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Posts Tagged ‘GM’

To be Green or not to be…

going-greenhttp://www.foxbusiness.com/business-leaders/2013/04/05/dont-buy-electric-car/

Great article that summarizes some of the same reasons I would never (yet) buy an electric car.  While I don’t live in California and can’t speak to some of the subsidies they offer for their forced environmentalism, I do agree with a couple of the main points: The car I choose to drive and spend my money on isn’t offered in an electric version, and the idea that electric cars somehow are more green than conventionally powered gasoline cars is really not true.

On the first issue, I have a quite large and active family and we ain’t all fittin’ in Leaf or a Prius.  I would have to own 2 or 3 of them (and be able to drive them all at the same time) to be able to fit everyone.  But maybe even more of an influence on my non-purchase is that I drive 40+ miles each way commuting to work.  From the specs I’ve read a one way trip is about the maximum range on the mass produced electric cars.  Of course, I’d love to drive a Tesla but that’s not happening on my current pay rate.  My current employer doesn’t offer a charging station and I don’t see that happening any time soon.

Which brings me to my point of confusion.  Why do automakers waste time designing and producing electric cars with such limited range?  (I suspect it has something to do with forced government mandates, but I digress…)  People who drive under 40 miles per day aren’t using that many resources to begin with, comparatively speaking.  But people like me who drive nearly 100 miles a day are.  If companies were really trying to be socially responsible and good stewards of the environment, wouldn’t they go after the biggest offenders first?  I realize that there’s a lot of additional cost in developing batteries with that kind of range, but I have to think that the biggest bang for the buck for the environment, the automaker, and the auto owner would be on providing vehicles with a much greater range.  If you take one car off the road that was driving 200 miles a week or one that was driving 500, where would the greatest benefit be?

Which brings me to my final reason for not purchasing an electric car.  I believe the benefit to the environment to be negligible.  At best.  The vast majority of the power in the United States is produced by coal or oil burning power plants.   It’s a one for one trade off.  You need more electricity to run these vehicles, so you need more oil and coal to run the power plant.  Every drop of oil saved in a car is burned to create electricity.  And I have no proof of this, but I have a suspicion that a power plant produces more carbon dioxide than a fleet of Hummers with the catalytic converters ripped off.  And this doesn’t even touch the issue of how much exploitation takes place in mining the special minerals used in making exotic vehicle power plants…

It may seem that I am a resource waster or don’t care about the environment.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I just believe that the only thing buying a car to be green does, at least at this point in time, is make us feel good about ourselves but does nothing to help the environment.

 

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Veteran’s Day, Auto style…

November 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Yesterday, November 16th, marked the observance of Veteran’s Day for the UAW.  We all know that Veteran’s Day was actually last Wednesday, the 11th, but inconveniently it did not coincide with the weekend before the opening of Michigan rifle deer hunting season, November 15th, so it had to moved on the organization’s calendar.

Hunting is grand tradition here in Michigan, with our plentiful wildlife, forests, lakes, and streams.  In fact, one of the most famous and nutty hunters in the world (and a fine artist), Ted Nugent is from and lives in Michigan.  I want to state here that I have nothing against hunting, and have done it myself.  It is a great way to become one with nature and enjoy the breathtaking scenery we have here in Michigan.  But as a U.S. Navy Veteran, I take issue with the holiday, meant to be a day of remembrance of those that have served and those that have died in the defense of our country, being reduced to a free vacation day during hunting season.

I can imagine a time in the UAW’s youth, when they rightfully fought for the day off to honor those auto employees who had bravely fought in some of the greatest conflicts our nation has ever known, World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam.  Some of the Veterans volunteered their service, some where asked by our government, but all served to make our country and this world a better and safer place.

But as years went on and our memory of these conflicts faded, as it always seems to do in the U.S., I can see the Michigan based UAW members (who have always made up the majority of membership) noticing this day off so close to, but not quite in, hunting season.  I can see them beginning to wonder if maybe, just possibly, could it be ‘observed’ a little closer to the 15th, so that they could take advantage of the day to get a little extra hunting in?  I assume the UAW leaders, being elected officials, thought it wiser to take the ‘suggestion’ to the bargaining table than to push back on their membership. And I can see the Big 3 thinking it was easier to move a day off already on the calendar than to say no and risk a strike.

So now we have another UAW ‘holiday’, perceived by the general taxpaying public as useless, and the loss of a real day of remembrance for Veterans.  It’s this type of abuse that made 99% of taxpayers (100% of non-UAW members) opposed to giving loans to the auto industry.  If the U.S. based auto companies hope to change public opinion of their products, the public opinion of the UAW needs to change as well.  I’m not blaming the UAW for all negative opinion, there were some horribly designed vehicles with abysmal quality produced for many years.  But we’re all in this together, everyone has to change.  For me, a great way to start changing this perception is to do away with obvious gimme’s, like free days off during hunting season…

Categories: Rants... Tags: , , , ,

Penske Automotive Group (PAG) has decided to terminate discussions with General Motors to acquire Saturn

September 30, 2009 Leave a comment

saturn logo

I’m sure most everyone who cares about it has heard, Penske has decided not to buy Saturn due to not being able to source cars after the initial agreement with GM. I am personally shocked by this. Until today, I was responsible for Social Media, Accessories, and Licensing for Saturn, but had decided to take the buyout that was offered to me and move on to other opportunities. The sale seemed like a done a deal. My former co-workers were tweeting about today being their last day with GM and looking forward to starting with Penske tomorrow. Yesterday the press was predicting the sale would close today. The General Manager of Saturn announced her retirement from GM earlier this week. Everything seemed to be in place.

I don’t think you can blame Penske, after all, he’s an incredibly successful business man who’s made billions on just this type of investment. If anyone could have made it work, it was probably him. I was, however, worried about whether he really ‘got’ the brand, due to the lack of Marketing and Advertising staff that were asked to join the new company. I looked like he was planning on advertising and marketing Saturn like he does Smart and the Auto Group, which appears to be non-existent. The A/M staff at Saturn was responsible for, along with mainstream advertising, all of the network wide touchy-feely initiatives that made Saturn the unique brand that it was.

Saturn has an almost cult like following of owners, and to some extent retailers, who often don’t act like other auto dealers despite being, well, auto dealers. The sales, and especially the customer satisfaction lessons learned by GM during the Saturn experiment should be put to use by GM, or any other auto brand that wants to create that kind of loyalty in their customers. After all, they weren’t the best looking or highest quality cars ever made, which seems to be what everyone says is what creates owner loyalty and produces sales. What they did have was a feeling by the customer that the brand and the retailers actually cared about them and really wanted to do the best by them. Saturn is proof that positive customer experience can trump almost any other attribute your brand has.

My thoughts go out to my former co-workers, and all of the loyal owners and retailers that stood by the brand during these difficult times. I sincerely hope everyone lands on their feet and that the lessons learned from this once great brand resurface in all GM brands in the very near future. Hey, I can hope…

Categories: Life Tags: , , , ,

3 Things to Tweet that Aren’t About Your Brand

September 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Good ideas on how to stay engaged with your corporate Twitter account when you don’t have a lot to say. We’ve been doing this quite a bit at Saturn while purchase negotiations have been on-going between GM and Penske, because frankly, we don’t know anything and even if we did, our respective legal staffs wouldn’t allow us to post it anyway.  Keep the customer engaged and show you’re still out there and care about them and the brand.

http://www.davidwmullen.com/2009/09/16/3-things-to-tweet-that-arent-about-your-brand/

Categories: Social Media Tags: , , ,

Goodbye and Hello…

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

I don’t know if it’s fitting or fate or whatever that I post my first personal blog entry on the last day of  my 11 1/2 years of employment with GM. It was a pretty good day up until the end, when I said goodbye to people I have known both professionally and personally, some for the entire time I was with GM.  But as they say, it was time.  Time to move on to bigger and better things, time to move onward and upward, time to close my eyes and jump.

The first couple and the last couple of years have been the best, with the middle years having been spent doing jobs you are ‘supposed’ to do if you want to reach the heights of upper management.  For the record, none of those jobs got me there…

The first couple of years were spent with a group of the smartest finance people employed by GM doing a secret, at the time, initiative that was both fun and challenging (and the right thing to do).  But as often happens to great ideas at GM, senior executives (who approved the project, despite reports otherwise) buckled to dealer pressure and cancelled the initiative, blaming ‘rogue executives’ who went behind their backs to start it. ***(I’ll take this opportunity to say that it’s going to be nice, really nice, to express my honest opinions about GM, finally. But also to say I love GM, my Dad retired from GM, I wanted to work for GM so bad I could taste it, and I would put any new GM car head to head against the best in the world with confidence.  But it’s hard to see something you love do these things to itself, and I’m afraid it’s already on that course again, but that will be another post, or 5…).

The last few years were spent as the Marketing and Advertising representative for Genuine Corvette Accessories with Chevy, and the Social Media, Accessories and Licensing manager for Saturn in the Marketing and Advertising group.  The Corvette job allowed me to work with what is probably the most passionate product team at GM, or any other manufacturer I’m sure.  Those people love the Corvette and it’s customers and fight internally, almost on a daily basis, to make sure they get the car right.  It allowed me to hang with the Corvette Racing Team, the most successful team in ALMS history.  And it allowed me to get to know the most passionate customers in the car business.  This is really where I learned to appreciate the value of one on one communication, that brands creating personal relationships with it’s customers are most successful, that loud commercials are not the most effective way to market your product.

At Saturn, I had the privelege of doing Social Media during what was  the most difficult time in the brands history.  GM announced it would close the brand if a buyer wasn’t found, sales and confidence plummeted, Roger Penske emerged as the front runner for the brand, and GM filed for bankruptcy.  Saturn, like Corvette, has one of the most passionate customer bases in the business.  But despite running commercials that screamed ‘We are here!’ the public believed the brand was going away for good.  And again we discovered that if you engage your customers one on one, through facebook, Twitter, and all the way to their own personal blogs, you can change public perception and start rebuilding your brand.  The beauty of Social Media is that you can engage individual customers, establishing confidence and  rebuilding your brand, but the world is watching.  What you say to one person is viewed by 500, and they tell 2 more, who tell 2 more, and so on, and so on…  Not that I believe big commercials are dead, they serve a valuable purpose, but the humanizing of brands and individual focus on the customer is where it’s all headed.

So armed with that knowledge, I’m heading into the work search world again, hoping to take the hard fought lessons of GM and Saturn to help others move into the next era of marketing…