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GM's Real Problem

|Includes: General Motors Company (GM)

 I’ll tell you what GM’s problem is. My dad was a lifetime GM customer, religiously  buying a new Oldsmobile every five years. Once he even flew to Detroit for a factory tour and drove his new prize home. Thirty years ago I told him he was doing GM no favors by buying their cars, and the only way to force them to improve a tragically deteriorating product was to buy better made German and Japanese vehicles. This was right after the State of California forced auto makers to install seatbelts on new cars. Airbags and ABS brake systems were still years away. His response, “I didn’t fight the Japanese for four years so I could buy their cars.” (He was a Marine). GM’s problem is that my Dad passed away seven years ago. Of the original 17 million WWII veterans, 1,500 a day are dying, and there are only 1.5 million left. All of them loved Detroit because it built great Jeeps, Sherman tanks, and half tracks that brought them home from harm’s way. Their kids prefer German, Japanese, Italian, Korean, and soon, Chinese and Indian vehicles. It is no coincidence that GM’s problems really accelerated with the passing of the “greatest generation.” During the last 35 years, when Japan’s share of the US car market climbed from 1% to 40%, I begged GM to mend their ways and build a quality, price competitive product that Americans wanted to buy. They answer was always the same: “Nobody can tell GM how to build cars.” Maybe someone should tell them.