Earlier this year, we tricked some of you with the fake April Fools’ day story that General Motors was planning to re-open its bus division. But today is no April Fools’ day… and — for the utter sake of discussion and contemplation — we’re being completely serious when we ask if GM should re-enter the bus market.
A Transportation Company
Being automotive enthusiasts, it’s not all that difficult to get caught up in the latest vehicular developments and lose sight of the bigger picture. New turbo-charged engines, lackluster interior volume, all-new full-size trucks, C7 Vette… it can get daunting, to say the least. But at the core of the cars we’ve come to know and love is, after all, transportation. As such, shouldn’t GM be in as much of the transportation business as possible? And isn’t public transportation a large part of transportation as well?
So while GM might be focused on best-in-class safety, fuel economy, handling, and design of its automobiles, a huge amount of people are not buying cars (from anyone), and aren’t planning to, either. But boy do they use public transportation… like busses, the subway, trains, and trams.
An Opportunity To Cross Promote
It might be somewhat difficult to imagine right now, but we’re sure there are several ways GM’s professional marketers can find a way to effectively cross-promote Chevy, Buick, GMC, Opel, or Cadillac vehicles via its busses. Now, we’re not talking about plastering the walls of the bus, along wit the back of every headrest, with ads for the Cruze and Malibu, and there certainly may be drawbacks to aligning a car brand with a bus brand; we can just imagine the tongue-in-cheek comedy that can ensue from driving a car that’s the same brand as the bus. But executed properly and creatively, it can definitely be done…
When it comes to cross promoting, the goal is simply: if the consumer doesn’t want a car, or simply can’t buy one now — fine. But why shouldn’t a GM vehicle be the first on his shopping list when it’s time for that (possibly first) car or truck? Now we’re talkin’.
Let’s imagine that GM does enter the public transportation sector with a lineup of busses — which it had back in the 80s — the firm can reap a few tangible benefits.
For starters, transportation in general is a growing business… and so is public transportation. On top of that, the products in the public transport sector can be quite profitable (just look at Scania). And wouldn’t you find a big-ol’ bus a good fit for the GMC brand? So, there’s money in the sector, and there’s growth… what business doesn’t want to see that?
Perhaps more important than any of these benefits is the fact that GM would have a fall-back industry that’s not directly related to personal transportation products (read: cars). This would leave The General more diversified and therefore better equipped in the event that the automotive industry takes a nosedive during an economic slump. And lastly, a public transportation/bus division will equip GM with another R&D arm — equipping the parent organization with additional technology that it can then apply to automobiles, and vice-versa.
And so it stands: if GM were to re-enter the bus/public transport industry, the effort could be an entirely different division within the company (perhaps carrying an existing name, like GMC). Yet what may be most appropriate is that South Korea’s second-largest bus manufacturer, the Daewoo Bus Corporation, is still in a partnership with GM Korea, and has been since 2006. Perhaps that’s might be a good starting point for GM’s bus efforts…