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Read/Post Comments (20) | Recommend This Article (7)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 2:34 PM, BhattachTheFool wrote:

    I believe GM can build cars that (i) will have the feel of driving cars built by Honda -- smooth, with clear view of the road, sporty but not overwhelmingly sporty, (ii) will last for at least 200,000 miles and at least 12 years, (iii) will not require meaningful warranty work for the first 100,000 miles, bumper to bumper, with normal scheduled maintenance every 7500 miles, just like my many Honda's over the years. I'll make sure GM builds such cars, and offers them in carefully chosen packages that don't overwhelm the customer with choices, but gives them exactly what they need. I'll make sure customers get the message that whatever Honda or Toyota have been doing, GM is doing it better.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 3:48 PM, SilverMoney wrote:

    The only way to save GM is to make quality cars that last. Looking back at the classic portfolio of GM vehicles that have made this car company such an icon in its industry you will find many of these classic cars still in service today. The elimination of the Pontiac brand I believe is a sign of the way GM needs to go, stream line the operations, stop the duplicate models so you are not competing with yourself and put quality first. We don't need to make cheap cars, we need to make reliable long lasting cars with low cost of ownership.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 8:53 PM, Syvarris wrote:

    When is the deadline for the contest submissions? How many submissions can a person make?

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 8:54 PM, Syvarris wrote:

    When is the deadline for the contest submissions? How many submissions can a person make?

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 9:29 PM, ChrisGraley wrote:

    Goals...

    1) Build cars that people want.

    2) Become cost efficient without sacrificing quality.

    3) Eliminate corporate and manufacturing redundancy.

    How do I accomplish this? First, I sell everything GM owns that I can for a profit. Opel, Saab, Hummer, Saturn etc... I'll even sell the Chevy brand if I can profit from it. The only thing I won't sell is the Chevy Volt and I might cherry pick a few other models. Next I introduce the first commercial open source car, The Chevy Volt. I open up every piece of information that I have for the Volt. (Blueprints, computer software, part testing, etc) I negotiate with suppliers a royalty for every part that they sell independently and a higher royalty for every part I sell in one of my cars at a dealership. I invite anyone that wants to develop a part for the Volt to submit it for approval with the same conditions as my current suppliers. I've just taken the Google Android model and applied it to cars. A customer will be able to customize his car in infinite ways and control the price. My production costs are low because I only have to develop the initial platforms. Innovation is taken care of with the competition from suppliers. The key is to do it first, and be ready when others try to catch up. I will have much higher costs testing parts and software, but given the cost savings elsewhere and competitive advantage, it's worth it.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 9:30 PM, ChrisGraley wrote:

    I had about 20 other ideas, but that is the best that I could fit into 250 words.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 9:31 PM, ChrisGraley wrote:

    I had about 20 other ideas, but that is the best that I could fit into 250 words.

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 11:14 PM, samsuh wrote:

    So much for 250 words.

    Dear GM,

    People don't know what they want. Make a good product, show people it's the best purchase, and design/manufacture/deliver/price it right. Make it really easy for people to distinguish your products, and to establish a solid brand-to-position meaning in their minds. Do some in-depth market analysis and find what people are looking for. How do people differentiate their cars? Stop coming up with random crap like cross-overs that flop (*cough* AZTEC) and actually just offer people the BEST of each category. Brand GMC the truck company, rebrand all luxury cars Cadillac, all performance cars either Chevrolet or Saab, etc. One idea, one brand. Narrow your focus. For things like luxury-truck, two options: co-brand like Cadillac-GMC Escalade or just opt to give it to the brand you want it more closely associated with (like Escalade because the luxury aspect is > the “truck” aspect). Stop trying to "revolutionize" designs by being outlandish; rather, try to stick to designs that appeal to the types of buyers that buy GM's products. Spend more of that development money into market research.... like, maybe, all of it. While that research is going on, also re-evaluate the success and potential for every single model currently available, and in the pipeline.

    GM needs to re-work their business model a bit. I understand they're an old company, but they really should just bite the bullet and pay off as much as they can to settle everything with everyone, and make themselves lighter, and more nimble. Scrutinize the dollars that come in, see what %age of that goes to new business vs. prior business commitments. Pay people for the work they do and be done with it, don't defer payments to “ill pay u when you're old” pensions. Close these drains on cash like programs in a computer, close the useless ones running in the background; if there are some you just cannot close, minimize the resources drained until terminated. Reboot. If all else fails, re-format if you must. Hey, how far beyond bankrupt can you go?

  • Report this Comment On December 02, 2009, at 11:22 PM, samsuh wrote:

    also, either close or internalize control over all the dealerships. dealers' interests should be aligned to the company's goal ("make a great company from top to bottom") rather than trying to maximize individual profit from the sales of each unit. Make it more of a buying experience for different brands. Cheap brands, you can keep the model as is if you have no alternative, but as you go higher, must brand better. Better experience, better service, BETTER PRODUCTS. making the cheapest luxury car is pointless if you forget that "luxury" part.

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2009, at 1:20 PM, liveoilfree wrote:

    I've been predicting the demise of GM way back when GM was sneering at critics.

    GM took away and crushed our EV1, with many others; Lutz stated it could not be built now. I'd FIRE Bob Lutz along with all the other nincompoops who drove GM into the swamp. And that includes almost EVERY exec, their hangers-on, bimbos, yes-folks, gofers and company jets.

    Then resume production of Electric cars, making it a cachet and celebrity product.

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2009, at 9:32 PM, NorseWarrior wrote:

    The first focus needs to be on quality. The bottom line is that people don't buy GM products because they don't feel they get their money's worth. Back up your quality with a six-year, bumper-to-bumper warranty. If a lightbulb goes out in the first six years, GM will replace it. Make executive salaries and bonuses hinge on meeting quality targets. Revamp worker pay to hinge on it, too. (yes, this means strong negotiations with the unions.)

    Second, focus on green. The electric car has to be a real option for drivers. Offer alternate fuels (natural gas, etc) as realistic options, and design products for the entire operational cycle.

    Third, fire 30% of the executive workforce and redistribute the remaining responsibilities. Keep every salaried union employee in place for two years, and then reassess labor needs. It would power down decisions to a level where people could act. If the executives are as good as their paychecks say they are, they'll have no trouble creating startups or going to work elsewhere.

    GM is fixable. The question is whether they have the courage to act.

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2009, at 11:18 PM, weirjf wrote:

    To fix GM, some radical steps will have to take place:

    (not in order of importance, all are essential)

    1- GM needs to realize that a car (for the average citizen) is the second largest purchase that an individual makes, after a house. The company should focus on designing vehicles that aren't just eye pleasing and fuel efficient, but easier to perform routine maintenance on in a world where people may and will have less disposable income.

    2- Reduce the disproportionate size of GM's overhead (firing excess bureaucracy) to that of the smaller entity it has become; including its pay scale, from board of directors down to factory workers.

    3- Design AND build new cars that compete fiscally and functionally with today's top sellers. Going back to basics (Form follows function and K.I.S.S.). Integrating technologies that not only are in wide use now, but will be coming down the line in the near future. And not just for personal devices or for what is directly used in the cabin, but drive-train configurations that are congruent with fun and economy i.e. efficiency.

    4- Cutting costs and re-prioritizing others. Advertising campaigns should be reduced to short and to the point ads featuring the cars themselves and their attributes, not distractions from celebrity endorsements or comparisons to other car companies. The consumer is your best advocate if you build a quality product; which is why money saved by drastically reducing advertising would be poured into R&D. Adding value by standardizing more features and reducing the cost of accessories, either by producing them in-house or developing closer trade ties with distributors. Fixed costs can be reduced by more tightly controlling primary, secondary and tertiary costs. Tertiary costs can be easily be reduced by getting rid of any and all labor unions (in conjunction with reduced management).

    (Over 250, but a few extra words pales in comparison to GM's problems at the moment)

  • Report this Comment On December 03, 2009, at 11:44 PM, weirjf wrote:

    GM should:

    1- Reduce overhead. Cut through bureaucracy and reduce its staff to match its shrinking market size, from corporate down to production line. Reduce primary, secondary and tertiary costs through closer ties with suppliers of raw materials or becoming its own supplier (owning supply chain) and getting rid of labor unions, respectively.

    2- Implement and standardize new technologies that work, integrating them with tried and true hardware while getting rid of ones that cheapen the brand and drive customers away: such as dumping the base automatic 4-speed (not good) up to a durable 5 or 6 speed manual. Build fuel efficient vehicles that work and that the average consumer can afford; possibly beating Toyota at its own game with a direct injection gasoline-electric, diesel-electric or multifuel-electric motor coupled platform.

    3- End advertising campaigns focused on celebrity endorsements and competition bashing; your customer is your best advocate if you build a quality product. With that in mind, any advertisement should focus on vehicle functions, innovations and features; money saved on advertisement should go directly into R&D, and/or better equipping (standardizing more features) commonly chosen accessories, like moderate stereo systems, personal device integration, backup cameras, GPS, etc. while keeping costs low through GM's economy of scale.

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2009, at 1:32 PM, jamira wrote:

    Dear GM,

    I am 41 yr. old and I never owe GM auto.

    I know about 10% in criterion why not and I know about 30% criterious to rise why I would love to have one.

    I wish good luck for GM industry

  • Report this Comment On December 04, 2009, at 6:09 PM, TheJeffster wrote:

    For starters, I don't play golf, and would therefore spend no time on the fairground, and more time on the turnaround.

    Step One: Admit to America that if GM is having financial trouble, then the Great Majority must also be, and announce a plan to unite more like family, helping each other through difficult financial times and turmoil together.

    The Plan: "On the Road to Recovery;" not just for GM, but for the Great Majority!

    How it works: Every American driver is offered the opportunity to own a brand new GM vehicle, without putting one penny down (i.e.: no down payment, no credit check; we've make mistakes; you possibly have,too.) A program will be devised to determine (based on driver's income) from which GM vehicles he or she may choose. A weekly payment (based on income) will be garnished from the driver's weekly paycheck.

    In other words, "Do what you love, and the money will come." Make cars. Put them in the hands of drivers, without a hassle or major financial hurdle. Collect weekly payments people can actually afford; they'll love you for it. Deplete all current inventory in this manner to accelerate cash flow.

    After that, I would take a coffee break, then get back to work.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2009, at 3:00 PM, TheJMDFool wrote:

    1. Main focus areas for GM: assembling vehicles, labor management, supply chain management, and dealership management.

    2. Ensure that safety and environment are top priority for the production processes and for the vehicles.

    3. Improve efficiency of all vehicles and target beating EPA standards by at least 10% for most vehicles allowing GM to have the most efficient vehicles in each class. Continue development of plug in hybrids. Make most vehicles with several batteries and “large starter” design to allow for the engine to stop instead of idling at traffic lights.

    4. Design all vehicles for minimum maintenance and repairs for 150,000 miles. Maintain 100,000-mile factory warranties.

    5. Make each factory capable to produce 3 to 5 different models. This will enable nimble production shifts from larger vehicles to fuel-efficient vehicles rapidly when the demand changes, maintain high asset utilization for each assembly plant, and minimize distribution costs of vehicles to destinations.

    6. Minimize options on each vehicle and leverage technology. Maximum of two engines per vehicle for example. Share as many parts as possible across vehicle lines. Continue to put On-Star, Bluetooth, GPS navigation systems, satellite radio, etc. in most models. Minimize subscription costs to gain volume subscribers.

    7. Ensure redundancy with the factories producing multiple models such that each model is produced in a non-union plant to provide partial protection against strikes and labor negations. Maximize automation in retooled or new assembly plants to minimize required jobs. All new assembly plants built in right-to-work states.

  • Report this Comment On December 06, 2009, at 7:58 PM, djkumquat wrote:

    cut all the dead weight: the knuckleheads that drove GM into the ground should be axed, pare down to the volt (or better yet, return to the EV1), get the government monkey off GM's back ASAP, and get rid of excuse makers.

    how do you make a wind turbine? well, it's kinda like making a car, only just the engine and none of the worries of safety features, cup holders, etc... GM already has the plants, just refit them for the green energy bubble. power the grid, hang on to the volt/EV1, and sell the electricity.

    make GM a truly american car company by converting it to an employee owned business. this "skin in the game" approach should take care of the union problem as well as lead to a more open-source structure within the company.

  • Report this Comment On December 07, 2009, at 4:00 PM, FFO4LIFE wrote:

    I'm a 29 year old CFO of a Florida based retail flooring corporation. I understand franchises as we have 4 of our own. I understand bankruptcy as we're exiting the Ch 11 process Dec 17, 2009. I have a MBA but more importantly my undergraduate degree is in Public Relations. GM needs to balance their books and rebuild their public image. They need to establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between their organization and the various publics which their success or failure depends upon. Unfortunatly this includes the government.. I would go through and systematically neuter their expenses and get back to the basics. Everything from merchant service lease agreements to executive pay would be reviewed annually. I would create an internal website ranking every franchise from #1 to ____ in sales. I would shame the least profitable locations and create incentives for the most profitable. I'd have the biggest ego in the industry but you can bet your a** that I would have that company super profitable in 8 quarters or completely liquidated. They need a leader with balls. If you're wondering why GM came out of bankruptcy so quickly, it wasn't because they feared the U.S. trustee fees. More likely, it was because they couldn't risk the shame of turning in a Monthly Operating reports detailing actual disbursements. GM makes money... It just all falls through their fingers. I'd fix that problem for good. Bunch of Mamalukes....

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2009, at 12:59 AM, Syvarris wrote:

    I understand the importance of being taken serious by investors.  More over investors' intelligence should be respected.  Annual reports shouldn't resemble advertising magazines. As CEO of General Motors I'd remove the marketing pictures that filled the first 45 pages of the 2007 report and insert a table of contents.  I'll steer GM to become a pioneer of innovation instead of resisting changes.

    My compensations would be tied to long term performance goals. The whole executive team and board of directors would be evaluated and possibly replaced with those experienced in corporate turn around. I'd seek individuals like the Motley Fool's own Philip Durell.

    I'll reduce GM to 3 distinct brands (Chevy, Buick, and Cadillac). The focus will shift from trucks to passenger cars. A goal will be set for the average MPG for the fleet by a certain date. I'll focus the engineers and designers on making vehicles that are competitive in fuel efficiency, features, and styles.

    Only the cost effective and productive factories will be kept open. The dealer network will be reduced and organized to accommodate 3 brands.

    According to some, GM auto quality is perceived to be inferior to foreign competition. If that's legitimate then I'd confront QC issues, otherwise marketing will address the negative perception and make ads that promote GM instead of putting down others.

    Employee compensation will become competitive with foreign producers' US factories. More employer friendly health care plans would be considered.

    Management of the pension will be outsourced to the Motley Fool.

  • Report this Comment On December 08, 2009, at 1:03 AM, Syvarris wrote:

    I understand the importance of being taken serious by investors.  More over investors' intelligence should be respected.  Annual reports shouldn't resemble advertising magazines. As CEO of General Motors I'd remove the marketing pictures that filled the first 45 pages of the 2007 report and insert a table of contents.  I'll steer GM to become a pioneer of innovation instead of resisting changes.

    My compensations would be tied to long term performance goals. The whole executive team and board of directors would be evaluated and possibly replaced with those experienced in corporate turn around. I'd seek individuals like the Motley Fool's own Philip Durell.

    I'll reduce GM to 3 distinct brands (Chevy, Buick, and Cadillac). The focus will shift from trucks to passenger cars. A goal will be set for the average MPG for the fleet by a certain date. I'll focus the engineers and designers on making vehicles that are competitive in fuel efficiency, features, and styles.

    Only the cost effective and productive factories will be kept open. The dealer network will be reduced and organized to accommodate 3 brands.

    According to some, GM auto quality is perceived to be inferior to foreign competition. If that's legitimate then I'd confront QC issues, otherwise marketing will address the negative perception and make ads that promote GM instead of putting down others.

    Employee compensation will become competitive with foreign producers' US factories. More employer friendly health care plans would be considered.

    Management of the pension will be outsourced to the Motley Fool.

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