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Winning in the magazines doesn't equal success

Old 10-31-2008, 12:00 PM
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Default Winning in the magazines doesn't equal success

Alright, there is a point I want to make to everyone and I hope that by some chance GM might notice this post. There was a link that was posted from autotrader.com that develops a lot of what is wrong with the mentality of what makes a successful model and what does not.

Earlier this week we published a Battle Royale between General Motors and Chrysler in order to determine in a fun way which vehicles from each automaker that compete directly in the marketplace would survive if the two merged. Out of 12 matchups, GM vehicles won eight and Chrysler four. A new report by consulting firm Grant Thornton LLP largely confirms that our experiment was spot on. The report says that if a GM/Chrysler merger happens, only the Dodge Ram, Chrysler and Dodge minivans and a few Jeep models will survive. We had the Ram and Wrangler as survivors on our list, though perhaps we were too generous giving the dated Dodge Dakota and slow-selling Jeep Patriot stays of execution. Either way, the point is that Chrysler's model lineup across all three brands would largely be wiped out if a merger with GM happens, as well as the plants that build those models and the workers who do the building.
What is wrong with this way of thinking is it assumes that customers view cars from the same perspective as these people in the press. The press view the G8 as being superior to the Charger because it was faster, got better fuel economy, and in the version they compared the price favored the G8. The result, the older Charger is outselling the G8 by a huge margin. Why is a "inferior" car winning this competition? There are many factors that could be considered. One is brand image. Dodge after having a line of SRT models has become associated with performance and this car is one of the leaders in that image despite the fact that models such as the Viper are actually faster. For Pontiac, this is pretty much the highest output model they have in their line-up, and after the demise of the Firebird and failure of the GTO, Pontiacs performance image has become like Plymouth's in its last years. Confused and weak. Another possible reason, people might prefer the way the Charger feels on the road. The G8 from what I have read is better when it comes to performance based on its tuning, but the majority of customers might prefer the softer Charger. The Charger also features AWD which the G8 doesn't have yet and although I'm sure it isn't account for all the higher sales; however, it might be the thing bringing people into the dealership in the first place whether or not they ultimately get it.

The Challenger and Camaro although similar do NOT appeal to the same customers. The Camaro is a smaller car that like the older Camaro is likely to appeal to the type of people who judge a car purely by performance numbers. The Challenger appeals to people like myself WHO ARE IN THE MAJORITY, who care more about how the car looks, how the car rides, how much room the car has to offer, and view acceleration times and magazine reviews as a benefit and not a requirement. People like this are willing to pay more for cars like this.

Use the Chrysler minivans as another example. Ironic how GM is after that despite the fact that Chrysler hasn't won a minivan comparison in a long time. Despite loosing for a long time, Chrysler outsold their competition because minivan owners do not weight acceleration times and other aspects the press cares about as highly as the intangible factors that the Chrysler minivans have that the competition's offerings lack.

Also, just because they did not win the competition does NOT mean they are not competitive. I would challenge you to see a rematch between a Charger and G8 now that the Hemi has had an update in power and fuel economy and see what the outcome is there. There are models in Chrysler's line-up that are not worth keeping and should be replaced because they are not competitive. The Avenger & Sebring have too much wrong with them that would have to be fixed that it would be more cost effective to simply transplant the G6 and Aura to Dodge and Chrysler.

Let's look at history also as an example. Back before the merger, Chrysler introduced the Stratus/Breeze/Cirrus to replace the Spirit/Acclaim/LeBaron. The press particularly Car and Driver loved these new cars listing the Stratus on the Top Ten list; however, it undersold the Spirit/Acclaim/LeBaron. The reason are claimed to be pricing, which was most likely a factor, but this does not explain why these people moved on to other manufacturers that were priced similarly to the Stratus. There were intangible things that these cars lacked that made these customers leave. Also the press liked the Contour over the old Tempo originally and it was a total disaster. In some comparisons, the Bonneville was favored to the LH cars due to acceleration times and fuel economy; however, the Bonneville ended its time as a failure. Again another example what press considers a success isn't always a success. Just look at a few of the MT car of the year away winners:

2002 Ford Thunderbird (total failure)
1997 Chevrolet Malibu (admit it, it did not help your image and did not sell nearly as well as your Impala that received no award)
1993 Ford Probe GT
1982 AMC/Renault Alliance (dissolved in 1987)
1976 Dodge Aspen/Plymouth Volare (just about killed Chrysler)
1971 Chevrolet Vega (you know that it was junk)
1960 Chevrolet Corvair (I don't have to explain this one)

Ending point: just because the press likes it doesn't mean that it will be successful. Don't judge a car by the OPINIONS of flawed human beings. Let the customers be the ultimate judge as they are the whos who truly are the ones to cater to.
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Old 10-31-2008, 02:53 PM
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Default RE: Winning in the magazines doesn't equal success

I think you meant autoblog. Anyway, I guess you're point is that you don't want GM to kill chrysler models based on what that article said? In some ways I agree with your points and in others it comes across just as biased as GM would be in the situation.

I did not agree with their choice of the G8 staying over the charger which I think is your main point. Now I would take a G8 over a charger personally, but keeping it and killing the charger would be a poor decision for a lot of reasons. One is simply the Charger name. Ok, it's not the Charger of the 70s but there's recognition there, especially because it's had 5 years to build a reputation. The G8 came in to the market at the wrong time. Had both cars come out in 2005 the G8 might have a better chance. However, it's still more expensive. Even with the V6 option it's around 28k. You can get a Charger with the 3.5 for around 22k. GM could look at this as a situation to eliminate the G8s main competition but I doubt sales would improve much either way.

As far as the Camaro win, I think they got that one right. The Camaro has many of the same benefits as the Charger does vs. the G8. Name recognition for one. And just general recognition, it's been in Transformers(and soon transformers 2) and just overall has been hyped to hell. People know the name Camaro. People think the challenger is the new camaro. And if they know it's not, they think "Charger". Eliminating the challenger also gets rid of some of the Camaro's competition.

So while I think the Charger would be the clear winner on one hand, and the Camaro on the other, that decision doesn't make sense because of platform sharing. It doesn't make sense to stop producing the challenger if it's built at the same plant as the Charger. And it doesn't make sense to kill the G8 since it's on the same platform as the Camaro.

That article wasn't necessarily based on any sort of business sense though, they were just comparing vehicles in direct competition with eachother. I mean what are the chances of Chevy ditching the colorado for the ram. It's not happening. I can't say for sure what GM wants out of this deal, but it's probably just Chrysler's cash. Of course they need 10 billion from the government to merge with Chrysler so they can get their 11billion, so why don't they just exist on their own and ask the goverment for an extra 11b? I'm guessing it all ties into GMAC and cerberus forcing chrysler on GM.

All I know is I need to get a challenger quick.
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Old 11-03-2008, 01:16 PM
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Default RE: Winning in the magazines doesn't equal success

ORIGINAL: Justinec101

I think you meant autoblog. Anyway, I guess you're point is that you don't want GM to kill chrysler models based on what that article said? In some ways I agree with your points and in others it comes across just as biased as GM would be in the situation.

I did not agree with their choice of the G8 staying over the charger which I think is your main point. Now I would take a G8 over a charger personally, but keeping it and killing the charger would be a poor decision for a lot of reasons. One is simply the Charger name. Ok, it's not the Charger of the 70s but there's recognition there, especially because it's had 5 years to build a reputation. The G8 came in to the market at the wrong time. Had both cars come out in 2005 the G8 might have a better chance. However, it's still more expensive. Even with the V6 option it's around 28k. You can get a Charger with the 3.5 for around 22k. GM could look at this as a situation to eliminate the G8s main competition but I doubt sales would improve much either way.

As far as the Camaro win, I think they got that one right. The Camaro has many of the same benefits as the Charger does vs. the G8. Name recognition for one. And just general recognition, it's been in Transformers(and soon transformers 2) and just overall has been hyped to hell. People know the name Camaro. People think the challenger is the new camaro. And if they know it's not, they think "Charger". Eliminating the challenger also gets rid of some of the Camaro's competition.

So while I think the Charger would be the clear winner on one hand, and the Camaro on the other, that decision doesn't make sense because of platform sharing. It doesn't make sense to stop producing the challenger if it's built at the same plant as the Charger. And it doesn't make sense to kill the G8 since it's on the same platform as the Camaro.

That article wasn't necessarily based on any sort of business sense though, they were just comparing vehicles in direct competition with eachother. I mean what are the chances of Chevy ditching the colorado for the ram. It's not happening. I can't say for sure what GM wants out of this deal, but it's probably just Chrysler's cash. Of course they need 10 billion from the government to merge with Chrysler so they can get their 11billion, so why don't they just exist on their own and ask the goverment for an extra 11b? I'm guessing it all ties into GMAC and cerberus forcing chrysler on GM.

All I know is I need to get a challenger quick.
Well, the issue is they are not the only ones who have been saying this. Autoblog can say whatever they want and I honestly don't care, the only thing that worries me is GM might listen to advice like that.

The Charger began in 2006 so it is actually in its third year of production. Having a new model is actually an advantage if it is a good offering which I will agree that the G8 is because the older model can become stale and people want something different. The truth is the G8 hasn't done anywhere near as well as it should. The price tag depends on where you are located. From what I have compared, the price difference isn't all that big. Something else to think about was the name recognition that the Bonneville had, yet the LH cars that all had brand new names took the market from it and it had many advantages over the LH cars by the numbers which magazines make their judgment calls.

The truth is I see room for both the Challenger and Camaro for sure as they do have some distinguishing differences and benefits. The G8 on the other hand, just doesn't seem like it is really needed other than to help the Camaro in the category of economies of scale.

Justin being that I am human and imperfect I'm likely to have biases just like EVERY human being on earth is when they look at something. Explain to me why you perceive my points and what points to be bias so then I can understand what you are getting at. I have given GM credit where it was deserved and criticized them when there were reasons to criticize them with the explanation. I have also done this with Chrysler.
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Old 11-07-2008, 07:58 AM
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Default RE: Winning in the magazines doesn't equal success

I read the same article. Some points:

1. The G8 is supposed to be canned soon.
http://www.edmunds.com/insideline/do...ticleId=134167

2. Pontiac is the red-headed step child of GM, what is its identity? a Merger that would captialize on the brand equity of Dodge would be better overall for the company. A G6 could be rebadged and redesigned as an Avenger or stratus, the calber/vibe could be combined, and GM could considering using some of the G8 tech in the Charger. What about making all 3-4 (challenger Camaro Charger G8) from the same or at at least similar platform?

3. I would like to see a chrysler work with Cadillac or even Saturn on their interiors.

4. I also agree that they need both the Challenger and Camaro, but I think they fear canniblization; they need to position one as upmarket and the other as a direct competitior to the new Mustang (which should be released this week) The camaro appears to have already taken the upmarket route.

5.I have fears that GM would just take Chryslers tech and spit everything else out if a merger is worked out.

6. The truck idea is interesting but I wonder how the bowtie faithful will take it.

On a another note CNN they said that GM has just enough money to make it through the year, lost 2.5 billion last quarter.




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Old 11-07-2008, 09:13 AM
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Default RE: Winning in the magazines doesn't equal success

The G8 being canned was just a rumor. However, there is no plan on replacing it once they finish the run of that platform, which isn't for another 3-4 years.
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Old 11-07-2008, 03:00 PM
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Default RE: Winning in the magazines doesn't equal success

Good to know Justin, thanks for the info, still I dont think I have seen one on the road. I have seen a blue one sitting out on the nearest GM dealer in my area. But I see as almost as many Chargers as Mustangs.
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Old 11-07-2008, 05:21 PM
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Default RE: Winning in the magazines doesn't

I've only seen one on the road. Of course I've only seen one challenger on the road too. . . They are advertising G8s for $23,500 in the paper today. I think even the cheapest one has an MSRP of around 27k.
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