FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

General Motors–Backwards Into the Future

Once again, General Motors shows how it can go backwards into the future. Its average new motor vehicle fuel inefficiency has been getting worse in recent years. Now it wants to unbundle many of its vehicles by dropping standard equipment side air bags and anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and charging its customers more for these life-saving devices as options.

So the new GM is like the old GM which charged customers in the Sixties and Seventies extra for seat belts and airbags respectively until federal law required or induced their standard installation.

Unless car buyers change GM’s mind by showing their displeasure and moving away from GM to another manufacturer that builds these safety systems as standard equipment, GM’s directive will have the following consequences:

1. Car buyers who opt for the options will have to pay two to three times as much. Once a feature ceases to be standard equipment, it costs more to manufacture in more limited quantities. Also car makers routinely overcharge consumers on options to begin with.

2. More lives will be lost, because these features will not be on all cars. To those rigid ideologues from the right who would leave such matters up to choice, I would ask if they would include seat belts, doors and padded dash panels under their ideology. The whole principle behind mandatory safety standards is to put a safety net under all vehicles sold, just like a good fire code does for building construction.

3. General Motors is exposing itself to losing more product liabilitylawsuits. Actively removing a safety feature from standard equipment straightens the argument by innocent, injured motorists that GM knew better and acted recklessly by deleting a clearly feasible “crashworthy” safety feature.

According to USA Today, GM expects to save about $100 million a year on this move from standard to optional for ABS and side airbags. Last year GM grossed over $177 billion, by comparison. How many lives and injuries is that ill-advised decision going to cost motorists and eventually, in dollars, General Motors.

USA Today, in its report, seemed to lay this decision at the feet of GM’s Product Chief, Robert Lutz, instead of the usual bean counters. I hope this is not the case.

Lutz is a free-thinking former Chrysler executive recently brought in by GM bosses to shake up the staid or stagnant corporate culture and put exciting engineering functions and designs on the road. I held a joint press conference with Mr. Lutz about a decade ago to celebrate Chrysler’s winning our celebrity buyer race by being the first to place air bags as standard equipment in automobile models affordable to middle class buyers. Celebrities such as Phil Donahue, Paul Newman, Dear Abby, Steve Allen and Bill Murray had pledged to buy such a vehicle and did.

It remains to be seen what the National Highway Safety Agency (NHTSA) will say about what Clarence Ditlow, the director of the Center for Auto Safety, called a “retreat from safety.” It remains to be seen also whether GM will start a race to the bottom by other auto manufacturers who see greed and callousness in their “strategic planning” process.

Consumers can vote with their feet and send a signal to these companies not to follow GM into the pits. In the meantime, any citizeninterested in safer roadways can convey his or her displeasure by writing to GM at GM headquarters, Detroit, Michigan or by logging into the company’s website — http://www.GM.com.

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail