GM's Got This Car Thing Figured Out

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Speaking at the Automotive News [sub] Manufacturing Conference, GM global manufacturing and labor relations honcho Gary Cowger ( remember him?) had a “by Jove, we’ve got it!” moment that placed him in instant contention for the “Minimum” prefix recently vacated by Chrysler’s Bob Nardelli. Even the hosting publication couldn’t keep the scorn from dripping off its nut graph. “General Motors thinks it has created a method to build small vehicles profitably in North America and calls it interbuildability. Competitors know the concept as standardization.” Can you feel the love (in the air tonight)?

That’s right folks, things at GM are two-Phil-Collins-references-in-one-day bad. “One key,” of GM’s cunning plan, per AN‘s eye-rolling coverage is that “different models on the same architecture will have “plug and play” component modules, such as exhaust systems and front-end modules.” Standardization of components. Imagine that. But it’s all groundbreakery to GM, which is just introducing this “interbuildability” on global versions of Opel’s Insignia (Epsilon II). How groundbreaking? Cowger claims 29 percent savings on engineering costs. This overhaul has been under way for four years, reveals Cowger, and will be “82 percent complete by 2012.” Whatever that means. As Henry Ford used to say, they were bound to figure this (deleted) out sooner or later.

In other dynamic innovation synergy news, Cowger reveals GM may have to introduce A-class city cars in order to meet the 2016 35.5 MPG CAFE standard.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

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  • "scarey" "scarey" on Jun 16, 2009
    Hey ! I've got this hydrogen thing figured out ! (signed) The Hindenburg
  • Jeff Puthuff Jeff Puthuff on Jun 16, 2009

    Stop, "scarey". It's funny, but off-topic.

  • Pch101 Pch101 on Jun 16, 2009
    They’ve only been trying for nearly 50 years to figure out how to make money on a small car. Funny how building a good one never entered the equation. GM strategy in a nutshell: Step 1: Design something that isn't particularly good. Step 2: Build lots of the not-particularly-good designs created during Step 1. Step 3: Express shock when nobody buys the large quantities of dreck created during Step 2. Step 4: Blame the Japanese, federal government, CAFE regulations, environmental movement, "currency manipulation", workers, the American public, and my mother, among others, for their unwillingness to buy stuff with Step 1's flaws built in Step 2 quantities. Step 4A: Claim that Americans don't want small cars, while Civics and Corollas built in North America generate profits. Step 5: Roll out the incentives, sell Step 2 inventory at loss. Step 6: Rinse, lather, repeat until Chapter 11. Stay tuned for Step 7. Here's hoping that it isn't a return of Step 1...
  • JohnHowardOxley JohnHowardOxley on Jun 16, 2009

    @ Scarey: The Titanic was not an "HMS" -- "HMS" is the reserved designation for His/Her Majesty's Ship -- a component of the Royal Navy. But interestingly enough, the Titanic was not an "SS" [Steam Ship] either -- she was an "RMS" -- a Royal Mail Ship, because she was built with subsidies from the British government to serve as an auxiliary during wartime, and to, well, carry mail, in times of peace.