A GM investment in Rivian would send the wrong messages







And let’s not forget that GM has more experience — all bad — with electrified pickups than any other automaker. It’s tried twice with hybrid versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra and failed miserably, despite the fact that the 2004 and 2009 versions were solidly engineered and worked well.

I understand that GM fears another Tesla, but an investment in Rivian — or any other startup automaker — is a slap in the face to GM’s own engineers and designers. It tells them in part that GM’s management values the work of another company more than that of its own employees.

Any money that could go to Rivian could be better spent shoring up weak areas inside GM that need immediate attention. Here are a few suggestions:

— Service: Many GM customers know they can’t get consistently good service at all the company dealerships. GM should invest in programs that help dealers raise the level of customer satisfaction for service to Honda and Toyota levels. In fact, this should be job one for GM.

— Cadillac: The brand’s rebuilding could be pulled forward and accelerated with any money GM could use to invest in a vanity project.

— Selling technology: GM could set aside money to figure out how to solve a long-standing problem of successfully selling its technology. No automaker I know of has spent more money to develop technology only to see it fail in the marketplace.

It goes back to the EV1 electric car of the 1990s, carried on to the short-lived four-wheel steering system on GM pickups in the early 2000s — a revolutionary idea that made a Silverado handle like a Corvette — and continued through iterations of hybrids, head-up displays, Night Vision and many other innovations that came out and failed. GM was the first domestic automaker with an in-car navigation system and failed to capitalize on it.

In short: GM needs Rivian like a fish needs a bicycle.

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