Emerging from bankruptcy just 40 days after filing, the new General Motors Company began operations on Friday touting a new corporate structure, a stronger balance sheet, and a renewed commitment to make the customer the center of everything the new GM does.
This emergence "marks a new beginning for General Motors, one that will allow every employee, including me, to get back to the business of designing, building, and selling great cars and trucks and serving the needs of our customers," said Fritz Henderson (left), president and CEO, in his public address made Friday morning. "We are deeply appreciative for the support we have received during this historic transformation, and we will work hard to repay this trust by building a successful new General Motors."
"One thing we have learned from the last 100 days is that GM can move quickly and decisively," said Henderson. "Today, we take the intensity, decisiveness and speed of the past several months and transfer it from the triage of the bankruptcy process to the creation and operation of a new General Motors.
The new General Motors is committed to a clear and simple vision - to design, build and sell the best vehicles in the world. "A successful auto company needs to focus on both the cost and the revenue sides of the business," said Henderson. "Success on the revenue side means building the stylish, high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles that customers want - and getting them to market fast."
As part of its reinvention, the new GM has is focusing its resources on four core brands - Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC - and is creating a stronger, more effective dealer network. The company will trim the number of GM dealers in the U.S. from 6,000 this spring to approximately 3,600 by the end of next year, and reduce the number of U.S. nameplates from 48 to 34 by 2010. Additionally, General Motors will end its regional operating structure and remove layers of management - reducing the number of U.S. executives by 35 percent and overall U.S. salaried employment by 20 percent by the end of this year - in an effort to flatten the organization and speed decision-making (not to mention, cut costs).
As part of its plan, GM is aggressively developing a full range of energy-saving technologies, including advanced internal combustion engines, biofuels, fuel cells, and hybrids. The company will be leading its alternate-fuel segment with the production of its extended-range electric vehicles, the Chevy Volt, currently undergoing road testing and scheduled to launch in 2010. The new GM is also taking steps to make advanced battery development a core competency, and expects to make additional announcements on this subject later this summer. In fact, the company has been touting its new green-ness so highly that some blogs such as LeftLaneNews, Bloomberg, and others have even speculated it might re-color its log to a brighter shade of green. However, Henderson denied knowledge of any such redesign during his address.
Additionally, Henderson shared the news that the company would be 'unretiring' Bob Lutz to fill an important position in the new GM as vice chairman responsible for all creative elements of products and customer relationships. "He has a proven track record of unleashing creativity in the design and development of GM cars and trucks. This new role allows him to take that passion a step further, applying it to other parts of GM that connect directly with customers," said Henderson. The iconic auto-persona will team with Tom Stephens, vice chairman, product development; and Ed Welburn, vice president of design; to guide all creative aspects of corporate design.
Finally, in a move that got many journalists talking, Henderson announced that the company is "working on new ways to make car buying more convenient for our customers, including an innovative new partnership with eBay in California to revolutionize how people buy vehicles online." Henderson said customers "will be able to bid on actual vehicles just like they do in an eBay auction, including the option of choosing a predetermined 'buy it now' price." Can you imagine a more female friendly way to shop than from the comfort and privacy of your own desktop?
"Business as usual is over at GM," promised Henderson. "Today starts a new era for General Motors and everyone associated with the company. Going forward, the new General Motors is fully committed to listening to customers, responding to consumer and market trends, and empowering the people closest to the customer to make the decisions. Our goal is to build more of the cars, trucks, and crossovers that customers want, and to get them to market faster than ever before."
"To our current customers, we appreciate the confidence that you have placed in us, and going forward, we'll offer you nothing less than great cars, trucks, and crossovers, with unmatched customer service. To those who have supported us through this challenging time, we are deeply grateful," said Henderson. "And to those who have never tried a GM vehicle - or who have tried one and been disappointed - we look forward to the chance to win your business and earn your trust."
It sounds like an awesome plan. We certainly do wish the best for General Motors and all its employees as they enact this drastic new structure move towards a better corporate future.
Have you got additional questions about how these changes at GM could affect you? Then read more about it at Consumer Reports. The blog includes information on what brands and models are still available, how to get parts and service for GM cars, what to do with GM warranties, how to sell a GM car, whether or not it's a good idea to buy a GM vehicle now, and what to do if you have a claim against GM.
By Brandy Schaffels
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