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NYT THOMAS FRIEDMAN- 'Steve Jobs should run GM'

36 posts in this topic

What a stupid article. He says nothing we didn't already know and apparently thinks someone who has no experience in the auto industry can reinvent a company like GM in a year.

Speaking of innovation, maybe he should check out the Volt. Before, customers weren't asking for innovation, they were asking for SUVs, and GM gave them that. I'm sure he would have suggested GM try something different back in '01 when it sold Tahoes and Suburbans by the boatloads :rolleyes:

Granted, GM never really got the car part of the business down, which should have been taken care of, but I don't think it would matter right now. Sure, GM was losing sales because of poor offerings on the car side, but every automaker is doing poorly right now and it just so happens it affects GM the most since they have the most fixed costs.

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Friedman is a "flat-earth" asshole. If TNYT ever wants to fix their reputation they need to get rid of him next.

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I agree Friedman is an idiot. His simplistic reference to Jobs is a good example. Agreed Apple under Jobs' watch has developed some great products. The point Friedman misses (as he usually will miss several when he's spouting off) is the fact that Apple doesn't actually *make* ANYthing. All their products are built by subcontracted manufacturers. It's easy to innovate when you don't have to worry about parts suppliers, and plant maintenance and whining employees and environmental problems and taxes, and weather conditions.... Should I go on?

I would love to have him tell us what brand of car he drives.

Friedman is a "flat-earth" asshole. If TNYT ever wants to fix their reputation they need to get rid of him next.
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Or maybe they could get Bill Gates to ride into Detroit. After all, didn't he say something to the effect of "if the carmakers were like PC makers, cars would get 100 mpg and cost $1000"?

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Unfortunately Moore's law doesn't and never did apply to cars or any other mechanical device. This was another idiotic statement. If he wanted to make a comparison he should have compared power consumption on a PC to fuel consumption on a car. When you use this comparison, PC's haven't improved much if at all since they were first developed. They all use a minimum of 300 watts and the high end stuff uses 500-600 watts and I've even seen 1000 watt powe supplies used.

When you use that comparison, the whole PC industry fails.

Or maybe they could get Bill Gates to ride into Detroit. After all, didn't he say something to the effect of "if the carmakers were like PC makers, cars would get 100 mpg and cost $1000"?
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Friedman is right about the industry not changing and Jobs would do a good job. GM doesn't innovate, look at how long the 3800-4-speed combo survived because they were too cheap to engineer something better. They will blow through the money like a kid in the candy store and do little to restructure their business.

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Again an over-simplification of a complex situation. You must work in a service industry.

You seem to imply GM doesn't WANT to innvoate which I'm quite sure is not the case. The real issue is they can't AFFORD to innovate in the way you allude. Development of a new transmission costs billions of dollars which is why they cooperated with Ford to develop the 6 speed GM is currently putting in most of their product (a very good transmission from all accounts and I can attest to personally.) I thought the effort to work with Ford was innovative and quite successful.

Keep in mind the 3800/4A combo "survived" because both the engine and transmission are VERY good and stable components. The very fact they were able to continue to use them is a testament to how good they are/were.

The only point you're right about is that GM will definitely burn through money and lots of it. From my perspective, their only crime is not shedding the legacy pension and healthcare costs fast enough. This would be the solution I'd push with the US government... take over our pension and retiree healthcare costs and we'll be able to compete everywhere. If they can't deal with this challenge somehow they might as well just declare bankrupcy now. Any other approach is just delaying the inevitable.

The UAW is the primary source of the current situation with the Detroit 3 and it should be killed along with any bankrupcy of these once great companies, if it were to ever come to pass. The UAW should be killed no matter what happens and I've made my representatives in congress aware of my ongoing feelings on this so hopefully they're listening. If they want a bailout, the UAW must disappear.

Friedman is right about the industry not changing and Jobs would do a good job. GM doesn't innovate, look at how long the 3800-4-speed combo survived because they were too cheap to engineer something better. They will blow through the money like a kid in the candy store and do little to restructure their business.
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The next person who brings up GM's 4-spd trannies will be doomed to drive Kia for the rest of their lives! :lol:

This has always been about allocation of tight resources. There was no business model for a hybrid at $30 a barrel gas, nor for 5 or 6 spd trannies. Both exist only as marketing points for their manufacturers. When oil spiked over the past two years (something that nobody expected), yes GM was caught flat-footed. The mileage gains of the 6 spd over the 4 are miniscule, but they do make sense at $150 a barrel. When you have the most reliable, smoothest shifting tranny that gives you close to 40 mpg (in the Impala), why would you change things? The 3 spd was the mainstay for 2 decades, followed by another 2 decades of the 4 spd.

Friedman's snipes about 'innovation' are clearly coming from someone who knows nothing about cars. Technically, the hybrids still are 'fads'; in fact, so is the Mac computer. Even the iPod is 80% marketing, 20% innovation.

If oil stays below $100 a barrel (and there is no reason to assume it will skyrocket above that any time soon), again hybrids make no economic sense.

The point is: what are the auto companies supposed to do when the money markets and oil markets are making wild swings? How can any executive plan a model portfolio for 4 years from now in the current conditions?

Oh, and tit for tat, Friedman: GM just broke ground for a new $300million engine plant in the States.

:rolleyes: Talk about biased reporting.

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I agree with ellives that the UAW must go.

Toyota found a business case for hybrids, and not only 6-speeds, but 8-speeds. They started development on that long before oil went up, so they were ready when it did. GM has almost no ability to see the future, they only react to current market, then start their 4 year development process, so the car often comes too late (Camaro, Cruze). Even back to the 1990s, The Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee started the SUV craze, GM followed on that.

GM can't AFFORD to innovate because of too many brands and too high of a labor cost. I have said for years they need to dump the UAW and a few brands. GM should be rolling out 4 products per year like the Malibu and CTS, on 6 year cycles (plus mid cycle refresh) that is 24 good products at a time. Problem is they roll out 2 models like that per year and have over 40 models.

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I agree with ellives that the UAW must go.

Toyota found a business case for hybrids, and not only 6-speeds, but 8-speeds. They started development on that long before oil went up, so they were ready when it did. GM has almost no ability to see the future, they only react to current market, then start their 4 year development process, so the car often comes too late (Camaro, Cruze). Even back to the 1990s, The Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee started the SUV craze, GM followed on that.

GM can't AFFORD to innovate because of too many brands and too high of a labor cost. I have said for years they need to dump the UAW and a few brands. GM should be rolling out 4 products per year like the Malibu and CTS, on 6 year cycles (plus mid cycle refresh) that is 24 good products at a time. Problem is they roll out 2 models like that per year and have over 40 models.

??? Then I suppose the '82 Blazers were a mirage? Give me a break. I doubt Toyota is making money on their hybrids, but then they can afford to lose money on them, cant they? Especially considering the Japanese government paid for its development. :rolleyes: GM has had hybrids longer than Toyota - they happen to be in buses! Stop reading Toyota's press clippings.

Are 6 spds inherently better? No. They give modestly better fuel mileage and can be quieter at high speeds above 70 mph - which we aren't supposed to be driving at anyway, BTW), but other than bragging about 'my car has more gears than your car,' what was the business case for 6 spds 10 years ago? Where will this madness end? Don't big rigs have 21 speeds?

If you figure out a way to dump the UAW without GM and Ford incurring a huge, crippling strike, please do let the rest of us know.

BTW: Toyota's 4 spds were crap, so they had to replace them anyway. Like I said (but you conveniently ignored) WHEN YOU HAVE THE BEST 4 SPD IN THE WORLD, WHY WOULD YOU SPEND $$$ TO REPLACE IT?

Edited by CARBIZ
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Unfortunately Moore's law doesn't and never did apply to cars or any other mechanical device. This was another idiotic statement. If he wanted to make a comparison he should have compared power consumption on a PC to fuel consumption on a car. When you use this comparison, PC's haven't improved much if at all since they were first developed. They all use a minimum of 300 watts and the high end stuff uses 500-600 watts and I've even seen 1000 watt powe supplies used.

When you use that comparison, the whole PC industry fails.

vista. single word synonymous with failure. harder to use than ever, crashes, unstable, hardware hog.

and we're supposed use it as an example of what's good?

now mac's, they ARE good. but they are gucci computers. most of the general public cannot afford a mac. a cheap ipod, sure. but a mac with a 15" screen is 2 grand.

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Friedman is right about the industry not changing and Jobs would do a good job. GM doesn't innovate, look at how long the 3800-4-speed combo survived because they were too cheap to engineer something better. They will blow through the money like a kid in the candy store and do little to restructure their business.

while the 3800 4 speed is indeed out of date, one thing it does do well in this day of concern about fuel economy......it is stingy with fuel, especially on the highway. 30-35 mpg on a large car is common / typical. had gm invested in NVH and refinement, perhaps they could have avoided the stigma they got with it over time.

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"Stop reading Toyota's press clippings."

We don't actually have to be able to read. We'll see it on TV over and over again ad nauseum. Again, a function of pure profitability. Toyota can afford to spend billions on advertising and so they do. All the Detroit 3 can advertise is the giveaways on the hoods of their trucks to get them off the lots. If you don't think money has anything to do with it, just look at what happened to the McCain campaign. When you're outspent 3 (10?) to 1 on advertising, you're bound to win the battle (all the rest of political philosophy aside.)

When you're profitable, you have all kinds of options. When you're not, the fear and self-preservation that ensues cause all kinds of irrational decisions. Rarely do company managements sit their key people down and lay out from start to finish, covering the period of their planning horizon, a plan that gets them profitable. They look at the bottom line and start cutting. Well no company EVER cut themselves to profitability. It just doesn't happen. The term "death of a thousand cuts" gives you the idea.

My recent past employer is a perfect example. Things went bad and almost every top manager left the company, one by one over the course of 6 months. Now, there are virtually no strategic thinkers left so the company is left with nothing but "caretakers" presiding over what's left and having absolutely no clue about how to turn the ship around. They've started throwing bodies out the window in the hopes of somehow stemming the flow of what will invariably be red ink at the end of the current quarter. Unfortunately the company sins were committed long ago with very little chance of changing the ultimate outcome which will be acquisition.

Someone made an interesting observation to me a while back and it stuck with me because it is so true: "Companies make their biggest mistakes when things are going well." How true this is. My company spent money like they would always have plenty of it and now that they don't it's too late because they're committed to spending at a rate they would only have when things are good. Sound familiar?

??? Then I suppose the '82 Blazers were a mirage? Give me a break. I doubt Toyota is making money on their hybrids, but then they can afford to lose money on them, cant they? Especially considering the Japanese government paid for its development. :rolleyes: GM has had hybrids longer than Toyota - they happen to be in buses! Stop reading Toyota's press clippings.

Are 6 spds inherently better? No. They give modestly better fuel mileage and can be quieter at high speeds above 70 mph - which we aren't supposed to be driving at anyway, BTW), but other than bragging about 'my car has more gears than your car,' what was the business case for 6 spds 10 years ago? Where will this madness end? Don't big rigs have 21 speeds?

If you figure out a way to dump the UAW without GM and Ford incurring a huge, crippling strike, please do let the rest of us know.

BTW: Toyota's 4 spds were crap, so they had to replace them anyway. Like I said (but you conveniently ignored) WHEN YOU HAVE THE BEST 4 SPD IN THE WORLD, WHY WOULD YOU SPEND $$$ TO REPLACE IT?

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I agree with ellives that the UAW must go.

Toyota found a business case for hybrids, and not only 6-speeds, but 8-speeds. They started development on that long before oil went up, so they were ready when it did. GM has almost no ability to see the future, they only react to current market, then start their 4 year development process, so the car often comes too late (Camaro, Cruze). Even back to the 1990s, The Ford Explorer and Jeep Grand Cherokee started the SUV craze, GM followed on that.

GM can't AFFORD to innovate because of too many brands and too high of a labor cost. I have said for years they need to dump the UAW and a few brands. GM should be rolling out 4 products per year like the Malibu and CTS, on 6 year cycles (plus mid cycle refresh) that is 24 good products at a time. Problem is they roll out 2 models like that per year and have over 40 models.

wow. i bet that 8 speed corolla is a great drive. does it have aluminum wheels yet?

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He would turn around GM in a year simply because now GM would be "kool".... except now all the cars they sold would have to be returned to the manufacturer when the gas tank got empty for a refill.

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He would turn around GM in a year simply because now GM would be "kool".... except now all the cars they sold would have to be returned to the manufacturer when the gas tank got empty for a refill.

And the dashes would be very minimalist, with no ignition. I wouldn't be surprised if Apple doesn't do something with a carmaker to design and brand an 'iCar' eventually... I could see a electric car, or a special version of the Smart or Fiat 500.

I love my iPod and Mac Book Pro, been holding out on the iPhone (don't want to switch to AT&T), though eventually, I'll probably get one.

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Toyotas are overhyped and overrated. I've been in a handful of new ones from all three T brands and their reputation is undeserved, IMO. I wish people would stop automatically putting them on such a high pedestal; Detroit has caught up in big ways and the noticeable gap that existed in the 90s is no longer there.

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If you figure out a way to dump the UAW without GM and Ford incurring a huge, crippling strike, please do let the rest of us know.

BTW: Toyota's 4 spds were crap, so they had to replace them anyway. Like I said (but you conveniently ignored) WHEN YOU HAVE THE BEST 4 SPD IN THE WORLD, WHY WOULD YOU SPEND $$$ TO REPLACE IT?

Chapter 11, and bye-bye UAW. Tear up the contract, let them strike if they want. Everyone whines about how these jobs are so important, if that is the case, the workers would be foolish to strike. Even if every UAW member sticks wit the union, there are 10 million unemployed in this country, GM could replace everyone of them within a year.

I have a 4T80 tranny, and even if it is the best 4-speed in the world, my car would be significantly better with 5 or 6 gears.

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Toyotas are overhyped and overrated. I've been in a handful of new ones from all three T brands and their reputation is undeserved, IMO. I wish people would stop automatically putting them on such a high pedestal; Detroit has caught up in big ways and the noticeable gap that existed in the 90s is no longer there.

Toyota's product is overrated but their management team and business model absolutely kills Detroit. Toyota could buy Chrysler, GM, Ford combined for 6 months profit. That is the difference between good management, and 40+ years of poor management by the Detroit 3.

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??? Then I suppose the '82 Blazers were a mirage? Give me a break. I doubt Toyota is making money on their hybrids, but then they can afford to lose money on them, cant they? Especially considering the Japanese government paid for its development. :rolleyes: GM has had hybrids longer than Toyota - they happen to be in buses! Stop reading Toyota's press clippings.

Are 6 spds inherently better? No. They give modestly better fuel mileage and can be quieter at high speeds above 70 mph - which we aren't supposed to be driving at anyway, BTW), but other than bragging about 'my car has more gears than your car,' what was the business case for 6 spds 10 years ago? Where will this madness end? Don't big rigs have 21 speeds?

If you figure out a way to dump the UAW without GM and Ford incurring a huge, crippling strike, please do let the rest of us know.

BTW: Toyota's 4 spds were crap, so they had to replace them anyway. Like I said (but you conveniently ignored) WHEN YOU HAVE THE BEST 4 SPD IN THE WORLD, WHY WOULD YOU SPEND $$$ TO REPLACE IT?

Toyota hasn't replaced their 4-speeds, they still use them in many, many models. Honda, on the other hand, has almost no 6-speeds.

Toyota's innovation isn't just down to their own investment however, they also rely on many suppliers in which they have some level of equity stake. How do you think Ford managed to turn out the Escape and Mariner Hybrids so quickly? They bought the same hybrid components from the same suppliers who had developed them for Toyota. Those supplie5rs continue to innovate and develop new products with or without Toyota's interest. Aisin AW produces a wide range of 6-speed autos, but most are used by European automakers, and just a few by Toyota.

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fusion, escape, taurus x, taurus, flex, edge, 6 speeds. focus not there yet. new f150's have 6 speed. (the 09 wins pickuptruck.com's comparo).

GM- lambdas, epsilons, vue. all six speeds.

that is a whole lot of mid range vehicles with 6 speed trannies.

go through toyotas lineup. i would doubt they have a higher percentage of 6 speeds.

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He would turn around GM in a year simply because now GM would be "kool".... except now all the cars they sold would have to be returned to the manufacturer when the gas tank got empty for a refill.

You are absolutely right that GM products would be "kool". That's what Steve Jobs brings to the table... kick-ass marketing.

Sure, Steve doesn't have experience with the automobile field, but I feel GM has a pretty good grip on designing and building cars... except the UAW. Steve Jobs' bean counter side would get rid of the UAW a first priority.

As far as innovation, IMHO, Jobs has never been on the cutting edge of innovation. Under the hood, the Macs have been the same-old same-old. The IPod was nothing special. However, it was marketed that you NEED an IPod. The Mac has a refined, simple interface, which is revolutionary... and the marketing takes that and flies with it. Buying a Mac makes you a member of the elite. All marketing.

As an IT guy, I watched the Apple rebound with interest. Apple was in sorry shape when he came back. It took years to fix the mess, so don't sell Jobs short. IMHO, Apple was as dire as GM is now. Jobs has the marketing and business acumen to do it.

I don't think Jobs would want the job. I forget what he drives, but he strikes me as a Porsche or BMW guy.

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Jobs would have to face challanged that he has never faced before. URW, Too much production and too little need for it ETC.

Also Jobs has had his missed in the past too. Apple has had as many or more failed products as winners. With inovation come a greater risk of failure. In his industry if you fail you just come out with a new product next year. In the Auto industry you just wasted several billion on a new vehicle and it will take you 4-5 years to replace it.

Jobs is like Edison. Edison did invent many great things but failed at 4 times as many. He could afford to as he had the income to be inovative and take chances. With GM and the Auto industry they can not afford many misses if any.

THere are few people out there who can fix GM let alone do it in a couple years. To do it in one year is a pipe dream.

GM needs to trim down and get back to its core product cars and make them the best there are. The real trick is triming down with out either going under protection or getting the gover ment to fund money to help trim the size down by buying URW people out.

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I couldn't see Jobs at GM..Detroit is not Silicon Valley--totally different culture.

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