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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IMO, one of the biggest issues with the big two is that the customer does not feel heard.
I have long railed about lack of quality and durability in these cars, but in fact, some Toyotas and Hondas may not be greatly better. Toyota and Honda are perceived as identifying problems when they occur, and working with the client to try to resolve them.
GM is perceived by some, (me, for one), as trying to duck out the back door when the shit hits the fan. I dont consider Fords much at all, since I dont like their ride characteristics.
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What you call it when Toyota stonewalls NHTSA about balljoint failures? Or when they call Customers liars when they complain about sludgged up engines? I suppose they are being honest and open when they refuse to let Alldata publish TSB titles (just the titles, not even the whole TSB).
Ed
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Notice my wording 'perceived'. Toyota did come back and replace the damaged engine, I believe, even though there might have been the spectre of a class action suit in the wind.
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Why is it that when Toyota recalls more cars in 2006 then they sold, they are applauded, yet if GM recalls a car, people say it's due to incompetence, and that they build crappy cars? (HLS, this isn't intended towards you, or anyone else. I am only venting).
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That's okay, Knight;>) I have broad shoulders.
Honestly, I wish GM had recalled our Buick and fixed the plenum issue. Or my Fiero and replace the cracked Iron Duke block
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I thought Buick did recall lots of cars to fix the plenum. At least a friend of mine had his fixed for free (or so he says).
Ed
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GM did indeed have a general recall and extended the warranty but the myth persists, among some, that they did nothing.
mike
wrote in message .

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Me too. :-)

I could have sworn I saw in this group that GM did extend the warranty on those engines. Were you too high in the miles?
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wrote in message .

They denied that the Fiero was part of the series of Iron Pukes that cracked. When I went to the junkyard for a rebuildable core, I went through 5-6 before I found one that hadn't cracked. Perhaps I should have sued.
On the Buick, it had 76,000 on it when the plenum went. I had two choices... the dealership offered to do it for US$300 and change, while the local independent offered slightly lower.
I chose the dealership so it would be documented in case the threat of class action suit finally caused GM to develop a conscience.
It hasnt yet.
I am wondering if the new Buicks have GM secrets hiding in their bowels as well. Anyone know of any new mystery defects yet?
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If only GM would have recalled some of their serious problems that caused their customers to leave GM.
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Were did you ever get the idea they have not?
mike
wrote:

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Hopefully that tells them something. It might even help if they surveyed their customers desires, but building cars the customer wants may be too much for them after years of telling the customers what they should buy.
This evening I saw the first intelligent auto ad in years. It was locally (Vancouver, BC) produced for the Chrysler Caliper.
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wrote:

If their vehicles are getting higher marks with Toyota on the nameplate then what the market wants is the nameplate, you dumb idiot, not the features of the vehicle.
I don't see how you can complete with that. GM ought to just turn their back on that market and go find a different one. A perfectly obvious market would be the car buyers that don't want to spend the $20K or so that a new Toyota costs but still would like to buy a new car and not have to be stuck with someone's off-lease, used Toyota.
If GM brought out a same-feature car as a Toyota in the $8K range, there would be a market there for it. It wouldn't be the market of people buying new Toyotas, it most likely would be the market of people buying USED Toyotas.
Ted
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Sign me up as soon as they put out an $8000 car with all the features of the Camry. I just don't see that happening.
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$8,000 is more like the 'pack' the F & I guys add to the drive home price of a Camry, after you get a selling price. LOL
mike
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wrote:

It isnt the nameplate, but you are not far off. It is the reputation that is behind that nameplate, merited or not.
GM and even Ford, if they can stay alive long enough and, if they will devote themselves to producing a quality item and treating their clients courteously and fairly, can regain or even improve their images.
If they can't adopt a code of progress and fairness, then maybe they should enter banking, or the stock market, or fast foods.
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It's also the type of car. I bet there would a different response if GM put a Toyota nameplate on one its trucks instead of a car.

Well, a problem is that they have too many clients, the dealers. Instead of most dealers selling over 1000 cars, like they do for foreign nameplates, Ford and GM dealers sell maybe 500, on average. That means more dealers are supported, which makes for more ligistical problems.
It would also help if, when there is a problem with thedesign of their cars, they own up to it and fix the cars right without owners have to jump through hoops. They might save $2000 on a repair, but they won't sell the owner his/her next car.

Why? Without treating costumers right, they won't make it in any business.
Jeff
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wrote:

is concerned. For me styling must be good but it follows function.
I'm looking for a replacement for my Chrysler, but Sebring sized. Nothing new from Chrysler for several years meets several of my most basic needs.
For example I need a full sized matching spare, and I don't like how GM, Ford and Chrysler have cheapened the body construction so the rear door edge forms the front edge of the wheel well. I'm also preferring a station wagon body design. These are just two of several functional aspects I don't like about the new cars from the big 2.5. In tune with current leading edge engines I want a VVT engine.
Unfortunately I need to go beyond the big 2.5 to meet my functional requirements. The Ford Fusion comes closest to my needs with the big 2.5, but several "foreign" makes do meet my needs. Since my Chrysler is still running very well I can wait it out a bit longer, but if I suddenly had to buy a replacement car the big 2.5 wouldn't be on my short list with their current products.
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Unfortunately to many customer, 'treating costumers right,' equates to fixing the vehicle for free for as long as they one the vehicle. LOL
mike
,

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