The veteran US autos analyst, Maryann Keller, posed a simple yet salient question of GM in a feature in the Washington Post last week: why has it been so hard for GM to figure out what car buyers want and then give it to them? The company has not been able to leap ahead of the competition since the early 1980s when it led the way into front-wheel drive. Her reflections were focused on the slow nature of the company's response to consumer trends over the last twenty years. Here, Rob Golding asks whether the muddle of brands that the cars are sold under has exacerbated the problem.