Suck Our Tailpipe

Shoot the Messenger in the Sexy Pontiac G6


Floundering GM to media critics: suck our tail pipe


The harsh news was like finding out your parents have backed out of their order of Girl Scout cookies after you called them poo-poo noses. Like the French taking back the Statue of Liberty after learning they got rooked in the Louisiana Purchase. Like...well, like a Pulitzer-winning auto writer with a penchant for the masterly metaphor losing his newspaper a huge advertising account.


No one could say that the subhead to Wednesday's Rumble Seat column in the Los Angeles Times was understated: "The Pontiac G6 is a sales flop. At General Motors, let the impeachment proceedings begin."


Reviewer Dan Neil went on to indict the company's leadership for missing the boat on hybrids while they were busy manufacturing armored land yachts; for losing market share; and for running 11 brands that manufacture essentially identical products: such as "the Four Horsemen of Suburbia, the Buick Rainier, Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy and Saab 9-7X."


"The company's multiplicity of divisions and models is turning into a circular firing squad," Neil wrote. A "reallocation of deck chairs seems pointless when the real problem is the massive overhead of a company that cannot find the will to downsize. Capitalism, remember, is creative destruction."


They may not be building cars that people want to buy, but General Motors seems comfortable with the destruction part of the equation. Yesterday, company officials announced they were withdrawing all advertising from California's 900,000-circulation daily.


"We were hearing strongly voiced objections from our dealers in California and from within GM regarding factual errors and misrepresentations" GM spokesman Ryndee Carney told a Chicago Tribune reporter.


This week's Rumble Seat is now festooned with a semi-correction in the middle of the column, explaining that the pictured vehicle, a six-speed manual, is not the car Neil reviewed, a four-speed automatic. But it seems likely that GM is actually pulling their ads over another "factual error" in the piece--Neil's call for Detroit's finest to junk its current CEO, Rick Wagoner.


Let's hope Neil--who can engage even a stalwart auto-atheist with his breakneck prose--doesn't go the way of the Buick any time soon.

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