• Apr 17, 2009
We were on General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson's teleconference with reporters this morning, and while the proceedings were light on revelatory news (okay, there really wasn't any), some important things were clarified:

Namely, Henderson denied that the company has reached a decision on whether to pursue bankruptcy, and officials are still hard at work on a two-track strategy (one with, and one without), with the company's preference still being to keep matters out of the courts. When it comes time to make a decision (June 1), Henderson admitted that "The Treasury would be a key player in that decision," though he didn't rule out his company's own role as being part of the process.

Additionally, Henderson said that the company is still pursuing a "four-core brand strategy," meaning that it plans to keep Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, and GMC, with Pontiac still in the mix as a niche brand. Henderson called both GMC and Buick "very profitable," and added that some of the products that GM has in its pipeline that it is most excited about are slated to carry the Buick badge. When asked point blank as to the security of the two brands, however, he declined to guarantee survival of any particular marque in the company's portfolio.

Henderson all but confirmed that the company plans to keep the likewise "highly profitable A.C. Delco parts business, but he acknowledged that a decision looms for Hummer, with final bids from three purchasers expected by next week. The company expects to make a sale decision on the SUV brand by month's end.

In regards to Saab, the GM CEO reiterated that a number of parties are interested in the Swedish brand, and that their "books are open" to serious bidders. Unsurprisingly, Henderson also acknowledged that it is pursuing buyers for Saturn, but he denied that there was only one serious bidder in the mix.

On its European front, Henderson says that "well more than six" parties have expressed interest in Opel, which he characterized as financial and industry players. Henderson said GM expects work to get done within the next two-to-three weeks, and he acknowledged that Germany's cash-for-clunkers and the early success for the new Insignia have helped liquidity issues. As such, Opel can now evidently sustain itself through late in the second quarter, if not further.


[Image: Bill Pugliano/Getty]


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  • 22 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Buick and GMC may merit being retained is some form, but that doesn't automatically mean they should be retained in the way they are now. For example, maybe the duplication of dealerships is a big part of the problem. If they cut out the Buick and GMC dealers and just sold the same products as Chevys, than those great Buicks they have in the pipeline would still be sold here, they'd just be sold as Chevys.

      In China, fine, keep the Buick name if it's a big selling point. Just call those Chevys Buicks over there.

      This would likely require bankruptcy to get out of their dealer agreements with Pontiac, Buick, GMC, etc. without costing them a fortune ala Oldsmobile, but it looks like that's going to be happening anyway.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Some news outlets are reporting that Henderson said bankruptcy is "probable"
      http://news.google.com/news?um=1&ned=us&hl=en&q=GM+CEO+says+bankruptcy+probable+but+not+preferred&cf=all&scoring=n
      • 5 Years Ago
      No brand is safe now and GM is indeed is in a mess. All the brands are damaged. Right now a car(CTS) truck and and suv are holding up Cadillac. It should not be this way. All of them lost sight of what their mission was in GM. You cannot have multiple platforms which cost you money and give every car to every division. That is competing against yourself. GM did not get in this mess overnight. This was 20 plus years of bad management, poor marketing, poor decisions and GM being insulated and isolated. It is also due to GM feeling since they were big and powerful, they could dictate to the public what we should buy. This is not so as they have found out.

      With that out of the way, I could name many things that went wrong besides poor interiors and styling, this is the GM I would think would work in todays market. Using what has happened, I will set GM up to that specification. I will use the GM of the 1960's and past successful days as a model when the brands were semi independent and had fewer models. They made more with less. GM must globalize. There must be platform sharing across the world.

      Chevrolet will not get every car and every platform. Let me make that clear up front. It does not matter what they are doing at GM Middle East or at Holden.
      Buick will do a complete 360 in image. It will be a risky gamble.
      Oldsmobile will return.
      Pontiac will live with fewer models.
      This new GM will cover every segment of the market and this GM will reach the different types of buyers with fewer models.

      This GM will have:

      A beginning entry level mainstream" American" brand: Chevrolet
      A perfomance brand with an emphasis on affordable performance: Pontiac
      A "American" styled brand with an emphasis on technology and "American" styled luxury" Oldsmobile
      A entry to midlevel import fighter luxury brand: Buick
      A full on ultra luxury brand: Cadillac
      A luxury/ commercial truck brand: GMC

      The dealerships will be interchangable. There will be no stand alone Oldsmobile, Buick, Pontiac or GMC dealers. They will be housed at Chevrolet or next to a Cadillac showroom or together. No dealerships will be added. The metro areas will have fewer dealerships. Some will be consolidated. The rural dealerships will have the brands housed in the same dealer.

      This automatically cuts down on the number of dealers.
      The platforms will be Epsilon( fwd)
      Alpha/Zeta( rwd)
      trucks
      Lambda( fwd and awd)
      Each platform can be lengthened, stretched, shortened or modified to ride according to market segment tastes.

      Each division will be marketed as they were in the past as a company owned by GM until the GM name can be rebuilt from its tarnished image. The Saturn approach will be used here. The dealership agreements will not be set up like Saturn. In order to get or maintain a GM franchise, certain criteria must be met.


      On to the divisions:

      Chevrolet: Mainstream and affordable entry level cars. The sports cars lead into Pontiac.

      Malibu( fwd sedan)
      Impala( fwd) ( large sedan)( no bench seat)
      Cruze
      Equinox
      Volt
      Beat/Spark
      Aveo(total overall make over)
      Silverado
      Tahoe
      Suburban
      Zafira
      Corvette
      Camaro
      Traverse

      Some of Saturn's models will end up at Chevrolet. The Chervolet dealers and everyone involved will be reeducated to a higher standard. No more thinking we are a bottom feeder and sell cheap cars. The dealerships must be given the same respect as a Buick dealer with less on the inside.


      Pontiac:
      Bonneville: rwd upper/premium midsized( will fill all the mission of all the old B and H bodies)
      Firebird/Trans Am: More features and options that Camaro and different styling.
      Grand Prix: rwd midsized coupe. Think BMW 6 Series and the old Grand Prix from the 1960's and 1970's. A GTO trim level can be spun off Grand Prix.

      No bench seats or cheap interiors. The beginning of the use of higher materials. Think of it as a cheap BMW like Bob Lutz said. If you cannot afford a performance Cadillac, this is the way to go.



      Oldsmobile:
      98: rwd or fwd. Will fill the mission of all the old C Bodies( 98, Deville, Park Avenue) with a contemporary twist. GM's only traditional fullsized luxury sedan.
      Toronado: fullsized personal luxury coupe. Exactly what it was in 1966 and 1992.
      Cutlass/Ciera: The front wheel drive coupe. The only GM convertible other than sports cars will be here.

      Toronado and Cutlass will offer bucket seats as an option. If you make Cutlass rwd, it would be GM's only midsized rear drive mainstream sedan. If you make it fwd or rwd, it would be GM's only midsized coupe.
      A Custom Cruiser wagon is a possibility as well derived from Holden.

      This
      • 5 Years Ago
      If we didn't have the automaker drama to fixate upon... what ever would we watch on the news???
      • 5 Years Ago
      When is the last time anyone has said "I want a Buick"? That brand needs to be dumped. All those old farts in managment need to get it through their skull that no one under 35 cares about Buick, just like they didnt car about Oldsmobile. Same for Pontiac. The only Pontiacs I ever see are the Grand Am's, the official car for mullets and people with crappy credit.

      GM should shrink down to three brands in the USA: Chevy, Caddy and Saab

      Dump Buick, GMC, Hummer, Pontiac and Saturn. This would put an end to rebadging and provide clear market segments

      Chevy = Bread and butter
      Caddy = Lux
      Saab = Sport sedan to go against Audi and BMW, and cars for people who dont like luxury boats like Caddy
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't understand what is going on at GM. Dump pontiac, but keep GMC and buick? I promise you GM, I will NEVER buy a buick or a GMC. I'd rather have the chevy if I need a truck or SUV, and buick is for OLD PEOPLE. I remember when you tried to save Olds - wow, looks like the same strategy! You will never turn their image around. Pontiac just needs REAL performance cars - NOT rebadged aveos. And dumping Opel? The ONE brand for the past 20 years I had hoped would come to America!

      GM you will find yourself continuing to decline for the next 20 years, every 5 years or so having another crisis. Until there is nothing left and the chinese own the names of several, once prestigious, American nameplates.

      Bravo!

      Google: Cloward Piven Strategy
        • 5 Years Ago
        psst, genius, GM looses billion in America. They make billions in profit in china, where Buick sells like hotcakes. GM's would be completely done if they abandoned the Buick brand, as their most profitable market would disappear. Their crucial issue, as you've noted, is going from money making to money loosing in their domestic market, which is possibly the worst blunder any manager could make (note VW looses hundreds of millions in north America and makes billions in their home market and to some extent china), but let's be real. axing their most profitable overseas brand would be beyond stupid. North America isn't the center of anyone's world, except Hyundai.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Buick is not just for old people.

        Check out the new Buick Lacrosse (Autoblog has a photo gallery).

        Also check out the Buick Enclave.

        GM should not be pursuing the sale of Opel. They will loose their European Business.

        GMC could be assimilated into Chevy.

        GM needs Buick since it is profitable in China. Buick Lacrosse is based on the Invicta concept which was designed and developed in China. Selling Buicks in US though is questionable. Although it does not require additional engineering dollars, it requires additional marketing dollars.

        GM lacks in Marketing because of the number of brands and models they sell.

        Just my two cents.
        • 5 Years Ago
        What reason is there to keep Pontiac? It's the new Plymouth, pretty much being the nameplate for cars that you can't make Buicks.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you look at new product Buick trumps Pontiac as of now:

        1) Of the Lambda crossovers, the Buick Enclave was by far the best - distinctively styled and a personality removed from the generic box vibe of the Arcadia/Traverse/Outlook.

        2) I saw the new Buick Lacrosse at an auto show and it's a great looking car, inside and out. IMHO nicer than the Ford Taurus and an absolute no-brainer choice over the more expensive Lincoln MKZ.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I don't think he could do anything with out his bosses approval. Obama
      • 5 Years Ago
      Borat: A man yesterday, tell me if I buy a car I must buy one with a pussy magnet.

      Car Dealership owner: He means a car that women like.

      Borat: Yes, but where do you keep this magnet?

      Car Dealership owner: [interrupts] No. There's no magnet he just means the vehicle. Women love the Hummers.

      Borat: Do this have a pussy magnet?

      Car Dealership owner: No. The vehicle itself would be a magnet.

      Borat: If I give you good price, will you please put in pussy magnet?

      Car Dealership owner: Yeah but there's no-there's no such thing in this country as a-as a magnet.

      Borat: If this car drive into a group of gypsies, will there be any damage to the car?

      Car Dealership owner: It depends on how hard you hit them and all that.
      Borat: *Hard*

      Car Dealership owner: You might-if somebody rolls on the windshield, they could crack your windshield.

      Borat: How fast do I need to go to guarantee I kill them?

      Car Dealership owner: Uh-let me tell you something with this vehicle here probably doing 35-45 miles per hour will do it.

      Borat: Great! When I uh, buy my wife, at the start she was uh, cook good, her vazhïn work well, and she strong on plow. But after three years when she was fifteen, then she become weak, her voice become deep: BORAT BORAT, eh, she receive hair on chest, and vazhïn hang like sleeve of wizard.

      Car Dealership owner: Huh-Jesus...

      Borat: How do I know that this will not happen with the car?

      Car Dealership owner: Chevrolette guarantees you that with a warranty.

      Borat: I like-a very much buy this Hummers, how much is it?

      Car Dealership owner: Fifty-two thousand.

      Borat: I am looking for something between um, six-hundred to uh... six-hundred and fifty dollars.

      Car Dealership owner: We don't have any cars for six-fifty that you can buy. I might be able to sell you a wholesale car, a car with a lot of miles for seven-hundred with no warranty.
      • 5 Years Ago
      if they want to keep GMC because of brand loyalty...
      just call it a package on a chevy truck...
      The GMC package "professional grade" or whatever.
      (I think Pontiac should just be a package/performance arm as well)

      Side note:
      I have yet to meet a person who is loyal to GMC.
      Chevy yes... Dodge yes... Ford yes... even Buick...
      but never GMC
      • 5 Years Ago
      Bankruptcy will always be "in doubt" so long as the gov't keeps feeding them billions of dollars every month.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I don't see how there is any doubt about bankruptcy. It is also a insult to our intellengence for him to say he has any choice in the matter. He will present his plan and the government will tell him whether he is filing for bankruptcy or not.

        The only way GM will survive is to cut deep and become a more nimble company.

        Saturn will be sold. Hopefully they can talk the buyer into paying something for it and continuing to sell a few rebadges for a few years.

        If anyone is willing to take Hummer and Saab they need to go.

        Dealerships need to disappear. This is where bankruptcy comes in. Give the strong ones the chance to rebadge themselves as "new GM stores" and close the rest under court protection. The new combined GM stores should sell Chevy, Buick and Caddy. Buick will be a niche player but they will insist on hanging onto it for the sake of China. Pontiac should go but they will hang onto it since nobody wants to buy it. It will likely become a performance trim line on limited edition models. Daewoo will stay in the fold and likely continue to be their role as the source for cheap small cars.

        Opel and Holden could be spun off to raise cash. GM could keep a stake in them and a strategic alliance a la Ford and Mazda. As seperate homegrown and owned companies they would have an easier time drumming up support from their local governments.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They are the real boss , the country cant live without them.......the virtuously entrepreneur


        If you don't give me the money I will.............and lay off........and your public opinion will......and you will......... what a unique system
        • 5 Years Ago
        Actually setting GM on solid ground would cost less money than a bankruptcy. A bankruptcy would cost the government 100 billion, placing GM on firm footing by funding what remains of VEBA and paying off GM's bondholder debt would cost 60 billion. GM and the UAW have reached a satisfactory level of cuts to make GM profitable starting in 2010, it's GM's funding of VEBA and debt to bondholders that are the problem. In 2010 VEBA would fund heathcare for the retirees and that would be taken off the books. Future workers will start at 14.00 an hour, long time employees will make 28.00 an hour, both will pay part of there insurance and likely pay into a 401 plan. Long time employees gave been cut in half in the last couple of years. The government might save money by giving the bondholders 10 to 20 cents on the dollar but the cost of bankruptcy will still cost 70 billion, and cost of restructuring what is left of GM 30 billion. Sounds like a no brainer to me.
        • 5 Years Ago
        We (tax payers) will be paying the debtor financing for GM when they enter chapter 11. If not GM will be in chapter 7.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What's there to decide about Hummer? They haven't built one since September 2008. If the dealers aren't crying for new inventory, then I guess there is no need for the franchise and the brand.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "...GMC and Buick are very profitable"! Seeing as Gimme Motors has not made a profit for a long time they don't remember what a profit is. yet more delusional nonsense from this Joke of a car company.
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