GM vs No GM?

Here’s a genuine question for friends in the US.

I remember back in 2009 there were a lot of people – and I mean a LOT – crying foul about the US government’s bailout of General Motors. This week, the US government sold its final shareholding in the restructured GM, booking a total loss of $10billion on the bailout.

For that $10billion, you basically got to keep your national car industry. You got to keep the jobs (not just GM’s jobs, but most likely Chrysler’s and Ford’s, too), you’ve got the products, the investment and innovation that comes with the industry, retirees got to keep their pensions.

GM are now profitable and reputed to be offering the best products they’ve had in a long, long time.

Now go back to 2008 and imagine that George W Bush had given a flat-out “No” to GM. Imagine Barack Obama didn’t reverse it. Imagine GM gone, perhaps with a corpse bought out by a Chinese or German company. Imagine Ford maybe gone with it, thanks to the loss of suppliers that a dead GM would have led to. I’m not sure what would have happened to Chrysler in this scenario.

Imagine the depressed pockets of your country thanks to the loss of GM. Imagine the lost businesses that support communities around GM facilities.

Given that you now know what it cost, was it worth it to keep GM in business? What would you have done?

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We’re pondering a related issue in Australia because a GM statement from Detroit today announced that Holden will disappear as a manufacturer when they close their South Australian plant in Q4, 2017. The engine assembly plant in Melbourne will shut up shop a year earlier.

There are mixed feelings here in Australia about this. Many are saying that manufacturers have had too much government assistance. Others are saying that government assistance preserves jobs in an important industry and reaps a massive reward in investment from the companies concerned (up to $19 of spending for every $1 of government money contributed)

Holden sales have been declining for some time and despite the new VF Commodore winning very good reviews, Holden are way behind Toyota and only just fending off other companies for third on the sales tables. Holden failed to spot the trend away from the large RWD sedans that were Holden’s bread and butter.

Sound familiar? It’s like the US market and GM SUV’s all over again.

There are 3,000 jobs at Holden that will be directly affected by this decision, but a similar number at Toyota are now in jeopardy along with tens of thousands in supply and related industries. Toyota are now reviewing their position in the wake of Holden’s news.

Our new conservative government has long said that it would provide no support for the car industry beyond what was already on the table. Nevertheless, they have been running a productivity assessment on the industry to gauge the support needed.

GM needed an answer on the government’s position by the end of this year. The government refused to speed up the assessment and committed to reporting in March 2014. Further to that, they re-stated their position that there would be no new money on the table for co-investment in the industry (which begs the question – why have the productivity commission at all if you’ve predetermined your policy outcome?).

Bottom line – the government knew what GM needed. Holden Chief, Mike Deveraux said today the GM felt they had enough information to make a decision. They decided to cut production in four years from now.

By the start of the next decade, it’s highly likely that Australia will no longer have an automotive manufacturing industry. Estimates are that 50,000 direct jobs will be cut and as many as 250,000 could be affected over all. Many of those will find new work (they can go and dredge the Great Barrier Reef, for instance) but a lot of communities will feel the pain for a long, long time.

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28 Comments

  1. Strong echoes between Australia and the UK twenty or thirty years ago. A perfect storm of poor government, poor management and poor union strategies. (Let it be known, I have no axe to grind with either group, just making observations).

    Many UK car companies were the victims of poor leadership in the industry, producing unreliable cars that were not what the public wanted, and unions that moved beyond safety and a fair wage/conditions, into unreasonable and/or unrealistic pay deals that hampered the ability of companies to make reliable cars and be profitable. The size of population in the UK though, meant that foreign companies moved in and invested. Although most UK car factories are overseas owned, at least cars are still being produced, with the attendant jobs and supply chain benefits. Jaguar/Land Rover (Indian owned) are one of the great success stories of the GFC in the UK.

    At the same time as UK companies (think Leyland etc) were going under, the Conservative government was busily cutting taxes, touting the move to a service economy and blowing the revenue from our North Sea Oil/Gas boom to do so, meaning the average punter felt pretty good and did not see the problem.

    Here in Australia, Holden and Ford failed to notice or even consider that the Australian car-buying public would move on from big V-something powered Aussie sedans and Utes. When the public did exactly that, they failed to catch up. They are now paying the price. The Unions negotiated some cracking agreements, but the net result is that after some good years, nobody will have a job.

    But never mind, because Australians are cheerfully buying VWs, Mercs, BMWs at one end of the spectrum, or inexpensive Korean cars on the other, on the back of good economic times, funded by a resource boom that is coming to an end with little evidence of the government having spent any of it on infrastructure or planning for the future.

    The Australian labour market will have to change significantly in order for car manufacturing by any company to resume here in the future. The question is, whether it is 50 000 or 250 000 who lose their employ due to these decisions, what are they going to do? I feel very sorry for them and their families because life is going to be tough.

  2. I can’t see the Chinese bailing out Holden, like Geely or NEVS have.
    Ford were looking further down the track with more vision, as usual.
    NZ have no auto industry at all. And we laughed at them. At one stage they had 4 brands made on their soil. None now. Welcome to our future Aussies.
    This is what happens when you don’t buy local.

    1. both points are echoed across blogs and news websites everywhere, but why buy local when the local offering is so out of tune with what you want? Holden simply failed to see that in a hugely urban population the large car was on the way out of favour. They’ve done well with the Cruze, but it was too late and not as good as it should’ve been.

  3. The problem with the U.S. Gov’t equity infusion was the minor detail of forgetting to add the word ‘loan’ into the agreement. That’s why it stinks.
    Well played GM.

  4. Even though Holden’s early takeover by GM – almost a century ago, right? – is an interesting example of how old the dreaded globalisation is, to my foreigner’s eyes Holden has always retained its ‘Australianity’ – you can have that one for free 🙂 But as you say, they lost sight of what ‘Joe Mangle’ wants out of a car these days, indeed how ‘Joe Mangle’ himself has changed. Manufacturing costs are so often cited as the reason for this sort of decline. And yet there are plenty of rich Western countries that continue to make cars and make profits. How does this one get solved, then? GM might be persuaded to relinquish the brand and assets, a la Saab – or as happened elsewhere with Jaguar/LR, Triumph (a hell of a long hiatus but at least it came back), etc etc. What then? I would love to see the iconic Ute concept daringly reinvented as something dependable in an uncertain world, while also being just what is wanted today and tomorrow in terms of configuration, appearance, drivetrain, etc.

  5. Back in 1978 Holden was brave enough to go against it’s traditional thinking and replaced the Kingswood with the much smaller Commodore. It’s part of automotive history that the Commodore eventually grew back to Kingswood dimensions and for a time was quite successful for Holden. But where was that kind of thinking in 2004 when Holden displayed the Torana hatch concept? This was a rear wheel drive car of BMW 3 series proportions and would’ve been perfect for the Australian market and for export. But this time conservative thinking won out and Holden stuck with the Commodore which has suffered steadily declining sales. Australians no longer favour full sized cars like the Commodore and Ford’s Falcon and this has been evident for quite some time. But did Holden and Ford adapt? No they did not and both have paid the price.

    I have read that if Holden was to stay, it’s next Commodore would’ve have much less Australian input and the level of local content would have dropped quite a bit below the current car, which is I believe around 50%. It might have dropped to a similar level to the Cruze which is about 30%. The next Commodore being more of a world car, would also mean that Holden would most likely be obligated to accept parts from overseas suppliers even a local supplier could under cut the price. To reduce it’s manufacturing costs, it was likely too that Holden would have become much more robotised which would have meant quite drastic staff reductions. Under those circumstances I’m afraid that increasing financial support to Holden above existing levels probably wouldn’t have been a good idea.

    The loss of Holden will be quite devastating for South Australia, but I get the felling that even if Holden stayed, the medium to long term effect on employment and parts manufacture might not have been very good anyway.

    On the subject of local content, the Ford Falcon is far higher than the Commodore by the way.

  6. I don’t know anything about Holden or the Oz automobile manufacturing situation. But as far as the US “bailout” of GM et al, as far as I’m concerned, it was money well spent. The government put 50 billion into loans to GM, and another 30 into Chrysler and Ford, to save them during the worst financial crisis since the great depression. At the end of the day, the government got back 70 of the 80billion, so at a net cost of 10 billion, they saved the automobile industry in the US along with hundreds of thousands of jobs, forced it and the unions to restructure in a way that they are now profitable, and helped prevent the country from a severe depression or financial melt down. Money well spent, in my opinion.

    1. The GM and Chrysler bailouts have surprised me. They are both producing better cars, and with GM’s announcement of a new CEO who seems to embrace quality over quantity, there are signs of more good things to come.

      Ford, however, did not receive a bailout.

      Swade raises great questions about would have happened if the government hadn’t stepped up under GWB, and continued under Obama. The situation would be dire, no doubt, but there is no victory to be claimed quite yet. The auto industry truly built Detroit into what it was, but now, many areas are just a burned out shell. I was within the city limits over the weekend, and driving through Detroit is fascinating and horrifying at the same time. Although it was 20 degrees, there were still people just….drifting, asking for money, and, in one case, doing some kind of deal under an overpass. The number of abandoned factories and burned out houses is staggering. Of course, there has been mismanagement and corruption on many levels and in many places (city leadership has been anything but pristine), and I am sure that one can write a thesis on what caused the collapse of Detroit. But, as the seat of the auto industry in the US, Detroit has a very, very long way to go.

  7. The assumption here is that without heavy-handed emergency government intervention, GM would have disappeared and with it the U.S. auto industry. However, here in the U.S. a standard Chapter 11 bankruptcy is not dissolution and destruction, it is reorganization and protection from creditors. Having gone through a standard, lawful Chapter 11 bankruptcy, GM would have emerged a much leaner and more efficient organization, able to move forward shed of its union contracts and other historical, burdensome obligations. Being clear of those obligations and having a fresh start, any number of private financial institutions would likely line up to extend the company credit.

    What was done instead was that the assets of the “old GM” were stolen from its owners, leaving the bondholders twisting in the wind with an empty, worthless shell (those really are the people you should be soliciting comments from). These assets were used to build a new company (the “new GM”) which was essentially gifted to the unions, with an infusion of taxpayer dollars to keep this new company afloat. The federal government turned established bankruptcy law on its head and picked the pockets of every American citizen in this scheme. It has established that some companies are “too big to fail” and will give those preferential treatment, no matter how badly they are mismanaged. This flies in the face of every founding principle of the country, where government is supposed to have limited lawful powers, and all are supposed to be equal in the eyes of the law.

    More importantly, this establishes even more firmly the paradigm of an infinitely powerful central government that respects no lawful limitations on its authority. Once you establish that government can do anything that it wants to in order to “solve” any event perceived as a “crisis” you have a real problem on your hands, much worse than the collapse of any corporation.

    Yes, at this juncture in time it appears that things have turned out well for GM and the auto industry. However I believe it is a mistake to judge an action only on its results. The process used to arrive at those results is at least as important. In this case the process really stank to high heaven and is a symptom of government reeling out of control. It is this same mindset of an all-powerful government that has given us the NSA spying debacle.

    There is undoubtedly worse to come. History holds many examples of governments that recognized no restrictions on their powers, and the results are not pretty.

  8. The profit is largely from large trucks and SUVs, and GM shows no signs of investing in other and more modern car types. I don’t want to call Cruze, Impala and Malibu for “investing”, they are the same old “hacked together, Joe won’t notice it anyway” type of cars GM has done so many times.
    Yeah they might be on the plus now, but for how long…?

  9. I didn’t like the GM bailout at the time. I didn’t think that GM’s outright bankruptcy would kill it. I thought that new ownership would come along and resurrect only the parts that needed to live. That is, they needed to stop making crappy cars, yes, but they REALLY needed to stop tolerating the bureaucratic swill that strangles most companies of GM’s size and age, and they absolutely HAD to thin the GM distribution network on the cheap. I thought that bottoming out would result in a stripped-down, more healthy GM rising from the heap.

    Fast forward to now, and I guess it turned out better than I expected. The new Impala is really a pretty good car. The Buicks are selling well in China, but they aren’t an enthusiast’s car for sure. Cadillac has some compelling products, too. The trucks are selling well. I still think that GM has too many dealerships, and selling virtually the same product from the same production line with two badges (Chevy & GM trucks) is still counterproductive IMO. In other words, I think the ‘gentler’ landing saved some of the vestiges of GM that shouldn’t have stayed.

    The biggest win here is the the UAW finally was forced to acknowledge their part in killing GM and Chrysler and severely crippling Ford. Demanding premium wages and benefits while protecting substandard labor productivity isn’t a winning combination vs. Mexico, Korea and Japan.

    How does this compare to Oz? I haven’t a clue. Labor expectations and relations are hugely important here — are they in Oz? The expected future demand makes a big difference, too. Will the Australian market grow enough over the next 8-10 years to make investment matter? Finally, the costs of shipping and tariffs are significantly different in Oz than here. What does it take to beat the Koreans and the Japanese?

    What I DO know is this: automotive jobs are seen as very important because they are high-wage, high-value-add jobs in every economy. If you don’t keep those jobs, you have to have a plan to replace them with something that brings at least as much economic value. So, if the government nixes Holden aid, what is their plan to bring in new industry? This isn’t a question in a vacuum; they need to present a plan. Which brings me to full circle on our own experience — I wouldn’t trust GWB or Obama to have a plan that would make up for the loss of jobs at GM, so I’m glad the government bailed them out.

    1. You can’t have it both ways kid.

      First you say:

      “The biggest win here is the the UAW finally was forced to acknowledge their part in killing GM and Chrysler and severely crippling Ford. Demanding premium wages and benefits while protecting substandard labor productivity isn’t a winning combination vs. Mexico, Korea and Japan.”

      Then you say:

      “What I DO know is this: automotive jobs are seen as very important because they are high-wage, high-value-add jobs in every economy. If you don’t keep those jobs, you have to have a plan to replace them with something that brings at least as much economic value.”

      So just WHO do you think was/is responsible for these “high-wage, high-value-add jobs”? Sure wasn’t the corporate heads. It was the unions…plain and simple.

      All you have to do is look at the wages and benefits (if any) paid in Mexico & China, where many auto manufacturers are moving, or have moved, and you will see a HUGE difference. The standards of living in these countries are far lower than in the US.

      The CEOs, and top management, will always make serious 6 & 7 (or more) figure salaries, but heaven forbid that the people who PRODUCE the products that these corporations sell, make a decent living wage.

      And over the past several decades…CEOs have been getting richer and richer…while workers’ salaries have actually gone down, in terms of real spending power. It is obscene.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/ceo-pay-worker-pay_n_1471685.html

      Let me tell you a story from my personal experience about 25 years ago.

      I was a Flight Attendant/Chief Purser for Eastern Airlines for 20 years. Started with them in 1971. I grew up in the airline business, as my father also worked for the same airline, starting in 1939…with a “few years off” spent in England & the Continent during World War II.

      In about 1986, a scumbag by the name of Frank Lorenzo came upon the scene, and decided to take over Eastern Airlines, and break the unions. He had a lot of help from our CEO at the time…one Frank Borman. Who by the way, on the eve that he sold the company out from under us, made a tearful speech to the company stating how he would never sell the company. Right Frank…really convincing.

      So as contracts were abrogated, and work rules were suspended, people were working far more hours than they ever had, and making LESS money.

      At one of the “Road Shows” that Frank Lorenzo had, trying to get all of us “on board” with his way of thinking, one of my co-workers stood up and asked Mr. Lorenzo just how did he think she was gong to be able to pay her mortgage, and keep a roof over her and her family, with her salary having been drastically cut thanks to his takeover?

      You know what this a$$hole’s response was? He said “Flight Attendants don’t need mortgages.” Nice…real nice.

      I have never been a big fan of unions, always looked upon them as a necessary evil, but without unions, for people who work for companies whose leaders have no empathy for what the people do who make THEM wealthy, unions are needed.

      If YOU have never worked for someone who is willing to take advantage of you, work you many more hours than they should, pay you very little for your work, and then fire you, simply because they just feel like it with no reason, you will never know what it is like.

      I HAVE with two or three subsequent employers since leaving the airline business in 1996…and walked out on ALL of them when they tried to screw me.

      I suspect you have never.

      Unions DO need to show more willingness to work with the corporate leaders to keep a company moving along in a profitable direction…BUT…so in turn do the corporate leaders need to be willing to allow their workers to earn a decent living wage for the areas they live in.

      1. Puhleeze. You take two statements from a very high-level summary and then parse them to the nines.

        Certainly the excesses of the UAW were hugely significant in the collapse of GM and Chrysler. And yet, governments around the world court those jobs because they are seen as high-wage, high value add. There is no contradiction there. Excesses can be wrought from any situation, even those that are of high value.

        You didn’t address “protecting substandard productivity”, either.

        Finally, your situation(s) and rising CEO compensation are not relevant here. Neither were in play at GM nor Chrysler. Ford, perhaps, is the one of the big three with CEO compensation that was absurd, but they didn’t need the government buy out.

        If you want to talk about airlines, etc. then have that discussion. If we’re talking about GM, let’s stick to cars and the UAW and leave flight attendants out of it.

  10. The thing about Holden is that it’s central role as “Australia’s car” (along with local content and tariff rules), kept Holden operations from being fully integrated into GM’s global product strategy until quite recently. Although that arm’s length nature of the Holden business allowed them to create product singularly suited to the Australian market, it also created a silo’ed organization that has very often struggled to meet (let alone beat) the pressures introduced by global competition.

    GM and Ford both have struggled to meet the challenges of a truly competitive Australian automotive market. The local content requirements of the Menzies era created both the greatest period of success for the Australian motor industry and were the seeds of it’s end. When tariffs and other barriers were eased in the 80s & 90s, Holden and Ford were caught flat footed, with product that wasn’t competitive. As both did in the US, rather than spend money on engineering to improve quality, they both focused on removing cost. The net result was uncompetitive product. When they let product go to crap in the US, GM and Ford relied on trucks, brand loyalty and the vast size of the market to carry them (which it did until all hell broke loose in 2008 and 2009).

    In Australia, with their core product (RWD sedans) failing to find a market, with imported product both cheaper and of better quality (albeit, perceived quality as of late) and with the twin pressures of decreasing government supports and an Australian dollar riding high due to successes in the resource sector, it’s a statement of just how integrated in the their organizations’ global structures Australian operations have become that they’re keeping them going for as long as 2017.

    I would expect Toyota to fold up shop as well, given that, save the product issues, they’re facing the same issues that GM and Ford are (wages/currency/support) and that the suppliers will be hard pressed to stay without the volumes provided by Holden and Ford.

    Despite all of this, I would expect the Holden brand to remain, given it’s place in the Australian psyche. Much of the product in Holden showrooms today is already rebadged product from abroad (Cruze, Malibu, Colorado, Captiva, Barina). If will be interesting to see if there’s a US produced Commodore in the future replace the VF; not so much for the sedan, which is both obvious and superfluous, but for the wagon, Monaro and Ute. Truth is, there might well be a global market for this platform, but, as a global product, the above issues peculiar to Oz make it something better built in North America for sale in Australasia, North & Central America and the Middle East. The question then, is whether a Holden Ute built in Saltillo is really a Holden…?

  11. When in Spain recently, I hired a hyundai L130i.

    It was loaded with every extra possible & drove quite well. This type of packaging by these manufacturers make the big boys like GM & Ford cringe sideways.

    Just an after thought was;

    As a hire car which had only covered 14K Kilometres, the manual gear selector was already thrashed.making it virtually impossible to get into 6th gear the first time of trying, so longevity may be a problem, but comfort & extras maybe make up for that…..

  12. 10 Billion dollars is nothing to the US Government. That’s like 10 airplanes or one aircraft carrier. The US Government should have done more. 1 Billion dollars would have funded Saab very nicely. So, all you people that wanted change at GM, you got it. 5 CEOs in 5 years. New rule, if you don’t make money for GM, bye-bye. Germany and Canada supported their local GM factories and GM is still in both.

    Just a thought.

  13. Australia is a tough market with around 65 brands on offer. I was amazed that Opel thought it would succeed here. I said to Bill Mott, the Australian Opel chief – It’s going to be tough! Opel settled for $40 million compensation to the dealers after their pullout. My advice to them was free but if they gave me $1 million then they would still be $39 million in front. Holden says they need $150 million each year to remain viable, yet they still make stupid mistakes at GM level that cost $40 million …

    The Commodore range is fine but sales are not happening as they are the cars that aren’t wanted. You see more Caprices in the Middle East than you see in Australia. The Police version for the US was a great car and even though it was a little slower than the turbocharged Taurus I believed it was preferred by the forces.

    We can’t let the industry fold in Australia as too many jobs rely on it, but can we continue to support companies that continue to make mistakes?

    Having sold cars in Australia for decades, including Holden, I can say that despite what everyone thinks, cars are bought on price most of the time. This said, a cheap car still has to have appeal or it will be passed over.

    The Astra was withdrawn because they were too expensive compared to Korean product, so we were given the Viva, a terrible car that was shortlived. The Euro Barina was swapped for a cheap smelling Korean version. Then came the Epica, touted as a Camry breaker. It was also shortlived. Holden kept introducing horrible cars that nobody wanted. The Cruze isn’t as bad as the former cars but it feels cheap and sales aren’t great.

    We just can’t afford to produce cars in Australia, the costs are too high compared to the overseas competition. In the end, production will have to stop, it’s really just when. We left the door open, all the cheap imports flowed in and there’s nothing we can do about it now.

    It is a bit like setting up car factories in Los Angeles and planning to sell just to that market – it just wouldn’t work.

  14. Don’t have time to write a lot right now, but a couple key points from my perch here in the US:

    1) GM:
    It was reported somewhere today that the estimated cost to the US economy and to US taxpayers collectively from payouts from the safety net from GM closing would have been in the neighborhood of $150 billion or higher. I thought the bailout was absolutely right at the time and I’d say that 10 billion was amazingly well spent now. You only have one chance in history to have a car industry… Gotta hold on to that…

    2) GM pulling out of Australian production:
    Listening to the economic geek analysis here in the US, it basically seems this is really all about the 120% rise in the Australian dollar vs the US one and that’s pretty much it. Sure, there’s politics and philosophies of what governments should and shouldn’t do, but basically that almost nothing could overcome that acute increase in currency exchange cost for Ford and GM. Analysts says Toyota almost certainly will have to follow suit and that their enormous cash reserves are the only reason they haven’t already… I feel bad for Australia. Do the right thing economically, strengthen your dollar, and as a result everyone goes running…

    3) Saab:
    There was a line from Star Trek the Next Generation once where a character, responding to interrogation, yells out “Irrelevant, irrelevant, irrelevant!!” As a Saab owner here in the US, that’s how I feel reading the NEVS news. It’s like following Japanese professional baseball teams here. Interesting perhaps, but completely irrelevant to our motoring life . Saab isn’t here in the US now, won’t be here soon, and may never be back here at all. My street, which only 2-3 years ago had 13 Saabs on the curb, is now down to 2 as customers get new metal. People already treat my ’08 Turbo-X like some arcane piece of automotive trivia. All of the issues with Saab now in my mind are like Kabuki theater. The ONLY thing that matters to “Saab’s” NEVS success isn’t how they sell online in Sweden, what they look like (for now), or even the technology. For conglomerated Asian companies like this, the keys are how well capitalized they are and how “cronied up”/connected they are to the state-private trough. If those connections guarantee them a protected critical mass sales outlet in China for however long they need to get up and running and establish market share and a brand, they’ll be fine. If their state/government overlords or bank managers or whoever decides for whatever reason to turn off the cash, then they’re done. Nothing else matters.

    1. “I’d say that 10 billion was amazingly well spent now”

      Iiari, I don’t understand the logic in handing out a 10 billion grant to GM when they’ve reported a Net Income of over 20 million USD since 2010 and they don’t pay a corporate tax?

      What’s even more alarming is that last year this company managed to eliminate their goodwill worth 30 billion on paper using yet an other tax gimmick. These ‘too big to fail’ (especially the banks) are too smart for our politicians and government bureaucrats worlwide.
      What happened to the free market and being competitive over there?

      1. For me, it’s not about GM’s profitability, it’s about the cost of saving it vs the cost to society and taxpayers to let it go under. If we want to be a first world industrial and military power, we have to have a vehicle industry, and that’s basically what was at stake.

        Sadly, these and other companies/industries are probably too big to fail, and that’s a problem for society to let it get this way. As you point out, they’re working the system through lobbyists and other means, which is a double shame.

        While we shouldn’t have let them fail, we should have asked for a lot more back in concessions (especially from the banks).

  15. One thing that’s very consistent about this issue is that people have a hard time separating their feelings about GM from the economics.
    People don’t get nearly as emotional when discussing the much larger banking bailout. I guess more people had their first kiss in a Chevy than in a bank.

    1. Sadly, I viewed the back bailout as necessary to protect the economy too, but less necessary than the auto bailout. If those banks went under, you don’t lose all banking in the US. If those automakers went under, then it was existential, and goodbye auto industrial capability in America.

    2. I had much more anger about the bank bailouts. The brazen nature with which they took the money and then distributed huge bonuses to people who had lead them to demise. Absolutely corrupt and monopolistic.

      The worst of it? I don’t think the banks really changed. GM was forced to change.

  16. In two years Holden will still be selling cars. Just not locally made ones. The Brand will live on. Our memories of what it once was to drive a locally designed and built, ( and raced ) vehicle will slowly fade over time. The global automotive market will prevail and we will be driving mediocre Thai made GM designed thin steeled machines that are quite average to drive. That’s what we deserve it seems.
    For me, I drive old Euro cars that are over ten years old, keep them in good nick, love them and enjoy the era they were built in. I have no need for a new car and never will. It is more economic to fix an old car, even to re-engine it if need be. There is a huge market for the repair and supply of parts for SH cars and I feel a decent sense of society in this. Our manufacturing and importation supply chain needs people like me. I wince at every new car made here that I have subsidized through my taxes, often to the tune of thousands of dollars per car. It would have happend anyway and very possibly the AUS government have studied the Swedish situation and modeled their response to Holden, taunting them to come out and just say it. No more local production.
    Let’s see what the state of play will be in late 2015.

  17. GM still produces mediocre to bad product. The trucks are still good……and I have to say the new Corvette is awesome.

    At the same time Ford is building great vehicles and doing really well with no bailout. Even Chrysler is building some very good cars and the Fiat 500 is a big hit in the USA…..but Fiat is still troubled.

    I am of the same school of Andrew Robertson I love the Saab 95 and see nothing wrong with keeping them on the road for a long time. My wife and I each have Aero sedans, and my 2 adult sons have Aero wagons, and we have fun keeping them in tip top condition. I am just praying that the part supply continues to be good and it sure looks like parts supply lines are supporting Saab.

    Now GM has a new female CEO who is a GM lifer who’s degree is from GM tech and has worked for GM forever…….so are we to expect good product and a good plan from a women who knows only the GM way. I have met lots of this type in Detroit and they call cars “units” …….they don’t really even like cars and they mostly Detroit product. I have little hope for GM.

    I have to add that my dad was a GM guy we had Chevys, Buicks Olds, I have had GM vans, trucks, Pontiacs can currently still have a 1990 Chevy truck. the vans and trucks were good cars……GM chased me away with their bad cars and treatment of SAAB.

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