By on October 31, 2009

We'd live the life we choose, we'd fight and never lose. (courtesy motortrend.com)

The internet chatter on GM is growing more intense by the day. We’ve seen this before. For at least a decade, the company and its camp followers have mounted a disinformation campaign ahead of bad news. Only these days, there’s precious little good news with which GM’s spinmeisters can obfuscate. And critics of the nationalized automaker grow more vociferous by the day. Even the normally obsequious automotive press is no longer adverse to a little kicking-a-man-when-he’s-down routine (although any discussion of kicking GM to the curb is still the story’s Voldemort). New GM’s October sales numbers are about to hit the screens, and it ain’t gonna be pretty. GM’s first full financial report will emerge thereafter; the hard numbers on the company’s cash burn will trigger major mainstream media alarms and raise fresh (stale?) questions about GM’s viability. And then what? Will heads finally roll at RenCen? Will America’s automotive English patient continue to receive copious quantities of hospice care? Will the bailout issue bite Barack’s army in the ass come mid-term time? Meanwhile The Detroit News reports that tensions are simmering, . . .

[Rep. Pete] Hoekstra said [in a conference call with GM CEO Fritz Henderson] that while Ford Motor Co.’s quality has improved, GM hasn’t done enough to address quality concerns.

Consumer Reports magazine this week said Ford’s quality was “world class” and that GM had some “bright spots.” [A read-between-the-lines quasi-factoid helpfully added by the Detroit News to contextualize/ameliorate the ass-kicking to come.]

“How long have we been complaining about the quality of American cars?” Hoekstra said. “Ford has closed the gap, but if you haven’t closed the gap, how do you expect to improve market share?”

GM spokesman Greg Martin said it was “strange” that Hoekstra “would want to perpetuate some of the misguided thinking that resides outside of Michigan.”

Whoa! Martin pulls a tow-fer: a delusional charge of perception gap-itis and a condescending FU to the know-nothings living outside of Detroit who pay his salary and keep his employer from facing its inevitable fate.

But the QOTD belongs to Martin’s boss, Fritz “Lifer” Henderson. Or is that Fritz “We Do Cultural Change” Henderson? Let’s go with Fritz “We Don’t Need No Stinking Performance Metrics” Henderson.

Henderson also said GM, which has been losing market share for decades and now holds 19.7 percent of the U.S. auto market, must regain some ground to succeed in the long run. Job and cost cuts aren’t enough to turn the company around, he said.

GM’s new chairman, Ed Whitacre, has made increasing market share a priority, but some analysts have questioned the strategy, given that GM is in the process of eliminating four of its eight brands.

Yeah, how does THAT work? Time for Plan B? Oh wait; isn’t this whole nationalization thing plan B? Come to think of it, do zombies even make plans, and if they do, who takes them seriously?

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31 Comments on “Quote of the Day: In The Long Run We’re All Dead Edition...”


  • avatar
    lahru

    Once they get the money from that IPO next summer, they’ll be OK!

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    Just seeing that picture of those three GM gentlemen makes me sick to my stomach. Then reading the article made it worse.

    Obama’s bailout of the carmakers was not wise. Bush started it, and deserves blame for that.

    Sure, we downstreamed the destruction of Detroit for many months. It did not happen during the worst of the credit crisis last fall.

    But at what cost?

  • avatar
    skor

    Thanks for picture of the terrifying trio. Really appropriate for Halloween.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    “GM’s got nothing” pt V. GM discovers that though they may be too big to fail, they’re not too big to be thrown under the proverbial bus when the powers that be are up for election.

  • avatar
    alfred p. sloan

    this is preposterous. A company given this much money still blames the world around it for it’s demise? Disgusting.

    Die General Motors, Die!

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    Well the Three Stooges seem cheerful enough (Larry’s little track excursion notwithstanding).

    I often wonder to just what extent guys like these are out of touch with reality. Much like most politicians who rationalize all the horrible things they do with their own distorted version of reality.

    Do those three think they’ve done anything wrong these past few years? Probably not much, if at all. *sigh* It makes me really sad thinking about the incredible damage to so many people’s lives these guys have directly caused.

  • avatar

    I don’t recall reading any official numbers on cash burn in the months since GM’s bankruptcy, but this is still the elephant in the room.

  • avatar
    Bill Wade

    lahru :
    October 31st, 2009 at 11:50 am

    Once they get the money from that IPO next summer, they’ll be OK

    We really need a sarcasm smilie.

  • avatar
    Happy_Endings

    What’s the easiest/quickest way to increase market share? Increase incentives. But Susan Docherty said that GM will have manage their incentives better. That was just yesterday. So, in essence, GM still doesn’t have a clue of what to do. One company representative says one thing, another says the complete opposite. This company has no plan for the future.

  • avatar
    FloorIt

    @lahru: @Bill Wade: Sure GM will be ok when the IPO occurs, uh, yeah, investors will be diving into it like the Google IPO. Not!

    Increasing market share doesn’t necessarily help the bottom line and is no way an indicator of profitability. Apple’ critics have been saying their computer market share is only 5% but… Apple has made plenty of profit for the company and investors with that 5%.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    @FloorIt

    Apple makes money on product, incredibly loyal followers, and gaming the system in their favor whenever possible. GM fails at all of these things.

  • avatar

    Is it plausible that GM might be receiving direction and being operated in part by our US government? Newest incentive offer from GM is $500 on select Buick, Chevrolet and GMC models for NCAF (National Community Action Foundation) members. Who would that be?
    From their website: “NCAF formulates and promotes federal legislative and program initiatives to strengthen the ability of Community Action Agencies to serve low-income clients and communities. We do this by working with members of Congress and members of the executive branches of federal and state governments to maintain funding and support for CCA programs and initiatives.” Never have seen an incentive like this before, but would certainly honor it if a member wants to purchase a Chevrolet.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Pretty basic logic, it seems. First, they have to increase market share. Second, Susan Docherty said that GM will have manage their incentives better.

    Conclusion? Better means bigger!

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Come to think of it, do zombies even make plans, and if they do, who takes them seriously?

    Well I, for one, would be very concerned if a horde of undead were lurching towards me, moaning “Braaaaaaaaains..”

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    Well I, for one, would be very concerned if a horde of undead were lurching towards me, moaning “Braaaaaaaaains..”

    I’m going to watch Night of the Living Dead again tonight, in honor of Halloween. But the thought of these GM undead is more scary. The horror…

  • avatar
    unleashed

    Obama’s bailout of the carmakers was not wise. Bush started it, and deserves blame for that.

    So, it’s not Obama’s fault then?

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    No self respecting zombie will being going after the three GM stooges moaning braaaains. There is less inside those 3 skulls than the hollow chocolate bunnies at Easter

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    unleashed: taking a stupid idea and embellishing it knows no political party…

  • avatar
    newfdawg

    How appropriate, on October 31-The Night of the Living Dead!

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Great picture of Larry, Curly and Moe. BTW, it was Curly that did the track time.

  • avatar
    Daanii2

    So, it’s not Obama’s fault then?

    My language was indeed unclear. I blame Bush for starting the carmaker bailout, and Obama for pouring in billions more. As Dweezil points out well, both political parties are to blame.

  • avatar

    Three Blind Mice, or actually Rats if you will.

  • avatar
    john.fritz

    Great picture of Larry, Curly and Moe. BTW, it was Curly that did the track time.

    I stand corrected. Thanks.

    ;)

  • avatar
    Durask

    The more I look at it, the more it looks like the Democrats are just buying votes.

  • avatar
    segfault

    I’ll show Susan Docherty a “managed incentive,” once GM goes tango uniform and you can buy a $40k new GM vehicle (with no warranty) for half price.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    Is that a picture of their arraignment?

    Errr, sorry, not yet; I remember now….

  • avatar
    highrpm

    Boy those three sure do look happy. Reasons?

    Wagoner – golden parachute!
    Lutz – nice salary, gets to blame everything on the perception gap.
    Henderson – can come in and say that he inherited the mess. Also, a nice fat salary.

    Life is great when you’re in charge at GM.

    Is Lutz reaching for a cigar to light up in celebration?

    Well that’s good for them, knowing that they can burn through my tax money like nothing and then just sit back and smile. I guess if I was getting paid millions, taking taxpayer money, and got to blame the stupid car buyers for the mess, then I’d be one happy fella also.

    Carry on boys. You’re doing a helluva job.

    BTW the “may the best car win” ads. Didn’t America already decide that GM is not the best car? You know, the bankruptcy thing…

  • avatar
    Spanner77

    Presumably GM will need a completely new bunch of shareholders having shafted the last bunch over 50 years out of all their money to pour into Union coffers (Wagoner at least improved someones living standards).

    And then GM will need a whole bunch of new customers to stop their terminal market share decline having shafted the last bunch of customers (yes Wagoner and those pesky Unions again i’m afraid!).

    So we have a new GM looking for new customers and new shareholders when, and only when, Fritzy thinks GM has reached breakeven which he hasn’t got a handle on yet. Breaking even will be new territory for GM.

    Which should please taxpayers who’ve already been royally shafted (Wagoner, Unions and newbie Obama stand up and be counted).

    I’m not really adding any new comment nobody doesn’t already know except to say GM has no chance to be floated to anyone on the planet that knows the GM story. This book doesn’t have a believable fairytale happy ending a shareholder/investor could buy into. It just looks like a farce followed by a bankruptcy followed by a tragedy whichever angle you look at it, even drunk with rose tinted spectacles on!!

  • avatar
    lahru

    What is really sad is that Gm and Chrysler will sell thousands of vehicles to an unsuspecting group of people who will suffer enormous devaluation when they go to get a new vehicle years from now and are told, I’m sorry but since those cars are not made anymore and parts are unavailable we can only give you $________? for your trade in.

    Ask anyone who owned a Puegot or a Daewo.

    Millions of dollars lost because they hoped and did not change brands.

    All of the “Consumer” and “car sites” will loose alot of credibility for not warning their uninformed readers or website viewers of the pitfalls of buying a car from company that might not, is not going to be, in business 5 years from now.

    I guess a red Corvette with all the candy will be secure from being an orphan but all of those trucks not so much.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    “…there’s precious little good news with which GM’s spinmeisters can obfuscate.”
    Not bright people these spinmeisters.
    Why don’t they get direct advice from Obama?

  • avatar
    cpmanx

    The more I look at it, the more it looks like the Democrats are just buying votes.

    Are you joking? It’s not as if wild deficit spending and costly bailouts started on January 20. You are describing American politics in general–it’s a process that knows no party. It just serves different agendas, sometimes even with good intentions.

    lahru: Even if GM fails the parts will be available for decades. This is not a fringe brand like Peugot. And on the whole, GM is less likely to fade away now than it was a couple years ago, when all-out (ie, not government-mediated) bankruptcy was a real, looming possibility. The real lapse was how few journalists saw that coming and raised the alarm.

    Henderson also said GM, which has been losing market share for decades and now holds 19.7 percent of the U.S. auto market, must regain some ground to succeed in the long run.

    That’s actually a reasonable statement so long as Fritz really understands the part about “the long run.” In the near term, GM needs to figure out how to be seriously profitable at 17-18 percent market share, because that’s all they have with the existing brands.

    Stability and profitability come first. Growth is a nice goal, but not if it requires fire-sale pricing or seesaw sales based on a few models that start fast but then fizzle. (Does anyone think Camaro sales are sustainable?)

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