Wednesday, August 31, 2005

GM's SUV Strategy

I've written previously that GM's strategy of racing to redo their large SUVs in the midst of a gas crisis is the height of insanity. It seems that only now with the average price of gasoline reaching three dollars a gallon across the country, are they realizing their mistake. Originally they believed that the reason their large SUV sales were plummeting was because the designs were too old and need refreshing. They still feel that the average large SUV buyer is immune to these gas prices however.

If the average SUV buyer is an American, then it's highly likely he is living beyond his means and on credit. That means any change to his budget caused by outside of his control factors is going to be disastrous. I don't know how GM can come to conclusions that are different from the conclusions of every single other automaker in America. I think the truth lies somewhere in the fact that GM really doesn't know what to do at this point. They haven't made a good looking car in years, their only successful market, the SUV/Pickup market, is drying up, and all they know how to do at this point is continue on with the same old plans.

There needs to be a shakeup at this company, and fast. Dramatic changes are coming to the world economy, especially to countries that are dependent on gasoline. The heads of companies who fail to see that do not deserve their jobs, and certainly do not deserve their enormous salaries.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Watching from Abroad

I was too sick to go the Carnival, but from what I've heard from others it was a disappointment. The heat and the crowds would have undoubtedly sent me to the hospital, where since I am not part of the European health scheme I would have been charged untold thousands of pounds.

The biggest news on the automotive front is the Frankfurt car show, but as an American, like most of my fellow citizens I have been more concerned with the goings-on in Mississipi and Louisiana. The absolute devestation, the lives lost all put my travails in the UK (job hunting, finding a place to live) to shame. I hope that the war in Iraq has not consumed too much of state funding that rebuilding will be delayed. The National Guard is stretched quite thin as well, which could lead to further problems. One thing that most people don't realize about armies is their value to reconstruction efforts during disasters. The National Guard in California spends every summer I can remember in the mountains and hills of Southern part of the state battling forest fires.

I am very concerned as to why so many people stayed behind, and in many cases had children with them. The hurricane made landfall in Mississippi, did they not know to evacuate like those in New Orleans did? I don't understand why people stay behind, but I believe it has to do in part with our culture's love of material possessions, and more specifically love of your house. I've never owned a home personally, and have lived the last several years through college and law school like a fugitive with few personal belongings so these feelings are somewhat foreign to me. No matter what the value of your home to your personal finances, you can't spend the money your saved home if you are dead. It reminds me of the imbeciles who built their homes in wildfire zones and stay behind to battle the flames with sprinklers and a garden hose. That's not to say these events aren't similar, since this hurricane was a once in a lifetime event, but it boggles the mind why people would stay behind and face death. Do they think the news reports are lying?

Anyway I'll continue with the automotive writing after this entry. I apologize for this minor digression.

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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Under the Weather

I have a little bit of a head cold and will not be posting anything for the next couple of days. I'm trying to rest so that I will hopefully be healthy enough to attend Carneval over here, a rip-off of the Brazilian version, but growing steadily in popularity. It is a three day weekend right now, and tomorrow is supposed to be the "adult" day of carnival. Nipples ahoy!

Many of the Europeans I live with tell me that one of the benefits of being a citizen over here is the ability to get really cheap flights inter-Europe. Prices as low as 50 pounds to Barcelona from London. No joke. I've heard some for even 10 pounds if you go on off hours. I wonder what the effects of high oil prices will be on that.

And on a side note, if you are a twenty something single male American I highly recommend living in London, at least for a few months. There really are not many Americans my age in this city at all, so when I go out clubbing, or pub hopping, I am sort of an intriguing character. It's not uncommon for Brits to come up to me while I am on a bus or tube and strike up conversations with me, after they overhear my accent. Unfortunately for them, Kiwis and Aussies do not get these benefits, probably because there are a lot more of them around, and the uniqueness isn't there. So long as you keep your love of Bush a deep dark secret, Europeans will gravitate towards you to some extent. After all, we have given them a tremendous amount of their media, be it music, film, or television.

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