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Fastlane: Webchat: Troy Clarke Answers Your Questions

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Please join Troy Clarke, GM North America President, right here on FastLane this Friday, June 19 at 10 a.m. Eastern Time for a one-hour live chat to address questions about GM. He will take as many questions as he can. Looking forward to hearing from you. – Tom Pyden,VP, GM North America Communications

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He is a great guy. Let us ask him tons of questions tomorrow. If you want we can prepare a list of questions to ask him here.

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These guys certainly have testicular fortitude to want to meet the public. There are so many clueless wackos out there who'd love a chance to ruin such an event.

I would ask about the Delta Buick and Cruze, for example, will there be more than just one sedate sedan bodystyle. I would ask about an Epsilon Regal... will it really be coming to America, and can we expect an AWD coupe version similar to the Opel concept coupe. I would ask about affordable RWD cars beyond Camaro for Chevrolet, and a RWD flagship for Buick. I would ask about a CTS hardtop convertible to fill the void left by the XLR, and some hint on Cadillac's future large sedan plans, including drivetrain orientation... it had better be RWD. I might even ask about a pickup truck smaller than GMT355, and, speaking of, perhaps future plans for a GMT355 replacement. Oh, and one more thing... a two door Theta for Chevy and/or GMC would be nice.

In other words... do they have a solid future product plan, or is everything in a shambles for the foreseeable future. Product MUST be everything to The New GM, and they have a lot of holes to fill, imo.

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Good questions, ocnblu! I especially second the ones dealing with GM's small trucks (GMT-355 replacement and possible compact pickups) and hopefully two-door variants of the Chevy & GMC Theta.

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Brainstorming mode. Ignore grammatical errors. :)

  1. Future of GM Diesel powertrains in USA.
  2. What cars GM can expect to export from NA.
  3. With crosstown rivals overstepping the GMT 900's with better and newer products, what steps is GM going to take to keep its spectacular platform running strong.
  4. How soon can you see Voltech proliferating into other brands/ cars?
  5. What is the status of BAS II?
  6. Will delta Buick and Chevrolet, have more than just one bodystyle in USA.
  7. Is Epsilon Regal... coming to America, and can we expect an AWD coupe version similar to the Opel concept coupe.
  8. Back at the Miami Autoshow in 2007 you had mentioned about affordable RWD cars beyond Camaro for Chevrolet, and a RWD for Buick along with a smaller Caddy as Mr. Lutz further added, is the development still underway for such a platform? With Toyota stepping in with a RWD platform we hope GM does not play catchup.
  9. Will a CTS hardtop convertible fill the void left by the XLR,
  10. Are there any plans for Cadillac's large sedan, including drivetrain orientation... it had better be RWD.
  11. Even during the slow truck sales GMT355 have garnered close to 200,000 sales annually. Small construction/business owners looking to hall a lot of stuff and tow a little along with convinience have been left in a quandry because of lack of Astro van. Can we see a small BOF platform comprising of truck, SUV and a van in the near future?
  12. Will there be a two door Theta for Chevy and/or GMC.
  13. With Ford pushing on force induction - does GM have any plans to do the same?
  14. Will V8's get SIDI and reduced displacement anytime soon?
  15. What does GM have in store for die hard GM fan enthusiasts who feel betrayed as the products they dreamt of got thinner and rarer?
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[*]Future of GM Diesel powertrains in USA.

Please ask that. I'd really like to know if we'll be seeing the 4.5L, and 2.9L ever. :(

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I got the last question in!

"Troy Clarke: Frank,

The good news for Buick is that it is one of our core brands and so will get a due amount of our attention in terms of entries, cadence of entries, and effective promotion to build the brand. Best to take it step at a time so right now we are focused on the launch of the new Lacrosse. Dynamite product. Continues the renaissance of Buick that began with the Enclave. We will get this one right and you can take it to the bank that we will do that on every new Buick. I will tell you that you will be pleasantly surprised at the product line up we have for the new Buick. It will go places product wise we haven't gone with Buick before.

Thanks "

This sounds good, but I wish GM would speed up the transformation of Buick. Hopefully it will get a "due amount of our attention" instead of just fresh sheet metal over old designs.

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Excerpts of Troy Clarke's Web-chat.

10:02 Tom Pyden: We will begin in a few moments - thanks for your questions - Troy will get to them quickly - thanks for joining us today!

10:04 Troy Clarke: Hello all , I am sorry I am a few minutes late. Ready to go, how about you?

10:05 [Comment From Guest]

Hi Troy, Fritz recently stated that every vehicle we launch from here on out needs to be a market winner. What are the metrics we are using to track whether a product is winning in the market?

10:08 Troy Clarke: Great question and one that I am glad to comment on. In years past I think we can be rightfully criticized for only thinking that winning means market share. In the new GM winning starts with the customer. I would rather have 100 really raging fans than thousands of people who buy a product because its only on sale. So things like customer satisfaction and resale value, a good indicator, would be metrics you could point to.

10:08 [Comment From Nate]

Will GM change its warranty to make the dealer experience better?

10:11 Troy Clarke: Another good question. We already have the best overall warranty in the auto industry but probably haven't done a good job letting folks know about it. I think as our financial fortunes went down over the last year we ran out of money to promote it. That said, I think its fair to ask, can we execute our warranty better through our dealers. I know that can be a frustrating experience for some. To that I say, yes! Many dealer around the country are excellent at administering warranty and actually create satisfied customers. Part of resizing our dealer network is about improving the performance of all dealers to that level of performance.

10:12 [Comment From Katie Merx]

Good morning. Can you tell us where you are in the process of selecting the site for the future small car? can we expect a decision next week? the following week? have you narrowed it down to two from three? If so, which two? Thank you

10:14 Troy Clarke: Hello Katie,

With regard to the future small car plant, there is a lot of interest. As you may know we just received the state proposals this week. We are going through them now with some clarifying communication back and forth between us and the states. All three sites are still in the running and we are still on track to have a selection by the end of the month. So, stay tuned. Thanks

10:14 [Comment From Chris]

One future focus area has been taking more risk. How will we manage the risks and gauge what's the right amount of risk to take?

10:19 Troy Clarke: Chris,

Sounds like you an insider on this one. Fritz has initiated some effort on the appropriate culture for the new GM. Risk taking is one of the cultural elements that is very important to him. I have been priviledged to be part of some of the discussions. Risk taking is one that is easy to say but the only way to really do it, is to live it. We need to lead by example from the top on this one and I think you may already see some of that in the plan we are now implementing. Truthfully we are changing things faster than I seen in my entire career. So fast that I will admit it made me nervous at first. What if we make a mistake? But the fact is we aren't making that many mistakes and we are becoming accustomed to the new pace. Frankly its exhilirating. Now the challenge is to share this with the entire organization. I guarantee, you will love it.

10:19 [Comment From Kelly]

Is this chat room really live and are you avoiding questions that do not put GM in a good light?

10:20 Troy Clarke: Kelly,

Its as real as it gets and I am typing as fast as I can which is inadequate. But, do you have a question that I can answer for you?

Thanks

10:22 [Comment From Kathy]

Boy, where do I begin. My husband is a 3rd generation dealer and their company has been with GM for over 85 years. They received the wind down agreement in the 2nd phase without warning or reason for termination. They are being unfairly portrayed as a dealer that is not profitable and did not meet their scores when they have Exceeded the items that were listed as items for termination under sworne testimony by Mr. Henderson. We have been unable to obtain a straight answer as to why they were specfically terminated since they met all the criteria listed (DPS score less than 70. Our score has never been less than 70 (2008 score = 98). -Annual Sales below 50. Our sales have never been below 70. -Our Average Sales Effectiveness for past 3 years = 144. -We have always maintained sufficient working capital and have Never been in an unprofitable position.) The only answer we've received is Cadillac is a different ballgame. This is not acceptable. They are unable to order 2010 vehicles (although the zone manager stated he could but he would have to get back with them - he has not) they do not know what to tell long standing customers that are coming up on their lease where to go since it's all supposed to be kept confidential. Since customers are most important, what do you suggest they do?

10:23 Troy Clarke: Kathy,

Can you send me your email address and I will reach out to you personally on your item? Just send it to me or post it to me and I will write it down.

Thanks

10:23 [Comment From Kelly Rinaldi]

Why doyou only replace a part that has an extended warranty based on a computer code that when this part is faulty in any means does damage to an engine such as fuel injectors?

10:25 Troy Clarke: Kelly,

I just glanced through the 5 or so posts that you have made. Since you have sent me your case number I will look into it. You can send me your email address or we can get your contact info. off of the case file to reach back out to you.

Thanks

10:26 [Comment From Lyle Dennis, GM-Volt.com]

What are some possible options under consideration for GMs involvement in NUMMI, and is GM considering licensing the synergy drive hybrid system from Toyota?

10:28 Troy Clarke: Lyle,

With regard to Nummi we are still in discussions with Toyota on the JV and potential products. We are not in current discussions with Toyota on licensing their synergy drive. I would point out that we are working like crazy on our own hybrid technology. Also, we are really moving fast on the Volt of which you are well aware. By the way, thanks for your support.

10:28 [Comment From Kathy]

How can I send it to you without posting it to the general population?

10:28 Troy Clarke: Kathy,

Send your info. to wendy.clark@gm.com

Thanks

10:29 [Comment From CheersAndGears.com]

Would it be possible to involve the public in more of to product development process? You have a number of GM based websites with extremely dedicated and knowledgeable fans who can give you "outsider" views of new products... basically a free focus group of people passionate about GM. We know that Ford took some of our suggestions on the development of the current Lincoln Navigator. I hope GM would be able to do the same.

10:33 Troy Clarke: Dear Cheers (rhymes)

We try to involve the public in the product development process. We do this in a couple ways. We have blind clinics and branded clinics, which most companies do. I also do 'garge' visits. We go visit target customers in their homes and garages if they let us to talk about what they like about their current and many times competitive products face to face. Its one thing to say what would you like with regard to freatures its another to understand the relationship between the car and its owner. Its a real up close and personal type thing. Sometimes we don't like what they tell us but it makes our new vehicles just that much better.

Thanks

10:33 [Comment From Kelly]

Troy I sent you the case number not this Kathy who responded. Is this who we send our information to?

10:34 Troy Clarke: Kelly,

Thanks for hanging in there with us. We really want to keep you. Yes, you can send the case number to the email that I noted.

10:34 [Comment From Jody DeVere - AskPatty]

Good morning Troy - Can you give me an update on the sale of Saturn? Will Jill Ladjziak be part of the management team for Saturn with Penske?

10:37 Troy Clarke: Hello Jody,

Nice to hear from you. Now I really feel important. The sale of Saturn is proceeding. The Penske team is putting together their plans for the new org. I would expect some leadership will be offered the opportunity to become part of the new org. They are the ones who know the secret sauce. Its kind of a big deal so we need to let that part of the discussions play out and anticipate some announcements around the time that the deal closes. Stay tuned and take care.

10:37 [Comment From Tim]

Don't you feel we are missing business with the biggest rebates only being offered to previous Gm owners? Isn't this the time to really offer great deals ton anyone wanting to uy a Gm product regardless of what they own now?

10:43 Troy Clarke: Tim,

I think you are referencing the letter that we sent out with the owner appreciation discount. You make a good point but the thought was that the highest risk we faced was the potential loss of people who have been loyal to GM. These are folks that have chosen us for all the right reasons and I thought it important to tell them that we will get through the bankruptcy and emerge as an even better company. A lot of people in America drive our products and their loyalty is critical. Like it or not, they are in this together with us and we appreciate them. Lastly, we didn't want to create the image of a fire sale. Our products stand on their own merit and there are already great deals in the market. GM products already represent one of the best buys in the market. You know what, it seems to be working. June is shaping up to be the best retail month of the year so far. Thanks to all for your support.

10:43 [Comment From Ron Hunter]

i am upset with the new GM(Government Motors). I will never buy GM again. Probably Ford.

10:46 Troy Clarke: Ron,

In all honesty the government support has been helpful in giving us a second chance. Now we need to convince customers to do the same. I would ask you as sincerely as I know how to visit our dealers and see for yourself our great products. I believe you will be surprised if not delighted at what we offer. Here's hoping that you will give us that opportunity.

Thanks

10:47 [Comment From Kelly, Steve, Jaz, Aspen]

I'm impressed and appreciate you answering our questions but how can we be assured that after this chat is over someone will respond in a timely fashion? It has been two weeks thus far and my sister is still strained a 1000 miles from home.

10:49 Troy Clarke: Kelly, Steve, Jaz ...

I think you may be related to Robin in one of the previous comments. Anyone who sends their case number, even if I don't answer, we will capture it and I will have someone contact you. I, with the help of my team, will track them all to make sure that we respond to your concern. Please feel free to email wendy.clark@gm.com.

Thanks

10:49 [Comment From Steve]

Hey Troy, You know what they say about publicity .... even bad publicity is good. You have a unique opertunity with the eyes of the world on you. You have to come up with a product, Technology, innovation that is cool... an instant game changer.. The camaro is a good Start.... Remember the old 442 with the red line tires??

10:53 Troy Clarke: Steve,

When I read your comment on publicity my first thought was, .. that's for sure! Also, I can't let you date me but I do remember the 442 with the red line tires. I actually preferred the GTO given that I started at PMD. I agree, we need to use innovation to be cool and also recognize that cool may be different today than it was back then. The impact we seek is the same. We have some cool things coming. Can't divulge them all here. But I guarantee, the hits will keep on coming.

Thanks

10:53 [Comment From Nate]

Troy, at 10:33 you mentioned garage visits. What geography do these cover?

10:55 Troy Clarke: Nate,

The garage visits are focused on new products in the pipeline. We do them in various locations for each product. I have participated in them in LA, SF, Atl, DC, Boston, Chi, and even Ann Arbor. A lot of focus in the coastal communities.

Thanks

10:55 [Comment From Frank T]

What are the plans for Buick? Will there be a new full sized model after the current Lucerne? Will there be a small car? What about all the talk going on about the Regal coming to north america?

10:58 Troy Clarke: Frank,

The good news for Buick is that it is one of our core brands and so will get a due amount of our attention in terms of entries, cadence of entries, and effective promotion to build the brand. Best to take it step at a time so right now we are focused on the launch of the new Lacrosse. Dynamite product. Continues the renaissance of Buick that began with the Enclave. We will get this one right and you can take it to the bank that we will do that on every new Buick. I will tell you that you will be pleasantly surprised at the product line up we have for the new Buick. It will go places product wise we haven't gone with Buick before.

Thanks

11:02 Troy Clarke: All,

That's all the time I have for today. Sorry I didn't get to everything but thanks for the interest and participatioh. We have captured all the questions and comments. We will follow up on the ones noted. For everyone else please look to Fastlane.gmblogs.com and I will try to get some more responses up there. I will look forward to more web chats in the future. Some of you know me, if you think this is a good idea let me know and I will dedicate more time to this on my calendar going forward. As we continue to reinvent GM we would appreciate your ongoing support. It means a lot to us and we will not let you down.

Thanks all,

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I am really impressed with the willingness of the "New GM" executives to get out there with the webchats, even with spelling errors, however I still feel as if they don't tell the whole story (like a "good" politician"). I understand the need to hide future information but I do wish they would dig a little deeper when answering the questions.

In the future, it would be nice if they just sent back a specific email to the people who are complaining about their cars/trucks rather than waste valuable time on it during the chat. Maybe they could include a statement about such. Something to the effect of, "If you are needing vehicle assistance, please include your email address"

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I got the last question in!

"Troy Clarke: Frank,

The good news for Buick is that it is one of our core brands and so will get a due amount of our attention in terms of entries, cadence of entries, and effective promotion to build the brand. Best to take it step at a time so right now we are focused on the launch of the new Lacrosse. Dynamite product. Continues the renaissance of Buick that began with the Enclave. We will get this one right and you can take it to the bank that we will do that on every new Buick. I will tell you that you will be pleasantly surprised at the product line up we have for the new Buick. It will go places product wise we haven't gone with Buick before.

Thanks "

This sounds good, but I wish GM would speed up the transformation of Buick. Hopefully it will get a "due amount of our attention" instead of just fresh sheet metal over old designs.

Definite +1!!!!!

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