Ten years before Chrysler introduced the world to minivans, General Motors had already developed its own version. Toyota sold the Prius at a loss for years before it became popular while GM leased a fleet of electric EV1s for three years before deciding it would never turn a profit. Honda and Toyota both sold small, efficient vehicles for decades even though their sales were relatively small and profits less than stellar. Meanwhile, GM spent billions to establish Saturn to compete with small import cars, only to let the brand go five years with no new products.

At least that's the way this New York Times story looks at GM's recent history. Through several interviews, the newspaper paints a picture of a company driven more by short term profits than ingenuity. GM board member George Fisher is quoted in the story saying, "We were late on hybrids. Why were we late? We made a business decision as opposed to a marketing decision. That's probably a mistake, in retrospect."

For GM's sake, hopefully the company's leaders have learned from history and will renew the automaker's innovative spirit with or without its pending government loan.

[Source: The New York Times]