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By 2g1c2 girls 1 cup

With all of the negative news surrounding GM of late, this bit of good news for the General emerged yesterday: GM has closed the gap with #1 Toyota to almost a rounding error. For the 1st half of 2009, GM is 11,000 units behind Toyota in global sales, including beating Toyota by 140,000 in the 2nd quarter. Last year, GM was behind by about 274,000 units. VW is 3rd, but gained on both GM and Toyota.

So how does GM gain while its sales continue to slide?  By Toyota’s sliding even more.  GM’s global sales slid by 22% in the 1st half, while Toyota’s slid by 26%.  VW, which gained on Toyota by more than a million units, saw its sales decline by only 5%.

Ford, which ranks 5th, had the biggest decline of the major companies.  Its sales slid by 31%.

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Chevrolet announced yesterday that the upcoming Volt will achieve 230 MPG in the city, easily beating the Toyota Prius’ lame 50 MPG.  Chevy boss Brent Dewar was overheard saying, “nah-nah-nah…nah-nah…nah”  If nothing else, the announcement generated a lot of attention from the media.  At least 2 major networks, CNN and NBC, featured the story on the nightly news last night.  Both seemed very skeptical of the claim, which is based on preliminary EPA testing procedures for so-called extended range electric vehicles (EREV).  I read a little about the procedure and how it works.  Maybe I’m not the brightest bulb in the fixture, but it seems to translate as, “Trust us.  We plugged in a few numbers into a computer, and it gave us 230.  Woo-hoo!”

Basically, the fact that the Volt uses only grid-supplied electricity for the first 40 miles of use makes the EPA come up with a “miles per gallon equivalent” which it then combines with the fuel economy when it is using gasoline as the “range-extender.” That calculation is what resulted in the 230 city MPG.  EPA numbers are always a bit nebulous, but in this case, I think they are especially so.  In a “normal” car, you might be able to achieve the EPA numbers with conservative driving.  In this case, you have no chance, because apparently, 80% of us will never use any gas (if they plug it in every day).  What’s their economy, ∞?  And how, really, do you average ∞ with another number for the drivers who do use some gas?  These questions – and many others – will be answered in the next episode of Soap.

All of this is just preliminary, as the final numbers will depend on actual EPA testing closer to launch next year.  But if the 230 is real (and by “real” I mean what will show up on the label, not what you will actually get), it will certainly set the Volt apart from the rest of the crowd.  As NBC’s reporter pointed out last night, 230 is about 10 times the average car today.  It’s an eye-popping number that will get Chevy and GM a lot of attention.


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GM Teams Up with eBay

11th August 2009

Citing the need to try new things, GM VP Mark LaNeve announced that GM will try an innovative approach to selling cars with eBay.  eBay?  Don’t they already sell cars, you know, through eBay MOTORS??  Yes, they do.  Mostly used cars, though some dealers list their new car inventory on the site.  This, however, is different, as it is the first time a manufacturer has listed “all” of the new vehicles for sale like this.  The new site,gm.ebay.com, will allow customers to browse by make, model, trim, transmission, color, model year and maximum price.  The program is just a test for now.  It only is in California and only for 1 month (11 August – 8 September) and does not include Cadillac.  GM says that as many as 20,000 vehicles will be available through the system, depending on dealer participation (presently 225 CA dealers).  LaNeve said the program would be expanded and/or extended if GM and the dealers decide it is working.  He defined “working” as not necessarily increased sales (though that is clearly a sign of success), but also increased showroom traffic or development of leads for the dealers.

Consumers will be able to browse hundreds of California dealer online showrooms, ask questions, negotiate prices, and arrange financing and payment to purchase a new 2008, 2009 or select 2010 car, crossover or truck online.  Vehicles will be offered through eBay Motors’ traditional formats such as “Buy It Now” (where shoppers agree to pay the advertised price) and eBay’s innovative “Best Offer” option (where buyers indicate the price they are willing to pay and can negotiate online with the dealer for the vehicle).

The site also incorporates features that will allow consumers to compare pricing across models or participating dealerships, get tips and advice with a Buyer Checklist, and determine the value of their trade-in or whether their current vehicle may also qualify for government funded ‘Cash For Clunkers’ incentives.

“With 12 million individual car shoppers visiting our site every month, eBay Motors has unique insight into how people prefer to buy their cars,” said Rob Chesney, vice president, eBay Motors. “Through this program, we are helping GM dealers to extend their physical showroom while at the same time delivering to our buyers the great deals and broad selection they expect from eBay.”

While very limited in scope and duration, this program shows that maybe – just maybe – GM can indeed be the nimble operation that it needs to be to survive.  This program should increase awareness of, and generate interest in, GM’s brands and models.  That can only be a good thing for GM, and you the taxpayer/shareholder.

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GM announced today that their 2010 full-size pickups will achieve a higher EPA rating for 2010, giving the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra the highest fuel economy in the segment (previously, the highest economy versions tied with the best Ford F150).

Silverado and Sierra 5.3L V-8 engine EPA-estimated fuel economy improves for 2010 from 14 city / 20 highway to 15 city / 21 highway MPG, while Extra Fuel Economy (XFE) models move from 15 city / 21 highway to 15 city / 22 highway MPG. This development, combined with the fact that GM’s hybrid pickups achieve an EPA estimated 21 city / 22 highway, puts Silverado and Sierra at the top in fuel economy.  This fuel economy improvement comes with no compromise in capability. Horsepower, payload, and trailering specifications remain the same for Chevy and GMC full-size pickups.

For reference, the following information is the most recent available EPA-estimated comparable fuel economy data for GM’s main competitors in this segment.

  • Ford – 5.4L: 14 city / 20 hwy; 4.6L with 6-speed transmission: 15 city / 21 hwy
  • Dodge – 5.7L: 14 city / 20 hwy
  • Toyota – 5.7L: 14 city / 18 hwy; 4.6L: 15 city / 20 hwy
  • Nissan – 5.6L: 13 city / 18 hwy

To be fair, GM is comparing its 2010 models against 2009 models for all of the above except Toyota.  Ford, Dodge and Nissan may well have a fuel economy trick up their sleeves for 2010 also.  Nevertheless, GM is showing that it takes fuel economy seriously and will do what it can to make incremental improvements without resorting to smaller vehicles with less capability.  Nice work.

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