General Motors Blog Rebuts Critics With Humor Plus Facts

Since receiving federally underwritten help through bankruptcy, and developing the extended-range electric Chevy Volt, GM has for the most part turned the other cheek to a cottage industry of critics, but that may be changing somewhat.

The company’s head of communications, Selim Bingol has launched a new blog which attempts to correct erroneous critical commentators GM has said are politically motivated.

The blog is called “btw,” and by the way, we learned of this story from Fox News which has famously played good cop/bad cop with GM – alternately covering news with a degree of “fair and balanced” reporting and on other occasions mercilessly roasting it as “Government Motors,” and for its Chevy Volt, among other topics.

“Critics and pundits beware: General Motors is listening to what you say,” FoxNews.com wrote, perhaps speaking to its own employees, “and now it has its own soapbox to talk back.”

Fox’s pretty straight news report about GM’s new “soapbox” gave balance to btw’s raison d’être, and quoted the site saying it “is here to provide our perspectives during those times when the debate creates more heat than light.”

We say “pretty straight news report” because Fox somehow managed to call the site a “soapbox” despite the fact that Bingol had pointedly stated, “It won’t be a soapbox for ranting (no matter how therapeutic a good rant can be). It’s just meant to provide our point of view, when the collective view gets a little clouded.”

Could it be that Bingol is being vindicated even as one of GM’s most outspoken critics attempts to report – and inverts the subject’s stated position apparently in spite of its attempt this time to just tell the story?

At any rate, Fox goes on to report an initial example of a critic needing correction. Under the entry quoting GM CEO Dan Akerson’s response to the Republican-led House subcommittee hearing last month – “We Did Not Engineer the Volt to Be a Political Punching Bag” – btw contemplates Newt Gingrich’s statement that, “You can’t put a gun rack in a Volt.”

To this, btw replied, “That’s like saying ‘You can’t put training wheels on a Harley.’ Actually, you can. But the real question is “Why would you?”

Bingol’s post continues with standard marketing explanations about the extended-range electric vehicle while quipping, “if you are looking for a vehicle for your next hunting trip, it may not be your first choice.”

Despite weaker than expected sales of the limited-production Volt, General Motors is now the world’s largest automaker, financially solvent, and working on a “fortress balance sheet.” It has over 200,000 employees worldwide, indirectly keeps many hundred thousand more in their jobs, but the company has been catching constant heat for being a detriment to the American economy.

And it is true that the federal government is still on the hook for tens of millions in GM stock which is now trading below its IPO price. And in the aftermath of its restructuring, GM prompted a number of people who – if not considered outright enemies – at least could be said to have no love for the company.

GM’s latest multi-tiered communications campaign attempting to re-align its public image with its improving financial reports and product line appears to mix humor with facts, and poses as an off beat, but ready to go toe-to-toe venue.

The company is also running commercials for the Volt, and has said it is having to “relaunch” the gas-electric plug-in car after so much misinformation has been disseminated about it.

Initial development for the Volt was estimated at around $1 billion and the vehicle is now the proud carrier of the name “halo” car for Chevrolet products. Its future is still being questioned by a variety of commentators, and last year every foible along its deliberately slow roll out was closely analyzed.

You can be sure GM is none too pleased at how some people portray it, and it is starting to present its counter views as well as it can with politically correct rebuttals aimed at separating fact from fiction.


  • Tony

    We say “pretty straight news report” because Fox somehow managed to call the site a “soapbox” despite the fact that Bingol had pointedly stated, “It won’t be a soapbox for ranting (no matter how therapeutic a good rant can be). It’s just meant to provide our point of view, when the collective view gets a little clouded.”

    Interesting that you call out FNC and not GM for this. While they did say “this won’t be a soapbox”, they also said that the blog was meant to provide their point of view – in other words (by definition) it’s a soapbox after all.

    To be fair to GM, they didn’t say it wasn’t a soapbox period, they said it wasn’t a soapbox for ranting. How true that is remains to be seen. But FNC’s characterization is completely accurate.

    I wouldn’t worry though, you’re not the first to try to cite their accuracy as evidence that they’re not objective, and you won’t be the last.

  • Joe Wilder

    Good for GM. A little humor goes a long way toward getting on people’s right side. Whatever their future fortunes, I’ll look forward to hearing more from them.

  • Mick Simpson

    Well I for one deeply resent my tax dollars being used to bail out GM, government giving the unions ownership ahead of the secured bond holders. What should have occurred is a normal bankruptcy and restructuring of GM (and Chrysler). So I do think if GM as Government Motors and I believe the outright theft of my tax dollars.
    That said, let me talk about the Volt. Overall average of what, 37MPG? Why I can buy a Prius for less and get 50+ MPG. So why would I as a consumer want to buy the Volt when the Prius provides more bang for the buck and is more environmentally conscious. The plug-in feature of the Volt uses the power grid with approximately a 30% efficiency loss over the grid – the same grid that uses that dirty old coal or nuclear energy that the environmental movement hates.

    So I’ll avoid Government Motors and the Volt for now.

  • Richard Joash Tan

    you are a bullshit because I’m sticking with the Volt, GM, the 911 991 and Porsche

  • Mick Simpson

    Rich,

    Your response is typical of someone that cannot debate the issues because of a lack of knowledge. You resort to personal attacks without addressing the core argument.

    Please try making your case that using the electrical grid to charge a battery is energy efficient – aka green. I would LOVE a truly green car. I invested in fuel cell technology and fuel cell energy sources because I thought the technology was almost ready for widespread use in the auto industry and beyond. Unfortunately for my pocketbook I was wrong.

    I will keep looking for the green car that makes sense, but it is not the Volt. I’ll be ordering my Prius very soon.

    Mick

  • sams

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  • sams

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  • Blonda

    Haha.. GM is funny these days! I’ve really enjoyed reading the blog lately!
    RCA Timisoara