GM's Elmer Fudd

By Lloyd Graff

The General Motors train is lumbering toward bankruptcy. Does it give you any comfort that Elmer Fudd in pinstripes, otherwise known as Fritz Henderson, is now running the show at GM? Henderson is another GM lifer who has been a successful bureaucrat politician at General Motors—not exactly a guy who looks like the next Lee Iacocca or Steve Jobs.
    What a mess the company has become. Alfred Sloan must be laughing or crying in his grave as he watches jokes like Rick Wagoner and Elmer Fudd, excuse me, Fritz Henderson, fumble toward bankruptcy.
    I felt like retching as I watched GM’s current TV advertising joke, “Put on your rally caps America. It’s time for a comeback.” The ad deftly admonishes the viewers. How incredibly corny and out of touch can you get? And then the announcer talks about the GM “total confidence” program. How can the people at GM and their ad agency think viewers are going to buy this kind of cynical condescending eyewash?
    But this is how GM got to where they are today. The company has become a joke, a Jay Leno one-liner, because the management continues to be laughable. The GM trucks and cars are not bad, but who wants “not bad” when you can buy Honda and Toyota for the same money and you know they’ll be around in five years?
    When GM guts the company, throws out the Elmer Fudds and talks to its customers as intelligent consumers, not stupid yahoos, I’ll consider buying a vehicle from them.

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14 thoughts on “GM's Elmer Fudd

  1. Rex Price

    Has amy one seen the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car?, this documentary delves into the short life of the GM EV1 electric car —
    A must see with what is Going on a GM today with the Volt.
    I have been a GM man all my life and still own 2 GMC trucks and the wife drives a Buick. will never buy a nother after seeing this.

  2. Jim C.

    Since when I Toyota the standard of excellence? I’ve never purchased from GM before, but I have Toyota. (My whole family drives Toyota. ) You’d think they’d want to keep me and my family happy. In 2002, they sold me my first Toyota. The worst lemon I have ever owned. A low mileage, high end Celica, certified and with Toyota AND extended warranty. AWFUL CAR. And a fraud too. It did not qualify for their certification program because it had hidden accident damage they concealed from me, and aftermarket and junkyard parts that also would have disqualified the car from the certification program. Major handling, suspension and body problems AND an intermittent engine. Besides this, it suffered from some problems COMMON to the model that Toyota has YET to address. (Example: a serpentine belt and tensioners that fails every 5,000 miles and costs $250 to replace.)

    The selling dealer freely and openly ADMITTED the problems AND the fraud they committed, and refused to exchange the car, buy it back, or fix it! The other local dealerships refused to honor the warranty, because they blamed the selling dealer and didn’t want to get involved. The dealers’ gimmic was to refuse to write up my complaints. Why? Because then I had no formal record of repeat complaints with which to file a lemon law claim. What do you do? Force the service managers to write down the complaints at the point of a gun?

    Meanwhile Toyota Corporation watched all this going on. (I kept Toyota USA headquarters and Japanese headquarters informed.) Neither cared one whit that I was “thrown to the wolves” by the dealers and refused warranty service. Toyota could have exchanged the car or bought it back. But to do so they would have been to admit the huge mistakes they made and the fraudulent action of their dealer. So they dug in their heels. I finally sold the car for less than 1/4 what I paid after only putting 30K miles on it. Most of that mileage was to and from dealerships. My hair turned grey from the stress of the constant arguments. I was lucky to sell it, as it wouldn’t run.

    What became obvious to me was that while most of Toyota’s cars are probably good quality, they run with the arrogant attitude that they can do no wrong. So when they DO make mistakes, they refuse to admit it. Good luck with Toyota if you get one of the bad ones….

    I was going to pick a GM for my next car. As much trouble as they’ve had over the year maintaining their cars, at least they’re American firm. I don’t know why everyone has so much vitriol for the company. Although they’ve been having difficulty for years, you can’t blame GM (or Chrysler or Ford) for their current grief. That was caused by months of sky high gas prices followed by the credit crunch that was caused by greedy banks handing out bad mortgages. Toyota got a bailout from Tokyo. Why not GM?

    I’ve worked in non-union manufacturing for 27 years, and probably earn less than 1/2 what an auto worker does. But as far as I’m concerned those auto workers earned the benefits they negotiated. Blame the execs for lining their pockets while the company was suffering.

    If we lose our auto industry, how do we bring wealth into the country? We can’t do it by selling burgers to each other. The Chinese don’t care how many employees the DMV employs to fill out forms, or how many police officers and teachers the state has on the bankroll. All they care about is what they can get for their American dollars. If they can’t get anything, they will stop taking our dollars, and we won’t be playing those brand new Nittendos.

    Jim C.

  3. Douglas Smith

    It is clear and common sense that Wall St. is the problem. For any publication to, by way of its editorial selection of material to state that if Wall St. will not invest in the Auto Industry no one else should is outrageous. Wall St. that is the markets the former investment banks and insurance companies have to date received over 1.5 trillion dollars of donations by American Tax payers. These organizations acted in what is or should be criminal behavior , they not the Auto industry are at fault for this crisis . For congress to condemn the Auto Industry, and in the same week hand AIG another 40 billion dollars , is nothing short of Criminal. To take cheap shots and ignor that it is manufacturing in America that is under attack is despicable

    Douglas Smith

  4. swarfblo

    To Jim C., From Noah Graff

    Your story about the Lemon Toyota is interesting one. Doesn’t speak well about the company in your experience.

    But you do admit that Toyota makes good cars overall. And your family drives one.

    More importantly, how can you give the American companies a pass and blame all of their trouble on Gas prices and Wall Street? What a cop out. Smart management would have prepared for these things. Yes Toyota got a bit of help from the Japanese government but they weren’t and aren’t on the brink of bankruptcy.

    You make some good points, but it is GM’s fault that it is on knees right now. Not the Japanese, not the Chinese, not the Oil traders and terrorists, not AIG, and not the Government. And don’t blame Americans either for not buying GM cars. This is Capitalism. The strong and smart survive while the stupid and weak die.

    Thanks for commenting.

  5. Brian S

    I totally agree with Jim C. Everyone is so quick to think that Toyota and Honda will be “around in 5 years” but they have nothing to base that on. Toyota is one of the most recalled vehicles on the market, but the perception is that they are superior automobiles to the Big 3’s offerings. My wife recently bought a Honda Accord and 1 year later it is already experiencing mechanical issues. Take it to the dealer and they think it is running fine. Couple that with the fact that the sheet metal is barely thick enough to withstand the attack of a mosquito, much less a run-in with a shopping cart, and I’ll always buy an American engineered vehicle.

  6. Doug

    The future of GM is becoming clear. Government owned, making poor quality small cars that no body wants to buy so then the Government will pay people to buy them again creating a false market.

    After spending many many many billions it will colapes from High Union Costs and poor quality cars. They will blame the previos administrtation in the process.

    I just hope the country does not go down with it.

    (Lloyd, I hope you feel better since Obama got elected. Now that your guilt has been satisfied, I hope you start reporting faily again. This guy is making Clinton look like a saint.)

  7. Jim

    Wow. Not a single word about the union’s role in all of this. Just managements fault.

    Long live socialism.

    All hail Prince O’blahblah.

    Lloyd. I’ve had enough. I’m canceling the subscription.

  8. John

    To Rex Price-
    The guy who made Who Killed the Electric Car?, Chris Paine, is making a follow-up documentary about GM and the Volt and its development process. He has been working on it for over a year and has been granted unprecedented behind the scenes access to Volt R&D. He’s changed his mind about GM after seeing the truth for himself. Maybe you and the rest of America will too.

  9. Doogleass

    In my opinion, Lloyd Graff is FOS. Rick Wagoner has done more for GM than any other CEO in recent history. How do you think they have made the progress that they have made recently. Get your head out of your nether region and read actual facts. I have owned many GM vehicles and presently have 3, all tucks. I wouldn’t have a Honda or a Toyota, if someone gave it to me, I’d have it just long enough to sell it quickly. Neither of those manufacturers will live long enough to match GM in trucks and SUV’s. Notwithstanding its current financial woes – which, by the way, are being felt by many major and minor manufacturers everwhere -, GM is on track to make some real progress in all aspects of its product line.

    One of my GM’s is a 2002 Avalanche 2500. It presently has over 160,000 miles on it and has made several trips across this great country pulling an enclosed car hauler trailer loaded to its 11,000# limit. The transmission failed at 110,000 miles on account of a partial failure of the electronic controller that manages the lubrication pump, otherwise, I have had no problems and it is as solid as when it was new. I would defy you to take a Honda Ridgeline through that exercise (with a proportional load) and have it survive as long.


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