• Mar 23, 2006

The beating of the drums calling for the head of [General Motors'] Rick Wagoner continues to crescendo. The embattled chief executive has been stung by a growing chorus of critics in light of the company's recent financial restatement in which it disclosed that the company had lost a further 2 billion dollars. As a former chief financial officer, pundits argue that it is particularly disturbing that a company helmed by a money-man would have such issues.

'The Rick' certainly has his supporters, David Cole, chair of the Center for Automotive Research among them. But the increasing criticism (and media coverage thereof) is exactly the sort of run-up that often presages a changing-of-the-guard.

Is Wagoner on his way out? If so, who will fill his unenviable shoes? Sound off in 'comments.'

[Source: Reuters]



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  • 29 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't think any one person is fully to blame for GM's problems. There are definately people who are not helping the situation. However, I think the most damaging thing for GM is the corporate wide idea, that the only way to sell cars is to offer the cheapest priced cars. Sure this will sell cars short term, but GM can not compete soley on price. Korea, Japan, and soon China will have that market cornered.

      The way for GM to get out of this funk is to change the coporate culture. (I know this can't be done overnight) Much the same way that they changed when Japenese cars first strated showing up. They have to accept that fact that GM cars are going to be more expensive, and they must give people the feeling that they are getting their money's worth. GM needs original designs, and cars that can't be bought in any number of several different badges. (Oldmobile, Pontiac, Buick, etc.)
      • 8 Years Ago
      Bringing some other money man, or somebody "passionate" about cars will change nothing. Wagoner's trying to change the company, and unions and execs are trying to stonewall each step of the way. If Ghosn came in it'd be the same situation--months of frustrating negotiations, reluctance to mobilize and take the initiative. It's a much big issue than just one person.
      • 8 Years Ago
      This session just occurred today. Notice the first question and answer. How legit is the guy answering questions?
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/02/16/DI2006021601335.html
      • 8 Years Ago
      I nominate Gunnar Heinrich, that way I don't have to see him pimp his blog in every comment.
      • 8 Years Ago
      GM can't produce competitive cars with a built-in $2,000 price disadvantage resulting from UAW's stranglehold.

      Until (or unless) there's relief from the "Jobs Bank" and other promises made to the UAW 20 years ago, there's not much that can be done to offer cars that can beat the Toyotas and Hondas that people would prefer to buy these days. GM can't afford to build a car as good as a Camry or Accord for the same price.

      Yes, inept management at GM can be blamed for giving too much to the UAW, but the UAW held a gun to GM's head with strike threats. Now all this largesse to auto workers is killing a shrinking company and the UAW better wake up from this dream or there won't be a GM left at all.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Apparently Rick's backstabbing apology to Consumer Reports for his subordinate's comments didn't turn things around at GM. What a shock.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Reading my prior comment I realized it was confusing what exactly I was asking. I'll try again...

      The following session occurred today:
      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/02/16/DI2006021601335.html

      Notice the first question and answer. How legit is the guy answering questions?
      • 8 Years Ago
      #5 is right. GM has been run by money men far too long. Bring in a leader passionate about the products they sell and watch GM flourish. The plan is there and GM has proven it can engineer and build cars as good as anyone in the world, now they just need a competent management team in place to get all that talent moving in the right direction.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "a company helmed by a money-man..."

      Maybe thats the problem. GM needs less Wall Street advice and more car-guy advice. They also need to see a plan and stick to it. Changing the plan every three years doesn't provide enough time for a particular plan to influence the identity of each brand GM owns.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Who can 'fill his unenviable shoes'? Try a potted plant, it could not do any worse.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think he's doing fine. It's been a rough ride the past 5 years. 911 threw a big curve at the economy, the dot.com crash did too. I think the heavy incentives after 911 were a smart move, the move to lower sticker prices now is another smart move (but will take time to pay off). Product is better - Cobalt has teething pains in terms of Consumer Reports reliability ratings, but at least it is designed well and its mileage is SO much better than the new Caliber from Dodge. Ion fumbled but got fixed fast; the new Tahoe looks great. Selling GMAC is very timely, the UAW early retirement program is very timely...clearly Rick is not in the bunkers yelling at his generals to do something.

      Give him some time, or they will replace him and the momentum of Rick's groundwork will save the company, not his successor - I work at at corporation (not GM!) and it takes a year or two for a successor to make a real difference. Meanwhile Yorke is at Waggoner's side providing a different perspective and keeping things going in the right direction.

      Meanwhile, Prius owners get to drive in car pool lanes (so the US is subidizing foreign manufacturers with incentives like this) and trucks/suvs (the lifeblood of the Big 3) are getting hammered due to a war in Iraq (please don't tell me gas prices aren't related - it just took a while to hit).

      When did the American government stop looking out for American companies and start telling them to "build better product" a real blow off if ever there was one. It's a lot more complicated than that.

      (I put my money where my mouth is. For years I bought imports, but we are now 100% American - and this isn't masochistic. Prices are good, reliability is good - not quite up to the better import levels, but certainly good enough, as good as the Japanese were 10 years ago.)
      • 8 Years Ago
      Getting rid of Wagoner should be one step on a long list of things that needs to be fixed at GM. Firing him should not be looked at as the sole path to a solution for GM...
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