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Toyota Passing GM. Time To Pause for GM. Then Get Back To Work.

Posted by: David Kiley on April 24, 2007

Sure, it’s a moment to pause. Like waiting for the O.J. verdict. Toyota outsold General Motors worldwide in the first quarter for the first time.

I can just see the earth shattering changes in the monthly sales stories and the quarterly and annual earnings stories. No longer will GM be described as “the world’s largest automaker.” It will soon be referred to as the world’s “Number-two automaker.” Historic? Sure.

I don’t like to repeat myself in blogs. But a while back, I quoted GM sales and marketing chief Mark LaNeve saying something very sane. He said, “We don’t have to beat Toyota. We can win along with Toyota.”

It’s at this time that I bring it up again as a sign that not all the GMers are wringing their hands over this. Sure, there are some. Those, I should think, are the guys who have been advocating that GM buy Chrysler. An additional 11%-12% of share in the U.S. would technically hold off the Toyota advance. But at what price? Yipes.

A few weeks ago, I was at Ford Motor Co. when Ford CEO Alan Mulally was addressing about 100 employees. I was struck by the number of times he said to them…”Stay focused. Don’t get distracted.” I think distraction is a real problem in Detroit sometimes. Too often, the cultures here teach employees to seek a new challenge or job change before the job at hand is done. Mulally, having come to Ford from outside the auto industry must have seen this in his short seven months on the job.

GM’s comeback is nascent. It has some terrific new models. But it has to do a lot more, and for a longer period of time before people believe they have fixed the problems that ailed them for so long.

The mind still boggles over the logic that was driving some GM execs to want to take on Chrysler. Yeah, I guess now that you have Buick, Pontiac and Saturn totally fixed, it only makes sense to take on Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge. {Headslap}{DOH}.

Memo to GM. Forget the headline today. Stay focused. Don’t get distracted. Profits are Job One.

Reader Comments

Tired of Low Quality US Cars

April 25, 2007 11:51 AM

If US Automakers wish to be ahead of foreign car manufacturers, they should fix many problems, among them the quality of cars, I have owned seven chrysler vans, and over the years, the problems have persisted or gotten worse. These vehicles seem to have two problems that don't seem to get any attention from Chrysler. 1.- Air Conditioners. They break down often and are expensive to repair. 2.- Transmissions, leaks and internal problems which don't seem to ever be repaired properly. They are very expensive and time consuming. In recent years, a third problem seem to be added to the list. Rust. These vehicles supposedly have a primer problem that caused the paint to fall off and rust sets in.

Detroit wonders why they can sell vehicles? After seven Chrysler Vans, I doubt it I will continue buying Chrysler vehicles. Have they not noticed these problems? Sorry Detroit and Auto Workers. I support America & their products, but not at this price.

Disillusioned in Florida. 25 Apr 07

Brendan Moore

April 25, 2007 7:02 PM

I realize some people may regard this sentiment as curious, but I think losing the No. 1 spot will actually turn out to be a good thing for GM from a long-term perspective.

Nothing like losing what you always had in terms of making you want it back ever so much more.

As you correctly point out, GM is on its way back from the abyss of permanent insolvency. Perhaps this will be the stimuli they need to re-double their rehabilitation efforts wherever they can.

evden eve nakliye

April 26, 2007 5:15 AM

thank you very nıce thank you veryy veryy much...

Frank Rizzo

April 26, 2007 3:49 PM

Obviously this author has missed the point. Profits cannot be job one in that memo - focusing on quality products and quick response to changing market place and customer demand are the tenants of success - focusing on profit put the big three in the position they are in now - with unsold high margin SUVs slashed R&D and quality issues.

litle JJ

May 15, 2007 10:33 PM

I thike thats sad amaricans buying jap cars not americans cars


October 2, 2007 4:12 AM

It's very heartbreaking to know that americans are giving cash from their pocket to Japs,making the cash circulating among americans decrease, thereby accelerating the disaster of already shrinking american economy, and killing their future generation's future.

Who knows , if american people continue to loss patriotism and goes on buying Japi and Imports, we will have a time when one day newspaper headlines say
"Great Breakthrough! USA overtakes Somalia in percapita income"

Comeon Yaar! It's not that far.
Cheerup Somalians.

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