Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Response to GM’s “Urgent Message”

If I were in the “Big Three’s” top management, I’d be ASHAMED to send this kind of a letter to customers – pathetically asking for financial aid. As a matter of fact, this is so pitiful; I’ll commit it to a column. My comments are in italics below each paragraph.

Dear Michelle,
Dear under-worked and overpaid GM executive,

You made the right choice when you put your confidence in General Motors, and we appreciate your past support. I want to assure you that we are making our best vehicles ever, and we have exciting plans for the future. But we need your help now. Simply put, we need you to join us to let Congress know that a bridge loan to help U.S. automakers also helps strengthen the U.S. economy and preserve millions of American jobs.

I’m glad you think I made the right choice, but I wish I could say the same for the decisions GM has made over the years. If GM is making their “best vehicles ever,” why are 4 of your 6 brands’ market share rapidly evaporating to your competitors? GMC, Pontiac, Saturn and Buick have not been viable players in the market for quite some time. Exactly what are those exciting plans for the future? I’ve been hearing about all of this good news in your annual reports for the past 10 years – I’m still waiting.

Despite what you may be hearing, we are not asking Congress for a bailout but rather a loan that will be repaid.

Repaid, how? Has GM realized that they cannot continue on the current path? Explain to the taxpayers what changes your company intends to make and convince them that a loan will not simply prolong the inevitable. Chrysler’s Lee Iacocca at least had a sound PLAN… not just a promise of a bright future and to make the “bestest” vehicles ever! He also did not use federal dollars. The government simply guaranteed private loans in exchange for stock warrants. Seeing that Chrysler is now back in the same predicament, why should the taxpayers commit resources AGAIN?

The U.S. economy is at a crossroads due to the worldwide credit crisis, and all Americans are feeling the effects of the worst economic downturn in 75 years. Despite our successful efforts to restructure, reduce costs and enhance liquidity, U.S. auto sales rely on access to credit, which is all but frozen through traditional channels.

Successful efforts? Why is GM’s labor cost almost double that of their competitors’? Exactly what has GM restructured? Why do losing divisions like Pontiac, Saturn and GMC still exist? Why did the executive team use corporate jets as transportation to beg taxpayers for money? Is that an example of cost reduction? I think GM’s problems go far beyond the limited access to credit markets.

The consequences of the domestic auto industry collapsing would far exceed the $25 billion loan needed to bridge the current crisis. According to a recent study by the Center for Automotive Research:

• One in 10 American jobs depends on U.S. automakers
• Nearly 3 million jobs are at immediate risk
• U.S. personal income could be reduced by $150 billion
• The tax revenue lost over 3 years would be more than $156 billion

Please don’t insult the average consumers’ intelligence by quoting an Ann Arbor think tank. Let’s look at the bigger picture. This is not about lost jobs and tax revenue because a reckless loan to a company who STILL doesn’t have a firm grasp of competition in a global environment will only make the OVERALL economic environment worse, and put GM, Ford and Chrysler in a shoddier situation in the future. How many jobs and lost tax revenue will be at stake at that point? Do we patch the leak here, or do we figure out what is causing the leak?

Discussions are now underway in Washington, D.C., concerning loans to support U.S. carmakers. I am asking for your support in this vital effort by contacting your state representatives. Please take a few minutes to go to, where we have made it easy for you to contact your U.S. senators and representatives. Just click on the "I'm a Concerned American" link under the "Mobilize Now" section, and enter your name and ZIP code to send a personalized e-mail stating your support for the U.S. automotive industry.

Let me assure you that General Motors has made dramatic improvements over the last 10 years. In fact, we are leading the industry with award-winning vehicles like the Chevrolet Malibu, Cadillac CTS, Buick Enclave, Pontiac G8, GMC Acadia, Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, Saturn AURA and more. We offer 18 models with an EPA estimated 30 MPG highway or better — more than Toyota or Honda. GM has 6 hybrids in market and 3 more by mid-2009. GM has closed the quality gap with the imports, and today we are putting our best quality vehicles on the road.

I’ll show my support for GM by offering the following suggestions:

1) Stop whining to taxpayers, and file Chapter 11. You’ve let the United Auto Workers’ Union govern you, and as a result your labor costs are almost twice that of your competitors. Chapter 11 bankruptcy laws will allow you renegotiate your labor contracts, pension plans and other employee entitlement programs in an effort to reduce costs. GM, Ford and Chrysler can no longer afford to sacrifice the quality of their vehicles to make up for higher labor costs.

2) Replace management across the board. Your leadership is horrendous. Your current CEO has seen GM’s stock drop NINETY-FIVE percent during his watch. If an NFL team loses ninety-five percent of their games, do the head coach and his coaching staff return next year? Hire leadership who has an understanding that corporate jets and other executive perks cannot be afforded in a highly competitive global environment. A cost-reduction effort needs to be implemented at ALL levels – not just the bottom.

3) Dissolve your unprofitable brands, and consider joining forces with one of your American competitors – perhaps Chrysler. These actions will result in an immediate costs savings of billions.

4) GM is still lagging behind in fuel efficiency in spite of your boasting about new hybrid vehicles. Fuel efficiency is the road to victory in regaining market share.

Please share this information with friends and family using the link on the site.

I most certainly will – just not in the way you intended.

Thank you for helping keep our economy viable.

Thank you in advance for scrapping your plan to beg for money and devising a long-term strategy that will restore confidence in our markets.

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