Thursday, 4 June 2009

A car quiz

It’s a simple quiz with only one question. 

General Motors failed because . . .

  • a) It “is an indictment of American management in general. It highlights the damage to our economy that results when finance becomes the tail that wags the economic dog. And it shows what happens to any company that rests on its laurels and fails to adapt to change.”
        This is the conventional answer.
  • b) They made too few electric cars.
        This is the environmentalist’s answer.
  • c) They attracted too few subsidies for an essential American industry.
    This is Obama’s answer, that if anything stops moving you throw bailouts at it.
  • d) They were brought down by too little attention to sex, i.e., “The car industry is giving the public what they think they want” instead of what they really want.
      “They assume the car purchasing public are focused on fuel economy, safety and the car manufacturer's social commitment. . . .   What the surveys don't tell car manufacturers is that most people purchase a car as a sex aid.”
        This is Motella’s answer, that “we are too caught up in trying to be politically correct.”
  • e) They were “brought down by a kind of philosophical and economic tapeworm that consumed the company from within.
        “The economic tapeworm was the United Automobile Workers union, which transformed the company into a carcass upon which it could feed while tying GM’s hands and feet with arbitrary work rules that prevented it from competing and providing any addition to what was to be consumed by the UAW’s vultures.
        “The philosophical tapeworm lay within the minds of those running the company. For decades, it led them never to take a stand on principle and forcefully resist the UAW. Always the present cost of a major strike was allowed to outweigh the prospect of the ultimate destruction of the company, which was never considered fully real because it lay in the future.”
        This is George Reisman’s answer which, he says, “is symbolic of what is happening to the United States.”

So which of these is the most fundamental answer. Post your answers in the comments.


  1. f) A combination of some of the above, plus government regulation which skewed the market to prefer large SUVs and trucks that weren't subject to the same rules as cars? A classic example of the government causing a problem, then blaming someone else when the inevitable happened.

  2. Much as I like George Reisman's answer, I think its actuallt because they make poorly designed cars with engines from the '60s which are badly finished, ugly and can't go around corners.

  3. f" Stakeholderism" instead of enduring shareholder return being paramount.
    Ergo, kind of "all of the above". (Note the 'Stakeholders"):

    a. GM was successful, and numerous other US companies continue to be - more so than any other country. The leadership of GM kowtowed to government intervention. One assumes this was not voluntary. Perhaps it was vested. Certainly they made some mistakes.
    b. They made too many electric cars. Stakeholder intervention. Cars not wanted by public and timing incorrect.
    c. The concept of an 'essential industry' is emotional rhetoric. Free market decides. Fittest survive. Subsidies shroud & distort.
    d. There was in fact quite the opposite observed at GM. Mitroff in 1988 said that the tacit perception at GM at the time was "Cars are status symbols, styling is therefore more important than quality". They made some very horny cars. Not my cup of tea, but horny nonetheless.
    e. Stakeholderism in an easily observable (digestible?) form.

  4. Dave

    You're wrong.

    Suggest you come over here and see some US cars and actually drive them for yourself- prior to commenting. Yes, I know that Euro-centric motoring journos like to bash US cars, but those guys get their Lamborghinis and Mercedes and Wank GT drives for free. They don't actually buy, personally own and run the cars they gush on and on about. Now putting aside all the exotic stuff that these journos rapture over, the fact is that most of them drive small, tinny cars which are really not that decent. They are hardly in a position to state fact. What they really are about are handouts- the next overseas jaunt, hotel stay, free meal, free grog, free prostitutes, free run of nice cars to drive.

    Ultimate cornering behaviour and limit vehicle dynamics is not as important as primary and secondary ride, let alone as important as NVH. This is especially so in the US, with its titanic interstate system. The trend to tighter (harsher) suspension, with limited rattle space and reduced mechanical grip, has been as the result of the influence of the race-car-for-the-road European after-market tuners. That's fine for those of us who like that type of thing, but to be fair, it isn't what over 90% of driving requires or what over 90% of the buying public wants. Unfortunately most cars sold outside of North America have overly hard suspension (needlessly so), because that's what people are told is necessary for "going around corners." It's bullshit and un-necessary. I suggest you look up the cornering performance data for some regular cars and trucks. You'll see that most of them max out at around 0.8G or a little under. US cars and trucks are no worse than European ones. Oh, and if it's on-limit cornering performance you must have, why not try a Corvette ZR1. I'm driving one presently (here in the US) and it's very good.

    As for 1960s engines- name one 1960s engine which a US makers presently fits to its cars.


  5. UAW caused the collapse of GM with it's demands for higher pay and entitlements.

    Now tens of thousands are out of work - good work screwing over the company that paid your wages.

    Another example of brain dead lefties.


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