General Motors India, who are even more clueless than their American parent. (note no update since 2003)
Over the weekend a friend of mine asked me whether he should buy a Tavera or an Innova. Now, because I often put on my hat as an Automotive-Geni-ass (which ranks alongside my tech-writing prowess as stupendously awful) I though about the answer for two seconds and told my friend to buy the
But, why did I give the Tavera such short shrift – it actually is an Isuzu, but GM is all their intelligence has gone and branded it with an American brand. While this hasn’t killed the Tavera as yet, GM India’s brand intelligence did effectively kill the Subaru Forrester calling it a Chevrolet. The Tavera is a decent vehicle, but given Indians fascinations with all things East Asian (heck, I have a thing for Zhang Zi-Yi), Isuzu might have sold better. Similarly, when somebody asked me if the Optra was a good car, I called it a “Korean piece of shit.” Despite my not exactly liking the Hyundai Elantra (or any Hyundai car other than the Terracan, an maybe the pretty Sonata Embera and the really snazzy Azera they have launched in the
GM launched the ‘Chevrolet’ brand in
Well, actually the sad thing is that the Opel Astra and the Opel Corsa were decently nice cars. For one thing, the Astra had the most amazing ride of any car in the 7-10 lakh price range. The same with the Corsa, which had stupendously good comfort – it’s just that GM cars had issues. Firstly, sales and service – GM dealers were (and are) as obnoxious as their management. Secondly, product upgrades came few and far between. So while the Astra and Cortsa underwent upgrades in Europe, nothing happened in
Their media relations verge on the disasterous, no wait, they are disasterous. GM India used to fete auto-magazine journalists with junket after junket, but somehow forgot mainstream media, when you did make a request for an interview, their former MD used to show nakhra and refused to meet under the rank of Associate Editor. This same man when called for a panel discussion on a TV Channel with BVR Subbu and Jagdish Khattar of Hyundai and Maruti respectively said that he wouldn’t appear unless Ratan Tata was on the show, aukaat dekho.
Once when I did get a meeting, after waiting for a month, I was told in no uncertain terms to get my Senior Editor along, which was fine (other than the fact that I had endure a drive back with him – which was a bit on the frightening side) but even he couldn’t understand what was up with the company.
Of course, GM will praise Narendra Modi to high heaven – after all their plant is located in their state. They praised him to high heaven despite the fact that the
Of course, this is not exactly a case of a company that is doing stunningly well across the world is it? Adam Opel AG is losing sales in Europe, and GM is
Again, I do drive cars as part of my ‘I-do-everything’ job brief – and the Innova is a really pleasant car to drive. Sure it feels like the Queen Mary II while taking a turn, but unlike the Tavera, the Innova is far better behaved in a sharp turn than you would expect it to be. I mean the Tavera isn’t too bad, while engine noise and the notchy gearshift are issues, its nice enough to drive. Yet, don’t ask me why I still feel the old Qualis was a better people carrier. And while GM offer discounts to get the Tavera moving, the second-hand market for the Qualis is going through the roof – with prices actually appreciating!
Now, GM India has decided that they will drop the Corsa altogether and we will see something called the Chevrolet Aveo. Which they expect will be a ‘Swift Killer’. In classic GM style, they will try and price the Aveo below the Swift, but given that GM hardly has Maruti-esque volumes they will make a loss of few tens of thousands on every car sold just like the Optra. And still will not manage to buy enough sales, because the Aveo will surface with some really silly fault three months down the line. Or GM’s grouchy bunch of dealers will put all buyers off completely and they will start walking into far friendlier Maruti and Hyundai showrooms and drive off with Swifts (if they can find one with a waiting list under three months) or Getz’. And somehow, they would also unfailingly manage to piss off one or another very important customer (like a SC Lawyer), who would then would go out of his way to kill the brand. Or better still, their after-sales will continue to be so bad and expensive that you’ll never want to buy a GM product anyway.
However, for a bit of fun, GM will then make a huge Rs 100 crore advertising campaign which tries to show off their Indian-ness (and somehow manages to show them as the most completely north Indian company) which will be very arty-farty, because GM doesn’t do anything else (little sardarji kid, no way!) and which will gloriously fail. Of course, bad car adverts are not GM’s forte alone, I’m still trying to work out the last Maruti Esteem advert – but the new Toyota Innova advert is pretty nice mind you.
So when people write about
So my friend went ahead and booked his Innova today. Delivery will take three-four weeks unlike the next-day at your doorstep delivery of the Tavera, but I’m sure he will be happier.
EDIT : Since we are talking about car companies and big people carriers - I mean big by Indian standards, i came upon this report in Jalopnik, which says Suzuki, parents of our very own Maruti Udyog Limited are going to showcase two new concept vans at the Tokyo Motor show. The one pictured here is called the Ionis - which I have a very funny feeling might be showcased at the Maruti stall in next January's Auto Expo at Pragati Maidan. Now, don't laugh at these designs because the last major concept car that Suzuki highlighted was something called the Concept-S, which other than the kink being removed from the C-pillar is today known as the Suzuki Swift. Today's insane engineering could become tomorrow's call-ventre wagon!