Pulitzer-Winning Car Critic Talks GM on Marketplace

August 12, 2009
By Chris Richter

Dan Neil ’87 MA is a funny guy and a little off-beat, as you might know if you’ve read our 2004 interview with him. The Pulitzer Prize-winning car critic for the Los Angeles Times took a spin in a 2010 Buick LaCrosse yesterday with Kai Ryssdal, the host of NPR’s business news program Marketplace, and talked about GM’s future:

RYSSDAL: Let me try a slightly tortured analogy here. You know how movies these days are made on opening night, when people twitter what they thought about it, and tell their friends on Facebook, and it’s either sink or swim within the first three hours of the thing being on the screen. When this car comes out, how much time does GM have to make it a hit?

NEIL: Thirty days. Thirty days. I think this is really…Box office for this car is crucial. They’ve got to get people into showrooms, they’ve got to have people raving about the car. They got to be able to change people’s attitudes.

RYSSDAL: Where does GM go if this car doesn’t work?

NEIL: Well, fortunately for GM they’ve been able to strip down to a fighting weight. So they do have a future in the business for some time to come. You know, another way to look at it is that GM used to be the incumbent, the target for Toyota. Now GM is the upstart, they have the advantages, they are stripped down, they have lower production costs. They are hungrier. And that is an extraordinary possibility that GM might be the one to come out and kick butt.

You can read Neil’s columns here. He also posts regularly at Up to Speed, the L.A. Times‘ automobile blog.


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