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Battery Cars, Cruze Coupes and More in a Candid Conversation with Mark Reuss
One thing you can say about the Internet: it gives you a way to get up close and personal with just about anyone – including Mark Reuss, the man in charge of General Motors’ core North American operations.
In an hour-long type-fest, the one-time engineer-turned-executive fields an array of questions about everything from the future of battery cars to the need for more colors in GM’s paint palette
Among other things, Reuss discusses his hands-on approach to dealing with customers, while also giving some hints about products to come. Could a 2-door Chevrolet Cruze be in the offing? Well, read the real-time transcript, after the break, to see what Mark Reuss has to say.
Here’s the transcript of Mark Reuss’s Wednesday webchat, exactly as it occurred:
Christopher Barger: Good afternoon everyone. Mark’s here with us and we’re ready to begin.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 12:59 Christopher Barger
[Comment From JKujo : ] On Autoline After Hours, you answered my question about GM Mid-Sized cars having “Too Conservative” color palettes in the US. Have you been able to address this for the upcoming model year with maybe some Aussie colors which are stunning? My lease is up soon. Do I have to go to Ford to get a car in a different color other than silver? Silver to me is getting really old and I want something more exciting to be seen in.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 12:59 JKujo
13:01 Mark Reuss: hi chris–good to talk to you again….yes we are doing lots of things on colors. The green from Oz (atomic green as you would know)….is coming on Camaro–shown in sema. Also, probably a special violet metallic…and Mike Simcoe in design is from oz as you know and leading charge…thanks
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:01 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Lyle Dennis, GM-Volt.com : ] Do you expect BEV or EREV to have a higher demand?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:02 Lyle Dennis, GM-Volt.com
13:04 Mark Reuss: Lyle–long term demand on BEV could be higher as EREV intially leads the way with battery technology like the lithium ion pack in volt is first gen, then feeds BEV like vehicles. So, while EREV will be wildly pop at first with Volt, as the tech flows down to BEV in what will be smaller cars to carry smaller packs that may be the higher volume play over a longer time if that makes sense.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:04 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Ernie : ] Will there be a 2 door cruze?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:04 Ernie
13:06 Mark Reuss: Ernie–2 door cruze is a nice idea, and it may show up in the global market. As we have 2 door Cobalts currently, NA would naturally look at a Cruze 2 door, but I believe our small car portfolio will be WAY beyond what it is now, so a 2 door something still is needed.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:06 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Eric : ] Dear Mark, I’m A Current Owner of a 2009 Cobalt ss and Have Had Mutiple Problems With no help From anyone at Gm Can You Help me Out..I’m loyal Gm Owner
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:06 Eric
13:06 Christopher Barger: Eric – please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org & I’ll connect our customer service team to you. Thanks.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:06 Christopher Barger
[Comment From Guest : ] (Pete Basica Pedders USA) Can you tell us if the plans for a ZETA RWD sedan in one of the core brands is moving forward?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:07 Guest
13:07 Mark Reuss: quite possibly Pete…….
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:07 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Todd Lassa : ] Good afternoon, Mark. How does last week’s executive reorganization change the way GM decides which divisions get which models? It looks to me like the reorg reduces the power each division has in choosing a lineup. Do I have that right?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:08 Todd Lassa
13:10 Mark Reuss: Big Todd how are ya. In fact your comment is not true. Previously, a small point but large topic on the reorg would indicate we previously had no NA Planning in my org–it was done centrally. So, to correct this i assigned Mary Sipes to do NA planning and fully integrate–next to the dealer and customer–planning by division. thanks mark
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:10 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Floyd Burdett : ] Is GM shifting its focus to small, ‘urban’ vehicles, or will we still have vehicles we can pull a boat, horse, or construction trailer with? AND some SERIOUS performance vehicles!!
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:10 Floyd Burdett
13:13 Mark Reuss: Floyd– where GM was primarily a truck based portfolio in the past, we see that gas prices are volatile at the least. We need to be a company that is agile and responsive from a capacity and sales standpoint. So, GM will provide in a fast way, the products that the market demands—quickly and with high quality and safety as we do today. So, that includes the vehicles that have a great duty cycle for work, play, and commuting efficiently and safety with a lot of fun and style.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:13 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Howard: ] Do you feel that the name Chrevrolet hurts Corvette or that Corvette could do better as its own brand? Corvette already offers mutliple options or models.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:14 Howard
13:16 Mark Reuss: Chevrolet and Corvette have been together forever. I feel we do not leverage the Corvette name or the Camaro name to help halo Chevrolet. If you go to races you always see the red bowtie, but when have you ever seen vettes and camaros in ads for Equinox or Malibu? this will change.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:16 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Jeff Warg : ] Have you considered bringing back the Buick Grand National?Buick could really use a coupe and it would be a great way to honor the
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:16 Jeff Warg
13:19 Mark Reuss: Um yes i loved these cars and had many including GNX #446. However, what GN and GNX meant (not literally) then is what Regal GS means today. Really sophisticated perfomance (not just 0-60), but steering, brakes, beautiful torque delivery, styling etc. Remember “Fast with Class”? think Regal GS, which was developed at the Nordeschlief north course at Nurburgring–with Opel–as today’s much more capable car than GN’s.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:19 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Todd Lassa : ] Mark: prior to introduction of the next-generation Chevy Malibu, do you have any plans for mid-cycle updates or any other kinds of changes to better challenge Ford Fusion, Toyota Camry and the rest for sales leadership in the segment?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:20 Todd Lassa
13:22 Mark Reuss: Well–we have a better car with Malibu. I was with dealers today and we need to re-energize the car as we kind of launched and left it through BK. So, with a better car , and at the end of the lifecycle we prepare for the new one with much excitement….
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:22 Mark Reuss
13:24 Christopher Barger: Sorry – screen is freezing so I’ll cut & paste next question. From RD Henard: “Congrats on your new position. I’ve got a tough question for you. GM’s upper m[...]anagement seems to be really committed to the company’s success. No offence, but I don’t get the impression that the same sense of urgency has trickled down to the lower echelons. Do you have any plans to prevent the old “business as usual” attitude from creeping back in?”
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:24 Christopher Barger
13:27 Mark Reuss: No offence taken! Lets assume you are correct. I look at this as my job. If I dont model the behavior that I would like then how can I ask others to do this too? If I dont talk to customers on Facebook and solve problems or use our new mobile application to help customers than how can i ask others? if I dont call customers live and help them get parts then how can i ask others? It starts with me, and i take it personally. If people dont believe in me then we have a massive problem.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:27 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Matt Boschi : ] How is CAMI keeping up with the demand for Equinox/Terrrain with the addition of the 3rd shift? Are plans still on the table to increase production at other plants?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:27 Matt Boschi
13:29 Mark Reuss: Cami is heroic. They are doing EVERYTHING humanly possible until June when new things happen there and we expand to help. These folks are top notch and the quality is awesome…….plans at other plants full steam
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:29 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Kyle : ] Why have the prices of new vehicles rose so much? i would love to get a new camaro, but when the base model is just shy of 30k, and i can get a nice used gen I or gen II camaro, i have my doubts
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:30 Kyle
13:30 Mark Reuss: Well here is some really good news. 1LS on Camaro is $23530 and upward so buy one dude….
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:30 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Matt Boschi : ] Is there any advertising in the works for the core brands that is exciting, colorful and in-your-face that highlights performance, safety features, etc.? Whereas the advertising now, especially Chevrolet, seems to just feature silver Chevys comparing them to competitors and value.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:31 Matt Boschi
13:32 Mark Reuss: matt—chevrolet re vamp in ads is well under way with Susan Docherty–you will like it a lot–shows the car, and uses “excellence for everyone”….you will really like it.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:32 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Colin : ] Is it true that you will be bringing back the Tran-Am or is that just a myth?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:33 Colin
13:34 Mark Reuss: Colin–I saw a nice contemp Trans Am at autorama–but we have no Pontiac so it is a myth….sorry
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:34 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Mae : ] Hi Mark, I have a 2007 Saturn Vue and I am not sure if Chevy dealership will honor the 100K mile warranty. I would assure you that if we will be treated well with your Chevy dealers then our next car would be a Chevy. I also currently own a 2007 HHR.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:34 Mae
13:39 Mark Reuss: Mae—absolutely covered 100k for your Vue by any GM dealer!! Also, to keep you in the family we are offering up to $2000 dollars depending on the model…
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:39 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Guest : ] Are you saying Chevy’s new tagline is Excellence for Everyone? When will that tag line be rolled out and consumers seeing it in ads?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:39 Guest
13:40 Mark Reuss: no i am not….the new spots come in the next 2 months
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:40 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Dan : ] Mark, appreciate your time today. How long do you see the latest incentives by GM and competitiors lasting? Seemed like there was a big emphasis on reducing incentives and now a lot of competition to gain market share.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:40 Dan
13:42 Mark Reuss: Dan–the incent landscape is complex so i cannot answer for competitors–but we have decreased our incent spend by a huge amount and still grown share–that is what we will continue to do….profitable growth only….
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:42 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Mike Freeman : ] Hi Mark. My first message didn’t seem to go through, so here’s another. Why is it that GM is showing no concern for Pontiac customers like myself? I have sent emails, frequented the GM blogs and facebook profiles and even called corporate to try to make someone up there understand that doing away with this great car is a mistake. All of this with no response from a company that I have supported for many years. I and many other enthusists who have driven Pontiac for many years are really upset at what management has done and we appeal to GM to reinstate this car. GM needs Pontiac and America needs Pontiac. I can’t imagine the auto industry without Pontiac. Can anything be done to resurrect this great car?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:43 Mike Freeman
13:46 Mark Reuss: Mike–i am a current and past Pontiac owner too. We have offered free service to people like us and we have taken up on that to the tune of 82k people. So, we do care about us, and the decisions were made in BK, but I never would say we would NEVER talk about Pontiac again. But, we need to pay back us taxpayers too…and go public. And make money. And make Americans proud of who we are again. Any other focus would be wrong.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:46 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Bill Chadwick : ] Don’t know where you lived in Australia but we lived in Elizabeth next to the GM Holden plant. You must miss the friendly Aussies, the weather, the Floaters, and the beaches. I also came to America for the challenge.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:47 Bill Chadwick
13:49 Mark Reuss: Bill!!!! Good on YA mate!! I do miss it all….ya know my first weekend in Oz rolling off the plane was in Adelaide at the Clipsal race…..and 105 degree F heat!!! Love the plant, loved all of it –especially all the people….I hope the rain falls…..
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:49 Mark Reuss
[Comment From Paul Eisenstein : ] Well, Mark, my original message apparently got cut, so let me try again: can you give us a sense of what the market is looking like to you and how does GM take advantage of the problems faced by certain competitors while also overcoming its own consumer resistance?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:50 Paul Eisenstein
13:52 Mark Reuss: Hello Paul—-i miss you so much as it has been SO LONG since we chatted….ha ha . The market ran at about 10.5M in Feb which we all said was weather and strange conditions. SO, I think we all will have a good March, and some economic indicators are somewhat positive. I think GM is in a good place these days with our products, safety, FE, and performance–and our customers are asking for more. And, our dealers and network work we are doing are going to obviously add a lot of postive things for our customers as well…….
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:52 Mark Reuss
13:53 Christopher Barger: Shirley White – pls contact @GMCustomerSVC on Twitter, or send me a note at email@example.com. We’ll try to help.
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:53 Christopher Barger
[Comment From jamend@wardsauto : ] I’ll try again, too. Hi Mark. With the Cadillac Converj shelved, as Bob said in geneva, what are plans for Voltec beyond Volt and Ampera?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:53 jamend@wardsauto
13:54 Mark Reuss: James–we have not announced any plans for pure Voltec beyond Volt and Ampera….
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:54 Mark Reuss
[Comment From JKujo : ] Are the decreases in Sales at Cadillac something that concerns you? Do you think that new product will solve it? Can you get the new stuff here any faster?
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:56 JKujo
13:58 Mark Reuss: Yes the Cadillac sales worry me. However, with some good new dealers back in the game, our product is OUSTANDING, I am confident that the new team and agency will do wonders here…..
Wednesday March 10, 2010 13:58 Mark Reuss
13:58 Christopher Barger: Thanks everyone for your time today, we appreciate the questions — and as always, we’re sorry we can’t get to every question in the space of an hour.