GM returned from the black hole of bankruptcy today with promises of impending change in its corporate structure and products. The company’s press release is, as expected, filled with nonspecific ideas like “a fresh lineup of Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC cars, trucks and
crossovers, each with leading-edge designs and technologies that matter
to both consumers and the environment” and a new focus on “customers, cars and culture.” In other words, GM will actually pay attention to the fact that it needs to deal with changing technologies and trends in the car world.
But that’s not all. GM is also apparently moving ahead with a range of energy-saving technologies such as biofuels, fuel cells, and hybrids. It is also, as we know, focusing much of its energy on the plug-in hybrid Chevrolet Volt, expected to retail for $40,000 (not including tax incentives). There are ambitious ideas, but the Volt isn’t expected to be profitable until the second generation, and the company is already lagging far behind Honda and Toyota in the hybrid technology arena. Whether GM can catch up in time to grab a piece of the hybrid and PHEV market remains to be seen.
One short-term, practical idea on the agenda: GM may initiate a partnership with eBay to allow customers to bid for vehicles online at pre-determined prices. At the same time, GM will cut its dealer network from 6,000 locations to 3,600. The move will let the company keep prices on its cars low, as dealers usually take a cut of profits.
And perhaps as a result of the media outcry, GM has denied any plans to change its iconic blue logo to green. This in itself is a good start; after decades of ignorance, GM might finally be listening to what people are saying.