Top 10 Turnaround Tips for GM/Ford/Chrysler

globalhoboglobalhobo Member Posts: 3
edited June 2014 in Chevrolet
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")


  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014

    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:

  • lemkolemko Member Posts: 15,261
    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.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    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 Member Posts: 178
    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 Member Posts: 15,261
    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 Member 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 Member Posts: 4,277
    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 Member 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 Member 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 Member 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 the meantime, there's plenty of well-known things that people want that GM et. al. aren't delivering.
  • bobstbobst Member Posts: 1,776
    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 Member 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 Member Posts: 14,014
    Cadillac- Mercedes/Acura

    Buick- Lexus




    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

  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,006
    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 Member Posts: 15,261
    ...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 Member Posts: 57,006
    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 Member Posts: 6,081
    Very impressed with your list, really what they need to do!!

  • b3nutb3nut Member 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
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    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 Member Posts: 57,006
    Something still really needs to be done about the fleet/rental car issue, too. At least jack up the prices to help residuals.
  • varmintvarmint Member Posts: 6,326
    Ford - Stop designing and building limited production models. The T-Bird? The GT? When these vehicles fail, you come back and tell us they were never intended to be full run vehicles. Then why on earth build them?

    You lost your reputation by building lousy cars for the average consumer. The path to earning it back also lies in the cars for average consumers. Stop wasting money on showroom bling bling.

    Chrysler - Figure out what made the 300C a success and apply it to a smaller vehicle. (No it wasn't the grill.) Try that instead of rebadging the orginal to death. Also, don't let the 300C wither on the vine. All these rebadged variants should not stop you from redesigning the thing on a 5 year cycle.

    Chevy - Get botox injections into the lips and find the nearest Toyota bottom. :cry:
  • nwngnwng Member Posts: 663
    what is chrysler's plan with the last gen c class platform? A sub $20k car?
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    T-bird and GT are halo cars...they're not meant to sell well, but to give excitement and prestige to a brand. Every car company should have a few like's so "American". Just don't get carried away like Chrylser did with the Plymouth Prowler.

    Re the 300C, I think there's a place for both it and the Charger. Just need to differentiate them more...Charger should get more performance stuff, while the 300C can get more luxurious. But the difference has to be real, not just sheet metal.
  • varmintvarmint Member Posts: 6,326
    Oh, I know what a halo car is. It's an expensive way to advertise corporate values and serve as showroom candy. It's a loss-leader used to promote abstract feel good qualities. I just don't think Ford needs any expensive advertising. And they certainly need something concrete.

    Charger and 300C... sure. With large differences to separate them (price, sheetmetal, engine options, etc.) that would work.

    Charger, 300C, Magnum, and Challenger... that's pushing your luck. All of them more or less in the same tax bracket, with only sheetmetal to separate them? Too close to badge engineering, imo.

    I think their resources would be better spent putting some effort into a smaller mid-size car.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    Ford: Refocus on building dependable American cars. You're close to getting it, now just cut back fleet sales. And please give Mercury some unique product. Either give it the unique product or close it. I sometimes can't stand the local Lincoln-Mercury dealer commercials advertising "$14995 FREESTARS WITH ALL THIS STUFF!!" (albeit the guy who advertises, the owner, Larry Stovesand, is quite hilarious) because they can't move enough brand new and certified Lincolns and Mercurys. I'm sure other dealers do this, but ol' Larry here shouldn't have to get on TV himself to sell the local public on used rental Freestars.

    DaimlerChrysler: Some Crossovers please? Besides the Pacifica.. And perhaps a competitive midsize sedan...

    GM: I'll get to you later.
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    On average I will agree with you that Toyota has better service.

  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    lemko, you know better than that. :P Acura and Buick being a comparison. Not to be a smart [non-permissible content removed] let's look at the line-up. :confuse:

    Acura RL, Acura TL, Acura RSX, Acura TSX, Acura RDX, Acura NSX.

    Buick Lucerne, Buick LaCrosse, Buick Rainer, Buick Rendezvous, Buick Terazza, and finally the Buick Enclave.

    I'd probably have to say the closest of the GM competitors to Acura would be a hybrid of Pontiac, Cadillac. ;)

    For the money, even this diehard GM fan/loyalist has to admit that the Acura brand perhaps is the best car money can buy in the world.

  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    "Oh, I know what a halo car is. It's an expensive way to advertise corporate values and serve as showroom candy. It's a loss-leader used to promote abstract feel good qualities. I just don't think Ford needs any expensive advertising. And they certainly need something concrete."

    No offsense to your car knowledge intended. :) Fair enough re the GT, but I can't imagine in the grand scheme of things the T-bird was that was mostly Lincoln LS parts and standard engines.

    And it's not like Ford is in a totally dire situation where they can't have a few cars like's passenger car line is for the most part the best it's been in years...just needs a little massaging to make it very desirable (better engine on the Five Hundred, manual available for the Fusion V6, bring Euro-Focus here).
  • varmintvarmint Member Posts: 6,326
    True enough. The T-Bird probably wasn't terribly expensive. But it was still a niche car. And I was tempted to include the Excursion as another in the same boat.

    IMO, a better way to spend their money would be on an everyman kind of car with broader market appeal. In fact, they've already done it with great success. The new Mustang is exactly the kind of car they should have been using to advance Ford's performance agenda.
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    I think Ford's getting there.

    The Five Hundred by all reports is a good car, just with weak engines. I think an optional 4.6 V8 (which would require purchase of the AWD package) would make for a really cool big car.

    If the Fusion offered a manual transmission with its V6 engine + sport tuning, it could easily develop the image of a sorta "bargain basement BMW".

    In Europe and the UK, Ford has always enjoyed a reputation for making reasonably-priced, solid (if quirky around the edges) "working-class heroes." Could easily follow that here in the U.S. with some minor tweaking to the line-up I think. Would be a great image...let Chrysler constantly restyle to be the look-at-me car company, let GM keeping blasting us with ads about how it's the number one car company... ;)
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Member Posts: 4,277
    "If the Fusion offered a manual transmission with its V6 engine + sport tuning, it could easily develop the image of a sorta "bargain basement BMW"."

    I bet they just didn't want to steal sales from the MZ6. Still would be nice to have the option.
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    Do you think the bad PR on it's crash test ratings will slow sales ???? I personally think it will slow sales some. Ford better address this issue. Many moms look at crash test ratings when buying a car for their family.

  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    I just heard about that on the news the other day, and it really bothered me. These days, reasonable safety is taken as a given by consumers...esp. on a middle-of-the-road sedan.

    Fusion had seemed like evidence to me that Ford was finally "getting it" again on making good cars. :mad:
  • xwesxxwesx Member Posts: 16,725
    It can be tough to get it right on the first MY of a new model. Subaru received relatively poor rankings on its '05 Legacy lineup for side impact, but beefed up the '06 model to ace the test. Perhaps Ford will do the same?
    2018 Subaru Crosstrek, 2014 Audi Q7 TDI, 2013 Subaru Forester, 1969 Chevrolet C20, 1969 Ford Econoline 100, 1976 Ford F250
  • anythngbutgmanythngbutgm Member Posts: 4,277
    I was pretty disappointed as well. It seemed like a car that may have sparked a "Taurus" like renaissance... Well, probably not, but a SOLID effort by any means. I notice a lot more 500 "Safest car on the roads "commercials being played since the news broke:D
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    GM has to hire better stylists. Their cars are either:

    1. downright homely (I'll spare the owners)
    2. bland (yawners, you know you who are)
    3. attractively styled from dated styling cues from 1995. (corvette, some cadillacs)
    4. weird (cadillac's sharp-edged cars)
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    "4. weird (cadillac's sharp-edged cars)"

    I like the wedgy cars...I think they look futuristic and yet very contemporary at the same time. And it's nice to see at least one domestic car division looking toward the future with its styling, rather than looking back to the "good old days" or being stuck in the mid-1990s soap bubble school of design.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    You can tell it's not working because no one is copying it. A sure sign of a failed styling concept IMO. With a mass market product, having a small number of admirers won't work unless those admirers were very high profile people and could convince the market that this styling was attractive.

    Everybody copies Benz and BMW and Audi, nobody is copying GM right now. (but they used to).
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    Hadn't considered that...what's the usual amount of time in the auto industry for designs to be copied?

    I still think the design is serving Cadillac well. It's very unique, and definitely stands out, which is what Cadillac needs right now. Cadillac finally has a good product that will appeal to younger needs a way to get noticed.

    And the design seems to have some "American-ness" to it, which strikes me as a good thing.

    Seems Cadillac finally took a stand against GM's corporate inoffensive blandness and said "If we're ever going to break out of the rut, we've got to take a chance and do something bold."
  • varmintvarmint Member Posts: 6,326
    Auto makers do copy designs. The lines of the Audi TT began showing up in other cars almost immediately. The shape of VW's Passat is still being copied. Shifty is right about that.

    But I'm not so sure others would dare copy the Art & Sciences theme. It's too specific. You can copy an arching roofline without being obvious. Copying Caddy's surface effects would be obvious plagiarism.

    Start a speech with, "The other day I had a vision." Most people won't notice. Start it with, "I have a dream," and they'll see through you.

    The Arts & Sciences style is one where you have to go all the way or it just doesn't work. And people would see through that.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,006
    Sadly, some of Bangle's ideas are being copied too.

    I hope the big 2.5 don't go down that road.
  • baggs32baggs32 Member Posts: 3,229
    It can be tough to get it right on the first MY of a new model. Subaru received relatively poor rankings on its '05 Legacy lineup for side impact, but beefed up the '06 model to ace the test. Perhaps Ford will do the same?

    Already done. Side air curtains (maybe seat bags too) will be standard on the Fusion for MY07. According to a Ford employee who posts around Edmunds a couple of other safety features will be made standard as well but he didn't reveal them. I'm guessing ABS for one but don't know about the other.

    The added safety plus AWD as an option should do the trick to make it a good choice for safety IMO.
  • baggs32baggs32 Member Posts: 3,229
    Sadly, some of Bangle's ideas are being copied too.

    I hope the big 2.5 don't go down that road.

    Amen! I noticed Hyundai has a model or two with the "Bangle bustle" too.
  • bumpybumpy Member Posts: 4,425
    Except that Hyundai did it first, on the 1998 Grandeur (which showed up in the US as the XG300 in 2000) and carried it over in milder form on the 2001 Elantra.
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 57,006
    I wonder if anyone has ever confonted Bangle on the origin of the bustle. I would like to see how he'd explain it. It has no place on an S-class, anyway. Too many car designers are lemmings.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think Bangle has cost BMW many millions of dollars...him and whoever thought up iDrive....
  • john_324john_324 Member Posts: 974
    I've read he's pretty solidly unapologetic about his designs in general.

    Some of it has grown on me (a little bit anyway), but the tail-end stuff still looks atrocious to me. :(
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    GM should hire some Italians.
  • jchan2jchan2 Member Posts: 4,956
    to me looks very nice while the 5-Series and 7-Series don't look umm... luxurious.
  • rockyleerockylee Member Posts: 14,014
    Do you think BMW and Mercedes have a styling edge on GM :confuse: The new BMW interior/exterior are downright ugly. Mercedes is okay, but isn't leaps and bounds ahead of GM. However unless your rich, who can afford a new one(mercedes) ?

    Audi, used to make very nice designed cars. They ruined the interior and exterior just like BMW. Sure they are lots of fun to drive, but I do think styling ranks up their atleast in my purchase decision. BTW- Who can afford a fullsize Audi ?

    So basically that leaves GM, Ford, Chrysler, Honda/Acura, Toyota/Lexus, making more reliable cars, that are affordable, and just as nice if not better than the Euro's :shades:

This discussion has been closed.