Over the past 24 hours, pundits and analysts have penned thousands of column inches criticizing General Motors
As we all know by now, GM agreed yesterday to extricate itself from the union with Fiat that was consecrated in 2000, the same year that Wagoner took the reins at GM. What may have been forgotten over the intervening years, however, is exactly how GM convinced itself that hitching its team to money-losing Fiat and its perceived edge in diesel engine technology was a good idea. To put things in perspective, here's a brief review of the history of this doomed venture.
It was March 2000, nearly three months before Wagoner was promoted from chief operating officer to chief executive officer. All around the world, carmakers were doing deals. Ford
Fiat was already in talks with Germany's DaimlerChrysler
In retrospect, GM probably shouldn't have agreed to Fiat's final term -- or, indeed, to partner with the money-losing Italian concern at all. As it turned out, the deal utterly failed to strengthen GM's position in the world, and it cost GM shareholders dearly in the process. But bad as GM's decision was, the company deserves to have it viewed in light of the competitive pressures of the day.
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Fool contributor Rich Smith holds no position in any of the companies named in this article.