GM Again…

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The auto bailout plan is for GM, Chrysler and Ford.  Chrysler has made some efforts, and Ford actually has a viable business plan.  But GM is truly headed by a bunch of nitwits, with the chief nitwit being a global warming denier.  The Volt may sound interesting, but it exactly follows another GM fiasco of 20 years ago – the “Factory of the Future”  And no one is talking about helping out Tesla, a real innovator, a company that has seen the way technology is heading and has decided to jump ahead of it.  I’m not saying the Big Three could be Tesla, they are different animals, but to throw a lifeline to GM management while throwing an anchor to Tesla is moronic.

So what does the Volt have in common with the Factory of the Future? Someone in management at GM latches on to a “savior” technology and starts riding it.  The other management don’t want to hear it, because they believe what they are doing is just fine and surround themselves with blowhards who tell them what they want to hear.  The Cassandra who is championing the new technology ratchets up the hype, trying to convince everyone else.  They get money for studies and senior management sees that it brings good press and attention from the board.  A real crisis hits and they hastily bet the farm on this new technology.  Rather than a sensible, steady work, steady rewards plan (think Toyota, Honda, or NASA during the moon launch), they go for the masterwork in one giant leap.  Costs mount, technological difficulties become overwhelming, and expectations are ratcheted down in proportion to the amount of delay.  It “launches” as a shell of what was promised, a few executives get pushed into early retirement, and everyone else starts waving and pointing at the new shiny thing.”

With Volt, we are at the “launching as a shell of what was promised” – it will cost $50-60K rather than $25K as orginally planned.  The prototype styling was incredible, the delivered version looks like another GM blob-0-matic.  And executives are downplaying the acceleration and handling.

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