If You Can’t Beat ‘Em . . . Sue ‘Em!

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When you can’t beat ‘em in the showroom, go after ‘em in the courtroom.

General Motors says the lawsuit it filed against FiatChrysler is all about FCA supposedly  graft-giving union bosses under-the-table cashola to gain some kind of competitive advantage on labor costs.

The allegation is that FCA’s former head, Sergio Marchionne funneled payments to United Auto Workers bosses to secure wage and benefits deals more favorable to FCA and less favorable to UAW workers – which gave FCA an unfair competitive advantage over GM, which had not-as-favorable deals with the UAW.

But the numbers don’t appear to support GM’s claims.

The average FCA assembly line worker earns about $22 per hour while the average GM assembly line worker makes about $20 per hour (this figure is pre-strike and may be higher now).

GM, in other words, pays its workers less – or at least did (before the recent settlement with the UAW).

A more striking disparity is how much GM management gets paid vs not just FCA management but the rest of the car industry’s managers. The Detroit Free Press recently published some enlightening data regarding this.

Mary Barra – GM’s CEO – is paid a base salary of $2.1 million annually plus stock and other forms of compensation that brings her total package to $21.8 million.

Over at FCA, current CEO Mike Manley (who took over for Marchionne after his sudden death in 2018) receives a base salary of $680,434 – about a third of Barra’s base pay. Like Barra and other car company CEOs, Manley receives additional compensation, bringing his total up to $14 million.

But that’s still almost $8 million less than Barra’s haul.

The real problem, though, isn’t what GM pays Barra – or what FCA pays its workers – but rather that  FCA – the Chrysler (and Dodge and Ram and Jeep) part of FCA – is doing really well  . . . by not selling electric cars. Sergio – before his untimely death – publicly urged people not to buy the one pitiful example in the inventory, the electrified version of the Fiat 500.

And they haven’t.

Bu they have been buying other FCA cars – the same cars FCA was selling ten years ago – which continue to sell well because (here it comes) these are the kinds of cars that buyers want.

Big, rear-drive cars with big engines – without the big price tag.

Cars like the Dodge Charger, Challenger and their Chrysler-badged cousin, the 300. All of them date back to about 2008, with only minor tweaks since then.

It is very interesting that such “old” designs – without all the very latest “features” – continue to sell so well.

Could it because the new designs and latest features aren’t as desirable?

GM – and pretty much the rest of the car business – has rolled over like a cur dog and abandoned cars people like in favor of the supposed “inevitability” of electric cars, despite what ought to be the alarming lack of interest in electric cars.

That interest of buyers, at any rate.

The government is very interested in them. And its handmaiden press is working nonstop to confect an aura of interest in them – to support the false narrative of EV Inevitability – via credulous, almost carny barker “coverage” – regurgitation, really – of the all the EV Talking Points, without any gimlet-eyed fact-checking, especially as regards the never-to-be-discussed deficits.

In particular, the Affordability Problem.

EVs represents an increase in cost – and a diminishment in what you get. In other words, they are a gyp.

This can be illustrated by comparing what Dodge sells for less than $30,000 vs. what GM sells for more than $35,000.

For just under $30k ($29,895) you can buy a brand-new full-size Charger sedan riding on a 120.1 inch wheelbase with an appropriately-sized 3.6 liter V6 under its hood and limo-sized back seats (40.1 inches of legroom) that can travel 555 miles on a tankful  . . . or you could pay $36,620 for a new subcompact/front-wheel-drive Bolt EV riding on a 102.4 inch wheelbase with four inches less backseat legroom that goes maybe 259 miles  . . . if you gimp it along at low speed and don’t use the AC much – before it requires an extended session at the umbilicus.

Leaving aside the respective looks of these two – which would you want to buy, on the numbers alone?

Barra is probably also re-enacting the famous Bunker Scene from the German-language movie, Der Untergang – about the last days in the Fuhrerbunker – over the alarming (to GM) news from the “front” that FCA’s Ram 1500 pickup is outselling the Chevy Silverado 1500, which had for decades been solidly the number-two-best-selling pickup after the perennially number-one Ford F-150.

Not anymore – and under Barra’s “leadership.”

The why is not hard to understand – and is of a piece with the rest.

GM uglied-up the Silverado and – far worse – put a four cylinder engine in the thing. You can still get a V8 (and a V6) but the tone set by this did not sit well with truck buyers. There is a place for four cylinder engines. It is under the hoods of compact-sized economy cars.

You will find nothing smaller than a big V6 under the hood of a new Ram truck.

GM also mucked-up Camaro by practically turning it into a less-practical Corvette. It has less cargo room and a useless back seat with so little legroom that GM actually hides the specification by not publishing it (it’s about 24 inches; for perspective, the Dodge Challenger has 33.1 inches of backseat legroom and a 16.2 cubic foot trunk vs. Camaro’s ludicrous 9.1 cubic footer).

Camaro also comes standard with a four cylinder engine.

Cadillac is drifting; Buick is an irrelevance in America. GMC is just silly.

The bottom line is that GM is having trouble finding buyers for its new cars – and trucks – while FCA is having trouble building enough of its old cars – and new trucks – to keep up with demand.

Rather than revise its thinking – and its product line – GM is suing, hoping to cripple FCA in the courtroom rather than in the showroom.

It speaks volumes about what today’s GM is all about.

. . .

Got a question about cars, Libertarian politics – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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31 COMMENTS

  1. All of which just makes me miss the big Oldsmobiles and Buicks that I used to love driving around as a shagboy in a Buick dealership in the early 70’s.

  2. can you imagine putting a menopausal emotional drama queen old hag in charge of GM? my friend worked for Sharp a long time and said the Chinese and japs laugh at US corps with idiotic women holding positions of power. they make mince meat out of Amazonian avengers

  3. Putting a rather slow Human Resources woman in as CEO of a vehicle manufacturing company was one of the stupidest things any corporate board ever did in the history of corporations.

    • Did the board choose to do it or is the smelly hand of the Obastard regime behind it? There were lots of strings attached to the last bail out…

  4. GM has been a lost cause since the 1990’s. When I first started driving during in the mid 1960’s, I was a fan of GM and purchased their products. I wouldn’t buy anything GM today. Things change and now we have fake man-made global warming creating forced demand for totally impractical EV’s that destroy the environment as much or more than the carbon based vehicles they hope to replace. That’s the dirty little secret you will never hear about from the green crowd. Can’t wait for the review of Musk’s latest monstrosity…his EV P/U truck. Any time there are forced government mandates, it is usually because the control freaks are worried about losing control. And more times than not, the product/service they are forcing upon the public has nothing to do with efficiency, practicality or demand by the consumer. It’s all about control from top to bottom.

  5. Among regular cab pickups, the new 19 Silverado has the roomiest space behind the front seat. (Tied with the Titan regular cab.) Still make the 5.3L pushrod V8, too (albeit with direct inject) Also has an “un-multispeed” automatic. (6spd maybe?) Of the big three, I like their regular cab the best. Almost opened my wallet when I saw a brand new one recently advertised for $28k.

    • Maybe has a little more room, but it is the ugliest truck on the market and the interior is garbage. One of my friends wanted the new Silverado with the 6.2L V-* so bad, he was ready to pay whatever the dealer wanted. Got in the truck and looked around, it was junk! He got in a Ram and said he didn’t know what happened to GM, but their trucks are junk. He bought the Hemi Ram Crew Cab and could not be happier. You could not give me a GM product to drive, I would sell it and buy a Ram.

      • dodge ram trucks are garbage and if you make it a year without something going wrong you are blessed. better get an extended warranty. a ton of my friends bought them over the years up to now and they are garbage. bad front ends etc

        • I’ve found the Rams to have great engines, too quick wearing steering, and extremely fast rusting bodies. In other words, a different mix of problems from the C/K 1500 and the F150 trucks. But since I can only get a Cummins in a Ram, that’s my choice.

          • Just remember that many truckers call Cummins come-a-parts.
            I doubt that any real big truck diesel will ever be downsized into a pickup.

            • Yes, I know everybody is a critic. Gotta Mechanic Comin’, Fix Or Repair Daily, Poor Old Nigger Thinks It’s A Cadillac, etc. Every work of man has strengths and weaknesses, and doubtless a 5.9 Cummins will “come apart” much sooner under the load of a bus or medium truck than in a 3/4 ton. But in a 3/4 or 1 ton, it’s pretty darned understressed and rugged and capable of doing a lot more than the truck it’s in. But then, as a very conservative engineer and libertarian, I like my systems understressed and wholly lacking in drama.

        • Our VFD has had two of them. The first one we bought used with donations. I drove it back from Missoula where DNRC put a tank/pump on it. I like the Cummins but had the feeling that the engine really needed a real truck around it. It “committed suicide” a few years later when both the parking brake and wheel chock failed. The apparatus survived.

          Insurance and county money bought us a new one back during the last big crash when dealers couldn’t hardy give away a new pickup. It’s nice enough with A/C and a back seat that is actually usable, but it really doesn’t inspire confidence. After we put the big brush guard on the front, it can’t go up a steep hill or through a coulee without bulldozing (most new pickups are like this). With the 4-door cab the one ton is overloaded already with a 200 gallon tank.

          Too bad the Cummins engine isn’t in the Ford 550 regular cab with the 500 gallon tank. I think the V-10 gets gpm instead of mpg – ha!

        • Hi SPQ,

          Well, I must be lucky. My 2002 Dakota is still going strong at 188,000 miles and, outside of routine maintenance, has never needed anything except a clutch at 165,000. My “garbage” truck is the best vehicle I’ve ever owned.

          Cheers,
          Jeremy

  6. It was GM who sued Tucker over his car, the suit was later found to be frivolous but Tucker had been bankrupted defending himself against GM, and his own lousy lawyers. Lawyers are great at hiding the law from you.
    The Camaro was designed by GM Aussie division Holden. Aussies cannot design a 2 door but are great at designing 4 door cars. 2 door cars are a rarity in Australia because of their lack of utility. And that they attract sports car insurance premiums, which are much higher than 4 door premiums.

  7. Is that $22/hr total compensation or just the hourly on the pay stub? Doesn’t seem like much when all we hear about is how factory work is “good jobs.”

  8. Eric, I thought the same thing Re: “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em . . . Sue ‘Em!.”.
    Your analysis of GM’s cars is spot on. I know from experience as I owned all GM for the past 30 years, and had driven almost all of their platforms. Starting around mid 2000’s, something changed. To me, their cars/trucks started getting tuning to maximize mpg and their drive-ability suffered, to me. Then they doubled down on engine gimmicks like direct-injection, etc…. I finally gave up around 5 years ago and my family now owns 3 FCA’s and two Fords. Our favorites are 2 FCA semi-old school v8’s. They are a joy to drive.
    Long live FCA’s current direction and products.
    A few years ago I predicted the newest Ram would eventually beat GM, and was ridiculed by almost all car people. Same when the camaro went to the Alpha chassis. Same when all GM’s new vehicles stay on their FWD platforms (blazer, etc….). Even their newest Caddy CT4 and CT6 are just re-ups of the ATS, CTS, instead of fixing them by making them wider and bigger.
    Would be great if FCA doubled down on an even larger V8 RWD sedan for around $50K. I’m in.
    I’m hoping Ford will re-make the continental on their new RWD platform. If they do, GM will continue to die, and probably sue Ford too, hahaha……….
    I’m digging their new Explorer, Aviator RWD platforms. Will you be doing a review on them soon?

    • Sorry, meant CT4 and CT5 above. But will add, even their XT4,,5,6 are all FWD crap, on Caddy’s!!!
      Now I do like their CT6, but to get any decent engine, they start well over $70K.
      And their Escalade/Suburban products were the historic best in class, but the rest have caught up.
      GM is dead car company walking. Unless they get propped up by getting in bed with Uncle, via onerous future regulations.

      • The new camaro’s are utter crap and the market has responded in kind. This is all just regulatory capture. Big Soda sicked lawyers onto small bev La Croix fizzy water because they were losing sales to healthy drinks and not their Trans Promoting Garbage soda. I truly believe GM and Ford were behind the death blow to VW to make room for EV’s and their own shitty diesel line ups. Get in Line! Corporatism!

  9. The government (us suckers, taxpayers) should have never bailed out GM! They should have been allowed to reorganize under bankruptcy. If that would’ve happened, maybe they wouldn’t be trying to sell or shove the crap they’re manufacturing into the market. And maybe they could’ve been building autos the public would want. GM lost me as a customer years ago after I purchased a ’90 S-10. Man that was a rust bucket piece of Junk!

  10. Further thoughts. Since the SIC has demonstrated they won’t let US automakers fail, what might the SIC do when the market fails to support their oh so cuddly EV mandate?

  11. Meanwhile, our beloved CIA has overthrown a duly elected government in Bolivia, to secure their Lithium deposits, to build EVs mandated by the Sociopaths In Charge, to prevent zero to negligible global warming caused by us, but actually just to gain more power and control over us, by reducing CO2, which is a natural part of our atmosphere, which we breath out constantly. How long will it be before the SIC determines WE are an undesirable source of CO2?
    GM will probably win their lawsuit, since they come fully equipped with a jar of vaseline strapped to their butt in service to the SIC.

  12. Mary thinks FCA wanted to force a merger with GM? Doesn’t sound too credible to me. This lawsuit putting the brakes on FCA who seems to be about to surpass GM – that makes more sense.

    • Been 3 quarters in a row RAM has outsold 1500 Silverado. I think it has pissed off people at GM and they don’t have an answer to it except to call people names and bring out the blood suckers.

    • Most of the junkyards I know of near me refuse electric cars with their batteries still installed. Most don’t want Teslas because there is no market for used parts either. Tesla isn’t too keen on others fixing their cars and makes it difficult to do so.

  13. Maybe GM should reinvent itself as a law firm. In the past, GM/Chevrolet sicced their lawyers on me, rather than fix their inferior products – and no, I won’t forget.

  14. Looks like GM is taking the same path HD tried in the mid 1980s to combat it’s loss of motorcycle sales to, well, everyone else that makes motorcycles. Any one of us could retire for multiple lifetimes on what one of these CEOs pull in annually, but it never seems to be enough for them, does it?

    • It’s no longer about the money; rather, these corporate fags want to eliminate the competition by any means necessary. Less competition = less choices for us = more control over us. This explains why Ford and GM (and everyone else) manufacture shitloads of EV’s that are unsalable. Otherwise, they would no longer be able to “cry uncle” whenever a competitor steals their customers.

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