Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Seven strikes -- Need evidence that GM is structurally unfit to compete effectively on the world automotive stage? The for-now world's largest automaker has seven minivan nameplates that combine for just 14.1% of the mini-van market. With the Odyssey alone, Honda sold just 2,931 fewer minivans.

Clearly there's an execution problem. GM has brought nothing innovative or class-leading to the segment (other than the Warner Brothers co-branding). But, the fact that it would take minivan fans even greater than ourselves to distinguish among the General's newest offerings has to be a big factor.

How could GM settle for four singles and not swing for the fences on at least one new model? Our guess is Azteck-phobia and the dealer tail wagging the GM dog. Nobody wants to be the guy who green-lights the next Azteck, so they steer clear of what could be the next, say, Dodge Caravan. And, no single-branded dealer wants to get saddled with the high-risk entry if another dealer on the automile is getting the more conventional model.

Shame really that GM hasn't figured out how to use it's brands and dealer network to deliver a mix of safe and out there that Honda (see CRV and Element), VW (Golf and Beetle), Toyota (Echo and Scion xB), etc. manage to do routinely.

At one point, wasn't Bob Lutz castigated for saying that, in the end, he thought the Azteck wasn't so bad? Maybe it's time to instill some more Azteck-like thinking.