Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Of Mendicants, Procrastinators, and Government

I drove a Pinto through most of college and law school. Back in the days of "odds and evens," when we baby boomers could not afford thirsty cars and gas was close to rationed. (How quickly we forget) Once, just after "filling up," I even got siphoned off. Being the neophyte driver that I was, I had several accidents, including a rear ender at the location of the gas tank and one that "totaled" the automobile on paper. Both close to home, not on my three year, thirty-five miles one way, commute on the way to becoming an attorney. Despite my car driving klutziness, my Pinto never blew up. Point taken for all those currently fear mongering against the return of compact and subcompact vehicles. As the primary mode of transportation in Europe, they've worked out just fine on the Autobahns for years. Better to put the cell phone down and keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road as a safety measure.

Fast forward to 2007. I bought a Chevrolet Aveo, 34 mpg, $10,000, spicy orange. What is that, you ask? The most fun driving I have had since the '70s; just yesterday a stranger approached me in a shopping center parking lot and commented that my "pumpkin" was a "happy car." But GM doesn't advertise this potential jewel in its crown (go figure) - I accidentally found it online - so no one knows about its foolishly best kept "secret." Why is that? Was the company waiting for government guidance such as the recent uniform fleet and category standards for 2016? Did its leadership really think they could continue to ram those oversized, difficult to maneuver, gas guzzling behemoths down our throat just because they wanted to make them? Or were they betting on the overpriced, overhyped and overdue Volt, which in the current economic climate is sure to fail? Why be a market maker in your industry right now when you can be a corporate flop and get bailed out? One argument among many as to why unbridled free commerce is sure to run amok and why the company, or at least parts of it, should be allowed to finally fail.

"Dear Karen,

For nearly 10 decades, Chevrolet has strived to earn the honor of "America's Brand." Tens of millions of customers just like you have trusted us to serve their transportation needs...and we value that confidence. That is why I am writing to you today. As everyone knows, these are turbulent times. The daily surge of headlines about the automotive industry can get discouraging. But I wanted to be certain that you know one very important fact:
Chevrolet is focused on being your car company...committed to fulfilling your transportation needs in sales and service...both now and in the future.

I've had the honor of leading this Chevrolet team for more than four years...and I can assure you that our people and our dealers are committed to your complete satisfaction with your Chevy ownership experience.

We cherish our proud 98-year history. But more important, we look forward to our exciting future. And we've already begun reinventing Chevrolet to serve your needs more effectively than ever. For example, no one offers more models with 30 MPG highway or better than Chevy.¹ And right now, we are reengineering our showroom — with cars like our award-winning Malibu...with America's Best Truck, Silverado...with the newest star in family vehicles, the 8-passenger Traverse...and with the 21st century sports car, Camaro.²

Our 2010 Equinox will head to your local Chevy dealer this summer. And two more exciting products are scheduled to begin production next year — first is the awesome new Cruze, our new entry in the Compact Car segment, providing surprising cargo capacity and comfortable seating for five. Then we will begin production of the Chevy Volt, the world's first Extended-Range Electric Vehicle. Volt is tomorrow's hope for an energy-challenged world...and the embodiment of the new Chevrolet. And all these new products are just the beginning!

As a valued member of the Chevy family, I hope you can see that you're part of a rich history and an exciting future. And we deeply appreciate your business. I'll stay in touch on all the happenings at Chevrolet. In the meantime, if you have questions, please don't hesitate to contact Chevy Customer Service at cac@chevrolet.com.

Above all — thanks for letting us be such an important part of your life. And we look forward to celebrating our centennial with you in 2011.

Sincerely,

Ed Peper
North America Vice President, Chevrolet"


The Aveo is still a footnote, go figure why GM is headed to bankruptcy


Karen Ann DeLuca