Ed Whitacre's First Web Chat

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

GM’s New CEO Ed Whitacre made his first appearance at the Fastlane blog in a webchat that represented the first access GM has given reporters to Whitacre. Needless to say, journalists do not like sharing their access with the general public, and they let GM know. Thedetroitbureau’s Paul Eisenstein asked “like many of my colleagues, I wonder when you will address us in the media directly, even if by telephone conference. To be honest, a webchat is quite a bit different and doesn’t carry the veracity of seeing or at least hearing you directly.” To which Whitacre responded:

Dear Paul,

I’ve been on the job for four days. I’ll do it as soon as I feel comfortable and have enough clear air and time. I promise we’ll talk soon.

No worries though. Whitacre didn’t actually say anything newsworthy.

What Whitacre did reveal can be summarized as follows:

GM has narrowed its search for new CFOs, and we can expect a decision in “two or three weeks.”

Whitacre communicates with the government task force about once a week, and according to Whitacre,”they promise to keep hands off and let the Board run the company. They’ve been true to their word and done exactly that…I give them high marks.”

Saab’s fate will be decided by the end of December, but GM is still involved in negotiations with “several interested parties.”

Whitacre believes “Mr. Reuss and Mrs. Docherty will do a great job going forward,” and he has no plans to bring in a Chief Operating Offier.

Whitacre “likes cars,” drives a CTS-V, and has previously purchased a Tahoe, and Avalanche and a Yukon XL.

GM has no plans for further job cuts, although when asked “Fritz Henderson had only about 8 months as CEO before he left. How long do the newly appointed execs have to show results before they are replaced?” he replied “Not long :-)”.

GM is considering paying back the taxpayers $6.7b in a lump sum, rather than quarter-by-quarter.

Otherwise, there’s not much to report. Perhaps the best summary of the webchat was Whitacre’s answer when pressed for specifics on 2010 market share goals. “As much as we can get,” was his reply.

Edward Niedermeyer
Edward Niedermeyer

More by Edward Niedermeyer

Join the conversation
2 of 14 comments
  • Wmba Wmba on Dec 09, 2009

    So I suppose the $10 billion given new GM by the Canadian Federal Government, and which is part of the current year federal deficit in Canada, has just magically disappeared? I'm afraid I don't understand the math. Any more than I understand Whitacre's reticence in speaking to the press. He promised openness. As Forbes notes, his plan is currently a secret, the inference being, of course, that he's rapidly dreaming one up.

  • Brettc Brettc on Dec 09, 2009

    A plan? What? There's no need for plans. Things will just work out for the best with no effort. Oh wait, that's what Red Ink Rick said. If he's actually formulating a plan of how to become profitable and stay that way, I'll eat my hand. (I don't wear hats)

  • DS No for 2 reasons. 1-Every new car pipelines data back to the manufacturer; I don't like it with domestic, Japanese and Euro companies and won't put up with it going to Chinese companies that are part financed by their government. 2-People have already mentioned Vinfast, but there's also the case of Hyundai. Their cars were absolutely miserable for years before they learned enough about the US market
  • Theflyersfan Well, if you're on a Samsung phone, (noticing all of the shipping boxes are half Vietnamese), you're using a Vietnam-built phone. Apple? Most of ours in the warehouse say China, but they are trying to spread out to other countries because putting all eggs in the Chinese basket right now is not wise. I'm asking Apple users here (the point of above) - if you're OK using an expensive iPhone, where is your Made in China line in the sand? Can't stress this enough - not being confrontational. I am curious, that's all. Is it because Apple is California-based that manufacturing location doesn't matter, vs a company in a Beijing skyscraper? We have all weekend to hopefully have a civil discussion about how much is too much when it comes to supporting companies being HQ-ed in adversarial countries. I, for one, can't pull the trigger on a Chinese car. All kinds of reasons - political, human rights, war mongering and land grabbing - my morality is ruling my decisions with them.
  • Jbltg Ford AND VAG. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Leonard Ostrander We own a 2017 Buick Envision built in China. It has been very reliable and meets our needs perfectly. Of course Henry Ford was a fervent anti-semite and staunch nazi sympathizer so that rules out Ford products.
  • Ravenuer I would not.