GM – We’re Number Two!

It’s not Saab-specific, but it’s still big automotive news about the corporate parent.

Press Release – 20th April

GM ANNOUNCES RECORD Q1 GLOBAL SALES . . . General Motors sold a record 2.26 million cars and trucks around the world in the first quarter of 2007, according to preliminary sales figures released today. GM global first quarter sales were up 67,000 vehicles, or 3 percent, compared with sales of 2.19 million in the first quarter 2006. “GM posted record sales in the first quarter, driven by exceptionally strong demand in emerging markets,” said John Middlebrook, GM vice president, global sales, service and marketing operations. “We saw more than 20 percent growth in the Asia/Pacific region and had 17 percent growth in the Latin America, Africa and Middle East region. We’re also very pleased to see 6 percent growth in Europe where we sold more than a half-million vehicles and established a new sales record.”

Autoblog – gulp – April 24

With the first quarter of 2007 in the books, Toyota has emerged as the world’s top auto seller — for the time being, at least. The Japanese giant beat GM on the global level for the first time ever, selling 2.348 million cars to the General’s 2.26 million. This story is far from over, however, as we fully expect the next three quarters to turn in to a full-fledged slugfest between the two automakers.Toyota will continue to do what it’s been doing and GM’s global product renaissance will likewise continue to see more new and/or improved vehicles enter the marketplace around the world.

I don’t know what Toyota sells most of in the US, which is the key market in which they’ve cut the General’s lawn. Here in Australia, though, the biggest selling car is the Toyota Corolla.

Whilst not-so-small anymore, the very notion that a 4-banger could lead the country where Falcons and Commodores are king seems preposterous. But I guess that’s they way the world’s heading. Smaller, more economical and reliable.

Anyone know of a company with great mid-size cars and brilliant 4 cylinder technology that’s in need of some more investment?

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Actually, as I was pondering this post it occurred to me….

2.26 million vehicles in three months.

4.1 million vehicles in 60 years.

Yowza!

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8 Comments

  1. The better question is what **doesn’t** Toyota sell in the U.S.

    The big volume number probably comes from the Camry, a 9-5 sized car with an 160 hp four cylinder in the base model, with a V-6 option.

    But there are lots of Corolla’s running around, too. Lots of SUV sales, all the way from the RAV-4 on up, and of course there’s Lexus, as well.

  2. I thougth that corolla was up there, together with the Civic as the most sold vehicle in the US.

    Its interesting, and is also something that I think GM should be able to turn to an advanctage (and make Toyota vounerable).

    Toyota has a few very important models, with the Corolla and the Camry. After that there aint much (even thou I know they have other stuff to, but the tundra etc is just much smaller in terms of sales).

    GM have a much better diversity, with more brands compared to the 3 of Toyota. Its difficult to do what GM are doing, that is to focus on many brands, but if you do it right, with platform sharing etc you can make lots of diversified models at only marginal higher cost. Hopefully you get higher overall volume to spread the costs over. It also make GM less vounerable as one model can fail without such a huge impact (even thou I know that the Silerado etc was important).

    I say integrate more. I think that from the comments in the last few days, the overall impression is that what saab is lacking is good interior quality (plastics etc) as well as better reliability (or at least to be recognized by consumer report as reliable).

  3. GM, and Ford for this matter, only have themselves to blame. In North America they kept on supplying sub standard product with sub standard quality and appeal.

    The Japanese and Europeans moved the game forward with innovative design and technology. Making products better, more reliable, more economical and safer.

    While GM and Ford kept banging on about cubic inches, huge Pick Ups and woeful Jeeps/4×4’s. Look at the Escalade, the Ford Expedition and anything with a Lincoln badge to see how far behind they truly are.

    Only now are they bringing their Opel models in full force to the US, something they should have done a LONG time ago to have a hope in hell of catching the Japanese products.

    Saab has had a major lack of new product and this will also hit them.

    In Saab, GM have the PERFECT weapon to use against the German marques, yet they under invest in it.

    Ford have Volvo, yes, but Volvo could never hope to compete with BMW and Audi from the perspective of stature and ability, and indeed image.

    Saab as a brand is ‘cool’ and sharp enough to take the fight to the German brands and beat them, but what do GM do? Sit on one of the most powerful secret weapons in their arsenal and dump Cadillacs on everyone!

    Saab has history, an image of class and sophistication, as well as being ‘cool’.

    Heck, they SHOULD be building the Aero-X, that car would IMMEDIATELY boost not only Saab’s but GM’s image tenfold.

    Some GM fans will point to the Corvette, which yes, is a good car, but come on, from an image perspective it just shouts ‘small willy’ to me.

    The Aero-X is all about cool sophistication, and so is Saab. Dammnit! Let me in there and I will show you how to market this gem of a product around the world. I would come up promotions and ideas that would create such a kudos for the brand and for GM that they would never need to look back, and think, “Man, that Kaz was a mutha******* genius!”

    Build the Aero-X. Build the 9-1. Bring XWD to more cars. Ditch high powered front wheel drive cars (anything over 250bhp really isn’t worth it). AND SPEND MORE ON THOSE GOD DAMN INTERIOR MATERIALS!!

    Erm…..rant over 🙂

  4. My guess is that GM better get used to not being #1 anymore, they completely lack the long strategic vision of Toyota.

  5. Funny how roles change. The Japanese came into the market with bargain-basement interiors, tinny exteriors, and no power (although, admittedly, that cheap, plastic thin interior was snapped together nicely) Domestics thought, “heck, why are our cars so nice? Lets do what they do and we’ll save some money.” Then, suddenly, about 10 years ago, the Japanese stepped it up and started using nice materials (though I still don’t like their interior styling- it’s too weird for my taste), added more power and are improving their structures- and caught the US off guard. Maybe it was all a trick! 🙂 (being sarcastic of course!) Isn’t it interesting how roles change though?

    I can’t help but wonder if its all a cycle. Now that Toyotas are so popular, what’s going to happen in 7 years when all those Camrys and Corollas in the US come back in trade? Is their resale going to take like a domestics? Now that the US automakers aren’t selling to fleets as much, are the fleets going to buy Toyotas and flood the market with 1 year old rental returns and tank resale? With that will people go back to domestics? It’ll be interesting to see what happens…

  6. GM sales are currently rebounding. That’s important when you consider that even when they were in the dumps, they were number 1. Now that they’re coming back from the bottom, they’ll be back on top in no time.

    Now…I disagree with pretty much everything Kaz said.

    “While GM and Ford kept banging on about cubic inches, huge Pick Ups and woeful Jeeps/4×4’s”

    Uh, no. The cubic inch race ended in the early 70’s. Also, those “huge pickups” are the only pickups that people buy, because they’re the best. As much as I hate Ford, their F-series pickups are great. Chevy’s Silverado trucks are just as good. As for your Jeeps, Jeep is currently the ONLY Chryco division that makes any money at all. Chrysler and Dodge both manage to lose money in spite of selling a ton of cars (Caliburs and 300’s are everywhere around here). Jeep just keeps getting better and better (excluding the Compass, ugh).

    The Escalade is the Cadillac of Cadillacs until a Sixteen is released. Say what you want, they’re nice cars. If I had to drive an SUV (other than a 9-7X, that is), that would be it. Speaking of Cadillacs, yes, GM shouldn’t be selling them in Europe. No one wants them. They should be diverting that money to Saab. But that doesn’t mean that Cadillacs are useless. Our (formerly) very own Jay Spenchian orchestrated a Cadillac renaissance. They’re almost back to their former glory, all it’s going to take is…a Sixteen. I mean… “Saab has history, an image of class and sophistication, as well as being ‘cool’. ” Replace Saab with Cadillac in that sentence and it works perfectly for Americans. As far as Europe goes, however, yes, again, Saab would be the way to go.

    “Some GM fans will point to the Corvette, which yes, is a good car, but come on, from an image perspective it just shouts ‘small willy’ to me.”

    No, that’s Porsche. Corvette shouts “I wanted the best two-seater America has to offer.” The Corvette isn’t a good car. It’s THE car. Hell, Car and Driver says that the C6 is better than a 911. The Corvette has come out on top 3 out of 5 times C&D has done that comparo (they do it every time either one has a new model). The Corvette is the quintessential American car and it has been since 1953. I love Saab, and I would love a new Sonett, but if I could only have one, I’d take the ‘Vette every time.

    I don’t think the Aero-X would work as a full production car. It’s just too weird. The crazy roof and odd holographic guages and the running on Bioethanol…I mean, I love it all, but I really think it would do better with a very small production run (maybe 5,000 units in the world). A new Sonett built on the Kappa platform would be much better, in my opinion.

    As long as the 9-1 competes with the BMW 1 series and not that weird little Merc, building it would be a great idea.

    I totally agree about the interiors. They should be like Cadillacs (in quality, not design :p).

    Also, just to clear things up, the Camry has been America’s top car for years.

    *Sigh. Oh well. GM’s been #2 before, they’ll bounce back. They always do. GM Deathwatch can fall in a hole :p

  7. Jeff, don’t get me wrong.

    I like the Corvette, love it in fact, but couldn’t buy one due to the genital stigma attached to it in the UK (actually, if it came in RHD, I may STILL be tempted even with that stigma LOL!). And Leaf Springs? Leaf Springs should have died out with the horse and carriage, it’s a miracle GM have managed to make the car handle as well as it does with that archaic technology. Now imagine what it could do with a proper multi link setup.

    The cubic inch thing stands, mainly because of how much power European and Japanese brands are able to eek out of much smaller engines.

    Instead of trying to produce more power with improving technology, they decided to do it with larger displacement.

    Cadillac’s upcoming line up is impressive, the new STS and CTS look good, and it is the right direction, but they still lack the material quality of Europes best.

    I sat in an XLR late last year and it was absolutely woeful inside, and this car is supposed to compete with the SL and 6 series BMW.

    And as for the Escalade, I’m sorry, it is big, but the one I sat in, again used poor plastics inside and the ergonomics were not as well laid out as the Japanese and European rivals, and the thirst of it horrendous. And in my opinion it looks vulgar. A car like that will not work in Europe, so why persist in trying to sell it here?

    The pick up situation I referred to was more to do with the fact of GM and Fords reliance on these models for profit. Build them cheaply, make a big profit on them and laugh all the way to the bank….but wait, the Japanese firms started to build better pick ups, with better quality and reliability………..and sell them cheaper. This cost GM and Ford huge losses as people switched.

    In almost every single sector, GM and Ford do not have product to compete at the highest level unless they have brought it in.

    Show me an American car that betters the Lexus LS series, the Mercedes S Class, the BMW X-5, the Jaguar XJ, the Mercedes ML, the Toyota Rav 4 etc etc.

    Thankfully, GM are finally seeing sense now and are bringing in their Euro vehicles through Saturn. And before anyone mentions the Solstice, it was a Vauxhall before anything else (do a search on the VX Lightning).

    Ford have a lot of decent Euro product, Jaguar, Land Rover, Volvo and their European arm. But their execution in the USA is sometimes lacking in thought.

    The mk1 Ford Focus is a good example here, in Europe it was sold with great suspension which made it a great little handler. If I read correctly, the teams in the US decided to throw away that suspension setup for an inferior one…….errrr duh!

    I just hope it wasn’t Leaf Springs.

  8. “The pick up situation I referred to was more to do with the fact of GM and Fords reliance on these models for profit. Build them cheaply, make a big profit on them and laugh all the way to the bank….but wait, the Japanese firms started to build better pick ups, with better quality and reliability………..and sell them cheaper. This cost GM and Ford huge losses as people switched.”

    When did this happen? I never see any pickups other than Chevy and Ford and Dodge. Mazdas are gone, Nissans are rare, and, while I do see Toyotas, I see about 5 F’s for every Tundra. I dunno, maybe I’m missing something.

    Ok, so American material quality isn’t the best. It’ll improve eventually.

    As for the Escalade, I don’t think they should sell it in Europe either. It’s a staunchly American car and it’s great for America but terrible for Europe.

    “Show me an American car that betters the Lexus LS series, the Mercedes S Class, the BMW X-5, the Jaguar XJ, the Mercedes ML, the Toyota Rav 4 etc etc.”

    There really isn’t one yet for most of those. Like I said though, the Cadillac Sixteen would really help with all of this (I know it won’t actually have sixteen cylinders but I don’t have another name for it). That, and if the Esca got a new interior, it could easily compete against the X5…

    Technically, the Sky and Solstice were based off of the Opel Speedster/VX220. The VX Lightning was just a concept, and was actually based off the Solstice concept (not the production car). So, I suppose it went Production Speedster/VX220, Concept Solstice, Concept VX Lightning, Production Solstice/Sky. I got this from a website: “The VX Lightning is based on the same platform used for the Pontiac Solstice concept that was shown at the 2002 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.” The VX was unveiled in ’03 for Vauxhall’s 100th. So, technically, it was a Vauxhall first, yes, but it was also an Opel first. I’m sure your point was that it was European and not that it was a Vauxhall, but still.

    Give GM some time, they’ll get themselves back on the right track…if they stop selling Cadillacs in Europe, that is :p

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