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Brougham-Holiday

Rick Wagner

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What does everyone think of the job Rick Wagoner has done so far, and of the plans he has made known? Why do you feel this way? Who could be better?

In the past few weeks of watching the news and reading the papers, GM has been mentioned a lot. None of it good. While all of the other automakers are in a financial mess, and no one can argue that Chrysler and Ford are in trouble as well, GM seems to be the worst off. I see Chrysler teaming up with Nissan (Titan/Ram, and Dodge/Versa) to get a better hold on the market. I also see that slow sellers (PT Convertible, Aspen Hybrid, etc) are getting cut. Over at ford there is a beautiful new Lincoln MKS, other products in the pipeline, and the ability to keep financially afloat longer then GM. At GM the news seems to get worse everyday. At the top of the General, which is a shadow of its former self even just a few years ago is Rick Wagoner. I question is plans at this point. In the last 10 years I have seen:

1. Too much money spent on trucks/suvs.

2. Elimination of Oldsmobile

3. Near elimination of Buick (3 models, only the Enclave is relevant)

4. Many major sellers are aging in the market (Impala, DTS, Cobalt,etc) and should have been replaced yesterday, yet all will be on the market at least 2 more years.

5. A never ending slide in market share, stock price, and sales.

What I have seen that hasn't been negative typically hasn't been good either:

1. Saturn sales have never taken off.

2. Hummer is a flop

3. Saab can't turn a profit.

4. G6, Lucerne, etc are good but not great.

5. Closure of plants=fewer Americans working.

There have been some bright spots (Malibu, CTS,Enclave, Corvette, Solstice) and some products that should have done well but market conditions have hurt them (G8).

I'm wondering if Rick should toss in the towel and GM find someone like Ford and Nissan have to help turn the giant around faster? Maybe I'm just crazy? Discuss...

Edited by Brougham-Holiday
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I have been a harsh critic of RW...and I'll only add this to my previous rants:

He would have been the perfect GM CEO---30 years ago. This is what he's been groomed to do. Unfortunately, GM is no longer in need of such a man.

The idea that there's not another leader out there that can rethink GM is simply wrong.

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Why do you assume GM is worse off than Chrysler? The fact that Cerberus is so desperate to get rid of Chrysler would indicate they are worse off than the public knows. The advantage of Chrysler being taken 'private' two years ago is their true financial health isn't a known entity.

As to Wagner, I don't know the man nor have I ever met him, but I will say that his legacy will be somewhat like whomever wins the election down there next week: they will preside over a mess that they did not make and will be burned by the consequences, regardless of whatever true talent (or lack thereof) they possess.

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Why do you assume GM is worse off than Chrysler? The fact that Cerberus is so desperate to get rid of Chrysler would indicate they are worse off than the public knows. The advantage of Chrysler being taken 'private' two years ago is their true financial health isn't a known entity.

As to Wagner, I don't know the man nor have I ever met him, but I will say that his legacy will be somewhat like whomever wins the election down there next week: they will preside over a mess that they did not make and will be burned by the consequences, regardless of whatever true talent (or lack thereof) they possess.

I agree that GM has a lot of past issues that are haunting it right now (Chevette, Corsica, 80's Lemans), but the sales are taking a nose dive, and a lot of it seems to be that when cutting back model selections to became lean and mean, they didn't pay cose enough attention to customer wants. Ex Combining the Century and Regal was a great idea, combining the LeSabre and Park Avenue wasn't.

Why do I assume Chrysler is in better shape, isn't a large part of why GM wants to merge with Chrysler the fact that they actually have cash. Chrysler also has the Blue Tec diesel coming its way from Daimler, which would be an easy way for GM to get a foothold here in the diesel market.

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Why do you assume GM is worse off than Chrysler? The fact that Cerberus is so desperate to get rid of Chrysler would indicate they are worse off than the public knows. The advantage of Chrysler being taken 'private' two years ago is their true financial health isn't a known entity.

As to Wagner, I don't know the man nor have I ever met him, but I will say that his legacy will be somewhat like whomever wins the election down there next week: they will preside over a mess that they did not make and will be burned by the consequences, regardless of whatever true talent (or lack thereof) they possess.

Do you really believe that RW isn't partially responsible for the looming disaster?

He's a GM lifer...how can he not share responsibility? All the blame would be unfair---but some?

Where's the vision? The diversification? The thought that with the US fighting in a region producing most of our oil supply for 6+ years that there might be a disruption or an increase in pricing?

History will regard him like the Captain of the Titanic or in the same breath as Kenneth Lay (Enron) or Kowalsky at Tyco, just more of a schnook than a crook.

Sorry--he's a loser--Ill equipped for this crisis---as is most of GM's management, unfortunately.

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I think he's an excellent leader that inherited a disaster that might never turn around.

In fact, I would probably give Wagoner the nod over Lutz at this point. I love Lutz to death, but sometimes he just seems very illogical and out of touch and WAY out in left field. Which would explain why some of the cars under his reign have been a HUGE success and some of the cars have been dismal failures.

In contrast, The Rick seems to carefully calculate every decision and take a middle ground stance on most things.

It's funny, because for all of the bureaucracy that Lutz has managed to eliminate within the company (make no mistake, the political corporate sh*t is still alive and well, but Bob has cut back on it tremendously) it's almost as if the company has begun to take on his personality of NOT being able to do all things well and NOT being able to focus on more than one segment of the market at a time.

For instance, we have EXCELLENT performance products, but our economy cars look and perform as if they're 10 years old. We have an excellent full size truck program but our small trucks suck more than a Hoover.

It's this inability of GM to focus on the over all picture that is really killing the company now. We need both large trucks AND small cars, just as we need both Pontiac and Saturn.

Edited by FUTURE_OF_GM
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In contrast, The Rick seems to carefully calculate every decision and take a middle ground stance on most things.

I'd say that perhaps that could be a big part of GM's problem......especially the "middle ground stance" portion of that.

Of course Rick inherited his share of problems. I don't even remotely pretend to be as knowledgeable about the internal workings of GM anymore.....but what I do know about are the products GM has right now and the situation they are facing.....

During Rick's stewardship........and he is the CEO, so ultimately it all falls on him.......

1) No excuse for the Corsa to not be on dealership lots right now.

2) No excuse for Cadillac not being a full tier-one luxury brand with a showroom equipped to dance with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Lexus product-line for product-line.

3) No excuse for Buick and Pontiac to only have one true competitive entry (Enclave and G8)....even if they are being repositioned as smaller "niche" brands.

4) No excuse for the continued wait for the Camaro

5) No excuse for volume midsize sedans that truly do still date back 20 years (W-Body)

6) No excuse for the fact that, for all Rick's years in command, GM still seems to be a follower in way too many areas....and not a leader.....in the marketplace.

I really believe, like Enzl said, that the "lifer" effect has truly hampered him as well. How much of the real world does he really know outside of a company like GM?

I'm sure there are way other points I've missed.....but these few were the ones that came to mind quickly......

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I'd like to add to my first post,

What GM needs is someone to shake up the entire company. I'm a huge Lee Iacocca fan, Lee is the kind of guy that GM needs (not him as he is in his 80's, but someone with his leadership style) to get the company moving again. Some changes I see that should be made are small (why does the G6 have those cheep looking black plastic lower grilles, why can't the Impala get a 6 speed automatic) and others are large (how long will Saab be on life support before GM pulls the plug). The one question I have that irks me most is Why does GM have both Saturn and Opel? Can't Opel be sold here to simplify the GM line up as much as possible? They are moving in the direction of Saturn being a re branded Opel, but it still doesn't make sense to have two separate brands, just sell them under one brand name (like everyone else does).

Also why does everyone else get the Cruise before us? Isn't this the market that kept GM alive for much of the last 100 years? Why are we second class?

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Do you really believe that RW isn't partially responsible for the looming disaster?

He's a GM lifer...how can he not share responsibility? All the blame would be unfair---but some?

Where's the vision? The diversification? The thought that with the US fighting in a region producing most of our oil supply for 6+ years that there might be a disruption or an increase in pricing?

History will regard him like the Captain of the Titanic or in the same breath as Kenneth Lay (Enron) or Kowalsky at Tyco, just more of a schnook than a crook.

Sorry--he's a loser--Ill equipped for this crisis---as is most of GM's management, unfortunately.

First of all, the oil bubble was total bull$h! - I think we are seeing that now. World wide demand certainly has not dropped enough to anywhere near justify a 50% decrease in the price of oil in a few weeks. Clearly, the profiteers have moved on, having made their money.

As I said on earlier posts, where was the justification for spending $$$ on a Cavalier replacement in, say, 2001 when GM was building every Blazer/Tahoe they could? Oh, that's right, Wagoner did buy into Fiat (who knows what happened with that debacle?) and Daewoo. He also had the foresight to dig Lutz up out of mothballs. Too little, too late? Perhaps, but he wasn't even in North America until '92, having been instrumental in building up GM's image in South America. He left a pretty good legacy there, wouldn't you say? Brazil is one of GM's crown jewels right now.

We love playing armchair critic, but assuming we have all lived in North America over the past 2 or 3 decades (you did, didn't you?), I seriously cannot fault GM or Ford for decisions that were made in the '70s and '80s. They OWNED the market here. Detroit was cock of the walk. North America, rich and fat, was different than the Rest of the World. Any VP who would have professed building 35 mpg cars around here in the '90s would have been fired. Sorry, but that's the reality of Big Business, American style.

How could these guys in Detroit anticipate the full frontal assault that Japan Inc, plus the Germans (not to mention the Koreans) made 20 years ago - and why would they take them seriously in the beginning? I know I laughed at the Tercels and Datsuns, and I wasn't even in the business.

The fact that GM and Ford are doing elsewhere speaks as much about us as it does about Detroit. Hell, Asians buy Buicks in Asia, but Americans won't buy them - what does that say?

Wagoner's background is all financial. I've never been overly impressed with beancounters or lawyers running anything, but at least Wagoner had the brains to get seek help when he needed it. Whether GM survives the next 18 months or not, who knows, but it is unfortunate that his buddies on the Board couldn't have warned him that all this Asset Backed Paper was worthless and the looming financial crisis that was coming - although I still don't know what Rick could have done differently 3 or 4 years ago that would have made a difference today.

Cancel the GMT-900 developments? Speed up the Volt? Axe more divisions, along with Oldsmobile (that would have thrilled the Board, wouldn't it?) Not sell off GMAC? Without the profits of the trucks over the past decade, GM might not even have made it this far.

Frankly, from what I can see, it would seem to make good economic sense to pull out of North America entirely. If annualized sales are dropping to 1983 levels, then there is no way there is room for 20 + makes in a market as small as that.

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Any VP who would have professed building 35 mpg cars around here in the '90s would have been fired. Sorry, but that's the reality of Big Business, American style.

The thing that still amazes me, though, is how the automakers regressed from the '80s....in the '80s, the Big 3 all had cars that got over 35 mpg in the US...some that even got over 50 like my Escort diesel. They could and did build fuel efficient cars here, but threw it all away in the short-sighted pursuit of trucks and SUVs in the '90s...

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Do you think that maybe Japan Inc (along with Stuttgart) egged Detroit into a horsepower war that would ultimately kill it?

I was aghast when the new Sienna came out a few years back and advertised 240 hp and showed the van going sideways on the Bonneville salt flats. The horsepower wars that broke out (Viper/Corvette, CTS-V, etc) trickled down to the lowly SUV and econocar.

I'm just throwing that out there, but GM/Ford do build great economy cars in South America and Europe, but maybe there was some sort of conspiracy, either externally, or by internal conceit, that sucked everyone up into this stupid horsepower race.

Moltar, I am 100% with you on this one: I bitched to anyone who would listen 3 or 4 years ago (especially after my first trip to Brazil) that I wanted GM-Canada divorced from Detroit and 'married' to Europe. The Astra is selling like crazy here. So is the Vibe. GM can do it, but Detroit has behaved like its on a different plane, which truth be told, it was until about a decade ago.

I just get the impression with Big Businesses that dissent or 'negativity' is not encouraged. If you snort and guffaw at the party line, you are shown the door. It's not limited to Detroit, either.

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Do you think that maybe Japan Inc (along with Stuttgart) egged Detroit into a horsepower war that would ultimately kill it?

I was aghast when the new Sienna came out a few years back and advertised 240 hp and showed the van going sideways on the Bonneville salt flats. The horsepower wars that broke out (Viper/Corvette, CTS-V, etc) trickled down to the lowly SUV and econocar.

I might agree if Toyota and the rest hadn't kept their MPG game up as well. Remember the Echo, Civic hatchback, and many other small efficient cars that Japan brought here while we were building Tahoes? Does anyone know what year truck sales over took car sales at GM (or if they ever did)? If I recall correctly car sales have been ahead of truck sales for most of the last 10 years. Was GM throwing away 50% of the market by not building competitive products, and is it still by building cars that people don't want?

A side note, I got my new Motortrend in the mail yesterday, and its got this hot new sports compact called the G3 advertised next to those boring G8 GXP and Solstice models. Can't wait to see how many youngins trade in their Civics and Imprezas for this sweet new whip. Best of all its got 106hp, just enough to outrun most mail trucks.

Pontiac= Fuel for the Soul :neenerneener:

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