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发表于 2019-3-15 02:36:00 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式

General Motors Emerges From Bankruptcy


When Rick Wagoner, the chairman of General Motors, walked onto the floor of Detroit's Cobo Hall in January 2006,only one question seemed to matter to the assembled throng attending the North American International Auto Show: how soon would the giant American carmaker go bust? A representative of Kirk Kerkorian, an entrepreneur who had just bought a 10% stake, said GM had to wake up or it would run out of cash in three years. Mr Kerkorian has since sold out, but he seems to have galvanised GM. At this year's show the subject of choice was the firm's nascent turnaround.


A year ago GM was making record losses, closing plants and slashing its workforce. It was struggling to sell cars at rock-bottom prices and faced having to pay out billions of dollars to prop up Delphi, its former parts unit. Meanwhile, its increasingly rampant Japanese rival, Toyota, was making plans to overtake GM as the world's biggest carmaker by 2008.


Many of these problems still haunt GM, but even its most vociferous critics can see signs of a revival. The company began this year's Detroit show with a lavish event attended by Hollywood celebrities. But the real star was the newly redesigned Camaro Convertible, marking a comeback for one of GM's most famous models. Along with the new Chevrolet Malibu, a complete remake of the type of saloon with which GM once dominated the market, it suggests that the firm is regaining its edge in design. Its new Chevrolet Silverado was named pick-up truck of the year, and when its Saturn Aura was chosen as the best car, even the unit's unflappable general manager, Jill Lajdziak, was lost for words.

许多类似问题还困扰着通用,但是就连将通用批评得一无是处的人也不得不承认通用正在开始复苏。在今年底特律车展上,通用邀请了好莱坞的名流,把出场秀弄得异常豪华。但场上真正的明星则是新一代的卡玛洛运动车,它标志着通用最有名的车型的回归。新款的雪佛兰美宜堡完全是对通用曾经用以主导市场的一款车型的改造。种种迹象表明,通用正在找回它在设计上的技术优势。它的新款雪佛兰西尔维拉多被评为年度最佳轻型小货车,而当 “土星”(通用新款中型运动轿车)被宣布夺得年度最佳汽车大奖的那一刻,连这个部门最镇定的总经理吉尔都激动得说不出话来。

The revival of the ailing Saturn division casts light on some of the changes. Saturn has consolidated its vehicle-development efforts with those of GM's European arm, Opel. More broadly, the carmaker's previously autonomous regional operations are now working together coherently, as Bob Lutz, GM's vice chairman and "car czar",farms out duties. North America is developing the big pick-up trucks that dominate the local market and Europe will handle mainstream passenger cars. The car unit of South Korea's Daewoo, now a GM subsidiary, will work on entry-level models and Holden, an Australian subsidiary, will develop big saloons. If GM can make this approach work, it will achieve economies of scale that only Toyota can match, says David Cole, of the Centre for Automotive Research, a consultancy.


Like Toyota, GM is also standardizing manufacturing practices around the globe. It has eliminated 30,000 jobs and reduced North American production capacity by 30%. According to GM's senior official, all of this has cut costs by the equivalent of about $2,000 a vehicle. Mr. Wagoner says GM reached its target of trimming $9 billion from fixed costs by the end of 2006.


Still, problems remain. Toyota unveiled its largest-ever light truck in Detroit, and is thought to be planning several new American factories. So even as Toyota emphasizes the green credentials of its Prius hybrid car,it is attacking the Silverado, one of GM's biggest money-makers. GM's response is to expand its own hybrid offerings, including the new Chevrolet Volt concept car. It is battery-driven and can be recharged from the mains or by an on-board three-cylinder engine that never directly drives the wheels.


GM is still struggling to get its core North American operations into profit. But for the first time in years it is heading in the right direction. There is a long way to go, but at least the threat of bankruptcy is receding in the rear-view mirror.


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