GM, Ford reputations take a hit

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GM, Ford reputations take a hit http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070201/AUTO01/702010368/1148
WASHINGTON -- The reputations of General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.
plummeted last year as the companies were buffeted by bad news about job cuts, factory closings and financial problems.
Once among the most admired U.S. companies, GM and Ford now have among the worst reputations in corporate America.
How bad is it?
Of the 60 best-known U.S. companies rated in the eighth annual Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive Poll, released Wednesday, GM ranked 57th, down from 38th in 2005, while Ford dropped to 55th from 37th. GM and Ford dropped the most of any companies.
"It's all about negative PR. It comes down to job losses, layoffs, plant closings, declining market share," said Scott Upham, a senior vice president at Harris Interactive who previously worked in purchasing for Ford.
The reputation issues are a major concern as the companies restructure their operations and improve vehicle quality and design. Both companies have talked recently about trying to close a "perception gap" that keeps some consumers from considering Detroit-made vehicles.
"They certainly have a lot of work to do to improve their overall brand image," Upham said.
GM finished ahead of only cable giant Comcast Corp., oil company ExxonMobil and energy services provider Halliburton.
Tobacco and food products giant Altria ranked between Ford and GM at No. 56.
Comcast has suffered from complaints of poor customer service. ExxonMobil has been slammed by some for earning exorbitant profits. Halliburton Co. has been accused of war profiteering in Iraq.
GM and Ford have lost more than $25 billion since 2006, while cutting more than 55,000 hourly jobs and thousands of salaried jobs. GM wants to close nine plants by 2008, while Ford is in the process of shuttering 14 factories by 2012. GM's accounting is the subject of an SEC probe.
While the Chrysler Group plans to announce its own restructuring Feb. 14, parent DaimlerChrysler AG saw its numerical score improve slightly even though its ranking dropped from 44th to 49th.
"It's not terribly surprising, given the state of the domestic industry and what we've been saddled with," Chrysler spokesman Mike Aberlich said Wednesday. "As time goes on, we'll move back up."
Japan's Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. each dropped two spots in the rankings, to 14th and ninth, respectively, despite improving their overall scores. Several firms joined the list, including Amazon.com and Whole Foods.
GM spokesman Tom Wilkinson acknowledged that the carmaker has received "a lot of mixed publicity. "It takes time to close the gap between perception and reality."
Wilkinson said the Toyota and Honda ratings weren't undeserved. "They have great reputations. You can't take that away from them."
Ford spokesman Oscar Suris said the automaker is hard at work to fix itself "so it can be a profitable, viable company. Part of that process is headlines about job cuts and plant closings and perhaps that's what you're seeing here," he said. "What is going to drive our reputation is going to be our products. We've got great products in the showroom, and we're working on having even more great products."
Ford and GM have lamented the fact that many car buyers simply don't consider them anymore. GM has conducted focus groups that show its vehicles get much higher marks when their Chevy or Pontiac nameplate is replaced by a Toyota badge.
In research Ford conducted in 2005, every survey group polled said the automaker was falling behind its competitors.
GM and Ford are emphasizing their commitment to advanced technologies as they try to win back consumer confidence.
GM introduced a concept plug-in electric hybrid Chevy Volt in January in a bid to reclaim the technology mantle from Toyota and Honda. Last week, Ford unveiled a plug-in fuel cell vehicle, the Hy-series hybrid Edge, and last fall gave a hybrid vehicle to former President Clinton to use.
Both companies also have played up their American heritage in advertising and speeches.
More than 22,000 survey participants were asked to rate companies in six key areas: products and services, financial performance, workplace environment, social responsibility, vision and leadership and emotional appeal.
Microsoft Corp. knocked off Johnson & Johnson from the top spot that it held for seven straight years. 3M was third, while Google and Coca-Cola rounded out the top five.
In recent years, Detroit's Big Three have finished in the middle of the pack. Ford's ranking this year is even lower than it was in 2001 in the wake of the Firestone-Explorer rollover crisis.
"These are grades that are understandable and I say deserved," said Gerald Meyers, a University of Michigan business professor and former chairman of American Motors. "We're in the third year of a domestic automotive decline and no sign of anything happening to pull out of it."
-- Recruit: A person just good enough to hinder the retreat made necessary by their presence
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http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070201/AUTO01/702010368/1148 These reputations of the companies, not the cars.
And the poor reputations are well-deserved. I mean they are closing plants while their competitors are opening new ones.
Jeff
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Their 'corporate' image can't be that bad, more Americans still buy millions more of the vehicles from GM and Ford than any import brand.
GM and Ford do not have the advantage that imports companies have in that states governments are building state of the art turn key plants for them.and training new employees in taxpayer supported VoTex schools ;)
mike

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What difference would it make you believe whatever you want, regardless of ht totality of what is in the post. OF COURSE when the state provides the funds they are building the plant for them as a turnkey operation
mike

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It really doesn't matter since you will continue to believe what you want to believe ;)
mike

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Then why, Mikey, are the Old Big Three losing so much market share to the New Big Three? Could it be that although Detroit is improving their quality is erratic, an on again/off again thing? Toyota and Honda quality is more the rule than the exception-and the buying public (they do have *long* and unforgiving memories) knows it.
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http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070201/AUTO01/702010368/1148
Objective evaluation has shown, many times, that it is reality.
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former Toyota mechanic ) this is simply not true. Once again they have fooled you to believe this tripe.
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http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070201/AUTO01/702010368/1148
And my personal experience with Toyota and Volkswagen says that their quality is quite real unlike the Chevy Vega, Ford Escort and Buick with the transmission from Hell. Poor treatment left a very bitter memory of Detroit scrap.
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How about showing us the quantitative evidence that Toyota and Honda are better than the big 3.
Jeff
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What are you comparing a Vega to? A 1971 Toyota Corolla? Did you ever drive a 1971 Toyota Corrola? I did, they were crap. In fact, early 70's Toyota were all weak competitors to US cars. They sold for three reasons, they were different, they were cheap, and they got decent gas mileage. They mostly competed with VW Beetles, which were even worse crap.
Ed
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Anything was better than a Vega.
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Not a Yugo or AMC Pacer.
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Did you ever drive one? I drove one when new, and Toyotas, and Datsuns also. Vegas weren't great, but they were a lot better cars than contemporary Toyotas sold in this country. Vegas had two major problems - 1) poor corrosion resistance (but that was a Toyota problem too) , and a bad decision on engine design (GM never could make the aluminum block idea work, others have). I preferred Pintos (much better autocross cars). If you go back and dig out magazines from 1970, they universally hailed the Vega as a great little car. I suspect if it hadn't been for the aluminum block motor, history would have remembered the Vega better. But why is it that people remember oil burning Vegas, and never remember Toyotas that had a nasty habit of rusting away, or eating timing chains? In the late 80's I was involved in a chain collision with a Corolla. I hit the rear of the Corolla with a Jensen-Healey. The Corolla folded up like a sheet of paper and had to be towed away. I drove the Jensen Healey home (I did need a new hood and front bumper though). I never could figure out how Toyota could get away with selling the tin boxes that they shipped over here. They were rolling death traps as far as I was concerned. This was further confirmed when my Sister's 1980 Honda Accord was involved in a minor fender bender with a '79 Mustang. The Accord was totaled. The Mustang hardly scratched. The thin sheet metal and light weight gave the Japanese cars a fuel economy advantage, but they were not nearly as safe as contemporary American cars.
Ed
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I remember them quite well. My dad's company rebuilt engines. The Vega helped send me through college.

Actually, being totalled in a car doesn't make it unsafe in a crash. At higher-speed crashes, the car absorbs energy as the collapses. If car is slowing down real fast, better to slow down over 5 feet than over a few inches, which is what happens when the car doesn't collapse well.
Of course, if a car crumples up without absorbing much energy (as appears to be the case in this crash), people still stopover a real short distance.
And this has a lot more to do with the design of the parts beneath the sheet metal. The sheet metal in just about any car is not very strong.
Jeff

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