General Motors, Global Motors, Government Motors

I was so sad to hear the final toll on what the world had come to know as a mainstay of the American economy.  I realize it isn’t truly a final bell.  The company will restructure/reorg into a leaner, meaner, more competitive entity.  But in the meantime thousands and thousands of workers, who know no other industry than auto will be losing their jobs, possibly their homes, and an identity they held onto proudly.  When I was a kid, living in Canada, my dad only bought GM.  Sure he had tried other US automakers, but in our cold, Montreal climate, the GM bodies seemed to hold up better against the rust that winter salt, sand and snow slaughtered our vehicles with.

I remember a cross Canada trip in our Vista Cruiser station wagon, with roof windows side panel windows that gave the four kids in the backseat glorious vistas of the Rockies.  My first car as an adult was a Chevy Cavalier.  Last year I purchased a Buick Terraza after 4 years with an Olds Silhouette.  Am I a die-hard?  No.  Not at all.  I’ve owned cars by other car makers that I loved, but the topple of this giant is such a strong indicator of the fall of the American economy, that it boggles the mind. 

When I was at the NAIAS in January, then CEO Rick Wagonner, kept referring to GM as Global Motors in his chat with our group of bloggers.  This in response to questions about meetings with the Senate and what next steps were being taken with the government.  Global Motors, Lithium Ion battery manufacturing in Michigan…it all sounded so good.  Not like a last gasp.  And now, GM is being called Government Motors.  Really it is “Gotcha” Motors, since the American people now own 60%.  So, it is either swampland and we’ll have our kids and grandkids paying our way out of the mess, while another 20,000 workers find a way to become re-employed in any other industry…OR, GM will reshape and re-emerge leaner, meaner, stronger and more relevant to today, with a business plan that makes sense in today’s economy. 

What I do know is that I WAS planning on buying my mother a new car this year and WAS considering a GM.  Now, I’m not sure if I, die-hard GM fan, will take that gamble.  Honestly, I’m looking at the Honda CRV.

2 thoughts on “General Motors, Global Motors, Government Motors

  1. I spent the first 25 years of my life in Ohio, growing up in a small town on Lake Erie (Sandusky) that had humongous mfg plants for each of the then Big 3: GM, Ford & Chrysler. My dad worked for over 25 years at the GM plant, and I did a summer stint there in 1978 after my 1st year of college. I remember the experience like it was yesterday . . . you didn’t dare have a non-American vehicle in the parking lot else you suffered the fate of it being severely vandalized . . . machines would mysteriously shut down and not work if the hourly union employees didn’t get their weekly paychecks by a prescribed time on each of their shifts . . . men’s bathroom stalls were always full because management couldn’t bug the union employees or tell them to get back to work if the hourly employee was “in the bathroom” . . . and the list goes on.

    My mom and dad each would get a new vehicle every 2 years, trading in their “old” cars and purchasing the new ones on the GM employee price purchasing program. When my 3 siblings and I got of driving age, the again “old” cars were graciously provided to us. I remember with great fondness first a Olds Delta 88, followed by a beautiful Chevy Malibu, followed then by a Vega (quite the step down from a Malibu), next up was a Citation wagon, and finally, a 4-door, 4-cylinder manual transmission Cavalier that had to be downshifted just to get up hills. But I loved those cars. And maybe that’s why 2 of the 4 vehicles we own are Chevy’s.

    I, too, am saddened to see GM having to be bailed out, but part of me is also very frustrated and angry that GM’s management failed to make changes following the oil embargo of the 70’s when folks across the U.S. sometimes had to wait in long filling station lines for hours. Instead of GM & Chrysler & Ford management being truly visionary and leading, they all kept yelling, “SHOW ME THE MONEY!!”, and kept cranking out the V8 pickups and “boat” sedans like those made by Cadillac. It’s as if the execs all thought the oil embargo was a tiny blip on the radar never to happen again. And it’s this hubris that contributed in a major way to today’s debacle.

    But it all could be worse when you compare what we’ve given to GM vs. the cost of being in Iraq: monies given to GM is what we spend every 3 days in Iraq. OUCH!

    1. Allen, what an excellent commentary. It’s almost like when you have to give up a relationship because it is toxic. You love your partner, you crave them, but behind all that is a very black background. Again, today, I am befuddled. I received a voucher from GM to entice me to purchase a new car from GM. In fact, I’m posting about that. There is no doubt that corporate greed challenged thoughtfulness and foresight, and that all-too-powerful unions tied the hands of the financial overseers. But can GM become leaner and meaner? Or is it all too late, all too late?

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