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A simple question, one with a complex answer, but I invite simple ones for the present discussion:

What is wrong with GM and Ford?

I ask this because even as GM lays off workers, Toyota hires workers and builds plants in the US. It isn't clear what the net result in jobs is but suppose it it a wash.

GM and Toyota profits head to different shores, but probably to many of the same sharholders (individual and institutional), so that isn't a discriminator.

So the not-so-rhetorical question is, what does it matter? If teh same people make the same money in the same line of work... what's the diff?

Some thoughts... they make different cars? does that mean the Japanese cars are designed better, even when manufactured by the same workers?

Does it mean the Japanese factories have some sort of economic advantage? Benefits and retirement funds come to mind... are they comparable in the US, or do US GM plants have more expenses than Japanese US plants?

What else is different???

This puzzles me. Pride makes me root for GM and Ford, even as I cringe at their poor lineup and quality. What will it take to make them winners?
 

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The american manufacturers are playing catch up again.

The whole reason we are talking here is because of the technical innovation of Toyota. They did it before and they are doing it again. GM and Ford have to make changes in the products they make.

Will they fold? No. Will they be smaller in the future? Probably.

There are lots of factors at work here. Not the least of which is that the US is now an information age economy and not an industrial economy. The rest for the world has caught up or surpassed us in many areas of manufacturing.

That is not a bad thing for our country. Just a change. Change is scary. Sometimes business fail though no fault of their own. Howerver GM and Ford need to stop talking about marketing and get into innovation.

GM is working hard on developing Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology. If that pans out and they have Hydrogen powered consumer cars on the road by 2010 as they hope, they there will be a big shift toward GM.
 

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> If that pans out and they have Hydrogen powered consumer cars on the road by 2010 as they hope, they there will be a big shift toward GM

Why would a consumer want to buy a fuel-cell vehicle?

I'm not being sarcastic. I quite literally want to know what benefit we will get from shifting to that technology.

So far, the purpose of hydrogen still has not been made clear. Overall emissions are higher. Efficiency is lower. Cost is obscence. Reliablity is a unknown. Range is limited. Interior space compromised. Weight is increased. Sub-Zero operation is not available. And there is no where to buy hydrogen.
 

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> If that pans out and they have Hydrogen powered consumer cars on the road by 2010 as they hope, they there will be a big shift toward GM

Why would a consumer want to buy a fuel-cell vehicle?

I'm not being sarcastic. I quite literally want to know what benefit we will get from shifting to that technology.

So far, the purpose of hydrogen still has not been made clear. Overall emissions are higher. Efficiency is lower. Cost is obscence. Reliablity is a unknown. Range is limited. Interior space compromised. Weight is increased. Sub-Zero operation is not available. And there is no where to buy hydrogen.
 

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Who cares about stockholders?

If Toyota opens yet another plant to build more cars here they are going to employ workers. That means Toyota will be returning money to our economy through the wages paid to its workers.

Toyota is already tooling up a hybrid Camry plant in Kentucky.

If they eventually build a Prius Plant in California or a Hybrid truck plant in Texas or a hybrid matrix plant somewhere....they'll need to hire workers. Putting money into the hands of American workers is more effective than putting money into the hands of stockholders.
 

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Hydrogen has the potential to make us independent of our oil economy. Today, it doesn't pencil out economically. But in the future of $100/barrel oil, it may.

Long-term, I'm betting on power plants using fusion nuclear, making all the cheap water and hydrogen our economy needs. But I'll probably have to wait 30-50 years for that.

Oil WILL end. What will follow? Gas-electric hybrids extend that day, but don't eliminate it.
 

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Here is the thing; GM is hampered not only be being a rather low-tech manufacturer in the information age, but they are hindered by the overhead of old infrastructure, old concepts of human resources, design by committee, and having terribly long development times for new platforms and technologies.

Let's take this one at a time. GM is a big employer. They are a mulit-billion dollar operation with 10s of thousands of employees. 10 years ago, 20 years ago, they needed all of these employees to make their product, but a combination of automation and reduced demand makes all those employees unnecessary. GM has also been working real hard to modernize their facilities. They have been, and continue to make vehicles in plants which are beyond reasonable use. These are plants dating back to WWII or older.

On top of that each one of those employees costs more to hire because of costs associated with union labor. Let's put it this way, some of the best compensated retail workers in the U.S. are working for Nordstrom. Ever been in a Nordstrom? If not you are missing something. Quality products, that are usually fashion forward at premium prices. 10 or more years ago most Nordstrom stores were unionized. Starting about 10 years ago stores gradually voted the union out. Why? Because Nordstrom was providing benefits and compensation far beyond what the union would ever ask for. As such the union had lost its usefulness. Is that the case in American auto manufactuing. I'm not sure, but I don't think the unions are looking at the big picture of keeping the employer solvent and operating to keep people employed. Most unions have the flawed thinking that they can continue to press employers for more pay and benefits and it will have no impact on that organizations ability to aford employees. It has a direct effect which usually leads to further automation and layoffs.

It takes Ford about 18 months to bring a vehicle to market. Less time if the concept car you see at an auto show is basically the final design, with some smoothing out to be done in the remaining months to production. GM takes about 4 years to get a car to market. This means that GM is less able to survey changing market issues and make quick adjustments to product offerings as compared to their competition. GM also lacks vision. They see a year ahead, maybe 2, their competition, including Ford are usualy looking 4 or 5 years ahead. Toyota was looking nearly 15 years ahead when they started designing the Prius. The farther ahead you look, the more likley that you will be there in the future with the correct product vs. dated products or unpopular products.

Will GM die, no. Will Ford die, no. Both will change. Ford has a lot of light at the end of their tunnel. GM has never had much light at the end of their tunnel.
 

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We are even starting to lose out in the information age, as many tech positions are shifting overseas due to cheap, reliable, highspeed, worldwide communictions, mostly using the internet.

As for hydrogen, how are we going to produce the hydrogen that is supposed to replace hydrocarbons?
 

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U.S. automakers must be using the same intelligence outfits that our present administration is using. The guys that have proved there are weapons of mass destruction and the American car buyer is still dying to upgrade into a new SUV or pick-up truck. So convincing that even Toyota makes more SUV's and mini-vans than they do hybrids.
What happens when the U.S. manufactures take a "hit." The whole aftermarket industry goes with it. A hefty 80% of the products at Pep Boys, NAPA, and Auto Union are for American products.
I'm sure the new Japanese factories being made in the U.S. are paying the same wages and benefits as GM except they are starting at the bottom of the scale and their retirement expenses are presently negligable. American automotive employees are in the 25/30 year range for payscale and benefits.
Before all American industry was de-regulated by a wise Congress in the past years it is true that trade unions with the governments strong approval negotiated labor contracts providing medical and retirement benefits to their employees. so that the government wouldn't be obligated. Now with the advent of de-regulation all the older American companies are forced to compete with "start-ups" bottom of the wage scale and low benefit obligations. (Airline, Auto, Trucking ect:)
They just can't hack it on the uneven playing field. Sure you want that cheap bus fare ticket on "Jet Blue" (a great service) but there goes United, US Air, Delta, TWA and all the rest and with them their retirement obligations being taken over by the government retirement benefit insurance dept. that is already in a deep hole which would be considered bankrupt except it's government.
Automobile quality? You better go take another look. Toyota's Prius is top of the art advanced engineering and I purchased mine because of that but better made than a GM product? It in my opinion, not even close. If you can be completely honest, take a look at the hinges in your hatchback and compare them with the hinges in any GM car. Sure, those in the Prius are more than sufficient to do the job but "quaility" they look just like the hinges on my screen door.
Even the Chevy Malibu sedan has twice the quaility, five times the options available and comes in $2,000 less than the Prius.
Only thing missing is the milage and now that the shoe has dropped the U.S. manufacturers will soon be in the hybrid market. And when they do it will be with both feet and we will find several million on the highways more than enough to make a real difference and not just a 180,000 token.
And waynebruce, if you don't think the fate of the free world rests on the American auto industry you must be working at "McDonalds.'
 

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Re: Who cares about stockholders?

Godiva said:
If Toyota opens yet another plant to build more cars here they are going to employ workers. That means Toyota will be returning money to our economy through the wages paid to its workers.

Toyota is already tooling up a hybrid Camry plant in Kentucky.

If they eventually build a Prius Plant in California or a Hybrid truck plant in Texas or a hybrid matrix plant somewhere....they'll need to hire workers. Putting money into the hands of American workers is more effective than putting money into the hands of stockholders.
Personally, I refuse to buy a car that is built in North America. The quality of workmanship sucks. I bought a Ford and took it back to the dealer to correct manufacturing defects; it took them six weeks to get everything corrected. Next I bought a foreign brand car built in these United States - it also was a piece of junk. Since restricting my choices to vehicles that are physically built in either Sweden, Germany, or Japan, I haven't had any problems, due to manufacturing. Dealer maintenance is another story
 

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Re: ELECTROLISIS

rmarchena said:
We are going to get it by ELECTROLISIS, to produce it HOMEMADE.
Hair removal? Had I only known that depilatories created hydrogen... The money I'd have made!! :?
 

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I drove an American made Corolla (Fremont at the NUMMI plant) for nearly 200K miles and the only items that failed were the radiator tank and the resistor for the ventilation fan switch. California workers in a high-cost state, yet it was competitively priced and of the highest reliability.

I can only conclude that design had a lot to do with it. A good design is easier to build correctly, regardless of the geography of the plant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
KT Phil, the problem is that they make a crappy product. They design and build crap and have for generations.

John 17, I agree, I don't see hydrogen going far. It just isn't there. Not by 2010 at least. To many limitations, not enough benefit.

All, GM at one point held a 60% market share in this country -- 60%. They should have been able to bury their competition. They could hire the best people, negotiate the best supplier contracts, so they could offer the best product at the best price. And in that case, continued to increase market share. They could have way undercut everbody.

rmarchena, please get a dictionary, at this point, I'll pay for it

hyperion, if you go into a pep boys and such lately they have really shifted to tap the import tuner market. While they still offer more parts for GM cars than Toyota ones, that is for the simple reason that even when you have a 50/50 split on the road of "import" to "domestic" you will still sell more "domestic" car parts. For the simple matter of they need more repairs. Simple really. They won't stock a door handle for a Civic of which there are hundreds of thousands of on the road, because the market is small, they don't break. But a ford handle, they break all the time, so there is a market.
for the employyee base Honda and Toyota have had manufacturing in the US since the 80's. Surely they have retirees.
For quality no indepent source agrees with you. JD power, Intellichoice and Consumer Reports all agree that Toyota is way ahead on short term and long term quality. WAY WAY AHEAD. Just because a part is thicker and heavier, doesn't make it better. Sometimes it makes it worse, since everything else has to be built to accomodate. A little time in thoughtful design and proper engineering is much more valuable. My 240,000 Camry, never had a hinge fail and that is a lot of door closes and openings. It went thru a couple of New York winters, and then a few CA summers. It never had a repair until 180,000 miles. Nothing but consumables (is a timing belt a consumable if it is changed before repair is needed?). We used tires, oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid, filters, and a battery or two that was it. At that point a knock sensor went bad. By the time we sold it the only other repairs were two electric window motors. It was still on its original starter and transmission. No work to the engine was ever needed and it didn't smoke or use up any oil. Three repairs in close to 240,000 miles. The knock sensor was the only one that required a tow. Well it was drivable but didn't sound right, so I had it towed to be safe, wouldn't have harmed it to drive it to the shop. Just wasn't making its normal power. No "American" car I have seen can do that. I have friends and family with American cars. There is always this or that. At 100,000 miles the car is crap and ready for the junkyard. Unless it has been seriously babied.
The Malibu, has twice the quality based on what? what independant source would say that? It comes in less because they can't give them away. If that statement were true, there would be a waiting list for it. As far as I know there isn't. Twice the quality, five times the options for less money -- sign me up. I would buy one tommorow. They couldn't build them fast enough. The truth is, it can't compete on the world stage. The only place it can is in middle America. Where there is some seriously outdated sterotypes and generalizations. The malibu will go tru a few redesigns, then be dropped as a nameplate once people associate it with crap. As opposed to the Civic nameplate, when did that first come in, the late 70's? Accord? Tercel? Camry? as opposed to what -- the Taurus? Cavalier? Modeo? Festiva? Ka? Escort? Regal?

Romad, you must have gotten a lemon. My Camry was built in KY, my 180,000 mile Civic was built in OH.

All the design and company philosphy is more important than the location of corporate.

I got more, but dinner calls

Spike
 

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And, where are we to get the energy to split water to hydrogen and oxygen?
There's a hole in the bucket, Uria, Uria, a hole in the bucket, Uria, a hole.

Let's talk about my GM Saturn SL2. I'll admit, on a whole, it was a fine car. Had a vibration resonance at about 52MPH, which the dealer said was normal (?). At about 90K, the rear passenger door window regulator broke a plastic bushing. The part cost me $10 (though it probably cost less than $1 to make, far less), and a few months later, the driver side broke while my friend had my car while I was on vacation. GM knew the problem, but did they re-engineer it so it wouldn't break? No, instead they provided the part as a separate item rather than me having to get a new regulator.
If anyone needs that bushing, I have a spare as the car was totaled before I could install it for the driver side.
 

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DanMan32 said:
And, where are we to get the energy to split water to hydrogen and oxygen?
There's a hole in the bucket, Uria, Uria, a hole in the bucket, Uria, a hole.
Hmmm... I always sang that "dear Liza, dear Liza..."
 
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