By on March 29, 2009

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner is set to resign his position tomorrow. The timing of Wagoner’s departure is clearly symbolic. It’s meant to signal the nation that it’s OK throw bailout billions GM’s way because it’s a new day. Well, there’s a new guy at the top, anyway. Which may or may not be true, depending on whether or not Wagoner’s hand-picked successor and virtual clone Fritz Henderson inherits the job. If Henderson gets the nod, the symbolism of Wagoner’s defenestration will be far richer than its architects intended. For it will confirm the growing suspicion that the president’s mantra of hope and change is heavy on the hope and light on the change. And while that plays out, Wagoner’s resignation will eventually be seen as a way point on a journey of self-destruction, rather than a turning point on a bridge to . . . nowhere.

This is not the place for a post mortem examination of Rick Wagoner’s career as a GM lifer. There is no need nor room for debate about Wagoner’s negative impact on the artist formerly known as the world’s largest automaker. By any objective metric—market share, profitability, share price, capitalization, anything—Wagoner’s tenure at the top was an abject, epic failure. In fact, I pronounced Wagoner R.I.P. three years ago, in March 2006. I said it then, I’ll say it now: it’s too late to save General Motors. General George S. Patton himself could rise up from the dead, slap a few of Wagoner’s soldiers, assume command and fail. All Wagoner’s replacement can do, indeed should do, is prepare the automaker for bankruptcy.

Wagoner leaves GM buried [barely] alive under a Himalayan mountain of debt, much of it his creation (under the guise of lowering operating costs). The company which once held the title as the world’s most profitable corporation now carries some $46.5B worth of debt. President Obama could add 20 or 30 or even 50 billion dollars in “loans” for GM tomorrow. He could force a 100 percent debt-for-equity swap for ten cents on the dollar amongst GM’s bondholders. He could dictate that the United Auto Workers accept stock in lieu of ANY contribution to its Mother of All Health Care Funds. And it still wouldn’t be enough to extricate General Motors from its current predicament.

GM has been and will continue to be an over-dealered, under-funded mess. Its brands are a complete disaster. Even the brands with some remaining psychological equity—Chevrolet and Cadillac chief amongst them—are suffering from bailout backlash as Americans grow angry at the increasingly obvious black hole that is Bailout Nation. With a handful of notable exceptions (mainly because they ARE exceptions), GM’s products are not competitive. And, lest we forget, the U.S. new car market is still contracting violently, with millions of unsold units just waiting for their makers to give up, sell them at any price and further depress sales and profits. In short, GM currently has zero opportunity for relative or absolute growth.

Given this hopeless morass, Wagoner’s resignation comes at the worst possible moment. It will fuel the boundless, baseless optimism which led to the first $17.4B GM bailout (not including a share of the Department of Energy’s $25B retooling loans or the $1B GMAC-related loan). Of course, that’s the entire point: Wagoner’s sword-falling routine gives the Obama administration and his Presidential Task Force on Automobiles something “concrete” upon which to pin their empty message of future auto industry transformation. What’s more, with Wagoner out of the way, the president can amp-up his electric car and high mileage dreams. See? We’re not subsidizing the same old SUV-building bastards. We’re reinventing the car industry!

What’s the bet Wagoner will announce his resignation without a single mea culpa? His statement will be as short as it will be meaningless. Seed-sowing, torch passing, foundation building—no matter what the metaphor, the underlying message will be “I prepared GM for the success to follow.” The fact that there will be no success to follow is neither here nor there. The feds’ willingness to keep GM on taxpayer funded life support means that Wagoner will be enjoying the fruits of his labors—including his bankruptcy-proof pension—even as those who inherit his legacy of his incompetence struggle to extricate anything of value from the inevitable corporate carnage.

I can’t decide whether Wagoner’s career at GM is Wagnerian, Chekovian (Cherry Orchard), Millerian (Death of a Salesman) or Shakespearean (King Lear). In the final analysis, it’s all of the above. And as long as we’re going down the literary path, Wagoner is the ultimate Hollow Man. Although news of his resignation arrives with something of a bang, the company Wagoner guided will not end with equal force. Thanks to the men at the top of the GM pyramid it will end with a whimper.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

111 Comments on “Editorial: General Motors Death Watch 239: Rick Wagoner’s Resignation...”


  • avatar

    Whether this is a turning point will depend on whether the next guy can reorganize GM into a viable concern. Their manufacturing efficienty and products (well, at least the newer ones) are pretty much where they need to be. The problem at this point is with GM’s fixed costs, among them debt payments.

    One they get the fixed costs in line, they need to focus on creating thoroughly excellent products. This will require a much different organization than that found in most businesses. For those who haven’t read my take on what such an organization would be like:

    http://www.truedelta.com/execsum.php

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    I thought Wagoner already did a pretty good job of preparing GM for bankruptcy…..

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    I agree with Robert. When those in power bail, it usually means sudden catastrophic failure is imminent. But when?

  • avatar
    Scorched Earth

    Honestly, I really don’t think Wagoner was THAT bad. Clearly he was ineffective in turning around the company, but only Superman could make ANY of those objective measures go up in the market conditions (and initial state of the company) of the past 5 years. Most missteps occurred before his tenure; if the morons in Washington think they can do better than someone who’s been in the industry and the company as long as Wagoner, they’ll find themselves either lucky or wrong.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    If Mr. W had been in any other Industry, he would have been sacked long before this time, it sort of looks like he asked to leave?, I expect time will tell on this score, I note that the head of the CAW here in Canada was really upset when he heard this News! Amazing eh!

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    It really is tough to see where GM can go from here.

    Its only chance is for the government to issue a blank cheque to its next CEO, in the hope that they can attract some top talent. Nissan only turned itself around because Renault gave it the capital and management to survive.

    Likewise, no self respecting manager will want to take the position up without having some sort of backup (in this case, the government with cash on hip). What career manager is going to want to put his/her legacy on the line for a job where you’ll have government interference at every corner, be in the middle of a turnaround plan which your predecessor started (and you can’t stop) and have a demoralised staff? I strongly suspect that if Mr Mulally didn’t get that huge pay cheque at the beginning and that all that cash to turn the company around, I doubt he would have left Boeing. He had a good body of work there. Why ruin a good thing at a bad price?

    I suspect the next CEO will be another GM lifer, simply by virtue that no-one else will want the job.

    I was once told a story of a where a child did something bad (doesn’t matter what) and the parent decided to highlight to the child the actions of what they’d done.

    They told the child to squeeze a tube of toothpaste out. Totally empty it.

    “Was that fun?”

    “Yeah!”

    “Right….now put it back into the tube…”

    (confused expression on the child’s face)

    “It’s easier to do something, than to undo it.”

    Putting toothpaste back into the tube is pretty much the situation GM is in now….

  • avatar
    Happy_Endings

    The fact it took Obama to force Wagoner to leave just shows how out of touch the upper management of GM is with reality. The Rick was a failure, yet the BOD and other managers continued to give him time and support.

    Fritz Henderson will likely be the next CEO. If he does, he will have a long honeymoon period just like his predecessor did if the BOD has anything to say about it. No matter how many mistakes he makes, he’ll be given all the praise the BOD can give him. Not much will change, as the upper management and BOD will just continue to high-five each other as GM slips closer to finally filing for bankruptcy.

  • avatar

    Now, what do you call a political system where the government tells businesses what to do?

  • avatar
    skor

    De mortuis nil nisi bonum.

  • avatar
    vento97

    Now, what do you call a political system where the government tells businesses what to do?

    C’mon – quit Stalin and give us the answer…:)

  • avatar
    nevets248

    WOW!
    Christmas came early this year!!!
    AMF.

  • avatar
    Happy_Endings

    Detroit News says Fritz Henderson will be the next CEO, on an “interim basis”.

    “GM has set a 9 a.m. conference call for Monday morning with top company officials. A person familiar with the matter said GM President and Chief Operating Officer Fritz Henderson would be named CEO on an interim basis.”

    http://www.detnews.com/article/20090329/AUTO01/903290329/1361/Wagoner+forced+out+at+GM

  • avatar
    paanta

    @Ronnie: One that has a leg up on one that blindly hands money out to any failing industry?

    The three options are:
    1. Let them fail.
    2. Throw money at them.
    3. Throw money at them, conditionally.

  • avatar
    jackc10

    I really doubt that President Obama had anything to do with the resignation.

    Politics do not work that way, especially at the national level.

    The BOD sat on their hands for years, just approving what was put before them. Stock holders are too diffuse to have any input.

    Debt holders are in a different position, and the largest probably know better and have some power; More than the older-than-me Cadillac drivers, Detroiters, GM retirees, pumpers and the like.

    Maybe a bond holder or somebody really important,(Fill in the blank, maybe Obama’s Aunt, investment manager, etc.) besides my wife, rented a vehicle and drew a Cobalt at the Memphis airport this week.

  • avatar

    C’mon – quit Stalin and give us the answer…:)

    Bzzzz. Wrong answer. Stalin didn’t tell businesses what to do, his state owned all the businesses.

    I’m thinking something that’s more “third way” than socialism or capitalism.

    I’ll give you a hint. Jonah Goldberg’s current book discusses it.

  • avatar
    Dave

    Fritz? – you gotto be kidding? What GM needs now is an outsider to ask “why?” The model GM worked to just ain’t working – GM needs to get into a “PR”(post-Rick) mode asap.

    Katie – I fear you’re right, GM will look internally to find somwone (anyone) BO will accept and appoint them. Another GM-staffer who has enough ‘plausable denability’, to say “it’s a new day”.

    As much as am I pleased that RiR is History, I regret his passing, not least because he’s no longer in the frame to be accountable for what he’s presided over. Can’t you see him at breakfast this morning saying to his wife, “s^&t, we don’t need this, how’d you fancy a few weeks in the Carribean?”.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    The captain of the Hindenburg decides it’s time to walk away from a smoking hole in the ground.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    So, loaning billions of dollars to business is ok for the government, but asking for a bad ceo to resign is beyond the pale?

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Name another company that lost this much money, market share, stock price and prestige in 5 years. I don’t even think the other two can match the numbers. GE comes close, we will see if Jeffery keeps his job for much longer.

    Rabid Rick ran GM into the wall, aided by the BoD and the other chief executives around him. His salary the past few years was a disgrace, not even close to what he should have taken which was a dollar a year.

    Sure he was GM blue to the bone and most definately cared about the company’s fortunes but in the end he FAILED to make correct decisions about product, market, Union contracts, and leadership around him. I think any one of these areas would have made a difference today if he didn’t choose the path of less resistance. From VEBA to Volt, the real answers were on the wall.

    Small hybrid cars, like the cobalt.

    Tell the Union to F off. Strike if you don’t like it because, hey, we got 200 days of cars in stock

    Red Tag and employee pricing. Let’s sell cars at a loss and call it a business. This drained the bank like nothing else except…..

    GMAC and home loans. Why on earth would a car company get involved with sub prime home loans and stay involved as the market crashed?

    And on and on. Importing Opals and Korean cars for an American Revolution sales campaign.

    Nucking Futs.

  • avatar
    mcs

    I’m hoping that Mitt Romney is on a plane tonight bound for DTW. Probably not because I’m not sure the PTFOA (or whatever it is) has the stomach for his tough love approach, but he’s one of the few people that has a snowballs chance in hell of turning them around.

  • avatar
    bleach

    Hollow Man? More like Robocop, but definitely Verhoevian.

    6000-SUX: An American tradition – 8.2 MPG!

    It would fit nicely on his resume.

  • avatar
    mikey

    OK So March 31st was the deadline,and GM missed it.The President of the United finds himself between a rock and a hard place.Somebody has to pay the piper,and that fell’a calls the tune.

    Welcome to the world of former GM employees Rick.

  • avatar
    hiptech

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Detroit’s biggest problem isn’t the economy, it’s Detroit. For way too many years there was this incestuous mentality, largely due to corporate inbreeding that caused it’s demise.

    You really can’t blame them they were so isolated from the rest of the country, heck, the rest of the world. After all for so many decades after WW II whatever the Big 3 produced was always good enough, why change? Remember the old saying “what’s good for GM, is good enough for the country”?

    The notion of false superiority, repudiating the threat from foreign competition with ridiculous statements like “we’ll drive ’em back into the sea” all while ridiculing foreign competitors was nothing less than insightful if not completely ludicrous.

    I can still fondly recall memorable statements like “if the Japanese had to build cars in the good old US of A they would never be able to maintain those financial cost advantages.”

    Or who can forget the visionary leadership Wagoner displayed (only a mere 4 years ago) when he decided to kill the USDM Zeta worldwide rear-wheel-drive platform in favor of bringing out- wait for it… a new line of full size pickups!?

    Keep in mind this occurred during the time of ever rising gas prices when any 12 year old could see the writing on the wall spelling the death knell for gas guzzling pickups and SUVs.

    In retrospect, even those rear-wheel-drive Pontiac G8’s and Camaro’s rolling off Holden’s assembly lines are not even close to appropriate given the current economic mess.

    But hey, when you’re GM it don’t matter cause anything we make, the country’s gonna buy, right? Yeah, and we’re gonna party like it’s 1999!

    Here’s another thought… you know that new Presidential Caddillac limo that weighs as much as the Lincoln Memorial, looks like the aborted fetus between a Chevy Suburban and a 1986 Sedan de Ville and probably sucks down about 12 gallons per mile?

    Maybe Obama decided he’s tired of being tailed by Exxon tanker trailers in his motorcade just to keep this behemoth fueled every 6 blocks – it’s time for payback… true

    One last point, now that GM is being absorbed into the “collective” via US tax dollars, what will their new name be?
    Federal Motors, MG (money grubers), how about keep it GM but change the name to Government Motors this way the remain execs can keep the embroidered hand towels and monogrammed gold china?

  • avatar
    Rob Kleinbaum

    I will restate the opinion I gave in my article on Retooling GM Culture: removing the CEO as an isolated sacrifice is meaningless; the culture that drove the company to its current situation will be alive and well. But if this is the beginning of a broad change in GM’s leadership and structure and not just a symbolic act, then I think there is real hope for the company. The critical question is whether the White House understands, and is willing to force, the true need for broad transformation or will be content with this relatively unimportant act. We should know which it is soon.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    His exit will cost us billions more. Thanks, Rick.

    It doesn’t:
    * Help GM’s cash flow.
    * Improve GM’s product mix.
    * Boost GM’s quality, real or perceived.
    * Accelerate the Volt timeline, which will save the company. Or definitely won’t.

    I guess we’ll hear shortly about how he’s pillaged the company with some ‘excessive’ golden parachute, to which I say “maybe, maybe not”.

  • avatar

    So, loaning billions of dollars to business is ok for the government, but asking for a bad ceo to resign is beyond the pale?

    Yep. When the gov’t is making personnel and management decisions a bright line has been crossed.

  • avatar
    like.a.kite

    It’s worth noting that there’s no way Obama or anyone could have really changed anything this fast. He’s making a lot of friends. Don’t forget, it’s early yet.

  • avatar
    bobkarafin

    As he cleans out his desk (assuming guys like him really clean out their own desks), I hope that this thought occurs to The Rick:

    “DAMN!! I could have done what I KNEW was the right thing by going Chapter 11. Sure I would’ve been shown the door, but at least I would’ve gone out as a hero who did the right thing regardless of the consequences to me personally.

    Instead, because I didn’t have the balls to leave while I still had a little dignity, I let GM suck on Uncle Sam’s sugar tit until they finally got so pissed off at my own (and my board’s) incompetence that they gave me the boot anyway.

    Now not only is my ass out on the street, but I also will be forever known as the dickless wonder who rode GM into the ground. And all I have to show for it is my bankruptcy-proof pension.”

    In the end, Wagoner screwed himself just as badly as he screwed GM.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    When the gov’t is making personnel and management decisions a bright line has been crossed.

    No problem. Have GM repay the money, and they can make all the decisions that they want. (Clearly, they are quite adept at making poor ones.)

    Beggars can’t be choosers. GM is already effectively defaulting on its loans, so they are in absolutely no position to complain.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    hiptedh: don’t you mean “1959”?

  • avatar

    Finally.
    The forces of the past can no longer pretend business as usual.
    The complete and total makeover of GM is finally starting.

  • avatar
    GTI

    The NY Times is reporting that within 30 days GM will file for bankruptcy or a “chief restructuring officer” will be named to “knock heads.” I think the emphasis on Henderson’s new title should be on “Interim.”

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    Well since it took a salary of what $14 million to keep a man as talented as Wagoner at the top of GM, it will be interesting to see the companies lining up to get him now that he’s on the market.

  • avatar
    toxicroach

    I’d kinda prefer the bright line be at the loans. If you’re the only thing keeping a business alive, you get to fire people. That’s just common sense.

  • avatar
    hiptech

    guyincognito :
    March 29th, 2009 at 7:39 pm

    Well since it took a salary of what $14 million to keep a man as talented as Wagoner at the top of GM, it will be interesting to see the companies lining up to get him now that he’s on the market.

    ——————————————————–

    I’m on it – the next Republican candidate for 2012 presidential elections. Hey, Sara Palin needs a VP running mate, right?

  • avatar
    "scarey"

    about freakin’ time…

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Seven years ago, Rick proclaimed that GM would be the king of profitability by going all-in on trucks and SUVs while letting its car business wither and die. That was a major strategic decision and it led to the disaster of 2008.

    Given GM’s size, it has to be a first tier player in every major market segment on a global basis. Rick never made decisions consistent with such a strategic objective. He was a bean counter first, last and forever. Some bean counter rise above the narrow minded finance spreadsheet view of the world, he wasn’t one of them.

  • avatar
    BDB

    Mitt Romney for CEO of GM.

    It would be both a bi-partisan gesture and a real pistonhead with good business sense. Perfect replacement.

  • avatar
    Rastus

    Personally, I would classify Ricky’s reign as Luciferian.

  • avatar
    Qwerty

    The NY Times is reporting that within 30 days GM will file for bankruptcy or a “chief restructuring officer” will be named to “knock heads.” I think the emphasis on Henderson’s new title should be on “Interim.”

    I call bullshit. We all know that Obama has a devious plan to enable the moochers and destroy capitalism as we know it. Instead of spending money on programs he believes in, he would much rather spend it to clean up Bush’s mess by bailing out incompetent rich people. There is no way he will let his hard won control over the auto industry evaporate with a bankruptcy.

    If the gubmit can now tell insolvent companies kept afloat with taxpayer money to fire incompetent executives then where will it end? The goose step, that’s where. Buy guns. Stock up on food. Hide your women. The end is nigh.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Now, what do you call a political system where the government tells businesses what to do?”

    You do know that is exactly how the US built the arsenal of democracy with which WWII was won, don’t you? During the war years the entire economy was directly controlled by various boards in Washington under the orders of the President. Even basic supplies for the populace were only available under a strict regimen of rationing. Young and middle aged men could pretty much count on being drafted and told exactly what they would be doing and where they would be doing it. Many neo-cons are very proud of the US’ efforts in WWII, yet neglect to acknowledge how it was done.

    Believe it or not, democracy doesn’t not necessarily equal laissez-faire capitalism.

    Back to GM: If Fritz is the replacement then we just have more of the same. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  • avatar
    BDB

    “You do know that is exactly how the US built the arsenal of democracy with which WWII was won, don’t you? During the war years the entire economy was directly controlled by various boards in Washington under the orders of the President. Even basic supplies for the populace were only available under a strict regimen of rationing.”

    OH MY GOD!! ZOMG!!!! TEH KOMMEHNISM!!!11!

    /sarcasm

  • avatar
    hiptech

    Time for another prediction. What other “visionary” CEO heading the 3rd largest domestic car maker should also be sent packing?

    Give up? Here’s a clue – he’s currently working the same magic mojo for Chrysler that he accomplished at Home Depot.

    That’s right, let’s not forget what an outstanding job former Home Depot chief Robert Nardelli is currently doing for Chrysler.

    You know he was selected for his uncanny ability to “turn things around” based on his previous experience.

    Has to be, how much of a stretch is it to go from claw hammers to motor vehicles?

    Is this a great country or what!?

  • avatar
    BDB

    hiptech–

    I really hope Nardelli is fired next. He needs to get the pink slip as much as Wagoner did.

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    Rats or Rick are first to run from a sinking ship.

  • avatar
    oldowl

    And for all those down-spiraling years, where were the GM directors?

    Sucking tail fin juice and doing the bobble-head: yes, yes, ok, ok, zzz?

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    why do some people think of romney as a piston head? his father, george, was the automotive ceo (before becoming michigan governer, and later a republican candidate for potus).

    mitt grew up in detroit, went to school out of state, and never looked back (except to visit dad, who continued to live in bloomfield hills.)

    btw, robin williams also grew up in bloomfield, father was a fomoco exec, but i wouldn’t particularly hang the gear head moniker on him either…

  • avatar
    Rastus

    I think we need to put Pete DeLorenzo on a suicide watch….this SURELY is going to drive him over the edge.

    “…why, that’s pure unmitigated bullshit”…haha

  • avatar
    BDB

    I’m just looking at the cars he owns, Robert. He seems to like American cars a lot.

    I’m a Democrat and tend to think of Mitt as soulless bean counter, but that’s what GM needs right about now. A soulless, pistonhead Republican bean counter.

    Mitt Romney–horrible President, kick-ass automotive CEO.

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Robert,
    Mitt would be a great candidate for CEO of GM because he has extraordinary experience in both the private and public sectors. He turned around Bain & Company (the consulting firm) when it was near bankrupcy, and then started Bain Capital (the private equity firm), creating $Billions in value.

    He fixed the Salt Lake City Olympics, and ran Massachusetts. You may not agree with his politics (I certainly don’t) but as a manager and leader, he really is unparalleled today.

    Is he a car guy? Not really – he’s no Lutz that’s for sure. But does he understand the industry? Can he inspire workers and suppliers? Can he make hard decisions? Can he pull together bondholders, the government and shareholders?

    Better than anyone I can think of.

  • avatar
    dejalma


    I think we need to put Pete DeLorenzo on a suicide watch….this SURELY is going to drive him over the edge.

    “…why, that’s pure unmitigated bullshit”…haha”

    Wednesday can’t come soon enough.

  • avatar
    ihatetrees

    +1 regarding Mitt Romney as CEO choice.

    Although, I think he’s more interested in the Presidency.

  • avatar
    Autopassion

    Re John Horner:

    Absolutely correct! Decades of propaganda have convinced people that their government is the enemy. Then, we are surprised that government indeed can fail us when we elect people who have no experience with successful governance and who campaign on an anti-government platform. Just saying…

  • avatar
    Bridge2far

    “Even the brands with some remaining psychological equity– Chevrolet and Cadillac chief amongst them– are suffering from bailout backlash, as Americans grow angry at the increasingly obvious black hole that is Bailout Nation.’

    Really? As someone on the front lines so to speak, I have not once heard this sentiment. Ever.

  • avatar
    f8

    I don’t think there’s bailout backlash against GM brands, and the idea itself seems as contrived and far-fetched as the idea of people not buying luxury cars out of fear of appearing rich or overly cocky (this one has also been posted here recently).

    For the most part people buy (or not buy) cars for purely pragmatic reasons. Is it reliable? Is it safe? How’s the warranty? How comfortable is it? How cheap can I get it? These are the things that concern people most, and other stuff like “I am sort of angry at GM for taking my tax money” or “I’m afraid someone will call me a douche behind my back if I buy this Lexus” are very very far down on the list of priorities for car buyers.

    The backlash GM and other domestic car companies are suffering is due to several factors – the economic downturn, the fact that their cars still suck, the fact that much better offerings from other brands are still available (and now also at competitive prices), and the uncertain future of the brands themselves – who the heck wants to get a Saturn these days, knowing that the brand is getting axed and the resale value of your Saturn vehicle (already abysmal) will become nonexistent once the company fades into Oldsmobile territory? Consumers’ anger has absolutely nothing to do with this.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    More news is leaking out on the gov’t plans.

    Chrysler is supposedly being told do the Fiat deal, or else:

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090330/ap_on_go_pr_wh/auto_bailout_24

    Also in that article:

    “An official said a majority of the GM board was expected to step down.”

  • avatar

    John Horner :
    March 29th, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    “Now, what do you call a political system where the government tells businesses what to do?”

    You do know that is exactly how the US built the arsenal of democracy with which WWII was won, don’t you?

    That was during a war when we recognize exigent circumstances. As a matter of fact, one of the characteristics of fascism is the “moral equivalent of war” mentality for things other than war. That way the society is mobilized towards a goal. Italian Fascism in part grew out of Mussolini’s experiences as a soldier in WWI.

    OTOH, I suppose an argument can be made that FDR’s wartime production and rationing policies were of a piece with much of his New Deal legislation, that rigidly controlled business activity.

  • avatar

    Absolutely correct! Decades of propaganda have convinced people that their government is the enemy.

    The founding fathers were also suspicious of the power of the state. Is the Constitution propaganda?

  • avatar
    Richard Chen

    @dejalma, Rastus: it’s up tonight

  • avatar
    cpmanx

    Can we once and for all bury the “democrats = socialists” nonsense? Both parties push for plenty of government intervention when it suits their purposes (sometimes for good reasons, often not so much). And who was one of the most vocal critics asking for the head of Rick Wagoner after he testified before Congress? Oh right, this well-known leftie:

    “These leaders have been failures, and they need to go,” said Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee.

    Oops. Now please, let’s move on to issues and dispense with the childish name-calling.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “That was during a war when we recognize exigent circumstances.”

    Precisely. I would like to debate the issues at hand and the responses to them rather than devolve into simple minded name calling. People throw the “fascist”, “socialist”, “communist” and “European” labels around as if the labels themselves are weapons.

    It is worthwhile to argue about how much or how little the government should be involved in the auto, banking and other industries right now. It is not, however, productive to reduce the argument to labels.

    If the government is going to step in as the banker of last resort, then one should expect the banker to make demands a business might otherwise not want to deal with. It goes hand-in-hand that when you take someone’s money for your very survival then they have a lot of say in what you do with that money. Once upon a time, GM was saved from ruin by the DuPonts sweeping in and keeping GM afloat. Part of that deal was that then founder/CEO Durant got kicked out the door. In 1920 Pierre DuPont ousted Durant (for the second time) and took control himself. By 1922 Pierre had also taken direct control of the Chevrolet division. Meanwhile, Alfred Sloan had been brought into GM when GM bought out his employer and by 1923 Sloan took over the CEO job from DuPont (who still remained chairman).

    GM’s years under Sloan’s direction where by far the most productive period the company has ever enjoyed. Sloan didn’t retire until 1956. Where the gov’t might find a modern day replacement for Sloan is a very big question.

  • avatar
    shiney2

    Banks often require personnel changes when loaning large amounts of money to a troubled company, why shouldn’t the government?

  • avatar
    HEATHROI

    Romney’s first name is Willard and nobody is ever going elected with the name Bill Clinton nicknamed his dick.

    as for crisis management, when his boss’s daughter had a row with daddy and stormed off to hide out in New Jersey for the weekend, Willard decided to send out his staff with photos to ask random people on the street in Manhattan if they had seen her. Probably a great move if you wanted to score points with the Boss (or terrify paranoid schizophrenics) but not so good for finding rich bratty white girls.

    The best person in my opinion is Roger Penske

    (and probably the less said about the arsenal of democracy the better as it wasn’t particularly democratic)

  • avatar
    lw

    My guess Red Ink Rick was making next to nothing as CEO.. So now he will be a consultant paid millions to ensure smooth transition to the next waypoint on the highway to hell.

  • avatar
    amcadoo

    Is it just me, or did this website just make a rather abrupt declaration of its political views/intent? While it is clear that there is a fundamental potential conflict between auto enthusiasists and environmentalists, this website has previously not taken such an overt stance on the political front. I’ll just say, that as someone who sympathizes with both fronts, I don’t like the overt political tones the website has taken on. Do you really think McCain would be doing anything different? Really?
    Focus on the cars, please!

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ lw

    Bingo!

  • avatar
    50merc

    “I can’t decide whether Wagoner’s career at GM is Wagnerian, Chekovian (Cherry Orchard), Millerian (Death of a Salesman) or Shakespearean (King Lear).”

    Measured by how well the company has fared under his management, I’d say his career is Marxist (A Night at the Opera).

  • avatar
    Rastus

    amcadoo,

    You can not separate the people from the cars. It is the PEOPLE who MAKE the cars. You can no more separate the people and politics from the auto industry any more than you can describe all the work which went into the Apollo missions without discussing the people and astronauts who made it all happen.

    Don’t frown upon this…embrace it. The auto industry at the moment is a very dynamic topic to cover…and yes, that includes the people who pull the levers.

    That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Would you want a story on the Shelby Cobra without any knowledge of Carrol Shelby?

    Besides, this can be viewed as part of “the healing” :)

    Embrace the healing!!! ;P

  • avatar
    Cicero

    amcadoo :
    March 29th, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    While it is clear that there is a fundamental potential conflict between auto enthusiasists and environmentalists, this website has previously not taken such an overt stance on the political front. I’ll just say, that as someone who sympathizes with both fronts, I don’t like the overt political tones the website has taken on.

    The tragedy is that with the recent round of federal intervention, the car business has become totally politicized. It’s not possible to talk about the auto business without talking about politics. And it’s only going to get worse.

  • avatar
    Ferrygeist

    “I can’t decide whether Wagoner’s career at GM is Wagnerian, Chekovian (Cherry Orchard), Millerian (Death of a Salesman) or Shakespearean (King Lear).”

    I’m thinking Richard II.

    And although the waning days of Wagoner’s stewardship might mirror the closing stanza of the poem, and I like your appropriation of it, I’m hesitant to see him as one of the eponymous hollow men.

    Back to your regularly scheduled arguments!

  • avatar
    gusplus

    General Motors, you took Barak’s money. And now he’ll take you. Who else wants some stimulus money?

  • avatar
    tigersfamily

    I haven’t seen a discussion of the individuals who make up the GM Board of Bystanders… It would be instructive to know a bit about them and an analysis of why they have not forced appropriate and more aggressive action with regard to the huge problems GM has been facing for the past 15 years… Clearly two “hard headed” members, Ross Perot and Paul O’Neill were shown the door presumably when their “revolutionary” views were too much for GM… What is it about the others that kept GM from doing what needed doing over the past decades?

  • avatar

    I’m going to call it. GM stock will crater by the end of the week. It’ll be back under $2 by the end of Monday, and will only get worse.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “I haven’t seen a discussion of the individuals who make up the GM Board of Bystanders … ”

    Few people seem to understand how someone gets nominated to be on the board of directors of a large public company. The truth: Most often they are asked to be on the board by the CEO and/or Chairman.

    The BOD often serves the stockholders in name only. In reality, they are typically yes-men for the CEO. Not always, but usually.

  • avatar
    KeithF

    Now with a new leader, we can prepare for 18-24 months of additional bailouts. “Don’t blame person X for this mess… he inherited it… Wagoner would have been even worse!”

    Just like Obama inherited the mess from Bush.

    Nothing will be anyone’s fault, which makes future bailouts easier. We need to give Person X time, and give him a chance! We need to have the audacity to hope!

  • avatar
    1600 MKII

    I was selling for GM back in the 70s (when everyone was still making a profit) and knew that their days were numbered when they came out with the Cimarron to compete with BMW…their problem isn’t with Wa-groiner…it goes back to Smith…and probably to the beginning. GM was never in the business of CARS it was only in the business of acquisition.
    BTW the closest Romney ever came to cars was by being alive when his father ran AMC into the ground.

  • avatar
    Qwerty

    Is it just me, or did this website just make a rather abrupt declaration of its political views/intent? While it is clear that there is a fundamental potential conflict between auto enthusiasists and environmentalists, this website has previously not taken such an overt stance on the political front. I’ll just say, that as someone who sympathizes with both fronts, I don’t like the overt political tones the website has taken on. Do you really think McCain would be doing anything different? Really?
    Focus on the cars, please!

    Sorry. The wingnuts have seized control. The comments get nuttier every week. I expect there will be calls to form revolutionary cells in a month or so.

  • avatar
    tenmiler

    @ amcadoo

    When I read the “light on change” snark from Robert, it reminded me that he has shown his stripes before, and it was a particularly icky thread about gays, IIRC (of all car-relevant things), a few years ago.

    I stopped reading for a while. But here I am, coming here more and more for the great writing (and the hilarious commentary), sometimes to pan the Chevy Malibu at every opportunity but more to get insight on what’s going on in DTW.

    Quite frankly, I find myself in agreement with Robert a lot of the time, even though I’m one of those Democrats (socialist, no doubt) who would hold the door open for all the numb nuts going Galt (aka off the cliff).

    Truth is, I don’t mind the political slant, I suppose, although I fail to see how the snipe about hope and change is really relevant here other than as an opportunity to get a cheap shot in. While this plan may stink to high heaven and Obama could deserve every shot he’s thrown, RW is being replaced, temporarily, by the #2 guy in charge. Here it is, 48 hours later. More hope than change? Who would anyone expect from a publicly held company’s board, prudently? Ronald McDonald?

    I too would appreciate sticking to the cars, but I think the other posters are correct that this has become politicized. I will say though, that context matters, and my assumption here is that Robert’s reference to Obama’s “mantra” is all-encompassing and not limited to, say, just Rick Wagoner’s replacement.

    Nevertheless, methinks we could use a little less of the pedantic, below-the-belt whacks that are more suited to AM talk radio and more of the grit that makes this blog (and Robert) so good.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    Mitt Romney? Are we serious?

    Look.. um… how about the guy that ran Audi? Or Subaru?

    Or any CAR company that has been able to gain market share in the last 12 months. That’s who GM should offer $14 million per year to.

    Romney couldn’t even beat McCain.

    Though I must say, the cognitive dissonance taking place in these here comments right now (who do I hate more Wagoner or Nobama!!!????!) is quite amusing from out here in the People’s Republic.

  • avatar
    Redbarchetta

    Damn I’m off the site for a few days and the sh*t hits the fan. That God Wagoner is going to be history but the company is still doomed. This news report says Fritz is taking his spot. Reading this left me really confused after reading the Death watch. Are they getting the money to stay in business the rest of the year or not getting anything. The way this is worded they are both up sh*ts creek with no money to save them for the government.

    Bailout or no-bailout?

  • avatar
    jkross22

    I find it hard to understand people whining about political comments. Have you guys not been paying attention? What the hell do you think CAFE is? Chrysler Bailout ’79? And hybrids? This didn’t start last year with Bush giving the D2.8 money and continue with Obama giving them even more money.

    Politics and cars have been tied at the hip for a looooong time.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    At first subpoenate him, create an oversight committee, then send him to court, repo his property according to damage, and the deed unpaid allow to be returned by either decapitating him or 1 year of imprisonment for each 100 workers fired due to his negligence or shortsightedness.Or send him to a stadium the way chinese do it.

  • avatar

    Well, finally some accountability at General Motors. While many are expressing well wishes and appreciation toward Rick Wagoner, there are larger issues pressing. GM needs to clean house at Vehicle Sales Service and Marketing. It is specifically here that The General is mismanaged and unless dramatic changes are made, then it won’t matter who next occupies Rick’s newly vacated chair.

    Personally, I have been on a campaign to oust Red Ink Rick ever since he killed implementation of Return to Greatness. After I refused to accept $5,000 and sign intellectual property release, Wagoner stymied my efforts to bring productive and effective marketing to a clueless group of incompetent failures who were/are responsible for GM’s shrinking market share.

    The Annual Meeting of Shareholders is held only because the SEC requires it, although in theory it is supposed to be an exchange of ideas and information amongst the company’s owners. GM Management can’t wait to get the darn thing over with, another sign of bad leadership. Even worse, a few years ago Wagoner directed security at the event to stop me from passing out copies of Return to Greatness to my fellow stockholders. Why?

    There are corrective measures just waiting in the wings. There are people who understand what is really wrong at GM and how to FIX IT. The last thing we need is another “turnaround” or “restructuring”. GM needs real leadership and a plan that will actually work. Return to Greatness is that plan.

  • avatar
    wytshus

    Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

    -Born in Detroit, Michigan, on November 29, 1958, Henderson earned a bachelor of business administration degree with high distinction from the University of Michigan in 1980, with an emphasis in accounting and finance. ….. He also received a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1984, where he graduated as a George F. Baker Scholar.

    -Born in Wilmington, Delaware, on February 9, 1953, and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Wagoner received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Duke University in 1975 and a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University in 1977.

    Which begs the question:

    What EXACTLY were they teaching at Harvard Business School in the 70’s? I’m not a Harvard Alum by any means, but I would say those MBA’s aren’t worth the paper they are printed on.

    It just gets more disgusting every day. GM and Chrysler are dead companies walking. Chrysler needs to go away, NOW. GM needs to be gutted from the top down and reorganized with a totally new managment team and BOD. Nothing will ever change until that happens, except for the face of the scapegoats….

  • avatar
    A is A

    Now, what do you call a political system where the government tells businesses what to do?

    Fascism.

  • avatar
    jurisb

    To A is A- It is called a socialism, fascism is not telling what to do, but making to do what is instructed.

  • avatar
    Berlin

    If the guy had been drug tested 9 years ago this could have all been avoided. I’ve always said that Thorazine and Southern Comfort don’t mix. GM is the longest running Corporate sob story in history. World’s largest corporation can’t build a fucking Honda!

    Any by the way who are these idiots that have nothing better to do than parrot the low lifes of our corporately controlled free press in their pronouncements of Socialism and Fascism? America is a Totalitarian State ask 3 million dead Vietnamese and 1 million dead Iraqis about America’s brand of freedom.

  • avatar
    Kurt.

    It’s my turn to raise the Bull Shit flag…

    Ever since my first vistit to TTAC, this site’s editors and most of it’s posters have been calling for RiR to take the perp walk of shame and quit. Now that he does, you find fault? You should be cheering, jeering, and making a hoopla in the hopes that his replacement, even his inerim will take notice and make positive changes rather than more of the same.

    To those that want to lessen the blame on RiR, let me just say that before he was CEO, he held many important positions in management within GM. He contibuted to GM’s decline every step of the way.

    Lowering Bull Shit flag now.

    As per comments about the site and politics – especially the politics of the sites editors, I’d like to point out that just because a person feels politically aligned with an organization does not mean that person agrees with that organization. Take Comedy Central’s Daily Show for an example. Yes, we accept they lean a bit to the left. However, they bash the Dem’s just as hard as the Republicans. Think about the last time the Dem’s were in the White House. The left leaning media had a field day with Clinton’s antics. It made better TV than their shitty sitcoms. If Robert leans one way or the other, that’s his perogitive. It would be wrong to stop listening to his message just becasue you don’t agree with it.

  • avatar

    Blitz of Hits from Fritz
    Jim Dollinger
    Saturday, March 8, 2008

    Fritz Henderson can handle a fastball. Here are some “Hit Singles”.

    “There were no highlights in the fourth quarter.”
    “Our business is not generating the kind of returns we expect.”
    “Frankly, we didn’t do everything we could.”
    “I wouldn’t say we’re satisfied with any of the results.”
    “We need to step on the gas on how we are performing in the market.”

    I like this guy!

    He is a Michigan Man, born in Detroit and graduated from the University of Michigan.

    His father, Bob, is a Buickman. He was national Service Manager for Buick Motor Division. Fritz grew up learning the business from his father. Let’s not forget that, historically, many of the great leaders at General Motors came from the Buick Division. Names like Durant, Mott, Chrysler, Nash, and even Chevrolet, are why Buick is considered to be the Foundation Stone of GM. Naturally, I am partial to a Buickman who knows the business we’re in.

    The question going forward is if Mr Henderson is able to institute accountability at General Motors, particularly in the Vehicle Sales, Service, and Marketing. That would qualify as a “Solid Double”

    Having repeatedly proven his intellectual acumen, our man Fritz could safely round second, and actually turn a “Stand Up Triple” if he is able to reverse the long term trend of market share loss.

    If he doesn’t get caught “Stealing” (remember he works for Red Ink Rick), Fritz might achieve an “In The Park Home Run” by effectively communicating the big story at GM, namely the quality of our products today.

    Then when Fritz ascends the mound, he has the opportunity to become league MVP by throwing Deloitte and Touche out at the plate. That would restore investor confidence, as would publishing timely and accurate “Box Scores” with the SEC. The odds makers would favor General Motors once again winning the World Series Crown of Car Sales.

  • avatar
    DeanMTL

    Again with the baseball analogies?

  • avatar
    A is A

    To A is A- It is called a socialism, fascism is…

    Socialism and Fascism are functionally identical: A small clique has unlimited power and most of the people is deprived of their self ownership rights.

    It is totally indifferent if the clique rules in the name of “The People”, “The Proletariat”, “The Arian Race” or “The united Farmers and Workers”.

    The only (and non essential) difference is that under Fascism property rights are nominally (only nominally!) respected, and under socialism are not. That´s the reason I choose the name “Fascism” to what´s going on in the USA and in Europe.

  • avatar
    jolo

    GM given 60 days to come up with a new plan, Chrysler 30 days.

    Prediction: Chrysler will not come up with anything acceptable and be forced into chapter 11. GM will see this as an indication that the white house is not kidding around anymore and clean up their act and come up with a minimally acceptable plan. The white house does not want to kill both of them, just Chyrsler and use them as an example.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    1600MKII: The Cimarron came out in the 80s, not the 70’z.

    George Romney took AMC to it’s highest sales levels in it’s history. His successors ran it into the ground. It was Romney’s vision to s-can the bigger cars, Hudson and Nash and concentrate on small cars. His timing was perfect as a sharp recession hit in 1958. AMC was the only company that year to show a sales increase.

    By 1960 AMC was outselling everything but Ford and Chevrolet. Hardly what you could call “running AMC into the ground”. After 1962 was when the decline began. And that accelerated when Roy Abernathy Jr decided AMC should try to compete with the Big Three on every level of the market and dropped it’s most famous and established nameplate, Rambler. They had a couple of smash years in the 70s but nothing on the order of 1960 ever again.

  • avatar
    tedward

    The administration is clearly setting up GM for a serious restructuring, and I expect that no one (within GM, union or exec) is going to be happy with what’s coming down the pipe. As this site has been proclaiming since day one, this is a necessary move. If this is true we have been buying control and time with the past few loan offerings.

    The President is taking control of the proceedings instead of leaving it up to a bankruptcy court, as the industry is deeply tied to American politics and the international economy. I for one, appreciate this, as I view Obama as a tempermental conservative with liberal social leanings (a combination I trust). I have no idea what the political, or personal, inclinations at play would be if this was left to the courts. Bankruptcy may have set formulas, but how they are implemented depends heavily on judicial discretion.

    The idealogue’s in both parties have demonstrated pretty convincingly that they can’t be trusted with matters of economic importance. That goes double for laissez-faire conservatives after the last 8 years.

  • avatar
    hiptech

    How about this for an epiphany along with a twist of irony…

    Michael Moore assumes control of GM as it’s new CEO!

    And Robert Farago becomes GM’s next new President?

    Could happen you know… true

  • avatar
    tiger260

    …..Pch101 :
    March 29th, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    When the gov’t is making personnel and management decisions a bright line has been crossed.
    No problem. Have GM repay the money, and they can make all the decisions that they want. (Clearly, they are quite adept at making poor ones.)
    Beggars can’t be choosers. GM is already effectively defaulting on its loans, so they are in absolutely no position to complain….

    Absolutely right Pch101. I can’t agree with a all this righteous indignation from the small-government advocates about Obama putting pressure on Wagoner to go (if that is even what happened). It seems to me that that people are being too free with picking and choosing which elements of strict free-market philosophy they wish to embrace.
    I’d agree that it isn’t a great road to start down with government saying how a business should be run – but on the other hand if that business would simply not exist if the government had not totally and unequivocally bailed them out – then the government does now have a say in what happens next .

    If you want the government money you have to accept that they will want to have a say in the running of the company. If you want complete independence from the government then GM must simply pay back the money in full and stand on its own two feet.
    ….you cant’ have it both ways.

  • avatar
    Russell

    Democrats = Socialist is very valid… But this doesn’t quiet cover it. It is Socialist = Collectivist. That is, Collectivists/Statists want to use the force of government to make decisions with other’s money. They are self-anointed elites and they want to make decisions for other people with total disregard for past results and principals of their decisions.

    Are there republicans among the collectivists? You bet. So, it’s not the democrats = socialist. This is inadequate equality. However, there are more democrats who are part of the collectivism than republicans. I would say 2:1 ratio. 75% of voting population may be either partly and wholly subscribing the collectivists’ vision. This is regression of humanity not a progression, where the mass people desires some bigger entities to rule over them. There is a Aesop’s fable story called, The Frogs Asking for a King.

    You think most of the government bereau workers are republicans? You think that all the city and government employees are republicans? I think not, the voting patterns tells us that they are not. So, it is very clear that at least government workers are socialists.

    The question is, does collectivism work? I think the evidence is very clear that it does not. Other wise, Jaguar and Land Rover would be in the hands of British entrepreneurs. If the collectivism worked, we would not be having the mess of GM and others.

    I think the Nissan got onto its feat without the government help like the helps of GM.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Quote: With a handful of notable exceptions (mainly because they ARE exceptions), GM’s products are not competitive.

    Beg to differ. Compared to Ford and Chrysler, GM has more hits and better product than the other two combined. Malibu and Aura, Silverado and Tahoe, the Lambda’s such as the Buick Enclave, the G8, the new Camaro which just beat the Challenger and Mustang in several comparos and was compared to an Infinity in driving dynamics and engine tech, the upcoming Equinox and LaCrosse which will be at dealers shortly and have been cited as being better than the competition, the Cadillac CTS and upcoming SRX. The GM vehicles you speak of that are not very competitive are usually the smaller entries like the Cobalt and G5 or the Aveo which is a Korean import. But even those models have things that Honda and Toyota can’t offer like lower prices, 37 MPG highway rating which beats the Honda Fitts 33 or the Corollas 35 ratings while offering more power and a better warranty or the fact that the Aveo has an interior worlds better than the horrendous Yaris.

  • avatar

    I’ve read almost all of the comments on this post, and a few related ones as well, and I have to agree with JL…cognitive dissonance is making the B&B look a little less bright today…

    1. Anyone bemoaning Rick Wagoner’s resignation (yes, resignation), no matter what motivated it, should explain more than just “COMMIENASM!” or “OBAMA HAD A SOCIALGASM” or the like. As another poster said, this was bound to happen, and something that this very site, particularly Farago, has been calling for since, I shall call it, “before it was cool.” If you’re going to throw barbs about socialism due to the “firing” of Wagoner, at least acknowledge that, as a taxpayer, ***your*** money which HAS ALREADY GONE to GM is at least being put toward someone other than one who has done a significant amount of devaluation of the company. Even at $1/year the guy was STILL way, way, waaaaaaaaaaay overpriced. If you can argue with that, by all means, rip at the firing, but I see no room for Wagoner, and his departure is necessary (as Farago has detailed for a while now).

    2. To the obviously anti-Obama folks, I never once heard the man, or anyone who was part of his campaign, say that absolutely everything would be fixed in the first 100 days, but apparently you did. In fact, the campaign (and now the entire administration), were saying and have continued to say the opposite; this shit will take a while. By my count, we’re not even to 100 days yet…Bush got 8 years to do things his way, we can afford at least 1 for our new President. And, if you follow any line of logic, yes a LOT of what’s currently being dealt with IS directly, factually traceable to happenings under the Bush Administration (or earlier)…which is the case with any presidency.

    3. GM’s cars are, by and large, NOT competitive. Trucks? Sure. Good vehicles. Anyhow, if competitive meant “meeting or exceeding once criteria of a competitor in a class of vehicle” sure, they’re competitive. But they’re not…or else people would have been buying them. If you win on fuel economy and price, you can’t completely forget about space, power, features, comfort, NVH, ergonomics, ease of use, and material quality. GM hasn’t gotten that, and it’s obvious in a number of the cars (Cobalt and Aveo in particular). If this was a new problem, I’d have some sympathy, but they’ve had DECADES to address this, and they’ve only gotten closer in 2-3 segments, and stayed about the same (or been surpassed by the Koreans) in the rest. As someone else said, they were the biggest damn automaker in the land…they HAVE to compete in every segment, and bring their “A” game. Not their “C-, see me after class” game.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    @ponchoman49

    Other than the Malibu (which is, unfortunately, the Aura’s best competitor), you’ve mentioned nothing except specialty, high-margin vehicles, many of which are being sold under different brands, and none of which offer the kind of recession-proofing that a solid mainstream/economy lineup offers.

    You’re also cherrypicking your facts when it comes to finding ways in which GM models beat the competition, but that fact is that, holistically, their mainstreams are okay cars, but not good enough to woo buyers from Toyota, and potentially not enough to sway them from going to Hyundai.

  • avatar
    tenmiler

    I know the GM fans here run to the defense of the car company’s lineup at every chance, and it’s understandable.

    But this isn’t about why the Camaro is better than the Mustang. It’s about how the company has not provided a restructuring plan after asking for billions of taxpayer dollars. So even if the choir screeches any more about how great the Malibu is and how superb the Tahoe may be (for what?), this isn’t any longer about the handful of cars that show how “great” GM’s cars are becoming. It’s about what they didn’t do with the cars that failed to keep them out of the mess in the first place.

    Sadly, for every GM hit over the years, there are ten misses, and it’s arguable that cheering the Hertz Malibu sounds hollow when you’re cheering the fact it’s less a Cimmaron and more a Honda (but not quite), and still nobody is buying the thing, which speaks nothing of the lots FULL of unsold Tahoes and Denalis.

    I have a colleague who runs a small dealership in Silverthorne, Colorado (and he sells GM and Subaru cars). He rolled his eyes when I told him of the cheering Malibu gets from the GM enthusiasts on this blog. His reply? “If only those people saying how great those cars are would just come in and buy them, we’d be fine.”

    The bottom line is pretty simple. I read that 6 million cars less have been sold last year than need to be to keep car manufacturing viable. Period. That does cover all the manufacturers, indeed, but there’s a reason Wagoner was asked to resign: He took the money because GM was in far worse shape as a company.

    So, let’s not have the “GM is better than Ford” argument here. It feels like an animation of those little vinyl stickers of the dude peeing on your nemesis’ logo, and about as useful.

  • avatar
    agenthex

    Democrats = Socialist is very valid… But this doesn’t quiet cover it. It is Socialist = Collectivist. That is, Collectivists/Statists want to use the force of government to make decisions with other’s money. They are self-anointed elites and they want to make decisions for other people with total disregard for past results and principals of their decisions.

    I don’t see how people can square with themselves anymore posting this kind of tripe after it’s so blatantly obvious now how well the capitalists did for us.

    I predict any reply to take the form of whining that if only the “capitalism” was more pure, it would’ve worked. Sigh.

    As to the symbolism of Rick’s firing, remember that symbols are important in culture. GM management as a collective really needs to get their shit together, and I don’t see how a few pubic firings are going to hurt any more than get the rest to at least start paying attention.

  • avatar
    akear

    Ths is the legacy of rebadging Opels, Holdens, and Daewoo. American’s simply did not like those cars. Even towards the end of his reign Wagoner was thinking about bringing over Opels to use as buicks. He simply never listened to the customers.

    Remember, folks Roger Smith was never forced out of his position.

  • avatar
    akear

    He will be forever remembered as the guy that ruined GM. What a legacy!!!

    When is putz leaving. He is almost equally responsible.

  • avatar
    akear

    Could they set up a online poll here?
    My poll theme would be “Who was worse for GM Wagoner or Smith.

  • avatar
    hiptech

    Click and Clack to Head Up GM Revival
    Board appoints radio show hosts in surprise move

    http://www.cartalk.com/content/features/cnn/

    This may sound like at April Fool’s gag at first but after thinking about it… why not!?

    Hey, they couldn’t do any worse!

    “What may have convinced GM’s Board of Directors to turn to the Magliozzi brothers is their bold plan for reviving the manufacturing giant. “Cuba,” said Tom Magliozzi, his teeth clenched around a fat, smoldering Romeo y Julietta, while GM PR folks ponder whether to enforce the company-wide no-smoking policy.

    “We’ve got an enormous number of GM cars we can’t sell, right? And who needs an enormous number of GM cars? Cuba! Their GM cars are from, like, the 1950s!”

    “In contrast, the cars we have sitting on dealership lots now are all 2007s, 2008s, and 2009s,” adds Ray, “and they have all their original parts! The Cubans are gonna love these things.”

    “Plus, ” says Tom, “they get 10% better mileage than those 1959 Bel Airs!”

    The Magliozzi Brothers’ plans are based on a Cuban population estimated at 11.5 million in 2008. After they negotiate the end to the US economic embargo (which they say they will handle personally), they figure that pent-up demand in Cuba will instantly translate into sales of more than half a million cars per year, of which the Magliozzi brothers anticipate GM will capture 95%. “That’s not chopped liver,” says Tom.”

  • avatar
    bluemonkey

    http://www.batteryuniversity.com/parttwo-34.htm
    The battery pack itself, rated at 16 kilowatts/hour, comprises more than 220 separate cells wired in series. That means the failure of any one cell disables the entire array, though some existing hybrid vehicles also have this flaw. The Volt pack is about six feet long and weighs a hefty 375 pounds.
    Voltage: 320 – 350 V
    100% recharge time:
    110V outlet: 6 – 6.5 h
    Electromotor: 45kW
    GM also claims the 2011 Chevrolet Volt can run solely on electric power for 40 miles with a full battery charge. That’s in line with studies showing that most Americans drive only about 40 miles a day, so in theory at least, a Volt could go for weeks without using a drop of gas or spewing any CO2. But some analysts think the real-world electric range will be closer to 30 miles and probably less, depending on vehicle speed, ambient temperature (which affects battery performance), and whether trips include steep grades.
    GM is confusing the battery pack characteristics because they are not sure:
    A Li Ion battery pack with a 72V, 450AH configuration, it charges in 2 hours, is 1/3rd the size of the lead acid batteries, weighs less, doubles the range, and they are simply fantastic.” Only problem? The cost for the pack is $10,000 for a car whose total cost is $12,800.
    Since the car-capable packs can cost between $10,000 and $15,000 each, finding a cheaper alternative will be a major hurdle for car companies that want to market them.
    The cost of maintenance for a hybrid car is also higher. Also it has more complex systems and engine, a normal mechanic may not know how to repair it. In most cases, you need to send back to the hybrid car manufacturer for maintenance and repair and the cost is not cheap.
    Hybrid cars use special tires that are wore out more easily than conventional cars. These hybrid car tires cost more and need to be replaced around 25,000 miles.
    Gasoline Engine: 3-cylinder, turbocharged; size 1L
    160hp or 120kW

    Calendar Life
    Li-ion cells lose capacity with time, even if they are just sitting on a shelf. They lose the most early in their life (year one) and then continue to lose capacity gradually thereafter.
    http://www.batteryuniversity.com/parttwo-34.htm

  • avatar
    hiptech

    I’m beginning to believe GM is too far reaching and forward thinking, crazy huh?

    Or is it, doesn’t it seem they’re always announcing some new idea, design or technology way too early?

    The Camaro, “Plug-In Hybrids” (aka the Volt), new battery technology, alliances, etc. All info have been released to the public via PR announcements, auto show concepts, etc. about 4-5 years prior to debut.

    This is a perfect example of why the new GM will fail yet again. They continually do things the same as always.

    Well how then should they handle future products? Coming from the semiconductor industry the answer for me is obvious. Look at a company like Intel or Apple, have they ever spilled the beans (officially) about any upcoming product release more than 30-90 DAYS in advance?

    GM talks then shows concepts and strategies years before production. Meanwhile, the Japanese, the Koreans and even the Chinese quietly develop competing products without fanfare or notice.

    And while GM continues to pontificate about how great their upcoming “whatever” will be (usually at some exorbitant price point), by the time it hits the market… too late.

    Everyone else has already perfected the idea and is not only delivering sooner, but with better quality, more content and most importantly… more cost-effectively!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States