Well color me pleasantly surprised. I want to make this crystal clear...I am politically conservative. I am not at all in favor of government bailouts. I don't subscribe to the premise that some companies or institutions or banks are too large to let them fail, no matter how many jobs are at stake. I believe unions have crippled many industries in this country and are NOT a necessary evil. They were needed and useful back when they were first introduced to this country, but now they are nothing more than a breeding ground for lazy workers and an anchor dragging down big business. Ok I'm done ranting.
GM Chairman Ed Whitacre made the announcement today that they have fully paid back their $5.8 billion government loans to the US and Canada years ahead a schedule and with interest. He said they used the funds to "restructure GM, invest in plants and people, create jobs and bring outstanding, award winning vehicles." In the same press conference he announced a huge investment in the new Chevy Malibu, and based on my experience driving the Malibu for a month, that's a REALLY smart move.
Buying that Saturn was thrilling for me. It was my money, and my first very big purchase. And the sales people treated me, a young college kid (with parents in tow) with respect. The day I picked up the car it was sitting on the showroom floor and they spend a solid 45 minutes going through every last detail, including how to check and add oil and how to change a tire. And then the entire staff clapped as I drove it off the showroom floor. Now THAT is customer service. That Saturn never failed me and I was happy with it...until my husband wrecked it a few years later. We had it repaired but when I got my first REALLY big promotion, I upgraded to a Nissan Maxima. After watching my husband's two Ford's need endless expensive repairs, I became a Japanese car convert. I have always hated Chryslers and now I hated Fords, so I became convinced that American cars were simply substandard. Now we own a Honda minivan and the same Nissan Maxima...neither of which have given us trouble.
BUT then came all the recalls. Toyota recalls and people dying from crazy accelorator and brake issues. Dirty secrets coming out about how Toyota has cut corners and compromised quality, especially in their American manufacturing operations (surprise?). And finally...my Honda minivan was recalled. Brake issues. Granted I haven't heard of anyone actually getting into accidents due to these issues but still. Honda is handling it pretty well, I think.
And then I was selected as a Chevy Girl on the Go to test drive the Malibu for a month. And it is beautiful, luxurious, and smart. Still not sure about the transmission...I think it shifts gears a bit harder than my Japanese cars, which has always been my beef with Chryslers. But it has better gas mileage than the comprable Ford, Honda or Toyota! Not to mention how affordable it is. Under $25K! And it's a GM...all else being equal I WANT to buy an American car.
It's not in the cards for me to buy a sedan right now, but my opinion has turned 180 degrees on Chevrolet and I'm working on changing my husband's opinion too. Now I have a vested interest in seeing GM succeed and today's news about their debt repayment makes me really happy.