ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., July 28, 2008-Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick, Cadillac... General Motors is the quintessential American industrial icon, a symbol of U.S. manufacturing might for nearly a century, a Dow component and the country's largest car company. But, it is also a company fighting a legacy of bad decisions, poor quality and foreign competition.
On Wednesday, August 6th at 9PM & 1AM ET, CNBC presents "Saving General Motors," an original one-hour documentary reported by Phil LeBeau. CNBC, First in Business Worldwide, takes an unprecedented look inside GM, a company struggling for survival and hoping to recapture its dominant position before it runs out of time, money and gas.
The documentary profiles GM's "Quality Czar" Bob Lutz, who arguably bears the heaviest burden in turning America's struggling giant automaker around. An auto industry veteran with a history of launching many high profile and successful models at companies like Ford, Chrysler and BMW, Lutz's mission is to renovate and reinvigorate GM's bland product line-up and improve the sub-standard quality of its designs and manufacturing. GM, at one time a benchmark of excellence and value, lapsed into complacency, churning out low quality products and gas guzzlers that alienated buyers and created opportunities for its competition. Lutz himself will show viewers first-hand examples of what GM has done wrong and what changes he has made since his arrival.
GM may be struggling at home, but it is thriving overseas. CNBC cameras travel around the world to China where Buicks are considered a status symbol and GM became the first auto manufacturer to sell one million vehicles in a single year. LeBeau travels with GM's CEO Rick Wagoner in Beijing where he unveils an all-new Buick and is looking to expand the company's global strategy of investing in foreign markets such as India, Brazil and Russia.
CNBC takes viewers behind the scenes of the development of the all-new Chevrolet Camaro, set to roll out in early 2009. From the design lab in Melbourne, Australia, to sub-zero testing in Northern Canada, to a test drive with NASCAR giant Dale Earnhardt Jr, CNBC follows the rebirth of one of GM's most storied models. The company has a lot at stake with the new Camaro, and the man most responsible for the success – or failure – of the effort is GM's Global Chief of Design, Ed Welburn, whose top priority is to rekindle passion for GM cars.
The program features Warren Kennedy, a GM lifer and UAW hourly worker, who after 31 year with GM is set to retire after accepting the company's buyout offer. LeBeau follows Kennedy during a typical day on the job and discusses his work, his decision to retire and his thoughts about GM's shrinking workforce, salaries and benefits. CNBC will also profile GM CEO Rick Wagoner, who has also been on the job for 31 years. Wagoner discusses why he believes he is the right executive to lead the company despite its decline in market share, its loss of billions of dollars and the stock losing more than 75% of its value.
With oil prices rising, GM is placing massive financial bets on alternative fuel vehicles, especially an "extended range" electric car called the Chevrolet Volt. In addition to engineering and development work, GM is already spending millions advertising the promise of the Volt, despite the fact that the car relies on a high performance battery technology that is still undeveloped. It's the battery that remains the biggest question mark with the Volt...Will it be a game changer, or a deal breaker? CNBC is there as GM's Bob Lutz gets behind the wheel for the first time.
Phil LeBeau is CNBC's auto and airline industry reporter. Mitch Weitzner is the executive producer of "Saving General Motors." Wally Griffith is the senior producer. Josh Howard is the executive in charge of production and Vice President of Long Form and Special Programming.
For more information including web extras and extended video clips, log onto insidegm.cnbc.com.
CNBC's "Saving General Motors" will re-air on Sunday, August 10th at 10PM ET.
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