By on December 6, 2011

The car business is tuning into a mutual admiration society.  Volkswagen wants to be like Toyota, Toyota wants to learn from Nissan. Now, GM wants to learn from Volkswagen. GM’s Vice Chairman Stephen Girsky says that the new benchmark for GM is Volkswagen.

“We are envious of their profit margins. If we get as good as they are, then everything will be alright.”

This is what Girsky told Germany’s Handelsblatt in New York.  GM has to make do with an operative margin of between five and six percent. Volkswagen can do eight to nine. GM, the company that had to euthanize brands to survive, looks admiringly at Volkswagen which is successful in “managing multiple brands while controlling costs through common parts.”

The mutual admiration society is accepting new members. Anybody ready to admire GM?

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24 Comments on “GM’s Girsky Hearts VW...”


  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    The grass is always greener on the other side…

    • 0 avatar
      MusicMachine

      “…Toyota wants to learn from Nissan.”

      And who Nissan aspire to be? Hyundai?? Nissan’s steady selling Sentra and price leading philosophy behind the Versa intrigues me. But neither seem to be Hyundai’s approach.

  • avatar
    mike978

    VW have been, almost uniquely, able at integrating brands such as SEAT and Skoda. From the link provided it seems VW wants to be better than Toyota, not the same as Toyota. A big difference. In some ways they already are. Time will tell if by 2018 (why not 2017 or 2019) they will be.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    The target is Volkswagen? So GM has to learn about uneven reliability, decontenting North American models, putting crappy old engines in the base model of your midsized sedans and begging Chrysler for a minivan to sell?

    • 0 avatar
      P.Stehle

      Yup, amen… I have a Silverado that’s done it’s job nearly 10yrs with few complaints, and my 4th TDI Jetta, which will likely be my last. Built cheap, stupid unreliable electronics, 3 year old NAVI database, Bluetooth that works only with phones more than 2 years old… Oh, and mustn’t forget that 1984 Ford Escort horn!

      • 0 avatar
        MrWhopee

        So, that’s why they’ve decontented the Malibu so much. They’re learning from VW!

      • 0 avatar
        SuperACG

        Wow, how old is your Jetta? My MK.4 TDI went 100,000 miles in 4 years, and had only one major issue that kept it in the shop for a week.

        Don’t pay for overpriced Navigation. Get a GPS and update regularly, you can even get one with Bluetooth, thus solving that problem as well. As for the horn…my Jetta’s horn seemed fine, better than the Corolla I had before.

    • 0 avatar
      JCraig

      This makes sense. GM is a manufacturer that happens to produce cars. The company is ruled by accountants, so they would seek to emulate a profit margin and not a reliability benchmark or product portfolio. And as far as decontenting North American Models, that was something VW learned from GM. Hyundai should be the example for the industry. They are making money selling increasingly reliable cars that create buzz, have some of the lowest incentives, and sales that are only limited by production.

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      Yeah. If things were not bad enough for GM, now they want to be more like VW???

      This will actually be pretty easy:

      1)Engineering and most cost cutting measures can remain intact.

      2) Let the designers actually style better interiors and exteriors, and use higher grade interior materials.

      3) Any additional costs in interior materials can be subtracted from the quality of components used in the rest of the vehicle.

      4) better looking more comfortable vehicles will sell at a higher cost, dream profit margins are reached.

      Then instead of GM producing crappy unreliable poorly styled vehicles, they will be producing crappy unreliable stylish vehicles.

      Let’s just hope at least they get the driving dynamics right….

      • 0 avatar

        Oh, brother! Now that theyve gotten rid of their only cohesive international brand, Saab, theyre going to try and be like VW?? Cramming crappy V6s into everything worldwide is NO way to go thru life, son. And theres a lot of people thatll never aspire to Cadillax, Buicks OR VWs.

    • 0 avatar
      xantia10000

      North America is only one of the many markets VW particpates in. They are huge in Europe, China, South America, and gaining in India and Russia. Albeit a large market, VW isn’t only focusing on the US. And those outdated, crappy engines you speak of: do you think the average American (or any) driver knows / cares? Have a look at the Brasilian market, where VW still sells the old T1 Transporter, or in South Africa, where an A1 Golf was just recently deleted from the portfolio… talk about milking a platform!

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Conslaw,

      So you’re telling me that GM is asking Chrysler for a version of the Caravan?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I actually think VW buying in the Chrysler van makes perfect sense. It is a niche vehicle for them, they don’t really have a platform suitable to making something that big for the US market. And it cost them almost nothing, compared to what it would have cost in-house.

    • 0 avatar
      n777ua

      Oh please. Give the talking points a rest. If you would open your eyes and not be so closed minded and completely ignorant about what you’re attempting to peddle off, you’d know the reality is that the VW has risen to become a benchmark entity for all manufcatures to follow. They make money, they make great cars, and they have some of the best engineers there are – from Audi to Bentley to Bugatti to Lamborghini to Porsche. They were at the forefront of turbocharging and direct injection nearly a decade before others followed. Same with DSG and audi space frame (aluminium).

      You are an embarrassment.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    No, thanks, Girsky: the electrics in my Chevy are just fine, thanks!

  • avatar
    John Horner

    VW is the absolute master of platform and component sharing. They get more results out of a given quanta of engineering and tooling effort than does any other automotive company in the world. I’m not a VW fanboy, but I do admire that aspect of VW’s business accomplishments.

    Those old engines enthusiasts deride VW for putting into US bound models? They are driving a big sales upswing while having low production costs. Many a car company has gone wrong by listening to enthusiasts.

  • avatar
    Autobraz

    If Nissan starts admiring GM, the circle is complete!

    What they don’t admit in public is that they all admire Hyundai…

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    The Opel pictured suggests they are trying to blatantly copy the E60 5-series.

  • avatar
    getacargetacheck

    VW learned lots from GM. Doesn’t anyone here remember Ignacio Lopez?

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    Ohh geeze, so they want to go back to blatant badge engineering and everything that entails.

    It still amazes me how VW can badge engineer the heck out of every platform and yet GM/Ford are still blasted for it when they don’t do it nearly as blatantly.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      I would be hardly pressed to think an Audi A4 is a badge engineered VW, or in any case the A3 or A1.

      The A1 looks WAY different than the Polo or the Fabia… which are all on the same platform. I’m pretty much sure that from he

      Similarly with the Golf/A3/Octavia/Leon and all the wagon/CUV/convertible/brands/whatever variants.

      The customer doesn’t care much about what’s below the “top hat”. It do cares about how the car feels, the quality (whatever that means to anyone) the value and the image it will get.

      VW has been very successful in making very different models from common car and powertrain architectures. And platform/component sharing is the name of the game in this century. And as GM proved during last century, it was then too.

      I invite you to check some parts manuals of some cars sharing the same platform(if you have access) and find yourself about “blatant” badge engineering exercises.

      I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that a Saab 9-3 has roughly 10 different part numbers for the front springs and the Vectra which shared the platform had around 2-4: Auto/Manual -4cyl/V6, and that’s it, beautifully simple. Not to mention how that strut is installed to the body. And that’s just from field service info…

      From that tiny bit of info you can infer many things, the most obvious being a different suspension calibration.

    • 0 avatar
      n777ua

      Nice try. Audi is a separate entity from VW with far more autonomy than Lexus at Toyota (which is nothing more than a distribution channel for them). Audi has it’s own board of directors, headquarters, engineers, and design teams. Trying to imply they are nothing more than badge engineered VWs shows you have a clear and present lack of understanding of the reality of this situation.

  • avatar
    vento97

    In the future – the automobile will morph into one model:

    VolksNissaGeneYota.

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