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June 2nd, 2009
09:55 AM ET

GM CFO: We admit errors in the past

GM CFO Ray Young tells CNN's Kiran Chetry that General Motors will learn from their mistakes.

GM CFO Ray Young tells CNN's Kiran Chetry that General Motors will learn from their mistakes.

GM’s bankruptcy is viewed by many as a failure of historic proportions. GM’s chief financial officer says he views it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. GM CFO Ray Young spoke to Kiran Chetry on CNN’s “American Morning” Tuesday.

Kiran Chetry: Under the restructuring plan, the government will give the company $30 billion additional in taxpayer money, amounting to $50 billion so far. It's the largest amount, besides AIG, dolled out by the government. In a nutshell, can you explain what went so wrong for General Motors?

Ray Young: Kiran, we admit there have been errors in the past that we’ve made at General Motors. We’ve had a lot of extra excess costs, excess capacity over the years. We’ve got…defined benefit obligations that have really hurt us in the balance sheet. But going forward, Kiran, we're going to learn from our mistakes. And we’ve been given a once in a lifetime opportunity to restructure the balance sheet, to shed a lot of our extra capacity, extra costs, and move forward with a profitable new General Motors that’s going to be smaller but more focused with four core brands and with a cost structure that is very, very efficient.

Chetry: Can you explain to the American public how you're going to do that? How you're going to get back on track. Do you plan on being able to eventually return the billions in taxpayer money?

Young: Well clearly, with four core brands, we’re going to be very focused in terms of our product development and our marketing dollars. We're going to shed our extra capacity or our excess capacity in order to bring down the break-even level of our cost structure. But we're going to be very much focused as a product and customer oriented company…a lot of investments in this area, in terms of advanced technologies. Our intent is to return this investment by the American taxpayers both in terms of the loan they’re providing to us as well as the shares that the American public will initially own in the new General Motors.

Chetry: How do you convince people who doubt GM’s ability to compete and to get people to buy your cars in the future?

Young: Well, if you take a look at the last 60 days after President Obama gave us the June 1st deadline, it’s an example of how fast the new General Motors could move. In the last 60 days, we negotiated a historic UAW labor contract. It gets the labor costs in the United States close to the transplant levels here in the United States. We did the same thing up in Canada with the Canadian autoworkers. We basically negotiated with the bondholders and worked with them on an arrangement that we could emerge from bankruptcy…with their support. We negotiated an arrangement over in Europe, an MOU with Magna, in order to restructure the European business. We were able to accomplish a lot in the last 60 days, which is indicative of what the new General Motor is all about. We’re going to move quickly, we’re going to fast, and we’re going to take a lot of risks.

Chetry: Speaking of risks, one of them could possibly be the Chevy Volt. This is the plug-in hybrid you guys are touting. Reportedly, the retail price is $40,000. If you contrast that with the Toyota Prius, that’s selling for $25,000. One "Washington Post" columnist said it's a lot to pay for altruism. How do you stay competitive with a car like the Prius if your Volt is going to be several thousand dollars more?

Young: Well Kiran, we haven't talked about the selling price of the Volt yet. What we're working on is the battery technology, bringing down the cost of the vehicle, going through the learning cycles. We think the Volt is going to be a revolutionary vehicle. It's not a hybrid vehicle. It's an extended-range electric vehicle. We have a lot of confidence in this product, a lot of confidence in this technology. We actually think it’s going to be revolutionary in both the U.S. and global markets.

Chetry: When you start firing up these new cars, the new models, are you going to use these shuttered U.S. plants or are you going to continue to make a lot of the models overseas?

Young: Well right now, 2/3 of the vehicles that we sell in the United States are built in the United States. We made a commitment in the last UAW negotiations that we would reopen one of these stand-by or idle facilities in the United States to build a new small car for the United States. We have a commitment here to build in the United States. Going forward, we'll see a new small car here. This is an example of our commitment to the United States, a commitment to America.

Chetry: Do you have details about the sale of Hummer?

Young: We've been negotiating with three potential buyers of Hummer. The Hummer brand and some of the Hummer assets. We've reached an MOU. We're actually very, very pleased with this arrangement because we will be able to continue the Hummer brand with this purchaser and also maintain production here in the United States.

Chetry: Will you tell us who?

Young: We're not disclosing the name of the purchaser at this point in time.

Related: GM deals Hummer to Chinese buyer


Filed under: Business
soundoff (332 Responses)
  1. Whatever

    I'm wondering what this CFO and the other higher management are still doing on the job. Since they were in positions of responsibility during the years of stupid and greedy decision making, what is to convince the American people that they will behave in a professional, ethical, and responsibile manner that will make GM competitive and sustainable?

    The entire management and design organization needs to be replaced so that GM can truly start-off as a new company. There are may capable, ethical, professional and creative management and design people that could be recruited to create the new GM who have not worked at any of the major automobile companies- The taxpayers need to be assured that fresh and competitive thinking and decision making will be used to re-create GM, not the failed and incompetent decision making that has created this mess.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  2. Phil

    Here's an idea.

    Try designing cars that perform AND look great – you know, cars that people actually want to buy.

    Remember the 50s and 60s? EVERYONE wanted an american car because they were stylish. Heck, people TODAY pay top-dollar for those same cars. They're mobile pieces of art.

    Every year GM makes great concepts, yet, now, sells terrible consumer models — all because the bean-counters snuff out the creative process.

    Had the DESIGNERS still been running things in the late 70s, 80s, 90s and 00s, GM would still be king. Instead, the BMW, Mercedes and Audi's are the kings.

    Try being the Apple Computer of cars. They make great products and are off-the-charts profitable.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  3. Bea

    Also, it's worth nothing that Toyota's CEO and its top executives ALL TOGETHER make LESS money COMBINED, than an American motor company CEO makes individually. What's wrong with this picture?

    June 2, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  4. Justin

    It's no surprise why the mob got into the union business - It was, and apparently still is, legal extortion.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  5. Matt

    "We’re actually very, very pleased with this arrangement because we will be able to continue the Hummer brand with this purchaser and also maintain production here in the United States."

    So, despite heading into bankruptcy, blowing through bailout money and wasting taxpayer dollars, GM is still going to move forward with producing the biggest gas-guzzler of them all and try to hide it by saying that it's not their brand anymore? What is it going to take for these guys to figure it out???

    June 2, 2009 at 12:28 pm |
  6. Thomas

    GM will continue to lose money if they try selling the VOLT at $35,000. Honda's new electric car is $18,000.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  7. Jody

    Here's the bottom line. The culture within GM's executive ranks is one of entitlement. For some reason, they thought, and still seem to think, that just because they are GM, Americans are going to purchase their cars! For years they haven't even considered the American consumer's tastes and needs. Even with gas prices exceeding $4.00 per gallon in most parts of the country, they were rolling out rear-wheel drive, V-8, gas guzzling behemoths. Management also thought, wrongly, that they should give into every demand the UAW made because GM's cars would always sell! Is it any surprise they're bankrupt? Now, they're touting this "Volt" that no one will buy. They'll push it through and get it to the American consumer as quickly as they can....and wil most likely ignore quality and safety problems that show up in testing. My prediction.....massive recalls on the newest GM products over the next few years. As a result, continued declining sales, and the American taxpayers will never see the $50B we gave to GM for a "fresh start." Here's my question....how about recruiting some of the brightest minds away from the car companies that are succeeding, and have them turn GM around? GM will never succeed by promoting from within....especially given the culture that exists there!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  8. Roobert

    I will never own a GM vehicle again. Last one was '77. Hope you all starve-

    June 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  9. ellen

    Union labor/greed did and does drive up the cost of doing business. Where else can someone who is a high school graduate or GED that can barely spell their name in purple crayon make $50+ per hour? Union perks drove those wages NOT the american public getting their money's worth. Yes the american auto worker should be paid and paid well but thos salaries and various perks are just absolutely not justified.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm |
  10. Jessica

    Since WE THE PUBLIC are 60% shareholders, can't we at least have a tiny bit of say? As it is right now, I watch things that are plugged in, becuase the electricity bill goes through the roof if i dont.

    I can't fathom powering up a car via electricity will be much cheaper, and it certainly doesnt help the carbon footprint, since electricity (most of it) is coal powered.

    Now, if i hear they are building cars to sell in the southwest that have solar panels all over it, and you never have to plug them in or gas them up, they just run and store solar energy for later use when not running...then you have me sold that you are "moving in the right direction".

    The techonology is ALMOST there...the innovation and "outside the box thinking" hasnt even come close to arriving on GM's doorstep.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  11. Bea

    What I would have liked to have heard is the truth about their past mistakes. . . that being "We made a substandard product at a highly unaffordable price". NOBODY can blame Americans for not buying GM vehicles when #1, they suck; and #2, they are way out of the price range of the average middle-class American. That's why I am so disappointed at the rumor that their electric car will be $40K. Who the H can buy a car that costs that much? Excluding, of course, those with a large, disposable income. And if I ever have such an income, I still would never spend that much on a vehicle. I am by no means unpatriotic but I'll buy a $15,000 Toyota that gets 35 MPG and will last me for 15 years before I would even begin to think about purchasing a GM product. Who wouldn't?

    June 2, 2009 at 12:26 pm |
  12. Vic of New York

    The problem with GM – in my life time – has been that it's run by "bean counters" and inbread management more interested in protecting thier perq's than in developing state of the art cars.

    I'm not sure that Ray Young is communicating any different perspective – he seems like just another bean counter.

    Give them credit for the Cadilac CTS. This is as close to a world-class car as GM has ever gotten. Chrystler shows more imagination but no better engineering prowess.

    GM is a shell of a car company. It remains to be seen whether it can ever establish itself as a leader in automotive engineering.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  13. Big John

    Sure GM put out some bad cars in the past but the Asians forced them to change their ways. I have always had good luck with GM cars and would not hesitate to buy another one. What pisses me off is that Congress lets the Japs close their market to us while we bend over backward to open our markets and give them tax breaks to build plants here. There is no reciprocity . Clinton called their bluff in '93 and it will always work. They absolutely n eed our market. And I think it is a giant misconception that Asian cars are better. GM offers a 100K mile warranty!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  14. Brian C.

    My question is, why is this top management still here? They rode this company into the ground and yet somehow, the administration is fine that they are still managing this company. They should be tried for embezzling money. because they clearly did not earn it "managing" GM and theft since they stole the life out of GM.

    GM, in my humble opinion, is a strong company, that needs a vision. GM has [well now had] the resources to produce whatever they wanted. As it's been stated, THEY created the electric car. GM manufactured a prototype in the late 60's and reintroduced the idea in the early 90's. GM's management needs to get their heads out of the @$$ess and listen to the consumer. They have the power to deliver a stylish, reliable product, but not while this management is at the helm.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  15. Angry taxpayer

    How about improving your quality of vehicle and not selling pieces of crap? My wife and I bought a 50k suburban and within 4 years it had rust spots. After this, my wife and I vowed never to buy another GM vehicle. Get in touch with the consumers, build quality vehicles, and quit trying to ram what you think we want down our throats. If it were not for all the ancillary businesses dependant upon GM, I personally don't care if they fold.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:25 pm |
  16. Sue

    GM deserves to restructure and I hope they profit.
    Gee, Brian D. Sorcic, you state:
    "I have owned GM trucks for over 40 years and never had good service or good deals. I always got ripped off .......
    If you were so unhappy with them then why would you continue to drive their cars for 40 years – seems you are no smarter than GM!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  17. Don

    What a joke! If this guy truly represents the new attitude going forward, they are going to fail again. Not once did he mention the past arrogance of offering shoddy/laughable products. Does anyone remember the Cadillac Cimarron? How about GM's first fuel injection (squirting fuel into a conventional carburetor)? Vega? Chevette? Fiero? How about the degrading and insulting experience when you took a car in for service (you bought it – it's your problem, not ours)? ARROGANCE

    June 2, 2009 at 12:24 pm |
  18. Chris R

    Well, I have some bad news for all of you "GM Owners" meaning people that own the car and had owned the stock-

    YOU HAVE BEEN SUCKERED!!

    WOW when will folks wake up- GM 'lost' 50 BILLION dollars!!
    Serves GM Chrysler and Ford and the American public right. These folks are crooks plain and simple, why do you think Toyota is smiling now?
    SHEESH- talk about brainless people. No one in thier right mind should have given or should give any car manufacturer 1 billion dollars let alone 50.
    YOU ALL DESERVE WHAT YOU GET.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  19. Steve

    Watch the movie "Tucker: A Man and His Dream" where the Big 3 conspire to prevent new safety innovations from entering the market and see if you think they deserve our money for trying to kill us. Then go and research how they had Ralph Nader followed after he attacked them in his book "Unsafe at any Speed". These are the Bozo's whining for our tax dollars after saving millions on delaying seat belts, air bags and mileage reform for years. I don't think Obama is getting a second term after this trick. ( by the way 50 billion dollars buys a lot of free health care) I sure hope Jesse Ventura or another Independent runs for President. I am sick of both parties at this point.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  20. JMD

    I worked there for ten years and always had above average performance reviews, took advantage of every educational opportunity to show that I was someone worth keeping, I worked countless hours of free overtime and was recently promoted but I was let go because I wasn't in the good ole boy IT network. This is where people come from other companies and bring in there friends who worked there, bypassing talented GM people for promotion. Or they bring in your college roommate, or protect your friends inside. Decisions on who to cut had nothing to do with keeping talent. So I have no hope GM will get this right as the people who caused the problem are still there.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm |
  21. Patrick

    No mention of better products? No mention of how many jobs might yet be sent overseas? No explanation why anyone should believe that the same management team that ran the company into the ground should get paid 7 figures to try to get it out?

    This interview was entirely softball and amounts to nothing more than a GM infomercial. Pathetic.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:22 pm |
  22. jim in ohio

    Regardless of GM's many mistakes, and its arrogance, we the people have also helped create this problem. Just like public safety, the health of our people should be a public concern and provided for from our taxes, so that the cost can be spread as widely as possible. Instead, we expect employers (including GM) to bear the cost of healthcare for their employees. That cost, for its employees and retirees, amounts to many billions which the company must absorb. We expect GM and many other companies to cover this extra overhead and yet still compete with companies from countries that DO spread the entire cost over their entire population, and DON'T expect employers to bear that cost. But, we Americans REFUSE to face the true costs of life and want to keep "hiding" this cost in the balance sheets of employers. If we, like many of our friends around the world, considered healthcare a basic right and provided it to everyone, GM's debt load would be much less right now and could have avoided bankruptcy.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  23. CW

    Like other posters have already said, the ARROGANCE of these corporate heads is staggering. I've only owned one GM car, which I bought NEW in 1999. Within one week of driving it, the clutch went out and had to be replaced. Numerous other problems followed, including needing to have my radio replaced 7 times! And with almost every problem, I was left without a car to drive while the problem was "fixed." In contrast, I've owned several Toyotas and NEVER had ONE problem with them. If GM wants to survive and compete, it needs to start building QUALITY vehicles.

    I feel slightly bad for saying that GM has brought these problems on itself, and it deserves what it gets.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  24. Trex

    They should have let them go under a long time ago. The government should give the money to new and upcoming companies who have a fresh, new way of thinking (Tesla??)

    Out with the old, in with the new.

    Next in line – 100 year old telecoms!

    Thnx.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  25. Dave Orban

    To those folks who still cling to the notion that American consumers don't want smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles, I suppose that's why companies like Toyota have eaten GM's lunch...?

    Get a grip. The days of big gas guzzlers are, thankfully, long gone.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  26. Conrad

    "Well, if you take a look at the last 60 days after President Obama gave us the June 1st deadline, it’s an example of how fast the new General Motors could move."

    Only because you were forced to. Left to your own devices, you would still be dithering away and looking for more excuses and handouts.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  27. Mike from Seattle

    They should take a Chapter from their past when they were successful with muscle cars back in the 60's and early 70's. Instead of the current bureaucratic committee process of approving new designs, etc., for mass production, they let their product execs takes risks by authorizing production of small quantities of new cars to see how the public responded. Case in point, the different variations of the GTO, Cuda, Road Runner, Camaro, Chevy Impala, GTX, Firebird, etc., that had small production lines to start with. Not to mention producing vehicles that didn't need every bell and whistle, but a vehicle that was affordable.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  28. Jose

    Did you pay attention to the part

    2/3rds of their cars are made in the US?

    Did they only take 2/3rds of the American taxpayers money?

    I will NEVER buy a US car as long as they produce ONE car on foreign soil and import it into the US.

    Drop Dead!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  29. George D

    The reason why I don't want to buy a so-called "American car" is because I do not want to help pay for the union worker's excessive salary which is 3-4 times of my salary, I do not want to help pay for their magnificent health coverage which I do not have because I cannot afford it, and I do not want to contribute to their superior retirement package because I do not have one. Oh, also, I do not want to drive a car that is inferior in quality compared to a Toyota or a Honda.

    Wake up, GM! Wake up, UAW! Excessive workers salaries partnered with inferior products are ingredients for disaster.

    Cut the workers salaries and spend it on product development so that you can produce cars that can reaaly compete with Toyota and Honda. This is the only way you'll make it.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  30. Bigman

    Huh huh.......there goes the money for the "working class". All of the gosh damn money this government is spending to help the "companies" out during our hard times. What about the people that run these gosh damn companies??? What kind of help are they getting?? Another 20,000 people let go?? How long is going to go on?? Many companies and banks love the fact that they are getting bailed out because now the cat fats can re-stuff their pockets from all of the stocks they lost in the last (2) years!! CEO's and CFO's, Vice Presidents, and so on.......better watch it!! Many people not very happy about this whole situation. Way to go Obama! "Puting more towards the wroking class" HUH? NOT! ANOTHER PRODEGY OF GREEDY DEMOCRAT POLITICS. God save the middle class!!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  31. Matt

    Onew wonders how "American" the new GM will be. While I lament the fact that such vehicles as the Cadillacs, Chevy Suburbans, many of the Buick SUVs, the Aveo and many other models are made outside of the U.S.A. (not to mention the importation of engines from China), the concept of an "American" car is elusive at best. The vehicles made in the U.S.A. by Toyota, Honda, Hyundai, Mercedes, Nissan et al are well made, run longer, and hold their value far better than their American counterparts. What is the common denominator? The UAW, of course, which just doesn't seem to get. it. None of the foreign companies who manufacture here are saddled with the lead weight of a union whose work rules stifle productivity and make the domestic manufacturers non-competitive by definition. If the bankruptcies of GM and Chrysler turn out to be failures, it will be because they didn't jettison those labor contracts. GM management shoots itself in the foot on a daily basis. The allure of a "new and improved" car fades fast when you realize that Toyota, for example, has been making the Corolla for 45 years. Same name, same model, but a throughly better made car every year, and they seem to sell just fine. Rooting for GM is like rooting for the Chicago Cubs–the eternal wait for next year.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:20 pm |
  32. joe

    Most of you people dont have the slitest Idea what your talking about. GM builds lots of car and trucks people like,just look around you there everywhere. you need to blame the gas prices for all the short falls. when I drive down the road all I see is small SUV and Trucks the ladies love them not all these small cars everybody is talking about. Just quit complaining and buy AMERICAN.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  33. Fast Eddie

    What we have here is simple–the UAW was so powerful and so strong for so many decades, they negotiated wages, working conditions (like standby pay while plants are idle) and legacy costs that destroyed GM's balance sheet and made them uncompetitive. All that money could have gone into R&D and marketing instead. People don't realize that Federal, State and Local taxes currently eat up 48.9% of sales in our state (Washington) and it continues to grow unabated. With the massive legacy costs GM incurred, their tax and pension rates ate up most the rest. It was a time bomb that was just a matter of when it would explode. Kinda like Social Security and Medicare and the pension and legacy costs that are bankrupting governments all over America. It is a Ponzi scheme. There is no way you should be able to work from 18 until 38, then retire on a legacy program at almost full pay for the next 40 years. Only government jobs and UAW jobs do that–everyone else is working into their 70's unless they are individually financially independent.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  34. Zoltan

    For "normal" businesses it would not be enough admitting their own mistakes. They would pay for those mistakes by, say, GOING OUT of business.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  35. Pete

    It's been very obvious for 20 years or more that GM & especially Chrysler were never going to make it. Just look at Consumers Reports which is an unbiased grading of all cars. It's rare to see a passable reliability grade on a Chrysler product. Compared to most Asian cars, they just don't stack up. For such a big investment, you really need to compare & buy the best. Sorry, but the Asians earned it!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  36. shay

    So this schmuck is the new face of GM? Why am I not suprised? GM has been selling the same lame "buy American" philosphy to many patriotic Americans who are dense enough to believe they are sincere. GM operates with foreign investment dollars from the likes of the Saudis, builds American cars in Mexico, and then states that thier whole problem was really "extra costs", which is management profanity for retirement and healthcare benefits. Henry Ford would roll over in his grave if he could hear this trashtalk. GM didn't deserve a bailout from the Americans they turned thier back on. Why didn't the Mexicans or the Saudis at Bank of America bail them out. Oh, I forgot, Americans had to bail them out too. If I see one more cowboy with an American flag on a GM advertisement I'm going to puke.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  37. Justin Crawford

    Every car company makes mistakes. The so called "big ticket gas guzzlers" were hugely popular and were exactly what the american people wanted at the time. And almost every car manufacturer produced a SUV of some sort. The Toyota Sequia didn't get any better mileage than the Tahoe or Expedition, it just wans't as popular.

    Let's face it. Americans love their large vehicles. They are safer, more comfortable, and fit in perfect with the family lifestyle of most people. Why can't we focus our efforts on making the cars we want run more efficiently instead of forcing us to drive smaller, more dangerous and inconveinient vehicles.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  38. Steve

    I read the comment here, many very critical of GM, but yet 1 of evey 5 cars sold in America is a GM product. So much for "out of touch with consumers". That argument just isn't based in facts.

    As for not discussing the price of the Volt, I'm sure that the price has been, and is being discussed internally at GM, but why would they want to shoot numbers out to the public if those are not firm numbers?

    I have never seen a buch of more hateful remarks regarding this whole GM thing – you would think that George Bush is running GM.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:19 pm |
  39. AgentG

    "But we’re going to be very much focused as a product and customer oriented company..."

    How clever is this executive...finally realizing that GM makes products for consumers! It only has taken them 50 years to realize where they got off track.

    GM has failed because it has, in arrogance and willful ignorance, failed to recognize what customers want, and therefore has been unable to deliver products that meet those market demands. In fact, it has been the unwise cost-cutting on product aspects that are very important to consumers (reliability, durability, design, interior materials, etc.) that has caused GM to lose market share, and remain 1-2 product generations behind the competition. Even today, there is nothing GM is doing that is cutting-edge in the auto industry, that gives consumers something more than a Japanese competitor.

    Nothing the CFO says in this interview indicates that he "gets it" and so we are likely to see much worse problems if the entire management structure is not replaced and re-engineered. Bring in some Japanese Zen Buddhist managers, please!!!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  40. Jim from Denver

    I think the problem at GM was that they no longer had any engineers. I can't name one thing they did the last 20 years that was ahead of the pack. Remember when Ross Perot was on the board? He kept pressing them to lead in some way and instead of listening, they bought him out and got him off the board. They can blame this on the unions all they want, but it was short sighted, profit now, management that is to blame.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:18 pm |
  41. Ara

    In My Opinion the biggest mistake ever made was the killing of the electric car, the EV1 in the early '90s. This was short term greed over long term success on the part of GM. Had the EV1 made it to the market on time GM would have been far ahead of the game when Toyota's and Honda's Hybrid cars first hit the market in the late ,90s. Ironically this is the exact and first time the American automakers lost ground in the US market share.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  42. Brad

    For many years GM simply gave the union what they wanted, and added the cost to their junky vehicles.

    Well enough is enough. Now maybe some folks will have to get in the real world, rather than standing on the street holding a strike sign!

    No GM, I dont wont your crap. My Acura -Honda product runs fabulous, and I get great dealer support.

    The older generation of GM buyers are passing away. It wont be much longer until this old rotten ship sinks! Good riddance!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:17 pm |
  43. Rono

    Not one word about quality or reliability, just a bunch of smoke screened double speak. Hopefully this guy is one that goes bye bye in future management shake-ups, but I'm sure somehow this "toe the line, keep the message on target" guy is critical to the future of the company. Oh and the Hummer deal, it will involve GM and the UAW continuing to build gas guzzling pollution mobiles while some poor stupid buyer gets to market and try and sell whatever junk GM forces on them.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  44. Jose

    Why would I, a US citizen buy a car MADE IN MEXICO or BRAZIL?

    FORD, GM, Chrysler thought they could sucker the US customer into buying THIRD WORLD made products. VW has learned the hard way by building cars in Mexico and trying to make US consumers they are made in Germany.

    Ever wonder why BMW, TOYOTA, and others are doing well ok?

    Make them where you pretend they are from...the US, Europe or Japan, or go out of business!

    There is NOTHING on the earth you could give me made in Mexico.

    They made Pintos to SUVs and junk when we were demanding quality and gas mileage...They thought they could FORCE FEED us their garbage.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  45. dfwguy

    If the defined benefits hurt them so much, why didn't they have the foresight to know that would happen?
    They strong armed the UAW to lower labor rates. As labor rates in Germany are comparable to what GM was paying, why the need for that cut? I don't see Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, or VW filing bankruptcy? They have issues, but not to this extent.
    As much as I despise unions, the UAW is not the one to blame here. Management made bad product choices. Engineering designed things that were both expensive and difficult to build. (Could that be related to the corporate culture where product engineers avoid the manufacturing facilities like the plague?)
    Could their insistence on forcing onstar on customers have been more expensive than providing a cheaper bluetooth connection?
    The only brands that showed any promise, SAAB and Saturn have been neutered and kicked to the curb respectively.
    Should you have an issue with one of their products the dealer cannot solve you are instructed to call a call center. The agents there know nothing about cars and the turnover among employees is awful. The response to my car having been at the dealer 6 times for an issue was return to the dealer. I was REFUSED access to a service engineer. The dealer did everything they could, but since the computer didn't store a code, they lacked the skills to troubleshoot. I pointed this out after another 2 trips and the response was to take the car to the dealer. After 18 months and 14 dealer visits, sometimes being without my car for over 2 weeks, and dealing with the call center facilitators this 14 year, 4 cars purchased customer decided to leave and buy a German car and a Japanese car. Considering I traded both of my SAABs, they missed around $75-80 K in revenue. Never again will anything with the "Mark of Excellence" clutter my driveway again.
    I wish them the best, but if Young is an indication of the "New GM", they might as well have left Waggoner to finsih the job of burying an icon.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  46. Scott

    Unions.

    There is no way that US automakers will be globally competitive when they are saddled with the ridiculously overpriced workers due to unions.

    There is no way that a high school grad working the line spraypainting bumpers should make more and have better benefits than a high school teacher.

    That is the broken system here. Unions are leeches killing their host.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm |
  47. Joel

    Woohoo! I now own controlling interest in a company I wouldn't touch. A company accumulating $90 billion in losses since 2005 is inexcusable. I am sorry but Mr Young is full of crap touting what they have done in the last 60 days which is really a whole lot of nothing. What has changed? Easy, they decided aren't going to pay their debts. GM should have gone into bankrupcy 6 months ago instead of burning thru $20 billion taxpayer dollars in as much time. Inexcusable.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  48. Jim

    GM's market share has declined steadily since 1980 and no one saw this coming? Frankly, this is the best example of how unions have killed American manufacturing jobs. It is not sustainable to pay people the outrageous salaries and benefits that the unions extort from companies, while expecting that the product will be competitively priced in the end. And it doesn't help to have a president who "purchased" a car company, then divided it between two countries and the UAW. America can make quality cars at a reasonable price if they get the unions out of the equation. Unfortunately, the series of events since January proves this is not a viable option, so I have no faith that GM will emerge from bankruptcy any better than they are today. In 3 years, GM will still be a giant retirement program, but they will be government-subsidized and build golf carts on the side. And the unions will still stifle creativity, flexibility and competitiveness.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  49. Suparag

    .....We’re going to shed our extra capacity or our excess capacity in order to bring down the break-even level of our cost structure. But we’re going to be very much focused as a product and customer oriented company…

    They have to wait until bankruptcy, to do all of these, shouldn't these have been done a long time ago?

    June 2, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  50. Danny Bonaducci

    Patrick and MJB. First, GM wasnt greedy you moron, the UAW was greedy and GM executives at the time had no damn back bone. Their labor costs per car exceeds that of their foreign competitors by thousands. That isnt greed you nitwit, its stupidity. Patrick, its none of your damn business what they are going to charge for the car at this point. They obviously know the cost to build the prototype and the costs to build mass quantities so they know the ballpark figure, he just isnt telling you because he doesnt want their competitors to know.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:15 pm |
  51. GG from Minnesota

    GM's biggest error was asking the government for a bailout rather than going through bankruptcy. The result is the government gets to set the terms for retructuring the company; it's become obvious the Obama administration intends to restructure the company for the enrichment of the UAW at the expense of the bondholders, stockholders, and the US taxpayer.
    I guess we're just supposed to be OK with all this as it's supposedly the only chance to "save" GM. Never mind the forced restructuring violates our bankruptcy laws and will discourage future investors from purchasing bonds. Never mind this rewards a union that is in large measure responsible for GM's current situation. Never mind the government dictating to GM what it can build and how much it can charge. Never mind that the taxpayers are ultimately going to pay for this mess of a plan when it fails.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  52. jerry segal

    in a past life i owned 2 gm products ..after the lousey service,terrible product. i said no more since then i have purchased german and asian.. THEY BUILD A GREAT PRODUCT AND THE SALES AND SERVICE DEPARTMENTS( IF YOU EVER NEED TO GO OTHER THAN SCHEDUALED MAINT)...ARE FANTASTIC!!!..Ii want to see gm etal servive ,how ever it is highly unlikely to happen ..look what happened in england ..no domestic manufactures all foreigin

    they now have great cars..and most built in country ..so the workers are fully employed..IN A NUT SHELL THE PROBLEM WITH GM IS NO LONG TERM VISION ..PLEASEING THE BUYER FROM THE SHOW ROOM TO THE SERVICE DEPT ALONG WITH A GREAT PRODUCT .

    AGREAT EXAMPLE IS TOYOTA ..WHEN THEY ANNOUNCED THE PRIUS..THE SOLD IT AT A LOSS !!! AND LOOK HOW WELL IT SELLS NOW ....PEOPLE SAID NO ONE WILL BUY A SMALL CAR ...SO WHO DO YOU THINK IS DRIVING THEM ???

    June 2, 2009 at 12:13 pm |
  53. Tom

    There is a lot of blame to go around regarding the bankrupcy of GM. They're resisted increased fuel efficiency standards (as did the other big car cos.), while continually churning out gas-guzzling vehicles. They said the consumers "demanded" such vehicles, but GM "created" this demand through the magic of advertising–the environment be damned. Never mind, decreased fuel efficiency INCREASED SIGNIFICANTLY our demand for foreign oil, stained as it often is, with the blood of foreigners and our own soldiers. Of course, these are the most profitable vehicles for GM but NOT the best for the environment or the consumer. Meanwhile, because their workers (like the bulk of the American population) do NOT eat right or exercise regularly, we know that there's an extra $1,500 "built into" the price of every GM vehicle because their workers refuse to eat right! This makes foreign vehicles less expensive for the American consumer. Short term profits–yes, that's the mantra of most American companies. Now we're seeing the results: bankrupcy. Visionary thinking–that's what we needed, instead, we had myopic thinking and now this. Let's just hope GM will NOT take some of the 50 billion they've received from the American taxpayer to help them open OVERSEAS plants in Mexico, Brazil and elsewhere! We should not be laying off American workers and then hiring foreigners!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  54. Karl Tatgenhorst

    GM is no longer beholden to a secretive board of directors. Yes, errors were made in the past glad the error makers admit it. I want to know who purchased Hummer from the publically owned, tax payer financed company called GM. I think it is my right to know. Additionally, I don't want to hear about shed benefits packages etc... I want to know what C level execs are being shed to bring new thought to this company. I am glad that the UAW got them to agree to make a token "small" car in the US. However, if they start offshoring jobs and the company becomes a corporate headquarters where several people are making high 6-7 digit incomes and thousands of third world workers are accomplishing it for them, I will be very dissappointed in the bailout.
    Obamas people have already ventured into socialist territory here (and I believe rightly so) now he has an obligation to the taxpayers to run this company in a way that benefits the US and not GMs BOD.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  55. Britannia, Austin

    Many correspondents here have it right. When unions were formed originally there was a need to protect the worker from unscrupulous employers. While there are still unscrupulous employers, unions have unfortunately negotiated millions of people out of jobs by using totally outdated, unrealistic and counter-productive methods over the years. Union leaders however, have garnered enormous wealth and power, say no more!

    So labor costs are too high? of course they are. When Ronald Reagan took a leaf out of Maggie Thatcher's book to deal with the air traffic controllers back in the '80s I did see a chink of hope for American industry. Pity the automakers didn't learn from this but the "I'm all right Jack" mentality prospered, now it's withered on the vine.

    GM needs to go away, forever. Keep Saturn though – formed as an autonomous unit to give Toyota, Honda, Mitzubishi etc. a run for their money – the division was efficient, the cars reliable and everything appeared to be done on a cost effective basis. But GM couldn't leave well enough alone ........

    June 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  56. Mark

    Using coal to make electricity to power the volt is much more efficient use of fossil fuels than buring petroleum, gas, or diesel. I can't remember exactly but I think 3-4x. Hydrogen for fuel cells is worse than petroleum I think.

    Added benefits are: existing distribution network (electricity grid), opportunity to use productive capacity at night to recharge (currently throw away electricity), ability to centralise pollution and CO2 control (easier to put on 1000 power stations, than 10,000,000 cars).

    Oh – and no dependency on crazy arabs, so no wars, deaths, hundreds of billions, etc. Want to cut each other's heads off – let em. When the people want democracy, they'll take it.

    If you factor in the externalities correctly, and gave rebates that reflected these, the Volt should be competitively priced.

    Will governments do this? I doubt it.

    The future is electric however, and the Volt is an electric car, the Prius is not. And not he said "we've not talked about", this did not refer to internal discussions; they're waiting to see how all this plays out.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:12 pm |
  57. Timothy

    Which mistakes will they admit to? They blame all their problems on "Excess costs" and "Excess Capacity". When will GM admit killing all of their enviromentally friendly, fuel efficient cars, in order to replace with SUV's was a bad idea?

    They killed their own electric car, the EV1, in the 90's and STILL keep it hushhush. This car was seemingly more capable other than battery life than the chevy volt. If it had been in full-production since they designed it, then I'd imagine if they weren't too greedy they would have easily been able to match the prius by now.

    Until they actually start caring about the American population and admit building millions of SUV's was a bad idea, they will continue to fail.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  58. Chevy Volt is a myth

    The Chevy Volt will never be produced. It is impossible to re-charge a battery of that size on-the-fly. Think about it! If the battery takes 12 hours to charge from a home 110 outlet, how can it possibly charge back up using a gasoline motor/generator while the car is still moving and using the juice??? That is impossible and all the test drives so far do not include the gas engine for re-charge because it cannot and will not work. The best they can do is re-introduce the EV1 which had no gas motor. That being said, if any company produces an electric-only car that can go 40 miles to a charge and that is all, I WOULD BUY IT!! I only drive 4 miles each way to work and probably a total of 80 miles per week, so an electric car is perfect for me!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:11 pm |
  59. Pa Kid

    Fascism at it's best. Ready for the return of the swastika? Your not watching closely enough!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  60. Richard

    Having just attended the Indy 500, and having attended many other events such as this race, it was amazing to see the GM products on display in such an elaborate set up. I'm sure this "visual commercial" ended up costing GM tens of thousands of dollars. When compounded with all the other race venues such as NASCAR, IRL, etc there is no telling how much GM wastes in this type of so-called advertising. I certainly hope this will be included in their cost cutting, and perhaps could save a few thousand jobs per year. Also, just wondering, has anyone received their GM stock certificate yet since we are now owners? Maybe it will take a day or so before Obama sends them out.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:10 pm |
  61. Matt

    Since GM is getting another bailout, there better not be a plant outside the country thats still open. I dont see or hear of any countries giving GM money, so we shouldnt be closing our plants down and leaving theirs open..THAT is not the American way!

    June 2, 2009 at 12:08 pm |
  62. Jon Q Public

    GM made mistakes, eh? and the CFO is being SO honest about it, eh? You think the last eight years under CEO Wagoner, with a$1billion+ loss each year, that the Board of Directors didn't even comment on, was a mistake? What a revelation! If my small business had lost money every year for the last 5 years (not even 8) the IRS would have totally disallowed my losses as a f*&^%$g hobby! But Korporate Amerika thinks nothing of the same miserable track record as long as the execs, the board, the bankers and the unions are keeping their snouts deep in the trough! And who gets stuck with the bill: the American Taxpayer of course! Ain't this a great country? Too bad we don't have mandatory harakiri for execs and board members of failed korporations, like the tradition in Japan.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  63. caliban

    GM will have to pay me all the repair costs I put into a Olds Alero before I would even consider buying another POS GM car.

    I sold it and bought a Honda.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  64. Tyler

    GM has made some very bad decisions in the 1980's and '90's I have owned nothing but American cars and have never had ANY problems. Even my high school POS never gave me problems. I am a very proud American and bleed Red White and Blue and would never think of buying a foreign car, but thats just me a proud Army Vet
    My last 3 new cars have been Chevy's and I love them and have 0 problems.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:07 pm |
  65. Judge Smails

    The Obama admin and the auto makers raped the bond holders. Waving a magic wand and eliminating all those bonds is very very bad policy. We have yet to see the result

    June 2, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  66. Prashant

    How new GM is going to tackle defined benefits, no clue on that.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:04 pm |
  67. K. Sweeney

    I retired after 35 years at GM. I was promised everything! It was called
    Mother GM because of all the benefits and pay. The world went by the way GM went. Obviously, this was wrong. The big shots all got more and more bonuses, out of control. It was a man's world and the thinking continued to be World War II. The $$$ all went to the big shots, yes, we did benefit from the sales in salary increases and benefits, but not all these bonuses and the big shots continued to receive bonuses and new cars every six months with all free maintenance. The management was greedy!
    I wish them luck! But it will no longer be a GM we all knew before.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:03 pm |
  68. Andrew

    Whatever. GM is swindling Americans. This interview is pathetic. GM cares no more about America than they care about saving their own tails. GM is a failure, and Ray Young couldn't sugarcoat his lame rhetoric enough to convince me otherwise. Don't waste money on people who couldn't do things right the first time.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm |
  69. RG

    By a Ford.

    June 2, 2009 at 12:01 pm |
  70. Kblit

    Until the bankers, brokers, real estate etc are treated the same way as the autoworkers, that is fired or laidoff, this is just a pure layoff for those who canot afford the lawyers.

    Why if we are so eager to bailout the people who got us into this mess we arenot willing to give the taxpayers who lost over 40% in their IRA's the same writeoff?

    How quickly we forget that BOTH Clinton and Bush proposed to transition Social Security into pure stocks!

    June 2, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  71. soneill

    I saw this coming a long time ago. In the early 70's our economy went from a marketing based philosophy to an accounting system. We stopped listening to the customer and instead listened to our accountants. We went from "what does the customer want?" to "how much can we make" this quarter. How much more can we make if we make this part or that part out of plastic instead of metal? Profits were the driving ingredient in the product. Big Mistake. GM, be smart from now on. You've been given another chance. Listen to the customer, and build what he wants! Do not let accountants run your company, let the customer dictate the product to build. If you build the right product, the profits will be automatic. Don't let "bean counters" take you down the wrong road again. LISTEN TO THE CONSUMER!

    June 2, 2009 at 11:59 am |
  72. Jonathan

    So, being were forking out all this money to save GM and all those jobs they are now cutting and out sourcing anyway, I assume every American gets a car now being that is basically what we paid for. But hey do not worry folks, I am sure that 16,000 dollar 2009 Colbat will still be worth 5000.00 next year if were lucky.

    GM I have no sympathy for you. You screwed around, made poor business decisions, and made uneconomical automobiles. Its too bad you abused your one halfway decent car line... Saturn and now your getting rid of it. I actually loved Saturn, we had a 92 Saturn S series and it was a great car. Somewhere between than and now the quality dropped and so did the reliability.

    I will be taking my business to people who know how to actually make a good automobile. Volkswagen, Ford, Nissan, and Honda. Learn a thing or two from them GM, maybe than I will take another glance at one of your dealerships... oh wait the ones in my area are all empty now...

    June 2, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  73. Pete

    How is it that the fools who drove GM into the ground are the ones reforming the 'new GM'? Should they not all be fired?

    June 2, 2009 at 11:58 am |
  74. Andrew

    Everything looks good on paper but the most important factor here is humans. Upper management will take big salaries and the union worker will say "it's my job". Work ethics suck here in America and the American car industry got what it deserved. They should never have gotten any of my money (bailout money) They have been producing crap since the 1970's. I remember my father saying in the late 1970's that there will be no American car industry by the time he dies. He just died and so has the car industry. The big 3 have no one to blame but themselves and it will never work out. Just look we can't even rebuild the World Trade Center. Good luck America.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  75. Joe Blowe

    GM's problems are very simple. They produced inferior cars that most people didn't and still don't want to buy.

    I'm American and would love to buy a US made car, but I won't until they make something that lasts and gets decent gas mileage.

    Seems pretty straightforward to me.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:56 am |
  76. southerncousin

    Even this Obama mouthpiece admits the unions screwed the company over, like they do us all. Yet even in the restructuring, these bandits make out because Obama and the dope smokin' libs need their votes.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  77. I was a devoted GM buyer

    I was a dedicated GM owner until after I bought a GMC Sonoma (loaded with problems), my previous car I loved (89 Pontiac Grand AM)but have head gasket problems 6 times, the first time crack the head and needed a rebuilt engine. I had the GMC for onlty 10 months (GM did not offer anything regarding the truck, they did not even acknowledge the problems). Owned an Aztek and 2 Buicks both had AC and engine trouble, the last Buick I owned the transmission went bad during a family trip to Orlando with only 2200 miles on it. I do not think I will return to any car the "big three" make. Let them failed, stop wasting money. That is why they are called investments. Is the government going to bail out my 401K and return the money I have lost?

    June 2, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  78. Rick Bishop

    Nice, and expected, spin.

    How are you going to change, Ray – I did not hear that?

    GM cars did not sell well because they were (are) ugly and are poorly built for the prices charged. How, exactly, are you going to fix that? Getting rid of under-utilized assets only brings down the break-even, it does not make the cars look better or have better fit and finish.

    What about the mid-level management that has little motivation to hire better designers and demand better materials? Do you have a plan to revamp incentive compensation (and perfromance measurement systems) to align the goals you touched on with motivational systems to actually get it done? In other words, now that you have the Amercian people backing you up, how are you going to keep the same level of adrenaline pumping at the executive level and get it pumping thoughout the organization?

    I, for one, will be an impatient shareholder.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  79. grm

    The CFO says: "we negotiated a historic UAW labor contract. It gets the labor costs in the United States close to the transplant levels here in the United States"

    This is absurd. The company is BK, the products haven't been competitive, there is only taxpayer cash to go around, and the company is advertising that it is remorseful, but GM and the UAW still believe they merely have to get close to transplant levels in labor costs. It's simply amazing and so very sad and incompetent that having lost market share for 40 years they still don't get what it means to be truly competitive. They can and should use this BK chance to establish an advantage on all levels and get it right. Yes I appreciate the human pain, but I also appreciate that not being competitive drives jobs and capacity and ultimately dollars overseas over time.

    I really hope that we can see real and competitive change through this BK rather than the same words that we've heard year after year after year from this company. Based on the statement quoted, facts don't seem to be moving that way. We've become a country that prefers Honda and Toyota for a reason and GM and the UAW still don't seem to understand why. To prevail you have to be able to beat the competition.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:54 am |
  80. Phil Murray

    GM "admitting errors" is a lot like the crew of the Titanic admitting that it may have slipped up a bit.

    It took more than a few errors to turn the most powerful company in the world into a financial black hole. Everyone in GM management should be summarily fired ... and have their foreheads branded with the company logo so that they are never again in a position to destroy the lives of honest working people.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  81. Michael in Atlanta

    Actions speak louder than words Mr. Young. And GM's actions to date have, well, sucked.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  82. RLG Virginia

    "Admit some errors in the past?"

    Holy understatement, caped crusader!

    Can ANYONE explain to me why ANY of these TOOLS in GM, Chrysler, or Ford still have jobs, and make insane bonuses, while the people who worked on the assembly line get the pink slips (or more likely, were laid off YEARS ago!)?? It's pretty obvious to me that management does not know and has never been interested in making a better car or vehicle, only in perpetuating shoddy, unsafe, wasteful, cookie cutter pieces of junk whose nearly- immediate obsolescence is planned down to the hour, minute, and second.

    I'LL NEVER BUY ANOTHER AMERICAN MADE CAR AGAIN.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  83. TX

    One of the biggest acts of greed participated in by ALL auto companies is the practice of "job banks" whereby duplicate positions for an entire line (150 to 200 workers) were kept on standby with full pay/benefits to replace someone if they called in sick or left early etc. Knowing this now I can't help but think that this significantly over inflated the cost of the product. Thank corporate greed, union greed. I feel sorry for none of them.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:52 am |
  84. Michael

    Once again an American car maker blames their problems on labor costs. Tens of thousands of SUVs rusting unsold on lots around the country, but the problem wasn't that GM was behind the design curve. Small fuel efficient cars – with a smaller profit margin – swarm the streets, but the problem wasn't the short-term thinking of GM and it's big-ticket gas guzzlers.

    What GM lacked, and lacks, is vision. They are trying to meld a 1950's vision with a 1960's corporate structure, then repackaging a Japanese design from the 1990's for a 2010 consumer. When they come out their "Small Car" it will look like a small, clunky SUV, and will fail. And they will blame the workers, again.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  85. tony kerckhoff

    about 45 years ago, i represented several auto dealers. to show you the historical arrogance of the american auto manufacturers which has led to their demise (just one example of many): local american motors dealer met with president of american motors and warned him of the japanese imports – quality, price, mileage, longevity – president said no way will they be competitive; might get 1% of sales. today: no american motors but lots of japanese quality cars on the road

    June 2, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  86. David Art Wales

    Is it audacity, stupidity, or arrogance that allows this guy to use meaningless management-speak when given an opportunity to justify to the average American why his poorly run, for-profit company should be given billions of taxpayer dollars to bail them out of a crisis they should have seen coming a decade ago.

    Asked what went wrong, he responds: "...extra excess costs, excess capacity (and) ... defined benefit obligations ... hurt us in the balance sheet."

    Meaning... um? Speak English, please; you owe it to us.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:49 am |
  87. ken wayne

    I am 62, when my father was working in a shop in Erie,Pa,he made 100.00. a friends cousin worked in Detroit. back in the 1950s, they made 3 to 4 times that a week,with a great retirement. without a high school diploma.

    Now the unions still have not given up that much and the taxpayers are bailing them out. any other company would be on their own.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:48 am |
  88. RICHARD

    NOT ONCE DID HE MENTION BUILDING A BETTER PRODUCT ! THIS IS 1970'S ALL OVER AGAIN – THEY HAVE NO CHANCE WHATSOEVER. ITS ALL VERY SIMPLE – YOU MAKE A PRODUCT, BUILD IT WELL, MAKE IT A GOOD PRODUCT THAT IS DESIRED BY THE PUBLIC, LISTEN DON'T TALK – YOU 'VE BEEN TALKING SINCE THE 70'S WHEN THE JAPANESE CAR MAKERS CAME TO THIS COUNTRY IN FULL FORCE AND THE DEMISE OF GM STARTED THEN.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  89. Ralph Petagna

    All Cadillacs are made in Mexico. No one was laid off there. The bailout should of stipulated that that plant be closed and that the Cadillac brand be made in the USA.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  90. David Murray

    One big mistake was killing off the electric car program in the 1990's and buying Hummer instead. That had to rank as one of the worst public relations mistakes any company has ever made.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  91. Gary M

    Typical finance guy double-speak! According to him, all the fault is "excess capacity", "union contracts", "extra costs", "cost structure".... Never "we made cheap products by not focusing on good quality parts, fit and finish, and innovation." Could a finance guy conceive of the idea that "We're really going to focus on building innovative, high-quality products"? No, because that will cost money and finance guys don't want to do that. Guys like him are part of the problem! At virtually every opportunity to build a good car, GM's finance guys pulled the plug to save money and instead caused GM to build a mediocre-to-lousy car. American consumers eventually wised up and shopped elsewhere. If guys like him – and the marketing geniuses who partnered with him – are still around, then GM will never recover.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  92. Kevin in Atlanta

    GM Admits Past Errors? It only took them 40 years to admit the truth.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:42 am |
  93. dave

    GM just doesnt get it. they have put out crappy cars for so long, people know that you can get a better asian car for the money. think about it. american cars offer a 3 year/3000 waranty. asian cars are a 10 year/100000 mile warranty. i have no desire to spend $25,000 on a car that is not going to last and the company cant guarantee

    June 2, 2009 at 11:41 am |
  94. Brian D. Sorcic

    General Motors was a very greedy company, I have owned GM trucks for over 40 years and never had good service or good deals. I always got ripped off and found GM over priced their cars and trucks for their own benefits just to feed their executive's hunger for money/profits and never did care about repeat buyers or good customers, all they cared about was for them self's. Whet ever they are trying to give the public an excuse is all Bull Crap, and they know it!
    I have since changed to a Toyota for my wife and a Honda for myself and see so much difference in service and honestly by dealers.
    I am not sorry GM is going to pot and wished Obama did not help them cuz I want to see them in HELL!

    June 2, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  95. Daniel G. Pesante

    For many decades, GM as well as others in the US auto-industry has charted a road that has taken them steadily away from reality and from customer’s needs and satisfaction. Not only making cars with designs and performances that are unrealistic in terms of energy consumption and durability, but also providing service through their dealerships that across the board is less than par! A painful as it may be; this is part of what they (we) have to pay for their ignorance, arrogance and greed. On another closely tied subject, Union leaders have gotten as separate from reality as company leaders, and workers also must pay for trying to (forcefully) obtain unrealistic working conditions.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  96. AKK

    It seems that GM is just really not in touch with what is going on in this country. Why is going forward with the Hummer brand even remotely acceptable? It is perhaps the most environmentally irresponsible move GM has made. And the Chevy Volt– for most of the country we're trading the use of one fossil fuel (oil) for the use of another (coal burned for electricity)– does GM really believe that Generation X, Y and beyond are going to accept that as an alternative?

    June 2, 2009 at 11:38 am |
  97. Kent Clarke

    They'll do better next time! Great news after years and years of utterly ruinous decisions (and the union, too), Sure, they'll do better on maybe $50 b i l l i o n dollars of FREE money. And if not, then, hey, they tried (and we pay the bill).

    On the other hand, Bush and Company threw hundreds of billions at the Iraqis and out-of-control, unaudited "contractors." Nothing here for Republicans or Democrats to crow and prance about.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:37 am |
  98. Steve

    So much for being 60% owners, we're still in the dark.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:33 am |
  99. Patrick

    "...we haven’t talked about the selling price of the Volt yet".

    Perhaps this is one of the multitude of reasons GM is so broken. They are releasing a new model NEXT YEAR...based on "revolutionary" technology, and they still haven't discussed internally what the price point might be? Mind boggling! Unless, of course, Mr. Young is obfuscating...or lying.

    As a part owner of GM...I'm disgusted, whatever the truth might be.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  100. MJB

    GM was greedy among other weird dealings. They should of been let to go into bankruptsy like all businesses and regroup and deal with it. Making these small paper cars for this country that Obama wants will just waste more of our taxpayer money. We do not want these 2 new cars you are planning to build. Maybe a poor college student to get around college. Not many others. Getting bumped in one of them could kill a person.

    June 2, 2009 at 11:28 am |
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