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cmattson

5 things you didn't know: GM

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good article until i read the comments at the bottom. i cant wait for the big 3 to fail now. i want them to go on so bad i cant stand it but everyone around me is cheering for their blood. i just hope if they do go under, those in the stands cheering find themselves indirectly unemployed

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This is really only the tip of the iceberg.

In a future that will be determined by technology and information (as China, Japan and others send rockets into space, for example), the future will be controlled by intellectual property. GM, Ford and Chrysler have a lot of intellectual property. If they fail, those patents and properties would be up for grabs and probably would be transferred to a foreign power. Detroit also employs a lot of engineers, scientists, etc. and future 'discoveries' will belong to them. Or Japan Inc.

Just more to think about as Joe Public doesn't give a rat's ass about Detroit.

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Americans are stupid...but your Canadian and you already knew that.

No one is thinking about what will happen if Detroit dies.

Chris

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That's why Canada has fought (and paid for) aerospace companies, like Bombardier and the Canadarm. Ever sine the Avro Arrow went down in flames, Canada nearly became a 3rd rate country in terms of R&D.

I'd love to see some figures for the amount of R&D money Detroit spends in a given year, versus say Silicon Valley. I think those numbers would be interesting.

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Actually that's what scares me. Detroit has cut their R and D while Honda spends billions.

We need to start playing catch up now or the future will be grim.

Chris

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GM on an average has spent $15B on R&D annually over past 3-4 years. Total R&D from the three closes to 25B.

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That's why Canada has fought (and paid for) aerospace companies, like Bombardier and the Canadarm. Ever sine the Avro Arrow went down in flames, Canada nearly became a 3rd rate country in terms of R&D.

I'd love to see some figures for the amount of R&D money Detroit spends in a given year, versus say Silicon Valley. I think those numbers would be interesting.

The story of the Avro Arrow is quite an interesting one.

What initially looked like corporate sabotage by American companies, actually covered-up the discovery that the Soviets had compromised the security of the technology, and thus the plane itself.

Shortly afterward the Mig 21 made its appearance.

The US and Canada had to hide the fact that they knew about the spying to keep a tactical advantage by making it look as though American greed was responsible.

Sad story, really.

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Wow... god stuff. :)

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This isn't a Top Five list. This is a list of 5 things that most people don't know. Even I didn't know about 2 of them.

Many people know about the catalytic converter, crash test dummy and many other innovations GM is responsible for.

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Ok so where and why did GM go wrong?

There is no easy answer to that question, nor any single thing to point at. GM has made a host of bad or questionable decisions in its 100 years, but even a complete list of those would not tell the whole story.

In fact, the story is so complex that you have to expand your scope to include the mistakes of the nation itself. Government, trade, wars, media, social shifts and so on all played (and still play) a role.

Then there is simply the reality that any structure tends to break down over time - no matter what type it might be.

The current crisis has blind-sided the entire world, and no one is prepared for this new reality. We are all dealing with a new set of parameters with which we have no experience.

To look at GM right now and judge it by the position it is in today, is a near-pointless task. No plans by any business or government, or other institution were prepared for the cliff we have just fallen over.

With all of that said, the one thing I can point to as a central error on GM's part is the painfully slow way in which it reacted to changing conditions over the years. One thing GM has never been is nimble or fast on its feet.

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Roger B. Smith.

There isn't a whole lot more to say, other than just explaining the reasons why I believe it was this man and his actions as CEO at GM that has lead us up to seeing GM in the condition it is in today. The business model that he tried to put into place at GM during his tenure to try replace the Alfred Sloan business model (which, in reality didn't need much more than a few revisions to bring it up to speed) was a failed one even before it had a chance to completely prove itself. It is because of this man and his decisions that GM eventually would wind up losing $2,000 dollars on every car it was producing. And that's just for starters.

I know GM had already been slightly damaged from the few rough patches the company experienced in the 1970s, before he came online as the "big wig" in charge of the whole game, but he only aggravated and made those damages worse, as well as creating new problems for GM to face.

I've said it before in the past and I'll say it again, this man should have never been CEO at General Motors.

If only we could turn back the hands of time ...

Edited by YellowJacket894
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I just wanted to throw this quote out there as well. This was said by Ross Perot in 1988, who was the CEO of EDS which GM, under Roger B. Smith's leadership, attempted to "merge" with. It is in regards to GM's management and why EDS wasn't helping them successfully challenge and overtake the Japanese competition.

"My question is: Why haven't we unleashed their potential? The answer is: the General Motors system. It's like a blanket of fog that keeps these people from doing what they know needs to be done. I come from an environment where, if you see a snake, you kill it. At GM, if you see a snake, the first thing you do is go hire a consultant on snakes. Then you get a committee on snakes, and then you discuss it for a couple of years. The most likely course of action is -- nothing. You figure, the snake hasn't bitten anybody yet, so you just let him crawl around on the factory floor. We need to build an environment where the first guy who sees the snake kills it."

Things might have changed over the past few years as Wagoner and Co. tried to return the company to profitability, but honestly, I still think that this particular kind of thinking is partially to mostly still in place at GM, and it's that way of thinking that will do GM in.

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As we speak Fox news and CNN are bashing the US Auto Companys. The media has no respect what so ever. There was even an analisyst on Fox News saying that Toyota was an American car and they were MADE here. I really wish people would get the facts straight. You have people emailing CNN complaining about giving them the bailout money, but you don't hear one word about the banks getting their money. One guy was even crying about how American cars are unreliable. These are most likely the people who have no idea how to change oil or rotate a tire or do a brake job. Alot of people do not do PREVENTIVE maintenece in my experience with used cars, and this just tells me that people want to make it the car companys fault when its no ones fault but their own because they are complete idiots and know nothing about a car!

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Roger Smith did a lot of damage, trying to throw $$ at things. But so did the Proctor and Gamble people in the late 90s, with super bland cars like the 97 Malibu or the over the top 99 Grand Am.

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And during the Smith era, one thing that really hurt them was mediocre product. Far too many square, look-alike generic FWD models (X-,J-,A-,N-, etc) throughout the '80s and into the '90s (when they became rounded, generic FWD models).

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