“Betting” is a Good Term for Believing in GM

Earlier this week, the President said this about auto bailouts:

I refused to turn my back on a great industry and American workers. I bet on American workers. I bet on American manufacturing. Three years later, the American auto industry has come roaring back. And what happens in the auto industry can happen in other industries.

Please, please don’t do to other industries what has happened to GM. I don’t just mean the fuzzy math attached to the bailout repayments.

Despite President Barack Obama’s stories about a resurgent GM ready to repay its bailout tab, the automaker and its former bank still owe taxpayers nearly $42 billion, according to an inspector general’s report.

GM owes $27 billion on the nearly $50 billion it received from the auto bailout and Ally Bank, the company’s lending arm, owes $14.7 billion of the $17.2 billion taxpayer-funded bailout it received.

I mean that I hope other American industries don’t start making products as terrible as General Motors. To say they are roaring back has a slightly different meaning after my recent experience renting a Chevy for four days.

My first car was a 1999 Chevy Cavalier. It was a former rental, but it served me exceptionally well. That thing took me up and down the East Coast constantly for years. I sold it to my aunt when I needed to upgrade to something larger, and I believe she only recently replaced it. My mother had a matching Chevy Cavalier, and she had a similar experience. Her car was only taken off the road after she sold it to my cousin who wrecked it. Needless to say, I was a big fan of Chevy even after I bought my Honda. I figured that if I ever went with an American car again, it would be a Chevy.

After renting a Chevy Aveo for the quick trip to Nashville and back, neither my mom or I will ever buy another General Motors product again. In fact, I told Hertz that if this is their new standard of smaller rental cars, then I won’t rent from them ever again, either. Roaring was a good term for what the inside of the car sounded like as we drove. The tiny gas tank had us pulling off just as often as if were driving one of our own SUVs. The seats were uncomfortable, and the car started shaking any time you took it above 75. It wasn’t any kind of maintenance issue with the car, it was just the car.

I beg you, Mr. President, please don’t ask other industries to model themselves after GM. I’d hate to see all American-made products go downhill so that customers actively seek out foreign brands. It’d hate it if that’s his idea of making the economy “work.”

14 thoughts on ““Betting” is a Good Term for Believing in GM”

  1. GM isn’t a car company anymore. They’re an insurance provider that sells cars as a loss leader.

  2. A thought: WTF would one allow a massive bureaucracy, whether it is a car-making bureaucracy or a government bureaucracy, have any say whatsoever in designing vehicles that real people use?

    GM exists today only because government, using tax dollars taken from Americans at gunpoint and a printing press, decided to keep GM alive. A quick and compassionate death for GM, followed by a very similar auto manufacturing company that Was Not GM would have been a more intelligent move.

    If there ever was confirmation of the message “manage government from the bottom up by starving it for money” you’ve encountered it. And, I do not rule out that some substantial degree of voter-induced force may be required to affect that starvation. The sooner the better, actually.

  3. Agreed! Thank you, Mrs. Bitter!!! I personally will not buy another “Government Motors” product on principle. Mr.’s Bush and Obama bailed them out with our money without correcting the problems that got them into trouble (union greed, pensions, and overpriced health insurance).

    Normally not a Ford man, but I am so proud of Ford for not taking my tax money and still competing well that my next American-made new vehicle will be a Ford (American-assembled Hyundai is still my favorite due to quality, price, and integrity, but I want to honor Ford for their courage and self -discipline in the face of unfair government competition).

    Respectfully, Arnie

    1. Now you know that your purchase decision to avoid GM is for more than just principle, it’s because their quality has gone down the toilet. I’m also like you, Arnie, in that I was never a fan of Ford. I always grew up hearing about how Ford meant Fix Or Repair Daily or even Found On Road Dead. :)

      That said, not only are we also supportive of the fact that Ford didn’t take the bailout money, we actually really enjoyed the Ford Focus we rented for a week back in 2010. It was a pleasure to drive in a multitude of road conditions.

  4. “Betting on America” with your money. Gambling is great fun if you don’t have to cover your losses.

  5. I’m pretty sure the Aveo is a re-badged Kia or something like that. We have a Cobalt and I’m happy with it.

  6. That Chevy Aveo is a rebadged Daewoo Kalos, and widely derided as the low point in Chevy products. Their latest generation of small cars (last year or two) is actually pretty nice (Cruze), and the Aveo’s successor, the Sonic, is leagues better than the car it replaced. Still not class-leading, but much better.

  7. I’ll admit I’ve never been a fan of Chevy personally, but I always heard good things from owners in years past. Recently, we had to rent an HHR (the only mid-sized car on the lot), and I was sorely disappointed. It was sluggish, you felt every bump in the road, and the windows were so small it felt claustrophobic and was hard to see out of. Guess it’s true: you “Can’t Have Eight Valves Yet”!

    Currently in a Dodge Magnum (the V6, not the Hemi), and had zero problems other than it doesn’t like low-grade gas. I don’t know why they discontinued it. I started off in a ’91 Ford Escort, and it ran like a champ even with all the abuse I put it through. If I can swing it, my next vehicle will be a Ford.

  8. It is often mentioned how the domestic auto industry is about the toughest market for a new company to crack. It is dominated by the big three, and forever will be as long as they are “too big to fail”. The electric movement has given rise to companies like Tesla and Fisker, but Fisker already has one foot in the grave, and Tesla’s future is murky. Elon Musk can honestly say “he didn’t build this” because Telsa has pretty much been propped up by the government thus far. If GM failed, their future would look a lot better- that is if they had a plan to build a car for the masses (which they didn’t plan since no one can crack the big three).

  9. Interesting you enjoyed the Cavalier… I currently drive that same model year.

    * Center console compartment hinges weird–rests on the back seat when open, or between the knees of whoever may be seated back center.

    * Only functional cup holder is _inside_ that center console compartment. Cup holder up front is so shallow to only be used when not in motion, and so close to the radio that the cup’s rim will push its buttons, and prevent your doing so.

    * Stock radio tuning knob is exact same size/shape and 1″ directly below radio volume knob–unsighted adjustments to volume become sudden static.

    * Dome light switch is actuated by turning the dash brightness knob to 11 (?!)

    * Anything you plug into the cigarette lighter socket will interfere with access to ignition switch, and potentially the wiper controls.

    * Cruise control knob is funky. Accelerate button is a momentary press of the cruise ‘on’ switch, so releasing this button too quickly will set cruise to the off position.

    * An odd kazoo-sound whistling comes from the windshield only when driving above 70 MPH or sometimes slower in a headwind.

    * Trunk lid hinges are concealed so far inside the trunk that you have odd U-shaped arms that crunch into anything large you may have placed inside the trunk when you try to close it.

    * Recirculating cabin air always turns on the air conditioning.

    * Door gutters deliver rain or snowmelt directly onto the door hinge. This isn’t good for rust in the former, and the latter tends to freeze your door shut. Door handles are little flaps that you lift, and are not suited to provide any purchase when you have a frozen door.

    * You need chopsticks to clean the space between the rear window and interior if a bug climbs back there and dies, on display for everyone who looks in the rear window.

    1. * Dome light switch is actuated by turning the dash brightness knob to 11 (?!)

      That’s fairly standard; every vehicle I have ever driven turns the dome light(s) on like that.

      I guessing your problem is that the car didn’t have separate map lights, which most vehicles do. Those are usually turned on by flipping a switch on or near the dome light.

  10. I would agree on the quality issues when discussing GM’s compact cars, but they really do a nice job with their bigger vehicles. The Tahoe and Suburban are fantastic vehicles, and while I am a bigger fan of Ford pickups, the Silverado is a solid truck.

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