Ask the Best and Brightest: When Could GM Have Turned It Around?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

The bile triggered by news of my departure (last day November 12) brought back old memories of rancorous accusations of anti-American bias. At the beginning of the GM Death Watch, I had to delete several hundred obscene, hate-filled comments and ban dozens of persistent posters of TTAC Must Die TOO comments. Now, after the fact of Chrysler’s and GM’s bankruptcy, there’s a revisionist theme arising. “Anyone” could have predicted Detroit’s dissolution (many did long before TTAC, of course). And, believe it or not, yeah, well everything’s OK now. New GM is kicking ass. Leaving aside that delusion, I wonder: when was the last moment GM could have turned things around? I reckon it was the day that Bob Lutz and Rick Wagoner decided to spend GM money refreshing their GMT SUVs. IF GM had spent that cash improving their passenger cars AND cutting brands (they could have afforded to do so at the time) AND then got rid of Lutz and Wagoner for an outsider like Mulally, they MAY have dodged the bullet. As I told Stuart Varney, if my grandmother had wheels I’d be a trolley car. Still, what’s your take? When was the last time old GM could have turned it around?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Boyphenom666 Boyphenom666 on Sep 21, 2009
    The early 1980s as GM forced the whole company into a lemming-march over the FWD cliff. GM was at it's strongest when its line-up consisted of primarily RWD cars. GM's most popular vehicles today are also RWD (Trucks, SUV's, Camaro, G8). GM already has a formula that works, why keep trying to swim upstream building boring, me-too FWD cars??
  • Marty Marty on Sep 22, 2009

    My non-expert answer would be the early-1980s, maybe mid-80s at the latest. They HAD to be willing to take a strike to break through the UAW stranglehold on pensions, health costs and work rules, and when they didn't, by the 1990s they didn't have the financial slack to take a strike if they wanted to---they were on the tiger's back and couldn't get off (or at least couldn't see how to convince their shareholders and creditors it would be worth it, and in/after the age of Milken and KKR if the shareholders bailed they would be takeover bait)

  • Anonymous Anonymous on Sep 22, 2009

    [...] saw this piece today that asked when GM could have turned it around. It is just a short blog post, but I read it and the comments with great interest. I’ve [...]

  • Starboardtack Starboardtack on Sep 23, 2009

    "GM Doesn't make cars, we make money" Alfred Sloan. There's no coming back from that.