A Tale of Two AutoMaker Blogs

Who says corporate blogs can’t be informative? Sometimes what is deemed worthy of a blog post can speak volumes about the companies publishing them.

Let’s look at two companies and their posts. Both employ a lot of U.S. autoworkers. One of them is seeking a massive bailout from the U.S. government. The other is managing OK on its own. Can you tell from their blogs which one is which?

First up is Company No. 1, which announced on its blog today a new hybrid car running on natural gas that will be displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week. The car replaces a gas hybrid’s fuel system with a compressed natural-gas system, giving it a range of up to 250 miles on a fuel whose price has been much less volatile than gas.

And while Company No. 1 stresses it’s just a concept car, it’s one of many alternative fuel applications under study.

This concept vehicle is a statement that we intend to include CNG in our diverse portfolio of future alternative-fuel R&D. Our purpose in building it as a concept is to demonstrate the efficiency and adaptability of Hybrid Synergy Drive, and to demonstrate that we continue to work with a variety of power-train concepts to ensure that we have products that meet the current and future needs of our customers on a global basis.

Not bad! Now, let’s look at Company No. 2. It also posted on its blog today, a rather sneery “open letter” to a national columnist who has been critical of it. This company points to an electric car that also doesn’t rely on gasoline, but goes only 40 miles. It’s an uneasy read: defensive and arrogant in tone, and unwilling to admit to missteps.

What exposes us to failure now is not our product lineup, or our business plan, or our long-term strategy. What exposes us to failure now is the global financial crisis. Please know that you have an open invitation to come and visit…We’ll be happy to brief you and we’ll even show you the cool stuff. Please give us a call. We’re looking forward to your visit.

Company 1, of course, is Toyota. And No. 2 is GM (the columnist is the NY Times’ Thomas Friedman). It’s telling that Toyota’s message is centered on innovation while GM’s is centered on lashing out at critics and deflecting blame.

True, GM is on the ropes, wanting to be heard above the crowd that is against giving it a bailout. But this glimpse at both companies illustrates why the market has been favoring Toyota.


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