Following my blog earlier this week asking you to tell me who is to blame for General Motors' problems, I received the following e-mail from the automaker. Give it a read and let me know what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a representative of General Motors and a fan of your automotive coverage, I read your recent blog on GM's problems with interest. You identified four possible targets on which to blame GM's current business concerns: our leaders, the UAW, America's love affair with trucks, or our competitors.
But I was a little surprised and disappointed to see that you missed perhaps the biggest factor of all -- and frankly, I think that a look at the bigger picture would be in order.
I'd suggest that many of GM's challenges are the same ones facing all automakers today -- the U.S. economy is in a downturn, the price of oil is at a record high, and consumer confidence is low.
In fact, these economic headwinds are taking their toll on virtually every American business and industry -- and consumers from all walks of life too. Singling out one company for criticism when the entire economy is struggling seems a bit unfair, don't you think? It's kind of like blaming one person for being out of work when unemployment is on the rise.
I'm not saying we haven't made some mistakes, or that we couldn't have done some things better. Hindsight is 20/20, however, and it serves no one -- not General Motors, not our shareholders, and not consumers -- to simply look back and point fingers.
Yes, we know we have more work to do to make GM more competitive and profitable on a long-term basis. To do that, we need to be looking forward, assessing the current economic climate, making good decisions, and most of all building great products. And on that level, we have plenty to be proud of:
- We continue to strengthen our brands with award winning cars and trucks such as CTS, Malibu, Enclave, Aura, Tahoe Hybrid and Silverado.
- In Q1 of 2008, GM sold more than 2.25 million cars and trucks, setting records in three out of four regions.
- By the end of 2008, GM will offer eight different hybrid models in the U.S. alone.
- Globally, GM has produced more than 4 million flex fuel vehicles to date.
- GM has more vehicles with an EPA highway fuel economy rating of 30mpg or better than any competitor.
- 7 of 10 all-new launch vehicles are rated "Recommended" by Consumer Reports
As you acknowledged in your blog, GM's leadership team has made significant progress in our turnaround efforts -- reducing costs in North America while improving profits overseas.
Together, GM and UAW leaders worked diligently to hammer out a breakthrough labor agreement that helps close competitive gaps, and came to terms on an attrition plan that will help GM be a leaner and more nimble company -- in fact, 19,000 hourly employees will be leaving the GM by July.
And as for our decision to invest in trucks and SUVs, I think you'll agree no one could foresee oil selling for $130 a barrel and rising. We still don't have a crystal ball, but we think we're on the right track with the Chevy Volt, two-mode hybrids and other technologies that will help ease reliance on oil.
And finally, as for the competition, our products can go toe-to-toe with anything on the market today-- and when it comes to styling, value and dependability, we are shining right now. This is not the first time that GM and other businesses have encountered tough times, and it certainly won't be the last.
But before yourreaders vote on the reasons for GM's challenges on your blog, I hope they will take a moment to consider all the economic factors at play -- and will also keep in mind some of our recent accomplishments and the steps we've taken in the right direction.
I think it's more constructive to look forward and to try to continue improving things, don't you?
Director, Global Communications Technology
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