File this in the “if you don’t have anything nice to say…say nothing at all” category. While rival Ford announced a major boost in hybrid production and followed it up with a statement that they’re doubling the size of their hybrid engineering staff, here’s GM’s big announcement on hybrids:
Chief Executive Rick Wagoner has said in the past GM will not make unprofitable vehicles. However, Lutz said there is now an appreciation at GM for hybrids as a form of corporate advertising to show a company is technologically and environmentally advanced.
"If you have to do some and lose money on them, we have to consider it as another form of communications expense and I think Rick accepts that and the board of directors accepts it," Lutz said.
It seems like GM is in such the habit of bashing hybrids, attempting to deflate the market, that it can’t even stop the negativity when talking about its own products. Seriously folks, what is Lutz thinking here? They have made a strategic decision to throw out a few hollow hybrids like the Sierra, and the upcoming Malibu and VUE, but save their more ambitious “dual mode” hybrids for sales of unknown quantities beginning in 2007. I would agree that their hollow hybrids are a PR stunt meant to capitalize on the “hybrid” label to get them greener credentials, but a statement like this actually poisons their ability to market their more genuine (though possibly muscle) hybrids to their target audience even before they are released.
It’s unfortunate GM missed the boat on real hybrids and didn’t start a great hybrid SUV competition with Ford by having a real VUE hybrid come out around the same time as the Escape as they planned then abandoned. But statements like this don’t inspire your engineers to try and reach new heights. Ford’s hybrid engineers have to be really excited about what their future looks like. Now, how interested would you be in pushing the envelope if your boss told you what you were working on was no more than a publicity stunt? Now think about how GM’s “dual mode” team must be feeling about now.
The gas price at my local Texaco station was $3.19 this morning for regular. Wake up and smell the future, GM, and stop shooting yourself in the foot.
Posted by: ScottN