Honda or Toyota... And you still like big 2.5.... :confuse: You just admitted that Honda/Toyota are building superior cars :P
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,075
    Trouble is, they're still butt-ugly and/or bland. About the only Japanese car I could possibly see myself in in a Lexus LS. Yeah, it's bland, but its decent size and passing resemblance to an S-Class helps.
  • mirthmirth Posts: 1,212
    - Increase warranty periods. You don't have to match the Koreans, but beat everyone else.

    - Innovate - beat the imports with technical advances. Stop playing catch-up.

    - Don't just make the cars "as good as" the competition - leap frog them. Beat them on everything: power, fuel-efficiency, styling, safety, price. You're going to have offer MUCH better value than the competition to steal sales.

    - Come out with more new models faster. You're getting killed in this by the imports.

    - Stop badge-engineering everything to death (Chevy/Pontiac/Buick, Ford/Mercury). Come out with one model and keep improving it year over year.
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Posts: 4,161
    Why is there even a debate about a Chrysler turnaround? Sales are up something like 3% for them and has anyone seen the snipets on the new Sebring/Stratus/Avenger? Seems that a Fusion-like effort is in store for the next generation. Also, 300 sales (And their siblings) aren't showing any signs of slowdown. The Caliber is here, and looks promising and the Dodge trucks still manage a top ten leader in sales. If anything, I think MB needs the turnaround more than Chrysler, even though I don't see Mercedes floundering that badly...

    And over at Ford, the Mustang is huge, the Fusion twins are garnering plenty of attention, the F-series Trucks are still #1 in sales and with the infusion of the 3.5l in the lineup, the 500 and Freestyle look to increase their appeal. Seems like Ford has gotten there act together, or is at least TRYING to get together. The efforts are already showing.

    It's hilarious how things are playing out. Really it is. GM is (has been)floundering so badly, all the garbage that they have been putting out on the market is finally catching up to them and they are on a brink of Chapter 11 (NO I didn't say going out of Business). But all the Pro-demestic GM diehards are lumping the group into the misery? :confuse:

    Why? To get more not-so-GM diehards into the scare as well? Think "Hey GM has a problem right now, let's make it look like the others do too!?!?" I don't get it. :confuse:

    I guess since Toyota is revving up to be the #1 Automaker very soon, that means all other import brands are as well huh?
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    ...there's just one:

    Make cars that people want to purchase, not ones they're merely willing to accept.

    If they don't, eventually the domestic auto industry will go the way of the domestic television industry... :(
  • mirthmirth Posts: 1,212
    ...sometime people don't know what they want until you come up with it. People didn't know they wanted an iPod until Apple created it.
  • john_324john_324 Posts: 974
    I'm sure whoever comes up with the first practicable hover-car will make a killing.

    If the big 3 can do it, teriffic! But that's hardly the kind of plan to bet the firm on...in the meantime, there's plenty of well-known things that people want that GM et. al. aren't delivering.
  • bobstbobst Posts: 1,783
    Figure out what you can do better than other companies and then do it.

    If you can't do something as well as other companies, then stop doing it.

    GM/Ford/DC can't make sedans to compete with Toy-Hon, so they should stop trying. They should stick to what they do well, like pick-ups.
  • ubbermotorubbermotor Posts: 307
    GM-Move Cadillac farther upmarket to create some breathing room for Buick. Make Pontiac an actual performance division. Fire everyone, file bankruptsy and and start with a fresh management structure.

    Ford-replace Mercury's current line-up with the models from Austrailia.

    Mopar-A decent mid-sized sedan, and some sporty coupes would be nice.
  • rockyleerockylee Posts: 14,011
    Cadillac- Mercedes/Acura

    Buick- Lexus

    Pontiac-BMW

    Saab-Volvo/Audi

    Hummer-Jeep

    Saturn-Honda and Toyota

    Chevy-Ford, Chrysler

    I feel this would be a good way to turn around GM "if" they kept all the current brands. ;)

    Lemko, I do like your idea alot. :D

    Rocky
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,940
    But Mercedes and Acura aren't really direct competitors.

    Caddy almost has MB's market positions matched, save for no S-class, no CLK, and nothing is like a DTS
  • lemkolemko Posts: 15,075
    ...competitor - make the DTS RWD already! They're getting there on the interior. Love that clock! As the DTS is, it would make a nice cost-effective replacement for my 2002 Seville STS. I'd say the Acura is more of a Buick competitor. For an instant Maybach competitor - the Sixteen is ideal! Heck, if I had that much disposable income, I'd be first in line for a Sixteen!
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,940
    It might take a little more than a RWD conversion for the DTS. That alone wouldn't make the car a player in the 80K+ market. The car would have to become completely detached from fleets.

    The Sixteen could play in the Rolls/Maybach arena, in the US anyway. It'd be big in NYC and Vegas for sure.
  • merc1merc1 Posts: 6,081
    Very impressed with your list, really what they need to do!!

    M
  • b3nutb3nut Posts: 83
    Not going to come up with a list of 10, but I'll toss a few overly-verbose musings that came to me into the mix here...

    1) Take small hatchbacks seriously. The mediocre Chevywoo Aveo doesn't cut the mustard - it can't hit the MPG that all of its competitors can. Detroit execs: See the Scion xA? The new Kia Rio5? The Honda Fit (which inexplicably gets poorer mileage than the Civic, but that's another thread)? Make something like that. Except tune it so it'll hit over 30mpg in the city and 40-45mpg highway, like late 80's Civics used to. (so much for advancing technology...) Hey Ford? I've one word for you guys...Fiesta. 'nuff said. Which leads to...

    2) Quit giving Europe the really cool cars and leaving your own countrymen with the pitiful leftovers (can we say Focus, boys and girls?) Where's our Opel Astra hatch? Why is the Chevy Cobalt's trunk opening so tiny (especially on the coupe, which by all rights should have been a liftback like the Scion tC)? I bet even the Ford Ka would be a hit in some markets, especially larger cities like Chicago.

    3) Dodge: you don't have to make *every* vehicle you sell look like it's yawning. The semi-tractor-wannabe grill slapped on an economy hatch doesn't work, guys. Nice job on the Caliber otherwise.

    4) I'll second the dealership improvement suggestions. Especially for Ford. I've lucked out in finding a really good one, but the biggest one in town is wretched. And here's how you fix your dealers, suggested to me by a friend who worked in Ford HQ: Make the upper managers and CEO get their Fords serviced at the same dealerships the customers have to deal with. Ditto with GM and DCX.

    Todd in Beerbratistan
  • MrShift@EdmundsMrShift@Edmunds Posts: 43,688
    Car wars of the future will be won or lost at the dealerships service bay I think. We are entering a service era in business competition. Last automaker standing when the music stops is out.
    Toyota is way ahead on this one already. Shopping for my last car, I got kinda cranky walking into American car dealerships, and having the salespeople approach me as if I were about to sentence them to 100 years in jail.
  • fintailfintail Posts: 32,940
    Something still really needs to be done about the fleet/rental car issue, too. At least jack up the prices to help residuals.
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