When I first heard the GM ad campaign to give consumers access to the same discounts their employees get, I had two reactions:
- I sure hope that they have some alternative employee incentive lined up. I remember when I applied to GM as an engineer, this car discount was high on the list of how they sold the job. Now what are employees thinking, since their employment buys them nothing on this dimension? They are probably thinking they weren't getting much of a discount if GM can offer that discount to everyone
- If I were a stockholder, I would be selling, because it sure smacks as desperation. If you think of all the incentives GM has offered over the years, if they are offering an incentive that is unprecedented in their 80+ year history, then you know there must be some panic in the boardroom
Only GM could come up with a program that makes both employees and shareholders upset. George's Emploment Blawg has more thoughts along these lines. This all assumes that "same pricing as employees" means just that -- remember that this is the industry where "invoice pricing" means nothing of the sort.
Many people have analyzed GM's problems. It is tempting to say that their main problem is that they have not good cars, but I want to be careful not to substitute my preferences for market research. So, instead, I will point out a couple of facts:
- GM makes most of its profit from SUV's
- All the profit in a car line, given high fixed costs, come from the last 10-15% of the cars produced.
So, as gas prices rise and silly tax loopholes are closed [thanks Mark], SUV sales only need to fall 10-15% to wipe out most of GM's profitability.