Quote of the Day: In The Long Run We're All Dead Edition

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

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?

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • RogerB34 RogerB34 on Nov 01, 2009

    "...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?

  • Cpmanx Cpmanx on Nov 02, 2009
    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?)