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NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

CEO: GM Will "Fight Hard for Every Sale"

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CEO: GM Will "Fight Hard for Every Sale"

Wednesday April 25, 5:09 pm ET

By Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writer

Wagoner Says GM Will "Fight Hard for Every Sale"

WASHINGTON (AP) -- General Motors Corp.'s leader is vowing to "fight hard for every sale" after Toyota Motor Corp. said it sold more cars and trucks in a quarter than GM did for the first time ever.

GM Chairman and Chief Executive Rick Wagoner made the comment in an e-mail message to company officials only hours after the disclosure on Tuesday of Toyota's first-quarter sales results.

He said he "didn't welcome this morning's news, and I know you didn't either," but said GM's business strategies around the globe were working and would help the auto manufacturer succeed.

"We still have the majority of the year in front of us, and we will fight hard for every sale -- all the while staying focused on our long-term goals as a global, growing company," Wagoner said in the e-mail obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Toyota said Tuesday that it sold 2.35 million vehicles worldwide in the January-March period, surpassing the 2.26 million vehicles GM sold in the quarter, according to preliminary figures.

General Motors, which has been the world's largest automaker for 76 years, saw its U.S. sales decline 5.5 percent through the first quarter. Toyota, meanwhile, had sales increases of 11.2 percent in the key market, helped by consumer interest in fuel-efficient vehicles.

The title of the world's No. 1 automaker depends on annual worldwide vehicle production, rather than sales, so that distinction won't be determined until production numbers are released for the entire year.

Toyota has downplayed the possibility of vaulting over GM in the global market. Asked about the prospects in Detroit last week, Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said: "You will never know until all the numbers are in."

Toyota officials have stressed the importance of improving their quality to remain a leader in the auto industry. Analysts have anticipated the company would soon challenge GM for the top spot.

David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., said GM would likely use the news as a motivational tool for the company. But the company has made clear its intention to place a premium on profitability over production numbers.

"It's a very different discipline today than it has been. What is increasingly true is that market share is nice, but profits are essential," Cole said.

Analyzing the first-quarter sales in the e-mail, Wagoner noted Toyota outsold GM by a wide margin in Japan and continued to cut into GM's lead in the United States. But he said GM was winning in most of the other global markets and leading "in the key developing markets like China."

"What's really important is our plan to address the competitive challenges from Toyota, and the many other strong global competitors, in our industry," Wagoner wrote, listing the company's progress on several fronts.

He said GM needed to "keep developing great new cars and trucks," an effort which has been led by GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz. Wagoner predicted that the "future of our new products is even brighter."

Wagoner urged the company to remain focused on its upgraded sales and marketing strategy, which has attempted to move away from its past reliance upon incentives and discounts. Wagoner cited 70,000 fewer daily rental sales in the U.S. and Canada this year -- "nearly the entire amount of our global sales gap versus Toyota. But it was the right thing to do."

Wagoner said GM must continue to work on energy and environmental issues, including its development of the Chevrolet Volt electric concept car. The company recently showed a fuel cell version of the vehicle at the Shanghai Auto Show.

Lastly, he wrote that GM needs to stay competitive on quality and costs in North America. Wagoner wrote that GM was focused on "further reducing our still huge health care cost disadvantage versus Toyota and other non-U.S. based manufacturers."

"I appreciate all you are doing to support our efforts to transform GM for long-term, sustainable success -- in product, technology, sales and financial results. And I'm confident that, with your continued efforts and support, we will succeed," Wagoner wrote.

GM shares rose 30 cents to close at $31.07 on the New York Stock Exchange, while Toyota's U.S. shares fell 96 cents to close at $122.93.

General Motors Corp.: http://www.gm.com

Toyota Motor Corp.: http://www.toyota.com

Edited by NINETY EIGHT REGENCY
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I think GM shouldn't need to say that they willl "Fight hard for every sale". Were they not trying to sale cars before? I just think it look bad on the papers. GM needs to continue doing what they have been doing lately and that is continue to roll out cars such as the Sky, Aura, Enclave, Arcadia, Malibu (08'), CTS (08')... to name a few. They also need to take care of the other issues plaguing them.

Once GM has control of the issues at home and a GREAT car line up, then they can start to focus on quantity and overtaking Toyota. For now GM should just let Toyota have the No. 1 place.

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I hope "Fight hard for every sale" means luring customers with superior products, not coercing customers into buying a car at the dealership.

GM needs to continue to raise prices and build quality interiors, instead of the long time strategy of cheap pricing and you-pay-for-what-you-get.

Labor and legacy costs my ass, MSRP undercuts all foreign competition. Raise it and put more into the car.

Edited by JT64
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I think GM shouldn't need to say that they willl "Fight hard for every sale". Were they not trying to sale cars before? I just think it look bad on the papers. GM needs to continue doing what they have been doing lately and that is continue to roll out cars such as the Sky, Aura, Enclave, Arcadia, Malibu (08'), CTS (08')... to name a few. They also need to take care of the other issues plaguing them.

Once GM has control of the issues at home and a GREAT car line up, then they can start to focus on quantity and overtaking Toyota. For now GM should just let Toyota have the No. 1 place.

Well what's he supposed to say, "We just don't give a crap about volume anymore." or "We aren't focused on selling volume anymore, it's all about quality of sale." Either of those comments would send GM's stock price plummeting. I think it's been obvious for about a year or two that GM is finally becoming less concerned about being the sales leader and more interested in running a better business and selling better products. Still, every now and then they have to let the investors and board know that they're still interested in growth and volume - and it should still be a goal, just one that secondary to profits and good products.

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What I find ironic and yet not so ironic, is that GM's share rose and Toy's share fell. Is the investor's world saying Toy, you basked the glory and dream of being #1 now let us pull you down.
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What I find ironic and yet not so ironic, is that GM's share rose and Toy's share fell. Is the investor's world saying Toy, you basked the glory and dream of being #1 now let us pull you down.

I think it is about time that GM, Ford and to a lesser degree Chrysler (its Daimler-Chrysler now) realized that the US is a high cost country. Any US automaker can compete on looks, quality, technology, reputation (which they have squandered completely away), niches and many other things, what they CANNOT do is compete on price. The Koreans and the Chinese will beat them hands down and face in the ground on costs and they will always win on price. GM has been trying promoting itself as the value leader for decades. This premise itself is wrong. When you operate with much higher costs than your competition, trying to beat them on value means one of two things -- you either don't make money on what you sell or you take out so much quality to meet the price point that you make utter garbage while your competitors don't have to. In the 80s and 90s, as far as GM is concerned, its BOTH.

GM should sell cars at or above import prices. It should put enough quality, refinement and technology into them to make the pricing appear justified to the consumer. It should also rebuild its reputation to support its premium positioning. It shouldn't care about being the volume leader. It its more important to be making solid profits than selling a lot of cars. Give Toyota the #1 spot, it doesn't matter for now. After the repositioning is complete they can try to crawl their way back to the top if they want. In any case, size really doesn't make you a strong company, profitability and strong finances does. For anyone who doubt's that, I suggest you look into the fact that Porsche -- a much smaller company -- had recently taken over the controlling stake in the behemoth Volkswagen group.

Edited by dwightlooi
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CEO: GM Will "Fight Hard for Every Sale"

Wednesday April 25, 5:09 pm ET

By Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writer

Wagoner Says GM Will "Fight Hard for Every Sale"

WASHINGTON (AP) -- General Motors Corp.'s leader is vowing to "fight hard for every sale" after Toyota Motor Corp. said it sold more cars and trucks in a quarter than GM did for the first time ever.

He said he "didn't welcome this morning's news, and I know you didn't either," but said GM's business strategies around the globe were working and would help the auto manufacturer succeed.

"We still have the majority of the year in front of us, and we will fight hard for every sale -- all the while staying focused on our long-term goals as a global, growing company," Wagoner said in the e-mail obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Toyota has downplayed the possibility of vaulting over GM in the global market. Asked about the prospects in Detroit last week, Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe said: "You will never know until all the numbers are in."

Toyota officials have stressed the importance of improving their quality to remain a leader in the auto industry. Analysts have anticipated the company would soon challenge GM for the top spot.

while i don't have a problem with GM responding, let's take a look at the official lines of each company for PR purposes. Who comes out looking better? Who comes out looking like the winner? And who reinforces the company's official motto of all mottos at the same time?

Someone needs to put tighter reins on the words of GM execs. A better line would have been something cool like; "our products are number one loved in America. The one who laughs last laughs hardest." You know something vague but puts up the notion that they are still gonna put up a fight. Something they won't have to save face for later on when they end up not making good on thier hope.

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dwightlooi and turbo200 thats exactly the point I wanted to make.
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Some excellent points have been made, they need to fight but seriously excellent products like the Enclave, Aura, Outlook, '08 Malibu, '08 CTS, Lucerne, Solstice, Sky, and the GMT-900's & GMT-900's HD's sell themselfs. All a sale-person needs to do is explain powertrains, options and colors. It is that simple you shouldn't have to make a hard sell on a car. Good products sell themselfs seriously. GM is getting more and more of those.

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