I've heard the same question time and again here on the floor of the NYSE.
Can GM keep it going ?
I know it sounds absurd to ask that question about a global auto giant that is #1, 2 or 3 in all the key markets. Then again, who would have predicted GM's stunning collapse last year?
That's why so many people are wondering if GM's turn-around is built to last. And by that, I'm not talking about whether GM can build the cars and trucks people want. It can and does, as evidenced by the demand of new models like the Chevy Equinox.
No the question is whether the new GM has a new attitude and approach to doing business? A hunger that will keep the company moving fast long after the IPO momentum fades away.
I'm encouraged by two things I heard today from GM execs ringing the opening bell at the NYSE.
CEO Dan Akerson admitted that GM has a long ways to go to build more vehicles on global architectures. It's currently a small percentage of GM's portfolio, he wants it to be 50-60%. GM needs to drive that efficiency in a brutally competitive global market. Akerson knows it's a weakness he intends to fix the problem. You can watch the full interview here.
Meanwhile CFO Chris Liddell says GM still needs to pay off GM's debt, roughly $5 billion. In fact Liddell wants a balance sheet with no debt. It's a refreshing change from the old GM that lugged around billions in debt.
The fact that Akerson and Liddell are admitting they have work to do on a day of hand shakes and back slapping is one small but important sign GM may truly be starting over with a new approach.
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