Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

GM's Problems: Who's To Blame? You Tell Me

General Motors Headquarters

It's not often that an e-mail makes me stop and say "Hmmmmm. Do a lot of people feel the same way?"

But, this one from Nathan did just that. He wrote: "They (GM) deserve their tough times, and they deserve to go out of business. As harsh as that statement is, management made disastrous decisions regarding ignoring the car market, ditching electric vehicles, and ramping up truck production."

Nate's comments are strong, direct and got me to thinking, "who really is to blame for the problems at General Motors ?

1) Is it GM's leaders?

On one hand, they have been unable to get North American operations back in the black and the company's stock is at a 26 year low.

On the other hand CEO Rick Wagoner and his team have cut costs in North America by $9 billion and lead a dramatic increase in earnings overseas. Without those profits in foreign lands, GM would be dead in the water right now.

2) Is it the UAW?

On the one hand, the legacy costs of hourly workers, particularly health care benefits, were a drag on GM's bottom line for several years when it was clear the automaker was unable to keep up with foreign rivals.

On the other hand, the union has not received the credit it deserves for making GM's plants more efficient and competitive Yes, whether you want to believe it or not, the UAW has worked with GM to improve the company's operations.

3). Is it America's love affair with trucks and SUVs?

On the one hand, we demanded the big rigs and GM gave us what we wanted. On the other, it wasn't until gas started surging that we moved out of SUVs and into cars.

4) Is it GM's competitors?

On the one hand, Asia's big 3 have picked GM apart by exploiting segments like hybrids and crossovers long before the world's #1 automaker got into those segments. On the other hand, Toyota , Honda , and Nissan are not infallible. They've struggled to crack a pick-up market GM leads with the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra.

Let me know who you blame for GM's struggles and why. And take the poll.

I'll be curious if any e-mails make me stop and pause like Nate's did.

Questions?  Comments?