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Oracle of Delphi

Source: GM plans more restructuring

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Automotive News

May 29, 2008 - 3:37 am ET

UPDATED: 5/29/08 4:29 p.m. EDT

DETROIT (AP) -- General Motors' top managers are working on additional restructuring measures to deal with a declining U.S. auto market and an accelerated shift from trucks to more fuel efficient vehicles, a person familiar with the plan told The Associated Press late Wednesday.

The person, who requested anonymity because the plan is still being devised, would not give details of what is under discussion by Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner and his top managers.

The source told the AP that GM will furlough entire shifts of workers at some truck factories and may move them to nearby car plants as it restructures to adjust to a rapidly changing U.S. market brought on by $4 per gallon gasoline.

The restructuring, which follows thousands of job cuts over the past three years mainly through buyout and early retirement offers, is to be announced at the company's annual meeting in Wilmington, Delaware, on June 3, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday night.

GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson said he could not comment.

The new steps likely will involve further cost cuts including reduced truck and sport utility vehicle production and a faster rollout of more car and crossover models, similar to what Ford Motor announced last week. Already this week GM announced it would speed up the elimination of one shift each at its Flint and Pontiac pickup truck factories.

Ford on Wednesday confirmed that it is looking at involuntary layoffs of salaried employees, perhaps costing as many as 2,000 workers their jobs.

The Journal quoted GM Director George Fisher as saying that the company must take further steps.

"Obviously these times dictate more actions, and Rick and the team are about doing that," Fisher said in an interview with the newspaper. "Rick and the team are looking at what things can be done and will be done."

GM shares on Tuesday dropped as low as $16.87, their lowest level in nearly 26 years. The automaker's stock closed Wednesday at $17.15, down 27 cents, or 1.6 percent.

The company also has just emerged from a spate of labor problems, with two local union strikes at key factories and a nearly three-month strike at key parts maker American Axle and Manufacturing Holdings.

GM said in a regulatory filing last week that the strikes will cost it a total of $2 billion before taxes in the second quarter.

Fisher told the Journal that GM's board fully supports the company's management team.

Link: http://www.autonews.com/article/20080529/C...299736460/1205/

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So what's going to happen PCS? I've been perousing all the usual suspect car blogs these days, and while I don't feel they offer a 100% definitive look at the general public and their real car buying habits, I'd say they at least give us somewhat of an idea of how the general populous feels about GM - and it's actually not very good. For the most part, your average American who is looking for a car, or thinks they know about cars, thinks GM sucks. I know sales of the smaller, fuel efficient cars have actually increased (thank God for GM), but how in the world is GM going to overcome this growing perception problem? It's your biggest problem - hands down! I can see it every day just driving down the road obviously, but I think only the die hards are the ones that still visit the GM showroom. GM is so low on the totem pole in people's minds, it's actually quite amazing. Blame it on GM, blame it on the media, blame it on Honda and Toyota, blame it on whoever, but whatever the case may be, I think GM's NUMERO UNO priority is changing that perception - and very fast. Product is king - and it's getting better - if not world class in some cases (CTS and Vette) - but you have to convince the guy who only has the Civic or the Corolla on his list to at least go and look at an Astra or a Cobalt - but how?

Edited by gmcbob
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GM's problems all stem from the constant shifting of their game plan and an idiotic focus on single "magic bullet" approaches instead of using their size and brand structure to offer a Variety of approaches to the automobile. Keep this variety in production at all times and shift quantities from one type to another as the market shifts, and you won't keep getting caught flat-footed the way GM always does.

You can't just sell half a dozen versions of a full-size truck and 47 versions of FWD sedans and expect anyone to care.

It's so flipping basic, and they used to do it better than anyone.

What the hell is wrong with these guys?

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If GM came out with a new fuel efficient compact car that was every bit as awesome as the new CTS is in it's respective class, and was marketed correctly (read: really good advertising on TV) - I think that would really help - a lot.

I don't think it would hurt if they even brought over the Corsa as a Saturn and perhaps a Chevy as well. Actually, I can't understand why the Corsa isn't here already - with TV spots on Thursday night during The Office. And billboards on the sides of tall buildings, and people walking up to you on the street with Corsa T Shirts giving away small matchbox models of Corsas with DVD's they can play at home of video of Corsa's driving around - commercials of really hot 20 year old girls driving Corsas airing during the most popular TV shows and during The Daily Show on Comedy Central - (are you getting my point - GM needs to tell the world that they build great fuel efficient cars and should actually sell them in America).

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What should really be focused on is finding, achieving, and maintaining a balance of product as near harmonious as possible. There should not be a bias toward trucks, nor a bias towards cars.

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What should really be focused on is finding, achieving, and maintaining a balance of product as near harmonious as possible. There should not be a bias toward trucks, nor a bias towards cars.

Exactly.

As well as a balance between drivetrain layouts, fuels used, equiptment offered, and Bodystyles!

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So what's going to happen PCS? I've been perousing all the usual suspect car blogs these days, and while I don't feel they offer a 100% definitive look at the general public and their real car buying habits, I'd say they at least give us somewhat of an idea of how the general populous feels about GM - and it's actually not very good. For the most part, your average American who is looking for a car, or thinks they know about cars, thinks GM sucks. I know sales of the smaller, fuel efficient cars have actually increased (thank God for GM), but how in the world is GM going to overcome this growing perception problem? It's your biggest problem - hands down! I can see it every day just driving down the road obviously, but I think only the die hards are the ones that still visit the GM showroom. GM is so low on the totem pole in people's minds, it's actually quite amazing. Blame it on GM, blame it on the media, blame it on Honda and Toyota, blame it on whoever, but whatever the case may be, I think GM's NUMERO UNO priority is changing that perception - and very fast. Product is king - and it's getting better - if not world class in some cases (CTS and Vette) - but you have to convince the guy who only has the Civic or the Corolla on his list to at least go and look at an Astra or a Cobalt - but how?

Mind you I have been out of North America almost a year now, but Friday I returned here for 4 weeks. Since I have been back in the good old USA, I have yet to see/hear a GM ad, on TV, radio, print media or internet. Before people will look at your product, they have to know about your product. GM needs to advertise and come up with some sort of plan that the car buying public will notice. Chrysler had a good idea by offering gasoline at 2.99 for 3 years, that really got peoples attention.

What I think GM needs to do in North America is play up the it's green initiative. With the Chevy Volt coming in 2010, I think that's a natural. Inside GM it's already starting, but they need ramp it up and get the advertising word out to the general public and they need to show people something like what's in this short video ( http://www.gm.com/explore ), but in a much grander scale. We have to out Toyota, Toyota when it comes to what's green, hip, and cool. People like the green initiatives because it makes them feel good about themselves. They feel like they are doing something good for the planet and their fellow man/woman. How much would it cost GM to maybe give a pair of mountain bikes away or plant a tree in the families name if they buy a hybrid, or a flex fuel or very fuel efficient vehicle etc, or free gas for a year based on 12,000 miles driving in a year if you buy a GM Green vehicle. That would get the buzz out there. (IMHO)

The main thing is the advertising in North America, or lack thereof. It's funny, from my experience, the rest of the world, wants a GM vehicle, here it's just the opposite.

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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As well as a balance between drivetrain layouts, fuels used, equiptment offered, and Bodystyles!

:yes:

At GM there should be a car for everyone, with the ability to be tailored to individual tastes, with impeccable design, quality, and innovation. (And as long as the car meets those criteria, media opinion be damned.) Just like it was back in the Sixties, when GM was its most successful. :AH-HA_wink:

To be honest, if anyone believe that GM of the most recent of times is anything like the Glory Years version of GM, you really are sadly mistaken. Sure, the GM we have now is better than it was back in the "hangover" years of the late 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and early 21st century, but it just is not quite up to the level of the GM we had in the mid 1950s, 1960s, and early 1970s.

EDIT: After reading PCS's post, I feel as if my point here is further proven. GM advertised heavily during the years of its Golden Era. You can go to a site like this one and you will first notice that you will find many a GM advertisement from the 1950s to the mid-1970s. Move toward the 1980s section and you notice much fewer GM advertisements. And many ads during GM's Golden Age were memorable as well and featured great illustrations and/or photos. Ones from the 1980s just aren't that great in general. GM ads today are usually very forgetful (the best GM ad of recent times would definitely be the Spy Hunter-themed TV commercial for the G8; it is a step in where GM advertising needs to be headed).

EDIT 2: Let me prove my point to you that GM advertisement then was much better than it is now.

Advertisement for the 1970 Chevelle SS 396:

70chevelless396.jpg

Advertisement for the 1980 Citation X11:

80chevroletcitationx11.jpg

Now, which ad put a big, silly grin on your face and left a better, longer-lasting impression? For me it was the Chevelle ad. The Citation ad, while informational, is just ... boring.

Edited by YellowJacket894
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The Citation (and its X-car siblings) were the beginning of the worst period ever in GM history.

But...

They were advertised massively.

Edit: I love that Chevelle ad.

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The Citation (and its X-car siblings) were the beginning of the worst period ever in GM history.

I will not argue with you there.

But...

They were advertised massively.

That wasn't exactly my point. What I was trying to say was that you had many more GM models being advertised during its Golden Era and not having the focus centered just on a few models, the "money makers," as it was during the 1980s all the way up to today.

And GM also advertised for more than just cars during its Golden Era, as well. It also ran ads for Fisher Body, O.K. Used Cars, etc., etc. The only sort of advertisement GM does outside of cars today would be for OnStar. And that's it. You might see one for GM Goodwrench once in a blue moon. How about at least a few ads focused on E-Flex itself and not the cars that it will be going into? Not that I don't like the cars, to assume that is very asinine, but my point here is that GM advertisement of yesteryear was very broad and far-reaching, memorable and even enjoyable. GM informed the consumer beyond just what was making them money and they were willing to tell their message as often as possible, not just when they felt like it.

1963 Fisher Body ad:

63fisherbody.jpg

1966 Chevelle SS 396 ad; this one is quite clever:

66chevelless.jpg

And GME does advertise for it's used car approval systems, actually, unlike GMNA. For example in most recent issue of Top Gear magazine I have, in the back, there is an ad for Vauxhall's used car approval system.

Edit: I love that Chevelle ad.

:yes:

That is the sort of ad quality I want to see from GM on every car advertisement. Reviving the concept of that ad for the Camaro SS or the Corvette ZR-1 would be excellent.

Edited by YellowJacket894
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Mind you I have been out of North America almost a year now, but Friday I returned here for 4 weeks. Since I have been back in the good old USA, I have yet to see/hear a GM ad, on TV, radio, print media or internet. Before people will look at your product, they have to know about your product. GM needs to advertise and come up with some sort of plan that the car buying public will notice. Chrysler had a good idea by offering gasoline at 2.99 for 3 years, that really got peoples attention.

What I think GM needs to do in North America is play up the it's green initiative. With the Chevy Volt coming in 2010, I think that's a natural. Inside GM it's already starting, but they need ramp it up and get the advertising word out to the general public and they need to show people something like what's in this short video ( http://www.gm.com/explore ), but in a much grander scale. We have to out Toyota, Toyota when it comes to what's green, hip, and cool. People like the green initiatives because it makes them feel good about themselves. They feel like they are doing something good for the planet and their fellow man/woman. How much would it cost GM to maybe give a pair of mountain bikes away or plant a tree in the families name if they buy a hybrid, or a flex fuel or very fuel efficient vehicle etc, or free gas for a year based on 12,000 miles driving in a year if you buy a GM Green vehicle. That would get the buzz out there. (IMHO)

The main thing is the advertising in North America, or lack thereof. It's funny, from my experience, the rest of the world, wants a GM vehicle, here it's just the opposite.

I'd have to agree with that.

I live just miles from GM HQ, but lately I have seen more HONDA ads that I have seen GM ones. That is not good.

I saw an ad for the Aura for the first time SINCE IT CAME OUT. That is not good.

Had I not told a friend about the Aura-he never would have bought it.

They really need more ads..and some eye openers at that.

I think the Caddy ads are witty...that at least is a good start...makes me wish I was doing GM ads....they have to be different...

You only have to look at VW's ads....one remembers those ads....

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GM's problems all stem from the constant shifting of their game plan and an idiotic focus on single "magic bullet" approaches instead of using their size and brand structure to offer a Variety of approaches to the automobile. Keep this variety in production at all times and shift quantities from one type to another as the market shifts, and you won't keep getting caught flat-footed the way GM always does.

You can't just sell half a dozen versions of a full-size truck and 47 versions of FWD sedans and expect anyone to care.

It's so flipping basic, and they used to do it better than anyone.

What the hell is wrong with these guys?

+1

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:yes:

At GM there should be a car for everyone, with the ability to be tailored to individual tastes, with impeccable design, quality, and innovation. (And as long as the car meets those criteria, media opinion be damned.) Just like it was back in the Sixties, when GM was its most successful. :AH-HA_wink:

I agree and, as a lot of us have said for SO LONG, this is where GM's multiple division strategy could really pay off.

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I will not argue with you there.

That wasn't exactly my point. What I was trying to say was that you had many more GM models being advertised during its Golden Era and not having the focus centered just on a few models, the "money makers," as it was during the 1980s all the way up to today.

Exactly... GM INFORMED the consumer instead of reacting to the market. GM made it's own sales because it was a leader in product and marketing.

But now, GM is nothing but a confused monolith with no leadership and no balls.

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Mind you I have been out of North America almost a year now, but Friday I returned here for 4 weeks. Since I have been back in the good old USA, I have yet to see/hear a GM ad, on TV, radio, print media or internet. Before people will look at your product, they have to know about your product. GM needs to advertise and come up with some sort of plan that the car buying public will notice. Chrysler had a good idea by offering gasoline at 2.99 for 3 years, that really got peoples attention.

What I think GM needs to do in North America is play up the it's green initiative. With the Chevy Volt coming in 2010, I think that's a natural. Inside GM it's already starting, but they need ramp it up and get the advertising word out to the general public and they need to show people something like what's in this short video ( http://www.gm.com/explore ), but in a much grander scale. We have to out Toyota, Toyota when it comes to what's green, hip, and cool. People like the green initiatives because it makes them feel good about themselves. They feel like they are doing something good for the planet and their fellow man/woman. How much would it cost GM to maybe give a pair of mountain bikes away or plant a tree in the families name if they buy a hybrid, or a flex fuel or very fuel efficient vehicle etc, or free gas for a year based on 12,000 miles driving in a year if you buy a GM Green vehicle. That would get the buzz out there. (IMHO)

The main thing is the advertising in North America, or lack thereof. It's funny, from my experience, the rest of the world, wants a GM vehicle, here it's just the opposite.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on this PCS. GM does not advertise enough at all - and the advertisements they do have aren't very compelling. Honda has some great commercials that really give you a sense that if you buy one of their products, you're truly buying into a good company. I think GM could really market themselves A LOT better. I know that it's difficult to spread the ad dollars across multiple brands, but why not a compelling GM commercial that highlights technological, "green", style and value across the entire lineup here in the States? I say a good, 1 minute commercial that hits all the brands, essentially saying "Look - we're known for making great trucks and SUVs, but we also make great, fuel efficient cars that are fun to drive, etc, etc" - show the Saturn Astra and the Vue Hybrid driving down the road, show a new Malibu, show the new CTS with it's headlights on in a rainstorm going around an oval track - play inspiring, hip, smart ambient Moby sounding music - try to appeal to a high achieving, young demographic (something I always thought they weren't very clever at doing). It can be done -

As far as balance goes, I'm truly hoping that GM continues to stay the path on Cadillac - and still decides that they need a decent rear drive flagship about the size of a 7 Series. Even at $5/gallon, there's still going to be a market for that, and Caddy still has the name to demand the big bucks if they build it right. I think right now with $4.00 gas and all of the doom and gloom about the economy, that GM (at least in NA) could start acting like my cat Spike when the doorbell rings and he panics - he doesn't know which way to run to get under the nearest piece of furniture - GM strikes me as being schizophrenic like that at times. I could see them panicking so bad that they start re-badging Corsas as Cadillacs and trying to pass them off as "sport sedans" just because they think everything should be small (like they did in the 80s). My point is - GM still needs the big cars, the fast cars and the trucks too, but just not in the volume they have now.

Get the small, compelling 35 - 45 mpg cars out there (from GME) - advertise the hell out of them (cleverly) - give away mtn. bikes, I like that - but give Caddy the flagship it deserves as well as a real good competitor below the CTS - a rear drive 1 Series type with distinctive Caddy styling just might convince me to shell out $500 a month.

Advertise smart. Keep the compelling products coming. But more so - get that advertising machine rolling and hitting on all 8 cylinders pronto (or all 4 cylinders I guess) :AH-HA_wink:

Edited by gmcbob
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my buddy had an X-11. kinda fun car, practical. Hey, think the dorks at GM are planning to rebadge citations or malibu maxxes into saab 9-3's?

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Great posts from PCS, Camino, and Yellowjacket regarding the advertising...I fully agree 100%. I don't understand how the world's largest auto manufacturer cannot produce better ads. Like Ford's old ones (before Farley), the ads were usually banal and focused on things like safety or showing a bunch of kids in a minivan. Nobody wants to look at those things. Those are the kinds of ads where you flip the page and cruise on through the rest of the magazine because nothing about it catches your attention.

GM needs to fire its old advertising agency and get a more modern edge with some of its ads. I think the new Pontiac ones are pretty good...the lighting is great in them and very fitting for Pontiac. The Cadillac ones are good too; very tasteful and portraying a new, upscale image for Cadillac.

What GM needs to do the most is stop throwing up the huge full-page ads of Silverados and Tahoes in Motor Trend, C&D, etc. With the big, played-out "An American Revolution" tag at the top. TRUCKS AND SUVS ARE OUT. Advertising on these vehicles is a waste of money...advertise the new product that gets better gas mileage and give it an eye-catching layout.

"An American Revoultion" is a good theme, but it's been so played out and any creativity that phrase used to have has been lost. Not much about Chevy's current product really speaks of a revolution besides the Corvette, 'Bu, and upcoming Camaro.

GM needs to sit down and peruse through its old ads and see what has been lost. When they realize what they used to be, maybe a spark from within while ignite a new, more confident GM.

Edited by mustang84
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GMs current ads are better than they were say 10 years ago. But in the 60's and 70's GM could make any car even a boring six cylinder Tempest Safari look cool. That is what they need to get back too. And as for the Chevelle ad that is amazing and clever. I don't like all of Pontiac's new ads but some are okay I still like the "We Build Excitement" hell in the late 80's GM made me drool over the 88-91 Bonneville SSE which I want to own someday to put next to my SLE. Need I remind you how boring of a car the SSE was a V6 powered large sedan good looking for the time yes and lots of cool gizmos. The one that sticks with me is the one where it is driving across the Bonneville salt flats and goes into the song... "This place and this car. Get on your Pontiac and ride Pontiac ride. We build excitement Pontiac ride." that was a commercial. I like the new DTS commercials on Caddy's website FYI. Check 'em out they are pretty cool.

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After work yesterday (I love getting out of work at noon on Fridays!) I decided to kill an hour and check out the Astra. Other than a few quirky annoyances (no armrest bugs me) I actually liked the car. I went on a pretty long test drive with the guy, and I came off thinking that it really wasn't a bad ride for an economy car.

So last night I met two friends for a drink (married couple) and brought the Astra brochure with me into the bar- their reaction to the car was kind of shocking. The first shock was "Saturn makes this car??" and the other was , "wow, that actually looks like a cool car". My point is this is a perfect example of how nobody knows about 80% of the cars that GM sells. It's amazing. These are two working professionals (they have a Yukon and an Altima, both of which are getting up there in age and they've both talked about replacing) and neither one of them had a clue as to what the Astra was. Everyone knows what a Volkswagen Golf or Rabbit or GTI is (in this demographic) - but not an Astra. This is one of the more economical cars in their line up, and nobody knows it even exists. How dumb is that?

Incidentally, I'm a little surprised that I liked the Astra (I tested out a silver 5 door XR) as much as I did. I see it getting beat up pretty bad though out in cyberspace, but I still think it's the most compelling small car in the GM lineup here in the States (actually, the Cobalt SS Turbo looks pretty awesome, but I don't think I could see myself buying that). My only major gripes about the car are the lack of an armrest and XM radio from the factory, oh and iPod connector - but the dealer said they could install an AUX adapter for me - and it was a little too slow from a dead stop.

Edited by gmcbob
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The first month that I can go to a Chevy dealership and buy an '09 Camaro, I want to see an updated version of this ad run in all the major car magazines:

69ad5.jpg

chev6869dcamarosscorv.jpg

Maybe something like "40 years later, and it's still true" at the bottom?

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astra is a nice car that needs a hp infusion and some enhancements to creature comforts. its kind of a hidden market gem that is overshadowed by some of the other overall goodness of some market competition.

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astra is a nice car that needs a hp infusion and some enhancements to creature comforts. its kind of a hidden market gem that is overshadowed by some of the other overall goodness of some market competition.

Yeah, it definitely needs more power. I've never owned a car like that, but I have driven plenty of small cars and I was a little disappointed that I had to really push it to get it up onto the highway from the on ramp. I was pretty deep in the go pedal trying to keep up with other cars getting onto the highway. The last vehicle I had that accelerated like that was an older 91 Nissan truck with a 150000 miles on it.

The lack of an armrest is just puzzling to me. I really didn't like that. Seems small, but I do enjoy and occasional weekend road trip to Austin and I drive to Colorado once a year - I think I'd really miss that armrest on those trips.

At first I thought the controls for the cruise control on the turn signal stalk really sucked, but I got used to them and it didn't bug me too much.

Lack of XM radio or an iPod input is a negative too. I know I can get those installed, but I'd feel better if they were just standard on the car.

All of those gripes aside though, there is a market for this car - if people are willing to plop down $20k on a Rabbit, they'd certainly pony up the dough for this car - it's just that GM is so discombobulated these days, they don't know how in the world to reach out and grab those sales away. This car is definitely "cooler" than a Corolla or a Hyuandai or something, and I think if GM were smart, they could get those types of people who would only consider a Toyota or something to really give this car some serious consideration.

Basically the new Cobalt/Volt can't get here fast enough. GM needs to rush that car to market with the same type of urgency they had 3 years ago when they rushed the 900s market. The Cobalt actually sells okay, but think how many more they'll sell when the new one comes out (assuming they market it right).

It's a small car market now, and GM needs these cars to get on Toyota and Honda buyer's shopping lists - the Astra could win people over - they need to market it!

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Yeah, it definitely needs more power. I've never owned a car like that, but I have driven plenty of small cars and I was a little disappointed that I had to really push it to get it up onto the highway from the on ramp. I was pretty deep in the go pedal trying to keep up with other cars getting onto the highway. The last vehicle I had that accelerated like that was an older 91 Nissan truck with a 150000 miles on it.

The lack of an armrest is just puzzling to me. I really didn't like that. Seems small, but I do enjoy and occasional weekend road trip to Austin and I drive to Colorado once a year - I think I'd really miss that armrest on those trips.

At first I thought the controls for the cruise control on the turn signal stalk really sucked, but I got used to them and it didn't bug me too much.

Lack of XM radio or an iPod input is a negative too. I know I can get those installed, but I'd feel better if they were just standard on the car.

All of those gripes aside though, there is a market for this car - if people are willing to plop down $20k on a Rabbit, they'd certainly pony up the dough for this car - it's just that GM is so discombobulated these days, they don't know how in the world to reach out and grab those sales away. This car is definitely "cooler" than a Corolla or a Hyuandai or something, and I think if GM were smart, they could get those types of people who would only consider a Toyota or something to really give this car some serious consideration.

Basically the new Cobalt/Volt can't get here fast enough. GM needs to rush that car to market with the same type of urgency they had 3 years ago when they rushed the 900s market. The Cobalt actually sells okay, but think how many more they'll sell when the new one comes out (assuming they market it right).

It's a small car market now, and GM needs these cars to get on Toyota and Honda buyer's shopping lists - the Astra could win people over - they need to market it!

Saturn is quirky like that, no XM on the Astra, and on the Vue, you can't get a Sunroof. My question is why??? :scratchchin:

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