GM: Fitter, Happier, More Productive?

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Automotive News [sub] indulges in the optimism that dare not speak its name, courtesy of the omnipresent Center for Automotive Research. “A happier GM? Billions in costs disappear,” runs AN‘s headline. And then comes the equivocation [emphasis added]:

During its reorganization, General Motors should be able to shed about $12.5 billion in annual costs — paving the way for possible profits, higher product spending and improved supplier health once U.S. vehicle sales recover to more normal levels.

Inspiring stuff! Why, if these “shoulds” and “possibles” come true, CAR research shows that “GM could even eliminate almost $3,000 per vehicle in incentive spending, adding an additional $8 billion in savings when compared with the pre-bankruptcy GM.” It’s already a stretch to believe that GM can hold steady at a 10m SAAR, given its long-term market share losses, but eliminating incentives? Why not a flying, carbon-neutral Camaro?

After all, the cut-to-the-bone downsizing is only necessary given the current overcapacity. But shutting plants, squeezing the union, and forcing dealers out of business do little to improve the miserable perceptions of GM’s products. In fact, given the public funding for this cost-cutting campaign, GM has to consider the possibility that the more they cut, the less popular they become. And in any case, GM’s decades-long addiction to incentives is going to make a product-led turnaround that much harder, since transaction prices will be considerably higher than GM customers have become used to. As CAR’s data shows, GM may fall short of selling 2 million vehicles in the US this year. Where exactly is all this optimism coming from?

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • Syke Syke on Jun 29, 2009

    While we may question where the optimism is coming from, this is TTAC. So we know where the pessimism is coming from. It's standard equipment.

  • Edward Niedermeyer Edward Niedermeyer on Jun 29, 2009

    Syke: skepticism>pessimism

  • ConspicuousLurker ConspicuousLurker on Jun 29, 2009

    Syke: True, but it's still pretty unique in the media world. Advertising bucks have effectively squeezed most of the realism out of reporting. GM is a zombie company. They aren't producing products different from that which made them fail; they're stuck with the same, overpriced labor; and they have no hope of competing in this economy (if they couldn't do it during the boom years, they're supposed to be able to do it now?). They'll continue sucking money out of the tax payers until it becomes politically expedient to let the company die for good.

  • Buickman Buickman on Jun 29, 2009

    the time is ripe for Return to Greatness. humor me Robert...what if it works????