Today president of GM North America, Mark Reuss spoke with Michigan Radio's All Things Considered Host, Jennifer White.
The Chevy Volt won the "Car of the Year Award" at the Detroit Auto Show. White asked Reuss why the auto company has put so much into the development of the Volt.
"If you look at the electric and hybrid car piece of the industry, it's been steadily gaining in popularity as time goes on. But what does it take to go beyond hybrid? To go beyond the traditional electric car and produce something that really has an exteded range with the gasoline and the battery on board, so you don't have to worry about an electric engine on board?"
Reuss said they accomplished that with the development of the Volt, and that GM remained focused on the Volt through some rough times.
When asked about the prospects for the new car market, Reuss was upbeat because he says there are a lot of people driving older cars, so there's "pent up demand" for new cars:
"And the reason why I say this is because if you look at the cost to operate some of the newer vehicles from a fuel efficiency standpoint, they're much, much lower than some of the vehicles these people are forced to hang onto."
Reuss said, in the past, the company has been good at engineering and building trucks and some of the "truck variants," but today they're re-focusing their efforts on smaller cars:
"We have refocused with the launch of things like the Volt, and the Sonic for Chevrolet, and then the Verano for Buick. We've really refocused our efforts into excellence in the small and compact car markets. And you're going to see those as really good alternatives in the market as we go forward."
Reuss was asked how he views the automotive industry today. Here's his response:
December auto sales numbers are due tomorrow. It’s expected to be another good month for Detroit’s automakers.
After watching auto sales dwindle in the depths of the recession, auto companies have seen a surge in buying demand in recent months. December is expected to be the third straight month of strong domestic auto sales.
GM is offering some of its employees a buyout this Christmas. The buyout offer will target at 8 assembly plants in Michigan.
The Associated Press reports:
General Motors is offering buyouts to several thousand skilled trades workers at 14 plants around the U.S.
The automaker will pay eligible workers $60,000 to retire with full benefits. Younger workers will have the option to take the $60,000 in exchange for giving up retiree health care and other benefits. GM spokesman Chris Lee didn't know how many workers will get the offers.
At a presentation to the Automotive Press Association in Detroit yesterday, Michael Robinet, director of global production forecasters at IHS Automotive, said U.S. auto sales could reach 17 million in 4 years. Robinet predicts sales will exceed 12.8 million next year and 16 million in 2013. As the Detroit Free Press reports:
That would be a huge reversal from the historically low sales levels that brought the industry to its knees during the recent recession. The last time industry sales exceeded 17 million was in 2001.
Comerica Bank’s monthly gauge of Michigan’s economic activity shows a slight dip in October. The state’s economy spiked up in September.
Comerica Bank chief economist Dana Johnson says Michigan’s economy has essentially been flat for the past four months. Johnson says:
As has been the case in the national economy over the second half of the year, growth in Michigan has been sluggish and uneven. Looking ahead, the Michigan economy is poised to make modest gains in coming months, against a background of gradually accelerating national growth.
The Michigan Economic Activity Index weighs nine, seasonally-adjusted indicators of real economic activity.
These indicators reflect activity in the construction, manufacturing and service sectors as well as job growth and consumer outlays.
It was ground zero for the "arsenal of democracy" in the 1940s. Henry Ford built the giant Willow Run factory to manufacture B-24 bombers in World War II. Later GM took over the building making everything from Chevy trucks, the Caprice, the Nova, Corvairs, and transmissions.
Today, the materials inside the plant are being auctioned off as part of the "Old GM's" bankruptcy reorganization (old GM is now known as the Motors Liquidation Company).
Ford sales are up 24%, Chrysler sales are up 17%, and GM's are up 11%. It's been a good news week for the "Big Three" (can we still call them that?). Chrysler and GM also announced they plan to hire more workers in Michigan, and the Brookings Institution says Metro Detroit is recovering.
Here are some figures from a number-laden Detroit News article on auto sales:
Sales for Chrysler's Jeep brand were up 58 % for November compared to a year ago
Ford's year-to-date sales total 1.74 million vehicles - growing at a pace double the industry average
Ford's F-Series trucks were up 26 %
GM's big brand Chevrolet was up 18 % for the month compared to a year ago, its sales strengthened by the new compact Cruze and popular Equinox and Silverado
General Motors has just announced that it will hire 1,000 engineers to work on battery technology in Michigan. The jobs include helping to develop batteries for hybrid, electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. Most of the jobs will be at a technical center in Warren.
The Detroit Free Press reports the jobs come as GM:
…prepares to deliver the first Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric cars next month… GM plans to build 10,000 Volts by the end of 2011 and at least 45,000 in 2012. Initially, the Volt will sell in California, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas. Next spring, those markets will expand to include Michigan, New Jersey, Connecticut and the rest of New York and Texas. Within a year and a half, GM plans to sell the Volt nationwide.
General Motors (GM) stock returned to trading on Wall Street yesterday for the first time since the company collapsed, declared bankruptcy, and was rescued by an infusion of fifty billion taxpayer dollars.
While Michigan has been focusing on diversifying its economy to make up for the loss of jobs in the auto industry, GM's return to public trading suggests that the auto industry in Michigan will continue to be a major economic player in the region.
The New York Stock Exchanged closed. AFP News reports "GM stocks closed at 34.19 dollars, up 3.6 percent from GM's initial sale price announced on Wednesday, but below session highs of 35.60 dollars a share."
The Detroit News reports the GM executives who attended the opening day for GM stock on the New York Stock Exchange bought hundreds of shares in the company themselves.
GM North American chief Mark Reuss called it an emotional day, saying he was proud to work for GM and thanking taxpayers for giving GM "a second chance."
The News reports the GM execs will head back to Detroit "after today's events in order to attend a private employee celebration at the company's Renaissance Center headquarters."
GM executives rang the bell and played a recording of a Chevy Camaro revving its engine to open trading at the New York Stock Exchange this morning. As of this writing, the stock, bought during the IPO at $33 per share, has jumped to $35 per share in trading. Here's how it's tracking next to Ford's stock (F):
Next month’s General Motors’ big stock offering is expected to be much less than at one time predicted.
The GM Initial Public Offering is expected to hit the market around November 18th.
When GM initially started talking about selling stock, the speculation was that November’s sale could be easily one of the largest initial public offerings in history. Perhaps generating more than $16 billion.
Now some analysts are predicting the GM IPO will collect only about $6 billion.
General Motors (or should I say General Motors Holding Company) is planning to hold a public stock sale in mid-November. It will be the first since the world's largest company emerged from chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization last year.