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Forget what you knew about GM. The lumbering entity known as General Motors Corporation is gone, and today, its surviving staff and assets have been reborn as the lighter, more nimble General Motors Company.
To be sure, GM isn't entirely out of the woods--not yet. Among the obstacles that the General and its recently restructured competitor, Chrysler, must still overcome is legislation being debated in congress that would reinstate dealers cut from each network during the two companies' bankruptcy proceedings. That would cause a serious drain on the organizations' operating funds: not only would GM and Chrysler be required to pay failed dealerships a portion of the value of those dealers' assets, but reinstated dealerships could affect sales revenue, too, since both companies blamed dealer over-saturation as one of their primary reasons for losing money.
Today, however, GM is setting aside such concerns and celebrating its rebirth. The company met its federally set restructuring deadline of July 10, it has a new name, and its marketing department has cobbled together a new list of talking points. As per GM's official press release, the restructuring has five major implications:
♦ GM gets back to the business of building great cars and trucks, serving customer needs
♦ New company created from GM's strongest assets
♦ Four core brands backed by the nation's largest and strongest dealer network
♦ Streamlined organization on a global basis for faster decisions, sharper focus on the customer
♦ Commitment to open communications
Although much of that sounds like fluff, underneath it all, there are some very interesting nuggets of information, including:
♦ GM is partnering with with eBay: Without giving away too much detail, GM has indicated that "Customers will be able to bid on actual vehicles just like they do in an eBay auction, including the option of choosing a predetermined 'buy it now' price."
♦ GM's downsizing will continue: "By the end of 2010, the company will operate 34 assembly, powertrain, and stamping plants, down from 47 in 2008, and capacity utilization is expected to reach 100 percent during 2011. Overall U.S. employment will decline from about 91,000 at the end of 2008 to about 64,000 at the end of this year...."
♦ There will be a great deal of streamlining, with duplicative and regional positions eliminated: General Motors will also end its regional operating structure, moving decisions closer to the customer. This eliminates the regional president positions and the regional strategy boards.... To speed day-to-day decision-making, two senior leadership forums, the Automotive Strategy Board and Automotive Product Board, will be replaced by a single, smaller executive committee, which will meet more frequently and focus on business results, products, brands, and customers.
♦ Henderson is planning to beef up his blog duties: "Beginning next week, we will launch a 'Tell Fritz' website where customers, or anyone else, can share ideas, concerns, and suggestions directly with senior management. I will personally review and respond to some of these communications every day."
♦ GM is starting up its own version of the Straight Talk Express. Also, "tweeting" is now considered "talking": "In August, we'll begin regular visits with customers, dealers, suppliers, employees and others - in the U.S. and abroad - who impact our relationships with customers. We'll be listening to their ideas, and acting on the ones that will improve our ability to serve our customers better. And of course, other executives and I will continue to reach out to customers through our ongoing web and Twitter chats."
We know there's a lot more info to come from GM. In fact, Henderson is holding a press conference this morning, which should offer many additional details. While you're waiting for updates, we recommend a full scan of the company's official press release, posted below. Stay tuned.
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FOR RELEASE: 2009-07-10
The New General Motors Company Launches Today
New GM to Focus on Customers, Cars and Culture
DETROIT - The new General Motors Company began operations today with a new corporate structure, a stronger balance sheet, and a renewed commitment to make the customer the center of everything the new GM does.
"Today marks a new beginning for General Motors, one that will allow every employee, including me, to get back to the business of designing, building and selling great cars and trucks and serving the needs of our customers," said Fritz Henderson, president and CEO. "We are deeply appreciative for the support we have received during this historic transformation, and we will work hard to repay this trust by building a successful new General Motors."
Created from the old GM's strongest operations in an asset sale approved by the bankruptcy court on July 5, the new GM is built on:
"One thing we have learned from the last 100 days is that GM can move quickly and decisively," said Henderson. "Today, we take the intensity, decisiveness and speed of the past several months and transfer it from the triage of the bankruptcy process to the creation and operation of a new General Motors.
"Business as usual is over at GM," said Henderson. "Today starts a new era for General Motors and everyone associated with the company. Going forward, the new General Motors is fully committed to listening to customers, responding to consumer and market trends, and empowering the people closest to the customer to make the decisions. Our goal is to build more of the cars, trucks, and crossovers that customers want, and to get them to market faster than ever before."