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GM's Plans to bring Innovative Products to Market

Bruce Nunnally

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There's a lot of meeting-speak here (tell them what you're going to tell them...) but the message is clear: the emphasis has shifted toward putting innovative ideas on the street.

The biggest problem in getting innovation into the marketplace from big corporations is assessment of risk by the organization. Risk assessment consists of estimating several things:

  • What are the gains? Short term, mid term, and long term?
  • What happens when the attempt fails? What are the consequences?
  • What are the likelihoods of success and failure, and all the gradations between them?
  • What do you do in the event of failure?
In large organizations with business types taking inputs from industry types and technical types is that the business types take the responsibility for the decisions, and they often do not understand the rationales for the technical, financial, and cross-complexities in the industry that are the basis for making these decisions. This is why GM didn't have hybrids on the market in the 1990's, nor did anyone else, except Toyota with the Prius in 1999. GM won PV-powered electric car races in Australia in the 1990's but didn't exploit this technology lead; the Volt isn't quite here just yet. Even when an initial innovation is out there, lack of commitment may cause it to be canceled, or die for lack of continued support; examples include, but are not limited to:

  • The Ford Thunderbird as a sports car; the suspension was fielded as a passenger car, not a sports suspension, and they dropped the two-seater after just two years.
  • The Corvair had one major revision in 1965 which was a truly excellent car; it is still used as a platform for SBC-based mid-engine sports racing cars.
  • The Vega needed something for oil consumption as a revision but was instead discontinued.
  • The Ford small car line of pinto/Mustang II foretold the future but was dropped instead of evolved.
  • The Omi/Horizon was an excellent platform but was never evolved. Same for the K-cars. Same for the Citation. The Chevette -- not so much, though, but evolution might have revealed a winner there.
  • Mercedes and others dropped their linked sports car and racing programs after the 1955 LeMans disaster and didn't recover until the 1990s -- and then only a few manufacturers.
  • The Honda S2000 was a brilliant car but was released in limited production (what were they thinking???) and never evolved; it's end is near.
  • The Honda NSX was introduced as a giant-killer halo car, named after an ICBM and interceptor missile, but was dramatically overpriced and never really evolved. There were refinements for a long time but these were never advertised or exploited. Now it's gone.
Examples of what commitment can do include

  • The Corvette, which started as a Motorama show car in 1953 and became Chevrolet's halo car.
  • The Viper, which was introduced in 1992 ad a ZR-1 killer and continues today, evolved, as a Chrysler halo car.

-- Click Here for CaddyInfo page on "How To" Read Your OBD Codes
-- Click Here for my personal page to download my OBD code list as an Excel file, plus other Cadillac data
-- See my CaddyInfo car blogs: 2011 CTS-V, 1997 ETC
Yes, I was Jims_97_ETC before I changed cars.

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