By on April 5, 2009

GREGORY: Do you expect and would you like to see President Obama encourage the country to buy American cars?

HENDERSON: No, actually. I — I think the consumer should buy exactly what kind of car they think meets their needs and that excites them. And as I look at it, it’s our job to make sure we provide that, not necessarily have it mandated or otherwise encouraged. I think we have fantastic cars and trucks. We’re going to win in the marketplace and not necessarily because — just because we’re a U.S. company.

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28 Comments on “Bailout Watch 483: Bye American?...”


  • avatar
    Strippo

    GLWT.

  • avatar
    Porsche986

    I am glad someone else caught this little gem this morning… funny thing is that for the most part people are already doing what he says… and they are NOT buying GM cars.

  • avatar
    Cicero

    And as I look at it, it’s our job to make sure we provide that, not necessarily have it mandated or otherwise encouraged. I think we have fantastic cars and trucks. We’re going to win in the marketplace and not necessarily because — just because we’re a U.S. company.

    Um, Aveo.

  • avatar
    Geo. Levecque

    If one could depend on the quality and long term reliability, then and only then would people change there buying things, I think that the UAW factory people make lots of mistakes in building cars and other vehicles but for $78.00 an hour you think they could do better, what’s going to happen when they make on $15.00 an hour and less benefits?

  • avatar
    FromBrazil

    GM has a fighting chance, if people give some of them a look (only cars are the Caddy something-or-other and Malibu…the rest below competition yet and Lambda thingies, too expensive for this economy).

    But I think they won’t. Though I’m not a GM fan, by a long shot, and am partially responsible for this meltdown as I’ve never bought any of their product, and can’t fanthom doing so now…I’d rather have them make it. Why? Competition is always good for that guy often forgotten by the auto industry, the consumer. Yeah, the little guy who foots the huge bills (for any car purchase today).

  • avatar
    mtypex

    I don’t know a lot of young people that want to buy GM’s staid cars (or even the quirky weird ones), nor for that matter, any that want to live in the Granmole/UAW conception of what Michigan is.

    I rank both slightly below the level of a “going concern.” Or, maybe lower.

  • avatar
    unseensightz

    @mtypex

    I for one am 20 years old and find the cars GM, Ford, Chrysler are making and have made are far more exciting and desirable than anything the foreign competition is putting out, save for a few mazda and nissan cars. In terms of reliability, myself and a few of my friends who have American cars have never had any significant problems with them and even if I did i would still be happy because i wouldnt be driving a boring car because to me American cars have more character than foreign ones. And of the problems i do have with my cars i find them fun to deal with and give the car some character, but im also a gear head so maybe its different for me.

    Also, at my college the majority of people there have some form of American vehicle and i think they are all fairly happy with their vehicles from what ive seen and heard.

    Just my two cents.

  • avatar
    roar

    The UAW workers do not make $78 per hour, that includes pensions and healthcare, when are people going to understand that the imports do not have to pay for pensions and healthcare for most of their workers. Billion of dollars per year difference for domestics vs. imports. Free trade is never free.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    I don’t know which answer was better, this one or the response to “how much do you make a year”? Fritz rolled his eyes up as though thinking and then responded 1.3 million. Same as two weeks ago. Surprisingly, not that much.

  • avatar
    Demetri

    It’s refreshing to see him make a statement like this, but it will take decades to turn perception around. Simply the idea of a Detroit 3 vehicle is unpalatable to me.

  • avatar
    kaleun

    roar:
    as long as they are in the US, the transplants have the same health care costs as the B3. they don’t use the Japanese/German healthcare and pension system in Alabama (and those systems are expensive to the companies too).
    They probably have some 401 K with good matching, decent healthcare. And they don’t provide free Cadillac-healthcare after retiring. I assume the tans-plants offer similar benefits as most regular well-paid industrial jobs in the US.
    GM/Chry/Ford unions negotiated outrageous benefits that go beyond anyone’s imagination. Not even PhDs land jobs with such benefits (go figure!). early retirements, free healthcare after retirement, job banks…
    I’m an engineer working for a local government. I make $ 27 an hour. Benefits (incl. health care, retirement plan, vacation..) run at 35%. Makes $36.45. so my cost is half of an assembly line worker who doesn’t even need to go to school? And I already consider myself well paid with very good benefits. Even as a government worker I don’t get free healthcare after retiring. Why would an UAW worker get that? And I think many people have way worse benefits than I do.
    $ 78 for an assembly line worker is just outrageous.
    Well, if they want a union-run country, they can settle in North Korea. Except that the workers in north Korea don’t get $78 an hour… so that game of Communism only works in Capitalism?

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    I don’t care what the labor costs when I buy a car. I do have issues with the UAW, and hate to see any money enter their coffers, but frankly, I don’t care if they get paid minimum wage, or more than lawyers when it comes to choosing a car.

    The whole $78 hour thing falls flat without reahashing the healthcare debate. However, the workers pay for their healthcare with their labor everywhere in the world. The US does spend more more person, but that is mostly because we get more services and because of regulation.

    Recent study in Austin found that a very few homeless drunks had completely blown the ER budget in the city for the year. Google it for more, but my doctor friend says it is so true. When he was in Daytona, they actually assigned a social worker to 6 guys to try to keep them from running the ER to death.

  • avatar
    kaleun

    Landcrusher:
    you are correct that we should not care about labor cost. in the end I buy a car with certain qualities for x-dollar. who cares it most of the money goes to steel or labor. No one is forced to pay for it if it is too expensive.
    however, in case of the UAW we are FORCED to pay for it whether we want a car from them or now.
    Unless the IRS leaves me a choice to not pay the portion of my tax that goes to Detroit… (and to the banks, for that matter)

  • avatar
    f8

    unseensightz:

    “I for one am 20 years old and find the cars GM, Ford, Chrysler are making and have made are far more exciting and desirable than anything the foreign competition is putting out, save for a few mazda and nissan cars.”

    Can you name the cars that are currently made by the Big Three that in your opinion are “far more exciting and desirable” than their Japanese or German counterparts?

    I honestly have a hard time thinking of anything from GMFC’s lineup that I would actually want to pay real money for. Certainly not one of their bloated SUVs. Not one of their trucks either, since I don’t need one for work and driving a Ram or Sierra around on a daily basis otherwise strikes me as especially retarded. I don’t feel anything except pity for their small car offerings, I barely notice their midsize sedans, I have to remind myself that their luxury brands even exist – aside from Cadillac, of course, but even CTS has been soundly beaten by Genesis in almost every category (and a V6 Genesis costs much less with far more options). Mustang’s pretty cool, I guess, and so is Corvette and maybe CTS-V. That’s it.

    And Landcrusher, I totally agree with you – I don’t give a [email protected] what labor or healthcare costs your company when I choose a car. Your operating costs are high? That sucks, but it isn’t something consumers should be concerned about.

  • avatar
    npbheights

    I wish someone would ask the CEO of GM or the President of the USA, who seems so interested in GM how they feel about the dexcool disaster. Go ahead, google it.

    or check out these neat pics of gm quality: http://www.sancarlosradiator.com/dex-cool_pics.htm

  • avatar
    detroit58

    unseensightz: You’re kidding about the college part, right?

    Henderson is right on – make it sharp, make it good, make it last, and you will have customers. Unfortunately for GM, they have to win back customer trust – a very hard thing to do.

  • avatar
    roar

    Most of you have missed the point, the $78 includes the legacy cost for past employees. None of you care unless it is you mother/father/brother ect. that is getting their pensions cut, then you would. Most Americans will find out how this works when Social Security/Medicare/Medicad are dropped by the gov’t. Free trade always favors the new entry, never the company that has been around the longest, employed the most people, paid the most in taxes, charity, etc. America will decide, should be interesting to see the change in the standard of living in this country when American’s make their decision. This book has already been written, it’s called Europe.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The US does spend more more person, but that is mostly because we get more services and because of regulation.

    Yes. The US system does pay for more administrative overhead than all those silly socialized systems that mistakenly just pay for healthcare.

    After, what’s more American than spending more money on deciding who should and should not have coverage than simply providing coverage for everyone? Think of all the non-healthcare jobs the US healthcare system employs!

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Demetri: not refreshing. GM has been making the same sort of BS statements each decade since the 70s. The question is when are they finally going to put out?

    Detroit58: see above. Capt. Kangaroo [err, Fritz Henderson] is as much a result of GM’s inbreeding as Wagoner and Smith were.He still thinks GM makes fantastic cars and trucks. The first part of his statement : well, duh. That’s been the answer all along. No points for stating the obvious especially when GM is so late to the realization. Fritz = Dolt.

    Nothing to see here, everyone move along. Again. Still.

  • avatar
    geeber

    psharjinian: Yes. The US system does pay for more administrative overhead than all those silly socialized systems that mistakenly just pay for healthcare.

    Virtually everyone in Europe who can afford to do so supplements their government coverage with private insurance. In Canada, the citizens of Quebec sued to have the right to purchase private insurance, and won.

    When you quote those figures for the U.S., you are quoting the cost of both private insurance and Medicare and Medicaid, as well as various state plans. What are the TOTAL costs of health care – meaning money spent on private insurance and government plans – for the European plans?

    Also, as someone who has relatives in Europe, I can assure you that the coverage provided by the nationalized plan is not as comprehensive as the coverage provided by a private insurance plan in America. European nations are much more likely to let newborns with problems die (hence, their supposedly superior results for infant mortality) and are much less aggressive in treating diseases and conditions for elderly people (a huge chunk of U.S. care is spent on treating people for the last six weeks of their lives, without prolonging their lives).

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    When you quote those figures for the U.S., you are quoting the cost of both private insurance and Medicare and Medicaid, as well as various state plans. What are the TOTAL costs of health care – meaning money spent on private insurance and government plans – for the European plans?

    Much less. The commonly-bantered statistic—that Americans spend more per capita on health care—includes private and public spending.

    Americans pay more. Americans get less. The fact that some Americans do well in such a system does not negate the fact that, on the whole, the system is failing Americans, and costing both the American people and American business serious money.

    Also, as someone who has relatives in Europe, I can assure you that the coverage provided by the nationalized plan is not as comprehensive as the coverage provided by a private insurance plan in America

    But it’s much more than the American public system provides, and it’s enough to meet everyone’s needs and allows for a net healthier population (in Europe or Canada) than the US. People seek treatment earlier and more regularly than in the US, costing the system less in the long run.

    And they still pay less money, in taxes and premiums, than Americans do and get more. And yes, they can supplement it and still pay less than American. There’s no way to avoid that reality.

    European nations are much more likely to let newborns with problems die (hence, their supposedly superior results for infant mortality)

    Oh, come on. My uncle is an ob-gyn in Turin would absolutely bristle at this suggestion. You’re stretching truth, here, because the only places that’s remotely true are those parts of Europe where the baseline health of the population (Scotland, Portugal, Greece, eastern Europe) is much poorer than the EU powerhouses.

    Which is, interestingly, about the same reason the US has higher mortality rates for infants, especially among the poor. Canada sees similar issues the aboriginals, and for the same reason: the coverage is shit and the people are poor.

    What you’re saying is that the sick and the old are allowed to die in Europe so that the numbers look better. I think that’s a little bit disingenuous.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I am 38 years old and have noticed an ongoing and repetitive similarity with NA buyers. People that know nothing about cars tend to buy foreign because it is the cool thing to do and certain magazines recommend them year after year. Many elderly folks that used to always buy Oldsmobiles and Buicks now buy Toyota Camrys and Avalons because Olds is history and Buick now only offers two cars, one of which is very dated and not really competitive with most of todays other mid size choices. Then there are the hard core car enthusiasts/gear heads that will drive nothing but Chevys, Fords or Chryslers and look at the foreign cars as a curiosity. Then there is the other side of the fence, the proverbial mechanic. Depending who you talk to, most mechanics steer well clear of exotics and German cars or anything older than the 90’s. I also did a tally of all the local mechanics in town on what they owned and the results were surprising. Only two of the 20 local shops drove a foreign car and they were both of Honda origin. One was a previous model 2006 Accord and the other was an Acura Legend of 90’s vintage. The other 18 repair shop owners all had an American made car of some kind ranging from Cavaliers to Impalas to Crown Vics to one of the Chyrsler LX varients. One thing they all seemed to agree on was that the American cars are less expensive to fix for the most part and that within the past 10 years or so are on an even standing with the Asian products for reliability. Others things mentioned: Toyota and Honda have only recently tuned there V6 engines to run on regular gas, transmission replacements for the proverbial Accord or Camry are double what the average Lumina/Impala/Taurus or Sebring/Stratus cost. The 2007 on up Camrys have junk transmissions and Accords eat factory brakes like they are going out of style.
    I personally own a 2008 Chevy Impala LT2 with the 3900 AFM V6 and bought it with a few thousand miles for around 16,500. It now has 44,300 miles and has litterally never saw the inside of a shop yet. I do my own oil changes and tire rotations and air filter replacements. The brakes are still original along with everything else and the car still performs flawlessly and can see upwards of 32 MPG on the open road going a steady 70 MPH! The car is fun to drive, attractive with the dual exhausts and rear spoiler, roomy and has a large trunk. So far everyone who has driven my car has bought one including 2 close friends, my parents and several teachers at work. They couldn’t be happier! The point of all this: Buy what you want to buy but don’t buy something blindly or assume because it has a Toyota or Honda badge that it is automatically the best.

  • avatar
    geeber

    psharjinian: Much less. The commonly-bantered statistic—that Americans spend more per capita on health care—includes private and public spending.

    There is one problem with your thesis. A study in the Economist showed that the private sector in the U.S. doesn’t account for a substantially larger share of health care spending than in European nations.

    So, any inefficiency in the U.S. isn’t caused by a greater reliance on private insurance as opposed to a public system.

    Also note that European nations and Canada are also struggling to pay for their nationalized health care systems. The French system, for example, which has good outcomes, is running a deficit of $14 billion.

    Over 50 percent of patients in the United States receive the latest, most effective pharmaceuticals for arthritis; they are available to only 15 percent of patients in Germany and the United Kingdom.

    The same trend is revealed with regard to cardiovascular medicine. In Italy and Belgium, the threshold condition for receiving the most innovative and effective therapy is having a cholesterol level of about 290 as well as proof of a family history of heart trouble, even though established medical opinion holds that a cholesterol level of 190 is the appropriate threshold for treatment.

    psharjinian: But it’s much more than the American public system provides, and it’s enough to meet everyone’s needs and allows for a net healthier population (in Europe or Canada) than the US. People seek treatment earlier and more regularly than in the US, costing the system less in the long run.

    No, it’s not.

    One of the reason that costs are higher in the U.S. – remember, the private insurance sector in the U.S. isn’t larger than in Europe – is because Medicare and Medicaid are much more open ended. There is very little rationing of care with these systems as there is in Europe and Canada.

    And, once again, the nationalized care does in Europe and Canada does not provide the level of care and coverage provided by those supposedly awful private American insurance plans. And note that every European who can afford to do so supplements their nationalized care with a private insurance plan. If the nationalized care is so good, why do they need to do this…?

    psharjinian: And they still pay less money, in taxes and premiums, than Americans do and get more. And yes, they can supplement it and still pay less than American. There’s no way to avoid that reality.

    Europeans do not pay less in taxes than Americans do. Quite the opposite. And Europeans do not get more care for their money.

    psharjinian: Oh, come on. My uncle is an ob-gyn in Turin would absolutely bristle at this suggestion. You’re stretching truth, here, because the only places that’s remotely true are those parts of Europe where the baseline health of the population (Scotland, Portugal, Greece, eastern Europe) is much poorer than the EU powerhouses.

    Infant mortaliity is measured differently in American than it is in Europe, and this skews the mortality figures in favor of Europe. It’s a simple fact that the Americans are much less likely to allow seriously ill newborns to simply die. Americans are much more likely to take heroic measures to solve premature babies than all European countries. When they die, they are counted in the infant mortality figures. The European countries are more likely to let the newborn die immediately, and then not count it in the infant mortality figures. This has been documented; there is no debate about this.

    The CIA factbook that has been referenced on this site merely records the figures provided by each country. The CIA doesn’t use its own methodology to arrive at the figures.

    To use an automotive analogy – imagine that Consumer Reports measured initial quality by simply asking each company to provide a list of defects on each newly produced vehicle.

    GM and VW only record defects caught between the time the vehicle leaves the assembly line and the day it is shipped to the dealer.

    Ford and Toyota record those defects, along with any defects caught by the dealer before the car is put on the lot.

    Ford and Toyota may look worse, but that doesn’t mean that their initial quality is actually worse than that of GM and VW.

    psharjinian: Which is, interestingly, about the same reason the US has higher mortality rates for infants, especially among the poor. Canada sees similar issues the aboriginals, and for the same reason: the coverage is shit and the people are poor.

    Again, this has more to do with how it is measured.

    But wouldn’t nationalized insurance solve this? One problem – poor pregnant women in the U.S. are ALREADY eligible for medical services through Medicaid, a government provided program.

    psharjinia: What you’re saying is that the sick and the old are allowed to die in Europe so that the numbers look better. I think that’s a little bit disingenuous.

    No, it’s the truth. Sorry, but sometimes it hurts.

    Plus, Europe and especially Canada are quite happy to mooch off of the U.S.’s military protective umbrella. Canada has a whole twenty thousand soldiers under arms, not enough to fend off the NYPD.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Quote:Can you name the cars that are currently made by the Big Three that in your opinion are “far more exciting and desirable” than their Japanese or German counterparts?

    Chrysler- LX series (300C/Charger/Challenger)
    T&C/Dodge Caravan
    Dodge- Journey and Ram pickup
    Buick- Enclave
    Chevy- 2010 Camaro, Malibu, Corvette, Traverse, 2010 Equinox, Silverado
    Ford- F-150, 2010 Fusion, 2010 Taurus, Mustang, Flex, Focus
    Pontiac- Solstice, G8
    Saturn- Aura, Outlook, Sky, Vue

    Any of these vehicles has either won awards, is a better value than there foreign rivals and in most cases are more exciting than there boring Asian rivals. Most of these can be bought for less and has better exterior styling and a longer warranty too!

  • avatar
    GoHuskers

    I am amazed that there are so few comments on TTAC regarding the “Meet the Press” interview of Fritz Henderson.

    My money says he is not qualified to be CEO of anything, and heaven help GM. For a man “on the job” for 25 years all he seems to have mastered is corporate doublespeak, non-answers, and rehearsed, but empty, words. He came across as a pre-programmed bot, whose best “skill” was in not answering the questions. Too bad David Gregory let him get away with his not so transparent evasions.

    Henderson is about as uninspiring a CEO as I have ever seen….sadly.

    RF – you should weigh in on that interview. Surprised you haven’t.

  • avatar
    Tommy Jefferson

    > It now has 44,300 miles and has litterally never saw the inside of a shop yet.

    Let’s compare your 2006 Impala with a 2006 Accord after they both rack up 144,300 miles of service.

    One will be worn out and falling apart. The other will not.

  • avatar
    wsn

    roar :
    April 5th, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    The UAW workers do not make $78 per hour, that includes pensions and healthcare, when are people going to understand that the imports do not have to pay for pensions and healthcare for most of their workers. Billion of dollars per year difference for domestics vs. imports. Free trade is never free.
    ———————————————–
    That’s a big lie.

    1) UAW members don’t make $78/hour salary, but they make $78/hour overall pay.

    2) Japanese car makers do pay for pensions and health care, in the form of cooperate tax and personal income tax of their employees. Japanese retirees do not end up on the streets. As a matter of fact, Japanese, on average, receive better pension and health care than Americans.

    3) If GM or UAW so envy the Japanese way and want to put the burden on the federal government, guess what? To emulate the Japanese system, GM will have to pay more taxes and UAW members will have to pay more taxes. Be careful what you wish for.

  • avatar
    wsn

    roar :
    April 6th, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Most of you have missed the point, the $78 includes the legacy cost for past employees.

    ————————————————

    No, we didn’t miss the point.

    The past employees were UAW members as well. So, it’s entirely correct to say that UAW workers, as a whole, received $78/hour.

    Our point is invalid only if part of that $78 went to pay the expense of non-UAW members. But that is not the case.

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