Just got back from Detroit – Exciting Times with GM

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I just got back to Atlanta from the first national dealer meeting for Buick GMC since the reorganization at GM.

Brian Sweeney, the national sales manager for Buick GMC opened the meeting. The backdrop of the stage showed the new Buick GMC facility entrance design, and speakers were flanked with the all new Buick LaCrosse on one side of the stage and the all new GMC Terrain on the other.

The Buick Lacrosse and GMC Terrain = Segment Busters

Both of these vehicles are being hailed as “segment busters” with segment leading design, technology and fuel economy. The Terrain with 32 MPG highway, Bluetooth, rear camera, rear seat slide adjustment, and OnStar all standard makes this vehicle a high demand winner for GMC. In fact, they announced starting a third shift at the Terrain production facility to help meet the exploding demand.

The story is much the same with the all new Buick LaCrosse. The 2010 Buick LaCrosse is a large entry-level luxury sedan and is the flagship of the new Buick GMC brand and is garnering rave reviews for luxury, styling and drivability. And the standard V6 engine still gets 30 mpg on the highway!

Changes in Leadership

Mark LaNeve, the outgoing VP of national sales for GM, made his emotional swan song speech to a standing ovation. He was a tireless warrior that help guide GM through its darkest days. He spoke of his two autistic boys that are in Chicago for special education and his new job there. He is a fine man that will be missed. Susan Dougherty, the current VP of the new Buick GMC channel, has been named as Mark’s successor. Her replacement has not been named as of this meeting.

Ed Whitacre, the new Chairman of the board for GM came on stage to introduce himself as a Texan retired from the position of corporate CEO of several fortune 500 companies. The President’s Auto Task Force called and told him that in their search for a new leader of GM, his name kept coming up. He turned them down until his wife asked “How can you turn down your country’s call to duty?”

“Reputation Gap” Between Perception of GM and Actual Quality

What I was expecting to find was very different from what I discovered at GM.  Although there were many things that needed to be fixed, I think there were already many great things underway as well. One example of this is the design and manufacturing team that was well on its way to developing some of the finest vehicles in the world, and a few more world-class products in development.

So, once we started fixing what need to be fixed, we came to the real problem for GM and that is our “Reputation Gap”, as Whitacre puts it.  What he means is that we suffer a large gap between the marketplace perception of GM products and what we actually deliver in world class quality.

This Reputation Gap is what generated the new campaign for GM.

The new campaign boasts that our new GM products are so much better in quality, fit and finish, content, technology and value that we are taking the competition head on and asking prospects to do their homework, check us out, and when you buy our car if you don’t absolutely love it…then we’ll take it back.


Bob Lutz, the Vice Chairman and VP of World Marketing, spoke of the ”May the Best Car Win”  campaign and noted that all indicators, even this early on in the campaign, show awareness rising for GM products. Lutz said that we must be commanding, positive, passionate and truly believe we are the best. He encouraged us all to invite the challenge of comparison and face the competition head on and let the best the car win!

Susan came back on stage to introduce the new Buick and GMC future products.

She rolled out the all new Buick Regal and Regal Sport that will both be in the showrooms within the next 18 months. This vehicle is truly a stunningly styled entry into the competitive segment of the Camry, Accord, VW CC arena and the new Regal Sport is to compete with the Audi A4, Infiniti G35, and Lexus IS. Buick is going straight at these formidable competitors with no apologies.

These new Buicks will be like the LaCrosse – loaded with style, technology, build quality, and class leading fuel economy at a value that will be…well….a value!

We also were told that we could expect a GMC Arcadia Denali in 2011 along with the Sierra HD Denali. We also were given a sneak peek at a new subcompact Buick that was also stunningly styled in the same likeness of its larger siblings and we finally got a look at the next Buick crossover….a baby Enclave!

Everyone agreed as we were leaving the conference is that there are some exciting things going on at GM, in particular with the exciting new Buick and GMC offerings from these storied brands.

Oh yeah, they closed with “there will be more….”  I guess we will all have to stay tuned to what’s happened at Buick and GMC!

  1. Thanks for ones marvelous posting! I definitely enjoyed reading it, you’re a great author.I will remember to bookmark your blog and will eventually come back down the road. I want to encourage you continue your great writing, have a nice weekend!

  1. October 19th, 2009

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