• Dec 9, 2008
If there's anyone out there who's qualified to opine on what it takes to turn around a struggling automaker, it's Lee Iacocca. Those old enough to remember life in the late '70s can recall Iacocca's first stint at the head of Chrysler, way before the automaker was ever purchased by Daimler and its subsequent sale to Cerberus. The situation in which the beleaguered automakers currently find themselves bears a striking similarity to that of Chrysler's in 1979, except that Chrysler was the only one of the Big 3 that needed Federal help back then and the total loan offered to Chrysler was just $1.5 billion.

Today Lee Iacocaa has finally offered his take on what should happen to Detroit's current execs. "Having been there, I do not agree with the sentiment now coming out of Congress that the management should be changed as a condition of granting loans to the Detroit automakers. You don't change coaches in the middle of a game, especially when things are so volatile." He adds, "They're by far the best shot we have for success."

To many, Iacocca is the man most responsible for righting the ship at Chrysler back in the early '80s, creating the venerable K-car and fast-tracking the first minivan, so his opinions should carry a bit more weight than others. But is he right?

[Source: AP via Google]


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  • 34 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Free K-Cars for everyone!"
      • 6 Years Ago
      Listen, I agree with no bonuses etc for these CEO's, however i don't think they should be fired, having run many business over the last 25 years, it is extremely difficult to make the right decisions when you don't have access to the capital you need to run your business. Really this affects small business more than the larger ones EXCEPT at this point in time, GM & Chrysler are unable to get the financing they need to continue on working through these tough economic times to turn things around. These guys know the mistakes they have made, as we all do after we have made them, but when you are short on cash and trying to survive sometimes we make decisions on what will bring you cash in the short term, but will cost you in the long run. These 3 North American car companies have done a lot for us, I say this as I am a Canandian, they provided huge economic benefits to us in Canada & the United States, this is why we have grown as countries and been able to have such high standards of living. Listen, let's all be bigger than the "what have you done for me lately" statement. Yes they have made many mistakes, but so have all of us, we need to support them, along with some good oversight to help them through this!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Nardelli and Mullally haven't been in their positions long enough to see whether or not they're helping or hurting their respective companies. It can take about 4 years of product development to see any real changes to a car lineup. You can make a case for getting rid of Wagoner, but the other two guys are still relative noobs, and Mullally has so far shown he's serious about turning things around...whether he's successful still remains to be seen, but I think he and Nardelli should get a chance to see what they can do.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Lee is the man and no matter how I feel about Wagoner if Lee says let him stay, I say let him stay. I certainly trust his opinion above that of Chris Dudd doodoo head poopy face.
      • 6 Years Ago
      As Lee says, changing a coach mid-game is a bad idea. However, that's not where the Big 3 are - they are now playing a NEW game. This game needs to be played globally, not just aimed at (historically) SUV hungry Americans. Innovation needs to rule the nest, not bean counters. There needs to be calculated risks taken, not conservative R&D/designs/etc going forward.

      Can the current executives do it? That's the $64k question, and one that recent history may tell us that there are more doubts than there are positive examples.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Now Lee would make the perfect "car czar" for the Fed Govt. Hes been there before.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Seconding. We need Iacocca to be Car Czar, he would kick ass.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Detroit auto industry, the once-great symbol of American capitalism, is soon to be a public utility run by politicians and bureaucrats. If you liked GM bean counter designed cars, you'll love the coming civil service mobiles!
      • 6 Years Ago
      Lacocca was also the man behind the Mustang.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "The management teams at the Big 3 are the ones that led to their downfall to near bankruptcy."

      Whatever. I might grant you GM, but the managements of the other two haven't been there long enough to realistically shoulder the blame. Nardelli and Co. have been around for about a year and a half and were left with little more than a ravaged corpse. Mulally has been kicking ass and taking names (internally) at Ford.

      "The directions the companies are going need to be changed fast, before the bailout money runs out."

      @_@ Those directions *WERE* changed 12 to 18 months ago. I can't believe there are still people who think you can just change direction and start cranking out new products a week later.

      "You can't go from Christian to atheist or vice versa in matter of days, months or even years."

      Thank you for agreeing with me.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ok I stand correct. I should have said GM instead of Big 3. However I can't see anything has changed for Chrysler since Cerberus took over. Their lineup is crap(IMO) and I don't mind to let it die. On the other, GM and Ford are in decent shape with the green stamp on decent portion of their lineups. They have the production capability and what not. Ford has put in the effort to create products that people want but they hasn't done very exceptional in that department eg Flex. They can succeed, but they don't have much time on their hand to turn the companies around. Ford and GM burnt through $9B cash last quarter. $15B won't last very long.

        "@_@ Those directions *WERE* changed 12 to 18 months ago. I can't believe there are still people who think you can just change direction and start cranking out new products a week later."

        There isn't enough money to live another year. I stand with Senator Todd, GM head step down please.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "However I can't see anything has changed for Chrysler since Cerberus took over. "

      it takes anywhere from 24 to 48 months to launch a new vehicle program. It's like you expected them to walk in and magically fix everything in a month. I'm sorry, but you have completely unrealistic expectations.

      "Their lineup is crap(IMO) and I don't mind to let it die. "

      Well how nice of you not to mind. Some of us DO.

      "Ford has put in the effort to create products that people want but they hasn't done very exceptional in that department eg Flex."

      And launching the Flex right when the credit market collapsed had nothing to do with that, right?
        • 6 Years Ago
        It's funny how you are defending the companies when it is your tax dollars that are on the line. If the companies are not long-term viable, all the money wasted on them now are...wasted. You like the companies the way they are now, fine. When the government is scrambling to figure out a package that can actually save the companies, you are awfully confident about them. Sure.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @ Sandy:

        Why not just buy a big dual rear wheel pick up like the one that hit you? Isn't that even larger and therefore safer?

        But then what would you do about the tractor trailers that are all over our roads?? Maybe you can look into buying one of those for that extra margin of safety?

        Know what, what if one of those were to hit you also? I guess you'd better start looking to the military to see if you might be able to pick up a used M1 Abrams tank to keep you safe while you go about your day.

        I'm all for you being allowed to drive whatever you wish, but i just feel that your reason for doing so is misguided and makes you sound extremely paranoid and fearful. I think it's a safe bet to state that just about any passenger car of any size currenty available right now would fair much better in a similar crash than your 1974 Chrysler Imperial.

        There is far more to a safe car than sheer bulk, I can assure you of that.

        I'll also see your anecdote and raise you one. Earlier this summer, my aunt and uncle were involved in a pretty bad accident as well. Except, in their case, they were travelling at highway speeds and ended up hitting the center median after a hit and run hit them and continued on(the driver was later stopped by fellow motorists). Both of them were taken to the hospital and spent a night for observation. Neither of them had any major injuries and really not even a single scratch to speak of. The worst of their injuries were the bruises from the seatbelts they both were wearing.

        Their car was totalled and the tow truck driver even asked if the driver had lived when my cousin went by the impound lot the next day to recover my aunt and uncle's personal items from the car. So, what were they driving? A Toyota Yaris.

        Using your logic should they go out and continue buying one of the smallest cars around since its size apparently saved them? Therein lies the problem with anecdotal data.

        • 6 Years Ago
        A while ago I WAS IN A BIG ACCIDENT. I was driving 25 MPH on a residential street. I entered a small intersection (no stop sign or light) flying down that street, headlight off was a young punk like 18 or 19 who had stolen a dual rear wheel big Ford Pick- Up Truck. He T-boned me at about a police estimated speed of 35-38 MPH. He was running from the law. My car was totaled !! I went to the hospital. I was shook up, but sustained absolutely no injury. If you could see pics of the car, you'd never ever believe anyone in the car was not killed.
        The car was my then new 1974 Imperial 2-Dr. Hardtop. All 5,200 ponds of it.
        I will never ever drive anything smaller than the biggest American car. The great mileage of a tiny car is not worth spending your life in a wheelchair !
        Currently in a Town Car, again the biggest Detroit has to offer.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Lee is right. The current CEOs are fine.

      In spite of their historical labor costs and poor engineering, GM & Ford were brilliant in managing to rake in all kinds of $$$ when we Americans all hungered for ginormous SUVs. Brilliant. It took years for the imports to jump on that gravy train.

      This was an extraordinary year. With the one-two punch of outrageous gas prices and a credit collapse, no wonder these companies are now struggling - as are the other auto makers.

      The real idiots have been running our government & public finances into the ground for the past 8 years.

      On second thought, scratch that! - the REAL idiots are all of you who voted to re-elect Bush four years ago after we already had a clear idea of his idiocy from the first four. That was a travesty. The mistakes of that one person collectively cost us trillions of dollars of REAL money, with no chance of repayment, unlike the loans/equity infusions the automakers are asking for.

      Thanks a lot.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Carlos Ghosn is busy.
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