What's wrong with a GM car?

New management tries to improve the quality and buyer perception of cars as company regroups.

By Kim Peterson Nov 20, 2009 2:21PM
GM logo; Credit: (© Scott Olson/Getty Images)Are GM cars really that bad?

Not enough people like General Motors cars, and the company is determined to find out why. Is it the image? The brand? The quality?

The answers to those questions will be key to the company's success as it rebuilds. GM's new straight-shooting chairman, Edward Whitacre, is pushing executives to focus on improving quality and keeping customers happy, The Wall Street Journal reports.
He's even asked engineers to begin calling people who return GM cars to dealerships. This fall, the company offered a 60-day money-back guarantee to buyers who subsequently changed their minds, and about 200 people returned cars in that time.

What went wrong for those buyers? Whitacre wants to know.

"It's something we haven't done before, and should," said Mark Reuss, an executive at the company.

Wait a minute. In all these years, GM has never asked people why they don't want to buy its cars?

"The reliability piece has been an Achilles' heel during my whole career at GM," Reuss said, according to the Journal. He added that in the past, some engineers wouldn't report problems to management because they feared losing their jobs.

That led to issues down the road as the cars headed to market.

Recently, Consumer Reports published a survey that found GM cars to be less reliable overall than those from Ford (F), Honda (HMC) and Toyota (TM).

That was a blow to the company, particularly because executives thought they had constantly worked to improve quality in the past. Any problems people have with quality are more about perception, the company thought.

At least GM is trying to get to the bottom of the matter by going right to the buyers themselves. As the company tries to pull itself together, it's going to need all the help it can get.

Related reading:

Lighting a fire under GM


Tags: GM
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