Today marks the last day of General Motors first 100 years. While the company will mark the occasion tomorrow by unveiling it's new electric car, the Chevy Volt, I have a much more sobering question: Will GM last another 100 years?
Yes, I know it's not realistic to predict any company will be around for the next century. After all, there are few that have made it the last 100. Still, GMstarts its second century with substantial promise and problems.
• GM's brands are still powerful in the U.S. and expanding overseas. Now, I know this is no guarantee they will be around forever (look at Oldsmobile), but they give GM a good stable to leverage and grow.
• GM's overseas business is booming. Like it or not, this is the future of the auto business. The most successful companies will be those that can maximize their global positions.
• GM's management understands it can't stand still. Say what you will about CEO Rick Wagoner and his lieutenants, they know they have to move faster to stay competitive. The Volt's accelerated development is proof they realize how quickly GM must advance it's products in the future.
• Too many brands. I've said it for some time, and continue to believe that GM is hurting itself by supporting too many brands. Selling HUMMER is nice start. In my opinion, they'd be wise to also unload SAAB and drop Buick in North America.
• Too many dealers in the U.S. This is a sticky and potentially costly problem. For every solid dealer in the U.S., GM also has some dogs that weigh down profits for dealers and the company. I know the franchise laws make it costly to weed out dealers, but this problem has to be resolved.
- A brief history of General Motors Corp.
•. North American costs. Sure Wagoner and company have stripped $9 Billion out of the company's costs in the last 5 years. Yes, GM is a leaner operation in North America. And yet, GM has not turned a profit here at home. There's still a long ways for this company to go if it will make money in the largest auto market in the world.
Happy Birthday GM. Making it 100 years is a heck of an accomplishment. Even tougher will be surviving and thriving another century.
- General Motors Corp.'s all-time top sellers
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