View Full Version : The Cars That Are Killing GM (photo essay)

07-02-2009, 11:56 AM
General Motors is on government-provided life support. Here are some of the cars better-suited for the 21st century's fast lane that are picking up speed and sending GM to the junkyard.


Down and almost out: On June 1, General Motors filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the fourth-largest filing in U.S. history. The bankruptcy plan includes $30.1 billion more in U.S. federal aid beyond the $19.4 billion already received, but President Barack Obama acknowledged that "Difficult days are ahead." GM will also eliminate up to 21,000 more jobs and shut 14 American factories; those facing closure include the Willow Run transmission factory in Ypsilanti, Mich., shown above on May 7.


Not exactly humming along: No brand symbolizes GM's decline more than its Hummer brand, which made only gas-guzzling SUVs and had nothing to fall back on when its U.S. sales declined precipitously last year. Originally, GM was planning to phase out the Hummer brand, but on June 2 it was reported that the brand will be bought by a Chinese machinery company. GM is still expected to phase out or sell most of its other poorly performing brands, including Pontiac, Saab, and Saturn.


Falling like a rock: Even GM's top-selling vehicles are facing steep sales declines. The Chevy Silverado was still the third best-selling vehicle in the United States in April, but its sales declined 25 percent from 2007 to 2008. GM's best-selling car, the Impala, experienced a 15 percent drop in U.S. sales between the same years.


Small sells: U.S. sales of many car models are falling, but some models are experiencing upticks in sales. Models that have seen increased sales since last year include the Hyundai Elantra, the Audi A5/S5 coupe, and the Smart Fortwo, seen above at a Japanese auto show on Jan. 9. February 2009 U.S. sales of the Smart Fortwo were 28.5 percent higher than sales in February 2008. For the Elantra, the figure was 33 percent.


In accord: Honda presently boasts the top-selling vehicle in the United States: the Accord, of which almost 30,000 were sold in April. Above, Honda chief Takeo Fukui poses with an Accord at the International Motor Show in Frankfurt in September 2007. Although the Accord was tops in the United States for April, Honda has been hit by the global slump in auto sales, and Fukui is stepping down this month.


Lean, green, pollution-fighting machine: The White House would like GM to build more fuel-efficient vehicles, but it is unclear whether Americans will buy them. Tough economic times and a drop in gas prices from their peak have hurt hybrid sales in the United States -- monthly sales fell almost two-thirds between April 2008 and February. Not so in Japan, though, where the Honda Insight became the first hybrid to be the top-selling car in the country. Above, a body-painted model celebrates the Earth-friendliness of the Insight at the Seoul Motor Show on April 2.


"The people's car": The Insight's Japanese sales numbers were widely credited to the car's affordability (for a hybrid), but India's Tata Nano takes affordability to an all-new low. Advance orders for "the world's cheapest car," priced at about $2,000, began in April, with first deliveries scheduled for July. Tata Motors was hard hit by the economic crisis but still managed to post a $214 million profit in the first quarter. Above, an Indian man with his daughter fills an order for a Nano in Mumbai on April 9.


Earning its stripes: Earlier this year, monthly auto sales in China surpassed sales in the United States for the first time ever. For companies like GM, China is a bright spot: GM's sales increased 6 percent last year there. China's car companies, though, are looking to establish themselves both in their own country and overseas. Domestic companies such as Chery and Geely now make up 30 percent of the Chinese car market, and low-cost Chinese models (often knockoffs of European and American vehicles) are becoming popular in Latin America and Southeast Asia.


A volt out of the green: Despite bankruptcy, GM remains committed to its poster child for fuel-efficient cars: the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, seen above on Feb. 3 at the Washington Auto Show. Unlike current hybrids, which combine electric and gasoline power sources, the Volt's electric motor will power the car gas-free for the first 40 miles after a charge, farther than the daily commute of three quarters of Americans. The U.S. government has backed the Volt with a $7,500 tax credit, but outside experts remain skeptical that GM can sell enough to turn a profit.


The road ahead: As this video display for the Volt says, GM's future is electrifying -- but now perhaps more in the sense of getting hit by lightning. After its factory closings and job cuts, GM will have one tenth of the American workforce it had in the 1970s. As Obama said, June 1's bankruptcy "will mark the end of an old GM, and the beginning of a new GM." Whether the company can recharge its batteries and steer itself out of trouble, though, remains to be seen.


07-02-2009, 12:01 PM
My God, a Chinese car? I'm sure they'd make the quality, fit and finish on a Yugo look like a Bentley.

Chinese shit sucks...

07-02-2009, 12:04 PM
My God, a Chinese car? I'm sure they'd make the quality, fit and finish on a Yugo look like a Bentley.

Chinese shit sucks...

Not to mention the risk of dying in a fireball when the thing explodes in a 5-MPH collision....

Dino 6 Rings
07-02-2009, 12:11 PM
I'm so glad I bought the 2000 Ford Econoline Regency Full Size Conversion Van when I did.

I drove a 1984 Chevette back in highschool, I'm good with the "little car" experience. It isn't as if smaller cars are new or anything. Rabbits and Bugs and what not have been around for years. People Like Big Cars. Bottom line. Try selling this shiiiit on the open market and where there are still Big Cars for Sale, the Big Cars will win.

Stop trying to manipulate people's desire for larger cars by price gauging at the pump and forcing the price of fuel to go up while not having any type of viable alternative already lined up with a distribution system in place.

I love nature, I hate people who try to talk to me about why I'm a bad person in regards to nature. Fck off and get out of the way of My Van.


07-02-2009, 12:29 PM
I'm so glad I bought the 2000 Ford Econoline Regency Full Size Conversion Van when I did.

I've been very happy with my Mustang. Been driving it 5+ years without a lick of trouble so far. Ford gets a bad rap, IMO.

07-02-2009, 12:56 PM
I just love how half the cars on the list are tiny cars and hybrids that are being held up as the gold standard for saving the world from OMG global warming. Do people realize how futile it is to "do your part" to try and cut pollution by driving a hybrid? Just in shipping your Prius from Japan, the cargo ship that carried it here has probably generated more pollution than the car will save in its entire life:


The short summary: Cargo ships burn this really awful stuff called "bunker fuel," which is basically the sludge left over at the end of the refining process. The pollution from FIFTEEN container ships is as much as the pollution from all the cars in the world. Good luck saving the planet, Mr. Prius driver.

07-02-2009, 01:16 PM
Id rather be safe then in a lil shit box.

07-02-2009, 01:17 PM
Not to mention the risk of dying in a fireball when the thing explodes in a 5-MPH collision....

Only if you don't die from lead poisoning first.

07-02-2009, 01:23 PM
Not to mention the risk of dying in a fireball when the thing explodes in a 5-MPH collision....

Doh! I just realized that Mach 1 beat me to the punch......

So I'll just say.........mmmm China Sucks!

07-02-2009, 01:40 PM
Me? I'll take the Envirocrusher, please!