GM CEO Rick Wagoner 1-13-08
Wagoner starts off by telling us what we already know, that GM will "have to do some tough things to get through today's challenging environment." And with no recognition to a past with some decidedly inferior products, he alludes to "addressing the costs of our long history" only as funding expensive pension plans. In perhaps his biggest fumble in the address, Wagoner has an awkward Jocelyn Elders moment when he stammers that the company must "come up with ways to - to - to - to - to address post-retiree health care." And what exactly is a "post-retiree?"
It's a shame Wagoner started off his videoblog entry fumbling and stumbling over the bad news and the challenges for the company. Because, as he points out in the latter half of the 2-minute, 50-second video, GM has a whole lot going for it these days, and the giant is suddenly redoubling its efforts to maintain viability and reclaim leadership and innovation in the mercurial automotive industry.
Wagoner points out that GM is embarking on aggressive growth in markets around the world that have the most growth potential, such as China, Russia, and South America. He rightly cites the company's recent focus on great products and great design, and claims that recent launches (Chevy Malibu, Cadillac CTS, Corvette ZR1, and, we think, pending beauties like the 2010 Buick LaCrosse) have re-ignited the company's passion for great cars and trucks.
And his last point, that GM has allotted an enormous amount of resources and efforts toward addressing energy expenses and environmental concerns is true (2011 Chevy Volt). But Wagoner makes reference to "the coming age, where energy is gonna be more expensive and people are more concerned about the environment." The coming age? Hey GM! Energy is more expensive and people are more concerned about the environment. Right now.
So keep up the great work. But don't put down the shovel and look over your shoulder just yet.--Colin Mathews