By Jimmy Jones, USDR Contributor
The car world is in an end-over-end barrel roll right now, trying desperately to grab the attention of bored potential buyers. Cars should come with warning labels these days.
Take General Motors for instance. They change names of vehicles so often it’s getting hard to keep up. The company just came out with another compact sedan and hatchback called the Sonic, which replaces the Aveo. Why not call it the all new Aveo? Is it due to the fact that the Aveo had enough quality issues that GM decided people didn’t want to buy the name Aveo for a second round? Why did GM continue to build the Cavalier for many years, then change the name to Cobalt, and yet the same entry level sedan slot is now filled with the Cruize? I think the problem is branding and the associated quality of the brand. As consumers we are connecting the past with the present, as we should. But the product trying oh so desperately to speak for itself has faltered in the public’s proverbial buying eye – the past making the name of the vehicle alone, despite its improvements, something we do not want to purchase.
Is the question quality control, or a name? Many cars have gone through terrible build quality spells but continue to sell strongly. Not to pick on General Motors too much, but take the Camaro. Its entire life it was known as a very fast, poorly made car. In fact in 2002 the car was nixed from the lineup due to dismal sales figures. Now with the new model out it is selling like gang busters and ever so quietly taking the Mustang’s sales lead away. I am certain the new Sonic is a great car, and if anything, a vast improvement on the not so great Aveo.
That is the problem perhaps. Improvements.
Improving on a car is one thing. Making it more efficient, safer, and prettier is a great idea. But having to improve a car by taking it away and replacing it with a car that is “better” should not be the game. Why not make the car good from the get go – safe from the get go and efficient? Red tape? Maybe. Perhaps there are penny pinchers sitting around little tables in fancy offices. Maybe there are too many good ideas so the majority of them become “too expensive” for the price point of the car and it comes out a mass produced cookie cutter, bland, poor quality vehicle.
Airplanes have been flying around for close to the same amount of years that automobiles have been mass-produced. Airplanes have their issues, but how often do we hear that an entire fleet of Boeing 737’s has been grounded due to the fact that a wire in the dash will catch fire and burn the plane to the ground? Airplanes are made well, go through many extremes, and continue to purr like kittens through the sky on a schedule only a city bus may be accustom to. So why is it that almost weekly now our evening news is filled with recall notice after recall notice? I have two Fords at the house with recall notices; one notice is that I have the potential of eating the airbag at any given moment do to chaffing in a wire of my F-150. Seriously? A pilot wouldn’t fly his plane much less taxi his plane with even a hint of a problem of similar nature. I just can’t fathom that making a car is difficult anymore. Why do I have the potential of losing my nose from an involuntary airbag deployment in 2012? Is it lack of quality, lack of care, lack of leadership, unions to blame maybe? Whatever the cause it’s getting in the way of us enjoying our current cars, especially the new improved and newly named version of the car that we didn’t like in the first place.
Drive on America.